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Roller Coaster Therapy in 2 Sunny States

I’ve never had a knack for romanticism. Or gift giving. Or even delivering well-timed compliments. For me, Valentine’s Day may as well be called “the day before the week that I can buy really cheap candy.” But for those who have neither a date nor a taste for drugstore chocolate, Valentine’s Day can be a bit of a stress-fest. That’s why I’m renaming the 15th of February “roller coaster therapy day.”

If you think about it, it’s a perfect post V-Day solution. Instead of the ups and downs of a long-term relationship, you get the twists and turns of a 70mph roller coaster ride. Butterflies in your stomach? Sweaty palms? Yep. It’s like all the adrenaline of a first kiss plotted out over 4,000 feet of track. And in the sunny states of California and Florida, you can find great thrills even in February. Here are a few of my favorites:


Real Retail of Orange County

Watch an episode of Real Housewives of Orange County, and you’ll learn one thing rather quickly—shopping in Southern California is serious business.

Sure, Los Angeles has its Rodeo Drive and New York has flashy Fifth Avenue, but those elite shopping streets boast only 50 or so stores apiece. Orange County has malls that house over 250. And that’s not even counting the restaurants. Shopper senses tingling yet? Here are a few must-shop stops for your next retail retreat:

Fashion Island
It’s not really an island–but it does overlook the ocean. And in an open-air environment like this one, there’s nothing like a little sea breeze to perk you up between purchases. Enjoy a moment of sunshine beside the koi pond, shop for hip urban housewares, or indulge your kids with a ride on the carousel.

Los Angeles: Southern California Starts Here

“I grew up in Southern California.”

To Americans who didn’t grow up in SoCal, this is the equivalent of saying, “I grew up in Los Angeles.” And to the healthy chunk of Gen Xers that devoted their afternoons to Dylan McKay and the 90210 crew, “I grew up in Southern California” means something even more specific: “I grew up in Beverly Hills.” The reality is that I had hardly set foot in Los Angeles–let alone the fabled Hills–until I was old enough for Sunset rock shows and Camel cigarettes. And it wasn’t until a few weeks ago that I got to see Los Angeles from a grown-up point of view.

Travel Wish List: Fire & Wine Butler at The Ritz-Carlton, Half Moon Bay

Whenever I imagine myself on vacation (which, given my line of work, is every single day), I’m most often relaxing on a beach or sitting in front of a fire. In all cases, I’m sipping a glass of wine. So when I found out about The Ritz-Carlton, Half Moon Bay’s new Fire & Wine Butler Service, I was transported from my desk in New York City overlooking the Hudson to a cliff in Northern California overlooking the Pacific.

Santa Barbara Car Free: One California City Gets Serious About Carbon

We here in San Francisco always groan a little when visitors rent a car. After all, Fog City is one of the few destinations in the U.S. where it’s not necessary to have a car to see the sights. Why pay all that money just to leave the rental in the hotel’s parking garage?

Often in the U.S. when we think about “car-free destinations,” we think of big cities like New York City, Boston, and San Francisco. But what should you do if you want to go car-free and get away from the hubbub of urban life? I now have an answer for you: visit Santa Barbara.

carbon certificate