Friday, August 27, 2010

A hot summertime deal in Sonoma

Summer is a lush, warm, and laid-back time in California's fabulous Sonoma Wine Country, and when you can get there on a free tank of gas, why wouldn't you go? The inns of Wine Country Inns are offering a neat way to make it easy (especially for Bay Area and Central Valley vacationers) to take a quick, close-to-home vacation to stroll the cool gardens at Ferrari-Carano Winery (at left) or sip local vintages. Here's the hot summertime deal in Sonoma: From August through October 31, stay two nights on the weekend or one night mid-week with any of their WCI member inns at the normal rate and you'll receive a $50 gas card.

What's to do in summer: enjoy tasting wine or walking in the ripening vineyards, wander bountiful farmers’ markets, kayak on the river, hike along the many local trails, splash in an inn’s pool or hot tub, or just blog about the natural beauty of the area. The warm, sunny days and cool romantic nights make Sonoma a real getaway for Bay Area and Central Valley vacationers, without the hassle of a long plane trip (and those sometimes cuckoo flight attendants who want you to 'take this job and shove it').

Details: This package is available immediately and through October 31, 2010, and includes breakfast. It is based on availability for two persons in one room for consecutive nights; must be requested at time of booking and may not be paired with any other offer. Call the WCI line at 800/946-3268; you must mention the following code WCIFREERIDE.

Tuesday, August 17, 2010

Top choice for a fall visit: San Francisco

Just heard about some annual travel-search data put out by by one of those 'cheap flights' comparison sites, an outfit called Skyscanner. I've never used them, but their press release revealed the most popular destinations for US travelers and the best time to avoid crowds. What I thought was funny was that they call folks who travel a lot "Power Travelers" (aka PTs), which makes some of my family members very powerful indeed (cousin John, are you listening?). And of course, savvy PTs know that the best time to visit a popular destination is in the “off season” when there are fewer crowds. (So I guess they publish all this info on the best times to visit popular destinations for us non-power- travelers, who don't know when the off-season is for these places. I think my feelings are hurt!)

Jonesing for a little sun, sand, surf, and a last-of-summer blast? Check out Honolulu. SkyScanner says it's the seventh most popular destination in the spring, but then by summer it falls to 11th most popular. Translation: the number of tourists drop, too. How come? Lots of factors, but one theory is that we folks in the lower 48 don't need a warm weather haven like Hawaii in summer as much as we do in winter. So summer's the time to look for bargains in flights and hotels in Aloha-land.

Anyway, I was kinda surprised to read that fall is their idea of off-season for San Francisco, since as a local, I've always known that's when SF gets it best weather. But in terms of flight site searches, SF drops
from ninth most popular destination in summer to 17th in the fall. However, what the PTs know (and even some non-PTs), its that weather-wise, fall is San Francisco's best of all seasons: the fog disappears, and days are warm and sunny, with a hint of bay breeze to keep things comfy. So check out the city by the bay in September for good airfare, hotel and restaurant deals in fall. And don't forget to pick up a sourdough baguette!

COPYRIGHT Lora Finnegan 2008-2009

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