(before the dot com crash, before digital cameras, before GPS, before social media & way ahead of smartphones)
Sole creative force of Total Escape, Dana Williams left her 3D animation career to start living and working her dream job, online and off. Utilizing artistic talents, computer skills, a vast knowledge of the California landscape and a simple love of nature, to make it all come together for a killer web site called Total Escape. 22 years online means fresh content & updates every month; reworking web code every few years to keep up with various browsers, apps, maps, etc.
“travel agent to the back woods”
Living close to the earth with organic gardening and rural living, DanaMite strives to offer California residents, new-comers and visitors unique, local destinations, concentrating on the outdoors – well away from overcrowded, busy, urban cities and tourist traps. Total Escape can show you how to discover the secret, hidden spots on your public lands that the gov web sites will not even dare to mention.
the independent source for California travel
NO CORPORATE sponsorship No venture capital No government subsidies No annoying pop-up ads
No scripts chugging bandwidth No membership needed
Decades without a television set lends plenty of time for studying terrain, topographic maps, GPS coordinates and thousands of photographs to compile more than 8000 pages on just California travel. Far from the daily grind of everyday life, DanaMite continues in educating the public about local travel, camping, family farms, organic cafes, outdoor recreation, respecting the land, responsible use of our resources & how to get more enjoyment out of weekend travels.
San Diego Backcountry
600,000 acres of SoCal desert
BLOOM: February thru May Anza Park elevations range from low to high. Lowest near eastern border of park (next to the Salton Sea) to the upper reaches of the western slopes @ 4000′ of the Laguna mountains. Lower elevations sprout up first; Micro flowers, Easter-egg-color splendor in the dry washes. Higher elevations bloom later (along w/ areas on San Diego County Rd S-2, the Great Overland Stage Route)
Drive from Temecula to Warner Springs, and then proceed east – out to the Salton Sea via Back Road Highway #S22 (Montezuma Grade). A great route to take thru the Borrego State Park – for the full gamut in vegetation & altitude. Grapevine Canyon is an alternate off road route down a scenic canyon. Culp Valley has a small campground, plus lots of boulders and decent views to the Borrego Valley. Off the highway, on dirt, one-lane side roads lead to many primitive spots. Perfect for private picnics, stargazing or overnight camping.
These are the roads that drivers love. More room to roam, more space, more pavement, more scenery to love and less people, less drivers and less distractions. California has endless roadways that wind through every part of the entire state. If you enjoy real driving in California, you like the curvy roads & scenery. Total Escape has dedicated numerous hours to the collection of back roads in California. Some paved, some not.
20 years running, this Redondo Beach event is a hot hit, especially for beach-goers (near LA)
3 day event held at the Seaside Lagoon next to King Harbor, just north of the Redondo Beach Pier. Live music, entertainment, lobster recipes, celebrity chefs, craft beer, kids activities and vendor booths.
“Rat Ride” – annual beach bike ride sponsored by the Rotary Club; starts in Redondo and runs on the same weekend.
CA Road Trip / Staycation California / Cheap Vacation California
Staycation: this is the newest media catch phrase for ‘traveling close to home’. Local travel in California. We know it well, cuz Total Escape has been featuring this kinda travel for over 2 decades. Right here on this web site you can find thousands of ideas for weekend getaways, honeymoons, spring breaks & summer vacations.
Spend less money, travel local, stay longer, see more, and really relax. Drive less miles & get to know your own backyard. We have everything from independent lodges in the most remote destinations, to free primitive camping sites on Sierra creeks.
No amusement parks, no casinos. All California, all outside. We feature waterfalls, local hikes, swimming holes, hot springs, fishing creeks, campgrounds, museums, lakes, rivers, wilderness & most all outdoor recreation. Deserts, mountains, country, coast. Beaches to Bristlecones, we have the state covered for local travel.
A good place to start is our extensive A-Z list of all California destinations & small towns.
Listed 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.
18, 679 acres
Central California Mountains
East of Arroyo Grande, CA
US Highway 101
exit #187A – Grand Ave
backpacking, camping, creek fishing, hiking, swimming holes, waterfalls
Santa Lucia Wilderness is the mountain range in between Santa Margarita Lake and Lake Lopez inside Los Padres National Forest, in a very remote and rugged portion of San Luis Obispo county. In the hills behind Arroyo Grande, past the Huasna turn off, above the local reservoir, beyond the big ranches – the waterfall trails of Santa Lucia can be found. Super steep canyons with only two dead end roads leading to trails. Waterfalls, swimming holes, way back there behind Piney Ridge.
tallest mountain peak elevations
Bald Mountain – 2834′
Lopez Mountain – 2868′
Black Butte – 2749′
Upper Lopez Canyon can be challenging drive with water in the creek, but it has 3 trailheads back in this canyon.
Pozo Road / Hi Mtn Road (#30S05 on the way to Pozo) will lead to a Santa Lucia trailhead @ Hi Mtn Campground and on to Big Falls trailhead. Locals call the whole route POZO, which leads from Lake Lopez to Pozo.
Road #15E11 Garcia Ridge OHV trail is off this same main route, Hi Mountain Road. The Rinconada trailhead can be found along the paved Pozo Road, west of the Pozo Saloon and east of the KOA Campground.
Lake Oroville Salmon Festival
Salmon Fest in O’ville
Feather River Fish Hatchery, Feather River Nature Center and Riverbend Park
On the Feather River between Historic Downtown Oroville and the Fish Hatchery, the town bursts with fish-flavored activities during the annual Salmon Festival. Friday night starts @ Feather River Nature Center for dinner & dance. Saturday brings on the fun, food, music and vendors on Main Street. Lots of great local info – salmon recipes, water/drought, fishing and environmental issues. Big pancake breakfast, a farmer’s market, live music, a craft fair, clowns, rides for the kids. Hatchery tours. The Bounty of Butte County will be located atop Myers Street, next to the Municipal Auditorium leading into Salmon Court. FREE to attend and tastes sold as desired. There will be food demonstrations, local food vendors, restaurant tastings and so much more.
Designed to demonstrate where our food and drinks come from, the Farm-to-Fork Festival has proven to be one of the Sacramento region’s most popular events. The free event, hosted on the city’s iconic Capitol Mall boasts an exciting selection of farm-to-fork offerings that are produced and available in the Sacramento region. Attendees will find food, wine and beer from regional eateries and purveyors, as well as farmers markets, live music, cooking demonstrations, local grocers, farms and ranches, vendor booths and much more.
Los Angeles County Fair is held several miles from downtown LA; at the Pomona Fairgrounds (off Interstate 10). Concerts, carnival rides & games, exhibits, horse shows, home & garden shows, arts & crafts. Big event for the county of Los Angels. Too much to list!
Searching for Parks & Recreation for a given California County? Total Escape features back roads destinations, all small towns & everything outdoors. From ghost towns to redwoods, hot springs to museums, recreational lakes to the best secluded beaches. We try to link to local web sites and gov agencies, when those link don’t break.
Seriously, so much time is wasted updating old links to .gov web site pages. Total Escape URLs have stayed the same since 1996. Some small towns barely have a web presence, much less a city web site. Some seasonal resort areas only have a Facebook page for online promotion. Often city web sites will change from a .us,.com to a .net
There are 58 counties inside the golden state California; more than your average state of the union, cuz the land mass is very large, and terrain diverse. City dwellers may be surprised at how many remote communities still exist. Smaller, rural towns are just aching for your tourists dollars, so go explore some place new. Modoc?