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Courtesy of LEGOLand Hotel

Think you can make an impressive LEGO home? Try building a hotel made of LEGOs. Now that the Ice Hotel has melted, take a spring fling with the family to America’s first LEGOLAND Hotel that just opened this month. Located right at the main entrance of LEGOLAND California Resort, guests can stay and play a LEGO’s throw away from the park’s attractions designed for the young and the young at heart.

Now, we should mention that the entire hotel isn’t made of LEGOs (this is earthquake-plagued California, after all), but the iconic plastic-building block is imaginatively integrated throughout this kiddie hotel heaven. Children and parents alike will be wowed by this novel hotel: approximately 3,422 LEGO models have been built throughout the hotel out of more than 3 million LEGO bricks (don’t worry, parents, you won’t have to clean up any of this). Everything comes to life here with 7 large-scale LEGO models that are animated, like a bubble-blowing LEGO dragon taking a bath on the patio that speaks to children passing by.

Guests can choose between 3 themed-rooms modeled after the most popular LEGOLAND areas: Pirate, Kingdom and Adventure. There’s plenty of room for the entire family, with 2 separate sleeping areas — a queen-size bed for grown-ups, and a separate area for up to 3 little ones, complete with a bunk bed, pull-out trundle bed and their very own TV. And each room has LEGO blocks ready for you to build your own architectural wonders.

Designed with imagination in every detail, the hotel’s fun features include secret whoopee cushions, disco-themed elevators, treasure trails and exploding toy boxes.  Dining is even kid-focused at LEGOLAND Hotel. Bricks Family Restaurant serves a breakfast and dinner buffet with a station specifically designed for kids at a height they can reach, while the Skyline Café features a LEGO city skyline with 35 kid-pleasing scenes.

With a fun place to rest and exclusive early-morning access to select rides and attractions at the park, families will be on a 24-hour fun-filled ride. While this is the only LEGOLAND where you can spend a night, there are LEGOLAND theme parks all over the world — from Florida to Germany to Malaysia. And while the parks will amaze any age, they are designed specifically for children 2 to 12.

 

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San Francisco is a huge tourist destination, with Alcatraz, Fisherman’s Wharf and the Golden Gate Bridge all drawing crowds. Sure, on my trip out west, I had to see the sights, but right across the famous red bridge was the best part of my getaway: The often-overlooked Mill Valley, located 14 miles north of San Francisco in the beautiful, mountainous Marin County.

What feels like a combination of beach town and Swiss mountain hamlet, Mill Valley offers a quiet taste of NorCal life, with boutique shops, eco-conscious restaurants and enough outdoor space to fill days and days with hiking. When I escaped to warmer climes for a week, stumbling upon Mill Valley was a happy accident.

My Top Picks in Marin County:

Mill Valley Inn
Imagine an upscale beachside hotel. But at the foot of a mountain. Surrounded by woods. With free breakfast, a free wine and cheese reception, a fireplace in the room and a balcony overlooking redwoods, this is my new favorite hotel. They’ll also offer you a bike, if you’d like to explore that way. But beware: there are a lot of hills.

El Paseo

Tucked away in a stone-covered alleyway, El Paseo is Tyler Florence and Sammy Hagar’s take on a traditional chophouse, serving up finely aged steaks and local, sustainable ingredients. The pair worked together to restore this historic restaurant, which was originally opened in 1948. El Paseo retains its rustic feel with exposed brick, reclaimed wood and plenty of candlelight. Also, you have to order a steak. And perhaps the crispy duck wings.

Bungalow 44
A stylish bar with large, cushy booths, Bungalow 44 prides itself on its California cuisine, as well as its creative cocktails. It doesn’t get much fresher than their cucumber margarita and perfectly cooked ahi tuna. Even though I ate here before the live Jazz started, I still felt like I was dining in a 1940s supper club.

Super Duper Burger
This place may claim to serve fast food, but it is anything but typical. There are 5 locations throughout San Francisco, and luckily there is one right down the street from the Mill Valley Inn. The beef is delivered from San Fran’s own Niman Ranch and ground fresh daily. The pickles are homemade and the buns are toasted. Top it all off with fries finished with fresh garlic and 6-month aged cheddar. I mean, come on.

Stinson Beach

Even on a foggy day, Stinson Beach is a beautiful place for a walk. Climb over rocks and watch the waves crash below you, or sit along the shore and watch the surfers take their chances. Hidden on the other side of Mount Tamalpais, (if you’re prone to car sickness, watch out – the road is CURVY) this beach feels worlds away from Mill Valley. On the drive back, pull over wherever you can find a parking spot, because sure enough, there will be a trailhead with spectacular views of the water.

Marin Headlands

If you pull off the road right before getting on the Golden Gate Bridge, you’ll come across the Marin Headlands. Drive up the road a little and you’ll find overlooks that’ll take your breath away. After grabbing pics of the San Francisco skyline, hike a little further. Not only will the Golden Gate look so close you could touch it, but there you’ll also find the historic Fort Barry and Fort Cronkhite. Or what’s left of them.

Denver residents Ventana and Jamian had no idea what they were getting themselves into when they agreed to let Bert arrange an all-expenses-paid, 3-day dream vacation to Los Angeles, but I doubt they’ll be regretting their decision anytime soon.

Think you’d enjoy living life like a Hollywood celebrity? Wondering what it would be like to fly in the Goodyear blimp over Los Angeles, taking in some of the city’s most iconic fixtures? Ever wanted to stay in the home of a celebrity or bowl with one, for that matter? How about getting a complete movie-style makeover and appearing in a zombie flick?

Tune in tonight at 8|7c to see how our vacationers partook in activities they could never in their wildest dreams have imagined doing and see all the fun that went along with it.

Plus, check out exclusive behind-the-scenes photos from Ventana and Jamian’s trip to Tinseltown.

Anthony travels to the snowy mountains of Mammoth Lakes, CA, to bring a beautiful, rustic family-owned lodge into the modern age. Robert Schaubmayer has owned and operated the 58-room Alpenhof Lodge since 1973, and it sits just steps away from the chair lifts of the popular ski resort, Mammoth Mountain.

Despite its charming, first-rate exterior, the Alpenhof’s outdated interior and dysfunctional family dynamics are keeping it from being a 5-star hotel. Robert refuses to pass on responsibility to any of his family members, including his 2 sons, who currently own an extremely popular restaurant next to the hotel.

After doing a bit of digging, Anthony also discovers that the family’s marketing efforts are mostly unsuccessful, despite being so close to a huge tourist attraction.

With time running out, can Anthony convince Robert to step down after 40 years of running the Alpenhof Lodge before it gets permanently stuck in the past? Find out on an all-new episode, tonight at 10|9c.

Plus, don’t miss these exclusive behind-the-scenes photos from Anthony’s trip to Mammoth Lakes.

Anthony’s next stop on his quest to save the hotel industry lands him at the The Curve Hotel in Palm Springs, CA. Just a 2-hour drive from Los Angeles, Palm Springs, “Playground of the Stars,” is known for its abundant sunshine, relaxing atmosphere and ultra-modern hotels.

In recent years, dozens of small boutique hotels have opened in Palm Springs, competing with one another to recapture that swank 50s vibe. The Curve Hotel’s owners, bought the 150-room property back in 2008 when it was still a 1-star budget roadside motel and they have recently decided to turn it into a boutique hotel to cash in on the craze. Unfortunately, their decision to upgrade hasn’t worked out so far, and the owners have seen a significant drop in occupancy.

As soon as Anthony drives into the parking lot, he realizes that The Curve hotel is in the midst of an identity crisis – is it a boutique hotel, or is it a travel lodge?

Will Anthony be able to help the hotel’s owners turn things around before they get left in the dust by the competition? Find out on an all-new episode, tonight at 10|9c.

Plus, check out exclusive behind-the-scenes photos from Anthony’s trip to Palm Springs.

Brookdale Lodge

Tonight at 9|8c, catch an all-new episode of Ghost Adventures when the guys head to Brookdale, CA. There they investigate the once-famous, but recently-closed Brookdale Lodge, which was known as a resort getaway for the rich and famous, but now seems to be haunted by an evil presence. This presence has led to more than one bloody nose, and seems to be a little too heavy for the guys, who escape for a day to the Santa Cruz Beach Boardwalk. READ MORE

By Oyster.com Staff

Palm Springs, smack-dab in the middle of the California desert, has long had a reputation as a retirement community. But gradual changes — such as a burgeoning art and music scene, and a recent influx of fine-dining restaurants — have morphed this resort city into a relaxing getaway for a new crowd. Nowadays, many young and middle-aged professionals flock here for some quality R&R. After all, the city boasts a handful of luxury spas, as well as top-notch golf courses and beautiful vistas. READ MORE

By Marianela Pereyra

Marianela at Point Lobos

As a little girl, I would use my imagination to make my favorite fairy tales come to life. When I arrived at Point Lobos State Reserve Park to shoot Marianela’s Top 10 California Beaches, I felt like I was stepping into one of the fairy tales I used to dream about. Point Lobos is one of the most stunning coastal preserves in California. It boasts beautiful trails with unbelievable views of the coastline, and it’s the perfect place to interact with and appreciate wildlife and nature. I was immediately curious about the wildflowers, especially one named Sticky Monkey Flower. One thing you should definitely bring is a set of binoculars. You can spot gray whales in the winter, sea lions, baby otters, deer and falcons, and — if you are feeling adventurous — you can take a dip in the great Pacific blue with a shore dive!

READ MORE

This week’s Haunted Destination of the Week is Amargosa Opera House. Learn why »

Photograph by Ken Lund, flickr


Meet Marianela Pereyra – the host of our new web series, Marianela’s Top 10 California Beaches. Over the next few weeks, she’ll be blogging about each of her favorite beaches in the Golden State. Stay tuned for her insider tips, and check out our gallery of behind-the-scenes photos from the shoot to learn more. 

By Marianela Pereyra

I was born in Buenos Aires, Argentina, the daughter of 2 professional tango dancers, and I was introduced to the world of travel at the tender age of 3 months. This is where it all started for me, making the backstage of many theaters my home and the backyard of many countries my playground. It’s no secret that I continue to be a traveling nomad. READ MORE

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