Shopping Villages in California

Gold Country Village

Shopping Towns and Downtown Villages

Men bored shoppingListed on this page are California cities and towns that are well known for their shopping – downtown villages, boutiques, art galleries, gift shops, antique stores, shopping plazas, factory outlets, malls and restaurants.

Road trip weekends, all local – for super unique Christmas presents or romantic Valentine’s gifts.

Death Valley Hot Springs

Top Pool Volcano

Death Valley
Hot Mineral Springs

 

Shoshone InnNorth Death Valley  –

Saline Valley Hot Springs
primitive springs. Very remote desert wilderness area, 60 mile rugged dirt road – high clearance vehicle required; 4×4 access year round. Clothing optional. Nudity out in nature is the norm!

South Death Valley

Shoshone small hot springs resort camps. Swimsuits required.

Tecopa Hot Springs county park hot springs w/ bath house, rustic resorts & RV parks. Swimsuits required.

Furnace Creek, Stovepipe Wells and Panamint Springs are not hot springs destinations, although the names seems to imply they might be. The historic Inn at Furnace Creek in the center of the Death Valley National Park has palm trees and pure luxury – deluxe guest rooms, massage & spa services, pools and tennis, restaurants, but no mineral hot springs source. Death Valley Junction, home of the infamous Amargosa Opera House, does not have hot tubs, nor a pool, nor even a restaurant. South end of the park speaks more to the RV campers.

Small town of Shoshone is a little more appealing (visually) than Tecopa Springs, so keep that in mind when wondering what to expect. Cabin rentals at Delights Hot Springs Resort are old, rustic and the whole place is a little “rough around the edges”.

Shoshone Inn

Tecopa Springs RV Campers Winter
Tom Harrison Death Valley Map NatGeo Death Valley  Park

 


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Mason Valley Truck Trail

jeepinoriflamme

Mason Valley – Oriflamme Canyon

Mason Valley Truck Trail refers to a network of dirt roads on the west side of San Diego County Road S2, on the steep mountain slopes overlooking the desert badlands of Anza Borrego State Park. These primitive back roads lead up to the Pacific Crest Trail (PCT) on the edge of Laguna Recreation Area.

Oriflamme Canyon, Chariot Canyon & Rodriguez Trail are all in the area. Chaparral mountain trails lead off in many directions with dead end canyons and side routes. This high desert region consists of private property, ranches with gates, various trails and desert dirt roads – between 2400′ and 4000′ elevation.

A good portion of the lands on the west side of paved S2 are not inside the State Park boundary, but Oriflamme is the exception. The Anza Borrego Desert State Park borders includes this particular back road canyon, almost up to the Cleveland National Forest. Awesome locals little secret!

Laguna Recreation Area

  • Oriflamme Mountain @ 4611′ elevation
  • Chariot Mountain @ 4644′ elevation

San Diego Backcountry MapThe main access to Mason Valley Truck Trail is located near the bottom of Box Canyon (on Co. Rd. S2). The sign at the turn off reads Oriflamme Canyon. The first sandy mile or so gets kinda confusing, as the ranch road, dirt trails and natural desert wash merge with the seasons and rains. You might encounter locked gates if you take the wrong turn. In the wash look for signage for Oriflamme.

Approximately 2 miles from S2 the dirt road splits. To the left is Mason Valley Truck Trail, which continues up  Oriflamme Canyon and into wooded Chariot Canyon, eventually connecting with Hwy 78 (at Banner Grade). And the other choice on the right is a rugged 4×4 route called Rodriguez Truck Trail which is 7 miles long and meets back up with the main Oriflamme road about a mile from the highway. These back roads encircle the biggest peak around called Chariot Mountain.

Mountain bikers, hikers, horses and vehicles all use these routes, so be prepared to see others out exploring and please, always yield to equestrian traffic.

Mason Valley Truck Trail Anza Views

Several open, free camp spots lower in the canyon w/ large cottonwood trees. More hidden camps to be found higher up the mountain. A decent topo map, a campfire permit and a metal fire bucket is highly advised.

PCT: Pacific Crest Trail traverses the ridge line near 4000-6000′ and the desert valley below is nearing 2000′ elevation. The ambitious plan for the California Riding and Hiking Trail is still under construction and routed nearby as well.

Butterfield RV Ranch and the historic adobe Vallecito Stage Stop, are the closest thing to civilization you will find around these parts Don’t count on gasoline or cell phone coverage anywhere near here.

NEARBY TOWNS:Anza Borrego Desert Map

Desert / Mountains
SOCAL MAPS:


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California College Towns

Uni in Cali

San Diego Skies & Bay

came to California for college and never left
Some folks would argue that education through life experiences can be just as rewarding as following the traditional path of private schools or state education. The internet is fast replacing the need for formal education, as many entrepreneurs never graduate from college and still go on to become huge successes.

Going to university or college in California is a common path for many students, which is why there are mostly transplants living on the west coast. Many start at community colleges and transfer to a 4 year college.

California is the largest state in the union, as well as the most prosperous. California has the one of the largest economy in the world!

Below is a list of California cities and towns with a big student population. Some of these places have more than one college or university in town. IN and around town you will find abundant apartment living, cafes, coffee shops, mexican food, laundromats, bike paths, parks and public bus service.

Chico Bench Art

The New York Fed’s second quarter numbers are out for 2016 and it doesn’t paint a pretty picture for student loan debt. Officially, the nation owes $1.26 trillion in student loan debt. Realistically, we are probably over the $1.3 trillion mark when taking into account the fact that the Fall semester has just started…

Deep Springs CollegeBishop, CA

Heartwood InstituteGarberville, CA

University of Earth
Quincy, CA

Country Christmas Festival

Old Town Country Christmas 2006

Auburn’s Country Christmas Festival

From 5-9pm the whole community is invited to share in the holiday fun. Crafters and artists will have their wares on sale for that special one-of-a-kind Christmas gift. Great food and entertainment, pictures with Santa. Shops and restaurants open. Holiday Open House in all the old town village shops!

Annual event; December – multiple days
(2 different Saturday nights)

Old Town Auburn
Auburn, CA
530-888-1585

www.oldtownauburnca.com

 

Auburn California

 

Auburn California

Boat Parade of Lights

tree boat parade

Parade of Lights
Holiday Boat Parade

Christmas Boat Parades in California

 

SOUTHERN CALIFORNIA:

San Diego Parade of Lights
San Diego Bay
San Diego, CA
619-224-2240
www.sdparadeoflights.org

OceansideParade of Lights
Oceanside CA
Oceanside Yacht Club
www.oceansideyc.net/event-calendar/

Dana Point Harbor Boat Parade of Lights
Dana Point, CA
949-923-2255
www.danapointharbor.com

Cruise of Lights Boat Parade
Huntington Beach, CA
www.cruiseoflights.org

Christmas Boat Parade & Fireworks
Newport Beach, CA
100 years running!
www.christmasboatparade.com

sailing xmas tree

Naples Christmas Boat Parade
Belmont Shores @ Naples Canals
South Long Beach, CA
www.naplesca.com

Long Beach Parade of 1000 Lights
Downtown Shoreline Marina
Shoreline Yacht Club
Long Beach, CA
www.shorelineyachtclub.com/event

LA Harbor Holiday Afloat Parade
Long Beach Area
San Pedro, CA
310-549-8111
www.portoflosangeles.org/community/calendar

Redondo Beach Christmas Boat Parade
Redondo Beach King Harbor @ Los Angeles
Redondo Beach, CA
King Harbor Yacht Club
310-376-2459
www.khyc.org

Marina Del Rey Holiday Boat Parade
West Los Angeles California
Marina del Rey, CA
www.mdrboatparade.org

Venice Canals Holiday Boat Parade
West Los Angeles
Venice Beach, CA
310-809-8100
www.venicechristmasboatparade.com

Oxnard Parade of Lights
Marine Emporium Landing
Oxnard, CA
805-985-5828
www.marineemporiumlanding.com

Ventura Parade of Lights Boat Parade & Fireworks
Ventura Harbor Village
Ventura, CA
805-477-0470
www.venturaharborvillage.com

Santa Barbara Parade of Lights
Santa Barbara, CA
805-963-0611
www.santabarbaraca.gov

 

pine

 

CENTRAL COAST CALIFORNIA:

Morro Bay Christmas Boat Parade
Morro Bay Embarcadero
Morro Bay, CA
805-772-4467
www.morrobay.org/events2/holiday-happenings

 

botaparade

 

SAN FRANCISCO BAY AREA:

Bethel Island Lighted Boat Parade
San Joaquin Boat Parade @ the California Delta
Bethel Island, CA
San Joaquin Yacht Club
925-684-9985
www.sjyc.org

Fisherman’s Wharf Lights & Sights Boat Parade
Pier 39, Aquatic Park
San Francisco, CA
415-673-3530
www.visitfishermanswharf.com

Oakland Lighted Yacht Parade
Alemeda Estuary
Oakland, CA
925-413-3845
www.lightedyachtparade.com

Petaluma Holiday Lighted Boat Parade
Petaluma River Turning Basin
Petaluma, CA
707-769-0429
www.visitpetaluma.com

Santa Cruz Harbor Boat Parade
Santa Cruz Harbor
Santa Cruz, CA
Santa Cruz Yacht Club
831-425-0690
www.scyc.org

Sausalito Lighted Yacht Parade
Sausalito Yacht Club
Sausalito, CA
415.332-7400
www.sausalitoyachtclub.org

Delta Reflections Lighted Boat Parade
McCloud Lake @ Downtown Waterfront
Stockton, CA
Marine West Yacht Club
209-477-7653
www.mwyc.org

Calico Holiday Fest

Christmas Calico Wagon

Holiday Festival at Calico Ghost Town

If you find yourself traveling through the giant Mojave desert around the holiday season, keep Calico Ghost Town in mind. Whether you are headed to Vegas or Utah, you can take a “stretch break” from the freeway driving, to see the historic cemetery, sip hot cocoa or browse the gift shops – just a few exits after Barstow on Interstate 15.

The actual Holiday Festival is a one day celebration in late November that kicks off the winter season. Tree-lighting ceremony, native dancers, food, live music and Santa. FREE collectable, stuffed bear w/ a minimum purchase at participating local shops.

Annual event: November
909-387-2757

Calico, CA

sbcounty.gov/parks/Parks/CalicoGhostTown/

holiday bear

bottle house calico

23S01 – Los Padres NF

Big Sur Dirt Roads

Los Padres National Forest Road #23S01

Willow Creek Road
Los Burros Road

South Big Sur Coast Dirt Roads & super scenic US HWY 1 – North of San Simeon and Hearst Castle, north of Ragged Point and just past Gorda, CA a dirt shoulder, widens, a break in the bushes on the right side of the highway, a small wooden sign for the Yurt Resort called Treebones and the turn off to the back-country of Los Padres National Forest Road #23S01

Willow Creek is a steep coastal canyon w/ Willow Creek Trail #5E08 in the creek below and the dirt road 1000′ above. Willow Creek Day Use Area, the Willow Creek bridge and Willow Creek beach w/ restrooms, picnic tables, and paved parking lot near the highway.

DIRT ROAD, high clearance is recommended, but not required. 4×4 may be needed in wet weather. Motorhomes, trucks w/ trailers and RV campers are not gonna like this rugged, narrow, steep, dirt road and are advised to stick to the pavement. Camper vans and SUVs are be better suited for this terrain.

  • Both Thomas Bros. Maps & Benchmark Map’s California Atlas has this route listed as Los Burros Road
  • Google Maps has this route named Will Creek Road
  • Yahoo Maps has this route as Willow Creek – Los Burros Road
  • Mapquest has this one listed as Los Burros Rd – Fort Hunter Liggett (which is a military base,  on the opposite side of the mountain range near US Hwy 101)


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Free Camping in Big Sur

Willow Creek Rd

Several primitive camp sites can be found along this rugged dirt road, which climbs steeply and switchbacks thru redwoods, madrones, cedars, grass lands and oak hills. Sites within the first 3 miles  of this road offer the serene sounds of the ocean – waves, seals, sea lions as well as traffic on the busy highway. There are a few private properties back here in the boonies too, so read signs and don’t go exploring this region in the dark.

About 8 miles back on Willow Creek Rd is Alder Creek Campground – a small developed camp w/ only 2 camp sites and no piped water and no fees.

Prewitt Ridge  also has numerous ideal top-of-the-world, free camp sites, which do require a lot more dirt road driving and a very good backcountry map.

  • Sycamore Flat Road intersects @ 3 miles up
  • Alder Peak Camp is San Martin Top @ 12 miles up
  • South Coast Ridge Road is at the very top @ 14 miles
  • Lions Den Camp is 19 miles of dirt road driving
  • Three Peaks Camp is 21 miles way back there
Los Padres Monterey District Big Sur Map NatGeo

Truckers Christmas Parade

North Coast Unified Air Quality Management District

Eureka’s Truckers Parade
Truckers Christmas Convoy
Truckers Christmas Parade

Eureka, Northern California

BIG RIGS: The 18-wheelers stretching as long as 60 feet, include some with special parade additions that might be tacked on: bandstand platforms, dancing reindeer, flying fish, you name it. Join in this Eureka tradition, and you’ll never think of Jingle Bells in quite the same way again. The parade starts at 6 pm at Redwood Acres and goes to about 8:30 pm. Presented by KEKA country radio – Eureka Broadcasting and local sponsors.

Eureka, CA

keka101.com/info/truckers-parade/

a Corner Shoppe

Eureka California Old Town

Old Town Eureka, CA

Sonoma Valley Olive Festival

California90 Olives - another month it will be ripe

Sonoma Valley Olive Festival

Celebrating the Season of the Olive

Less than an hours drive north of San Francisco, Sonoma is the most-down-to-earth slice of heaven around, its lush farmlands, rolling vineyards and historic towns lost in a time all their own. Given our Mediterranean climate and rich agricultural roots, our culinary and wine-making legacy, our bohemian artists and small artisan food producers, we can’t think of a better place to “all hail the olive.”

The vibrant heart of old Sonoma–the historic Mission, the Sonoma Barracks and tree-lined Plaza–provides a central backdrop for key Olive Season events. For more than a century, local olive and grape harvests have been blessed and celebrated in this location, and we’re happy to carry on the tradition.

Annual event; two months long, January & February

Sonoma, CA

olivefestival.com/OliveFestival

DSC24903, Viansa Vineyards & Winery, Sonoma Valley, California, USA

Sawdust Winter Fantasy

IMG_2257

Sawdust Winter Fantasy Art Festival
in Laguna Canyon

The Orange County beach haven known as Laguna Beach has long been known for their surf shops, gift shops and great art galleries. Laguna Canyon Saw Dust festival grounds will be transformed into a winter wonderland where artists create, display and sell original creations over the course of five weekends. The Winter Fantasy is offers the most unique holiday shopping in all of Southern California. Art media includes jewelry, clothing, fused and blown glass, ceramics, woodwork, forged metals, painting, photography, sculpture, clothing and textiles.

Experience unique artwork from hundreds of artists, live holiday entertainment, outdoor cafes, art classes and demonstrations, petting zoo, plus Santa! With amazing art gifts, thousands of holiday decorations and picture-perfect moments.

Annual event; multiple weekends; December

Sawdust Art Festival
935 Laguna Canyon Road
Laguna Beach, CA
949-494-3030

sawdustartfestival.org

Art Appreciation

Cowboy Poetry & Music Festival

CEBE

Cowboy Festival, Monterey, California

Cowboy Poetry and Music Festival

Monterey Cowboy Poetry & Music Festival

Where the traditions and lifestyles of the vaqueros blend with traditions and lifestyles of cowboys who worked there way west from Texas, Arizona and Nevada. Live music, concerts, great food, wine and beer.

Annual event: November
Monterey, CA
831-649-5080

montereycowboy.org

Vaqueros, Vidaurri ranch, Laredo, 1910

-cowgirl scenery

Downtown Monterey

December Nights, Balboa Park

December Nights-Balboa Park, San Diego

Balboa Park Christmas Lights
December Nights in Balboa Park, San Diego

Balboa Park December Nights
Southern California’s premier holiday festival.

37 years running; Friday and Saturday night in early December

The event brings families and friends together to spread holiday joy, learn more about the cultural value of Balboa Park and kick-off the “most wonderful time of the year.”

Participating Balboa Park museums open their doors free of charge from 5-9 pm both evenings and more than 350,000 visitors are expected to experience the joy of San Diego’s largest free community festival. Those who attend will participate in a truly multicultural experience, enjoying food, music and entertainment from around the world.

Revelers can watch top-notch musical and dance performances, enjoy delicious and diverse food choices and help spread a heavy dose of holiday cheer. Some of the more well-known traditions include food from around the globe at the International Christmas Festival at the House of Pacific Relations Cottages; the annual Santa Lucia Procession at the Plaza de California; unique gift shopping at the museum stores and with the artisans of Spanish Village; and musical and dance presentations from the San Diego Junior Theatre, San Diego Civic Youth Ballet, Del Cerro Baptist’s Christmas Story Tree, and more.

Annual event; multiple nights
San Diego, CA
619-239-0512

balboapark.org/decembernights/

 

December Nights at Balboa Park

Cornish Christmas

Untitled

Grass Valley’s Cornish Christmas

Gold Country California

Recapture the spirit of Christmas past amid the charming surroundings of historic downtown Grass Valley California during the annual Cornish Christmas Celebration.

Began in 1967 as a way to preserve Grass Valley’s Cornish heritage and holiday traditions, Cornish Christmas remains one of our most popular events. Mill and West Main Streets are closed to motorized traffic and filled with the sights and sounds of an old fashioned Christmas; carolers, jugglers, musicians, the Grass Valley Cornish Carol Choir, Tommyknocker Cloggers and of course, Santa Claus. Handmade arts and craft from artists throughout California are displayed on our historic downtown Grass Valley streets. Delicious food and drink can be purchased from a number of Grass Valley restaurants and specialty food vendors. Retail stores are open for your holiday purchases as well.

Annual event; November
Grass Valley, CA

downtowngrassvalley.com/
downtown-grass-valley-events/
grass-valley-cornish-christmas/

 

2 Cornish Christmas December 14, 2012 the weather is holding quite nicely and it's actually not cold

20101125 Chestnuts Roasting on an Open Fire

Bracebridge Dinner, Yosemite

Ahwahnee Dining Room

Bracebridge Dinner
at The Ahwahnee Hotel

Yosemite Valley, CA

Celebrated annually since 1927, the Bracebridge Dinner transforms The Ahwahnee into an 18th century English manor for a feast of food, song and mirth. The inspiration for this yuletide ceremony was Washington Irving’s Sketch Book that described Squire Bracebridge and English Christmas traditions of that period.

The Bracebridge Dinner is an elegant and artistic four-hour pageant of classic carols, Renaissance rituals and entertainment of the Middle Ages. More than 100 players create the roles of the Squire and his family, their servants, the Lord of Misrule, minstrels and other performers. The Ahwahnee Dining Room serves as the Great Hall and stage for the festivities and is decked with magnificent wreaths, an elaborate squire’s table, large banners and traditional Yuletide decorations.

Annual event, multiple nights: December

Yosemite National Park, CA

yosemitepark.com/bracebridge-dinner

 

Winter Wonderland.  _DSC1280

Ahwahnee Hotel in the Fog

Holiday Lights Train

Santa Cruz Holiday Lights Train

Holiday Lights Train Ride

Santa Cruz Holiday Train

Departs from the Santa Cruz Beach Boardwalk

Vintage excursion cars, adorned with thousands of colorful lights, roll through the streets of Santa Cruz as passengers lend their voices to holiday carols, sip hot spiced cider and listen to musical entertainment while Santa visits the little ones, or the young at heart! Continue the merriment with your choice of arcade games, mini-golf or laser tag at Santa’s Kingdom at the Santa Cruz Beach Boardwalk. Bring the whole family for festive fun.

Annual event, multiple days: December
Santa Cruz, CA

roaringcamp.com

Santa Cruz Holiday Lights Train

train at the Boardwalk

Cold Creek Campground

Cold Creek Camp

Truckee Campgrounds, Tahoe NF

Cold Creek Campground: N of Truckee, CA

DSCN0046

A small developed campground along forested Highway 89, with raging creek, fishing spots, and hiking trails and mountain biking trails nearby. Paved, level camp sites, small RVs okay w/ access to the numerous Sierra Nevada destinations with several lakes and reservoirs nearby.

This is a popular overnight stop “in route” for many campers and bikers traveling further on to the Northern Sierra Nevada mountains. You can exit off Interstate 80 @ Truckee, and be at this camp in minutes. Car camp, tent camping, a few spaces for small motorhomes. Plenty hiking and mountain biking trails.

Cold Creek Campground, California

on the Cold Stream;
Campground open May-October
(depending on snow)

High Sierra / Tahoe Truckee Camping

13 camp sites on Cold Stream @ 5800′ elevation; vault toilets, river and piped water, bear boxes; first come, first served camping

Max Camper Length: 22′

Rangers Office: 530-265-4531

The highway traffic noise makes this place a ‘short and sweet’ one nighter top pick, great for those camping in route to another destination. Another developed camp is on the opposite side of the highway, less than a mile north called Cottonwood Campground.

Free Camping nearby.
If you are seeking primitive camping near this area, start with Little Truckee Summit at the lakes turn off road on SR 89 – about 2 miles south of the Cold Creek Campground.

Tahioe USDA MapTake Tahoe Forest Road #5, a major paved road, approximately 12 miles back to the big meadows. Look for the unsigned dirt roads on left side of road nearing Webber Lake. The largest lake in the region, Independence Lake, is a paved side route off to the south. Further back on Road #5 the pavement ends at Jackson Meadows Reservoir. Very rough rocky road out to Bowman Lake w/ several developed campgrounds in the vicinity.

 

Tahoe trailheads lead out to –
alpine fishing lakes
mountain peaks
Treasure Mountain 7085′
Tahoe National Forest 
OHV Area @ Prosser Reservoir

NEARBY TOWNS:

ROAD CONDITIONS:

Tahoe and Truckee are known for their brutal winters and deep snows pack. Call CalTrans ahead of your departure if you are even slightly expecting any kind of precipitation. Truckee – winter road conditions

 


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Oregon Hill Road

oregon hil lroad

Oregon Hill Road –
Sierra Nevada scenic drives

also known as Challenge Road, driving from the lake up

Oregon Peak & Little Oregon Creek
Bullards Bar & North Fork of the Yuba River

2800′ elevation

Oregon Hill Road connects the rural residential community of Challenge to the recreation lake called Bullards Bar Reservoir, which is bordering on the Tahoe National Forest and Plumas National Forest park boundaries.

This bumpy, little, back road route is kind of a “short cut” for those driving from Nevada City to Oroville, CA.

From the Sacramento Valley, N of Marysville, take Hwy 70 N to Honcut, exit freeway and find your way east to La Porte Rd. Take LaPorte Road past Brownsville and up to the next neighborhood called Challenge; Turn right at the small, one room post office in Challenge and continue 14 miles down to New Bullards Bar.

Or, if coming in to this lake from Gold Country Highway 49, take Moonshine Road or Marysville Road. Two developed campgrounds are located at the lake shore, on the east side. Boat in camping is most popular at Bullards Bar. The closed campground on the ridge (west side, above the lake) is called Burnt Bridge and has been non operational for years now, due to numerous wildfires.

 


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bullardsbarrecr

New Bullards Bar Reservoir is a prime water sports recreation and house-boating destination, nestled in between the Gold Country and the Sacramento Valley near Yuba City, CA.

Valhalla Holiday Gala

Valhalla Grand Hall, Lake Tahoe

Lake Tahoe Valhalla Gala

Enjoy the festive atmosphere of Historic Valhalla Grand Hall with an elegant evening of champagne, hors d’ouevres, fine wines and catered dinner at the annual Valhalla Holiday Gala Dinner. Each ticket includes a personalized handcrafted ornament, and you’ll also enjoy a silent auction before the end of the evening.

Annual event: December
Squaw Valley, Lake Tahoe, CA

blog.squawvalleylodge.com/events/the-valhalla-holiday-gala-dinner