SoCal Summer Guide – Inland Empire Splash Pads

June is just beginning, but the summer heat has already shown up in the Inland Empire.

A splash pad – a recreation area with no or little standing water – is a great place to cool off in the summer heat without all the stress of going to the neighborhood pool.

A splash pad is something all of the children can enjoy – from bigger kids to toddling babies. One-year-olds love to splash in a small pool of water.  Older kids love watching other kids manipulate streams of water and sticking their feet in the fountains in the ground.

Inland-Empire-Splash-Pads

Photo Credit: City of Lake Elsinore

Splash Pad Tips

  • Wear sunscreen and bring an umbrella if there is not going to be shade nearby.
  • Wear a swimsuit to play in the water and consider water shoes. Avoid flip flops that get slippery when wet or catch on rubberized ground.
  • Don’t bring the family dog to a splash pad. Not only could a child with a fear of dogs be forced to leave the pad, but even a well-trained dog could get nervous or overexcited around screaming, running kids.
  • Since there is no need for a lifeguard at a splash pad, keep a close eye on your children.
  • Wear swimsuits to a splash pad if possible, including swim diapers if needed.

 

 

Inland Empire Splash Pads

There are many splash pads all over Inland Empire (Riverside and San Bernardino counties) – from public spaces, regional parks to water parks.

Here’s a list of some you don’t need to pay admission to get you started.

  • Citrus Park Splash Pad at Citrus Parkin Corona is open from 10 a.m. to 7 p.m. until September 30th. The splash pad, which features water cannons, leaf-like structures and other ways to play, is near two playgrounds and grass areas for drying off in the sun.
  • Victoria Gardens in Rancho Cucamonga has a small fountain feature splash pad in the center of the shopping area, close to Bath & Body Works and Ben and Jerry’s. There is a family-friendly bathroom nearby for changing.
  • Monte Vista Park in Chino features a fenced-in splash pad with a tall geyser spray and has benches nearby.  The seven-acre park, which also features playgrounds and basketball courts, will have the splash pad running 7 days a week  Open  June 14 – September 1 from 10am-6pm.
  • The colorfully-lit interactive fountain at The Shoppes at Chino Hills is in the middle of the shopping center. There is a bathroom for changing nearby, so change out of your swimsuit and get dry before you go shopping or have lunch.
  • Veterans Park in Colton has along with the splash pad has large trees and grass nearby for moms to stay in the shade. There is two playgrounds, other activities and a library and community center.
  • The splash pad at Tom Minor Park in San Bernardino is right next to a covered area with picnic benches and a playground. However, there are no bathrooms at the park – the nearby Arco station bathroom (by Starbucks) is the closest option.
  • Lake Elsinore’s Canyon Hills Community Park has a splash pad along with its 18 acres of park activities and sport fields. The  whimsical splash pad is walled off and surrounded by umbrellas to keep parents cool.

Updated 06/20/2014. Posted 06/04/2014.

SoCal Travel Guide – Temecula Winery Getaway Tips

There are many things to do in Inland Empire, but the jewel of the valley is Temecula Wine Country.  Temecula Wine Country is a little known secret nestled between San Diego and Los Angeles and offers a variety of options for a romantic getaway or a getaway with friends.  Whether you are a foodie and music lover like me or a wine enthusiasts, there is something for everyone to enjoy.   Out of town friends that have never visited the area before, always go home feeling like the have enjoyed a little bit of paradise.

I recommend the World of Wines event in March or Barrel Tasting Celebration during the month of November.  Each event includes wine tasting at over 30 wineries with gourmet food pairings.   The WOW events are a great way to visit all the wineries and discover  new favorite places.  If you’re visiting Temecula for the first time I also recommend a stop into Old Town with a visit to EAT Marketplace for brunch and Havana Kitchen for dinner.

Temecula_Wine_Country_Getaway2

Wilson Creek Winery

Temecula Getaway Guide

If you’re planning a weekend getaway to Temecula Wine Country print this vetted list of favorite Temecula Wine Country destinations and prepare for a breath-taking weekend  of scenic views, great food and wine tasting.

Make sure to visit this page before making a trip again and again as I’ll keep adding additional tips & discounts when available.

Temecula_Wine_Country_Getaway61

Leoness Cellars Winery

 

Temecula’s Best Wineries

Europa Village Winery – Europa Village is an elegant and charming winery.   The European style reminds you of an Old World European village with some modern flair.  Some of the best things about the winery include the wine cave, ample seating spaces and views of the vineyards.    The staff is very knowledgable and friendly and make you feel like a part of the family.  The Dans de Vin Artists Series and  Moscato wine is one of the favorite wines in the region.

Leoness Cellars Winery –  Founded in 2003, The Leoness Cellars Winery also known as “The Village of Dreams” cellars is located in the rolling hills of wine country.  They also have a great restaurant and tasting options.   The White Merlot is one of the favorite Rosés in the region.

Miramonte Winery – Known as the hippest Winery in town, the Miramonte Winery is nestled on top of a hill overlooking the Temecula wine country! Some of the best features of the winery include the outdoor veranda, vintages, Live music and water misters.  The winery also serves several Mediterranean plates that pair well with your wine tasting.  The Miramonte Winery Sangria is also one of the finest Sangrias in the region. The owner is also very savvy with Social Media and you can find him online from time to time sharing his insider wine and entrepreneur tips.  Also, keep your eyes open for Mojo, the hippest dog in wine country.

Robert Renzoni Vineyards & Winery – The winery is located on an Italian Villa in Temecula Wine Country.  The history of the families wine make experience also dates back to Italy.  You will literally feel like you have been transferred into a small Italian Villa in Italy when you walk thru the winery.  The restaurant also serves an assortment of delicious salads and fries.  You can also purchase their signature olive oil, vinegar, marinara sauce and hot chili sauces.  The Moscato wine is one of the favorite.

Wilson Creek Winery – There are so many things to do at Wilson Creek, including concerts, picnics, lunch, tastings and dinner.  I recommend an early afternoon brunch at The Creekside Grill.   There are several delicious plates including the Cheese plate, Bruschetta and Gerry’s Reuben sandwich.   Make sure to get the mimosas any time of day.

 

Temecula_Wine_Country1

The Restaurant at Leoness Cellars – Pear & Gargonzola

 

 

Temecula’s Best Dining Spots

Creek Side Grill at Wilson Creek

E.A.T. Marketplace

Havana Kitchen

South Coast Winery – Vineyard Rose Restaurant

The Restaurant at Leoness Cellars

The Restaurant at Ponte Winery * reservations recommended

Broken Yolk

Temecula Wine Country Accommodations

The Inn at Churon

The Inn at Europa Villa

Temecula Wine Country Villa Chateau $399-$699 per night – sleeps 12

Temecula Wine Tasting Transportation

We recommend the all-inclusive day trip on the Grapeline Wine Tours.  The shuttle will stop at four wineries and includes a picnic lunch, behind the scene tours of vineyards and wine-tasting.

Temecula Wine Country Seasonal Events

March – Celebrate World Of Wines for 30 wineries.  The weekend events includes a self-guided wine tasting with gourmet food pairings for over 30 wineries.

September – Celebrate California Wine Month during the month of September 2014 with a SIP passport.  For $40 you get to visit 4 wineries. The SIP Temecula passport includes 4 wine-tastings at 4 separate wineries of your choice.  The discount is about 50% average cost of wine tasting prices.   Get your SIP  Temecula passport here and celebrate California Wine month.

November  – Annual Barrel Tasting Weekend.   Visit over 30 wineries for a fun-filled self-guided Food & Wine adventure in Temecula Wine Country.  Purchase tickets at the Temecula Growers Annual Barrel Tasting or an all-inclusive tickets with transportation to Grapeline Wine Tours Annual Barrel Tasting.

Temecula Wine Country Discount Tips

If you’re looking for a luxurious experience at reasonable prices also check-out Travel Zoo Temecula Wine Country offers  for huge discounts on afternoon wine tasting tours, spa treatments and more.  Travel Zoo discounts typically need to be purchased in advance so plan accordingly.

 

I hope you enjoy your stay in beautiful Temecula Wine Country.

Cheers!

Eva Smith Tech Life Magazine

 

SoCal Travel Guide – Oceanside Pier

Oceanside Beach is one of my favorite beaches to capture a sunset!  You can stroll down the pier, listen to the waves, enjoy lunch at the local diner on the pier and watch a beautiful sunset.  It is also one of the friendliest places to park your car, go fishing, enjoy the sun, a stroll on the pier, take a coastal walk and lunch or dinner at Ruby’s diner.

It is one of my favorite places to visit during the summer.  We have made a lot of memories there.

 

 

Additional details

City of Oceanside Pier

Address

Located at N Pacific St, Oceanside, CA 92054, you can

 

Celebrating 365 Days of California Strawberries Farm & Culinary Event

Did you know that  nearly 90 percent of U.S.-grown fresh strawberries come from California, with more than 1.7 BILLION pounds being harvested annually – basically, if California were a country, it would be the world’s largest producer of strawberries!

I recently attended the 365 Days of California Strawberries Farm & Culinary Event and learned about the process of growing, cooking and  celebrating life with strawberries.    We enjoyed over 30 different appetizers and entrees made with fresh California Strawberries and toured a California Strawberries farm.  All our strawberry inspired recipes can be easily made at home.

California Strawberries Beach Side

We started off the festivities with a beachside gathering with strawberry appetizers and main dishes.  We had grilled salmon with fresh strawberry mango salsa , strawberry salad with berry dressing, chocolate dipped strawberries and strawberry shortcake.  Two of my favorites dishes were the strawberry gazpacho and strawberry mango salsa.  The gazpacho was light and delightfully sweet.  I also couldn’t resist getting second and third servings of the Mango Salsa with tortilla chips.

 

 

California Strawberries Farm Tour

The following day we headed out to a California Strawberries Farm for a hands on tour of a family owned and operated Strawberry Farm.   We walked through the strawberry fields, learned how to properly pick strawberries, touched and smelled the soil with our bare hands and ate fresh strawberries. We also learned about the hard work, discipline and dedication involved in farming Strawberries.

There are more than 400 strawberry farmers in California, many from multi-generational farming families who grow both conventional and organic strawberries. California grows more organic strawberries than any other place in the world.

Terry & Will Terry (L-R) – Father & Son – Terry Berries Strawberry Farmers

Our favorite multi-generational strawberry farm is Terry Berries Farm, the farm we toured.   Edgar Terry an Oxnard native and farmer was raised by a family that has farmed in Ventura, California since 1890. A fourth generation Californian, Edgar wanted to be a farmer since he was a child.   Edgar runs his family owned business, Terry Farms, Inc., alongside his wife of 29 years, Martha, who handles HR for the company. His son, William, handles the day-to-day farming activities, while his daughter manages employee compliance, hiring and food safety. Edgar’s brother runs the machine shop.  In addition to growing strawberries on 200 acres since 2002, Edgar grows a variety of crops, including celery, peppers, cilantro and spinach on about 2,000 acres of land.

 

California Strawberries Culinary Event

After our California Strawberries Farm tour we celebrated with more Strawberry inspired recipes.  Our specially prepared menu highlights the nutritional benefits and creatively prepared recipe ideas for  cooking with strawberries:

We enjoyed fresh herbs in farms cheese with stuffed strawberries rolled in pecan bacon.  Yes! Bacon.  These yummy appetizers were very savory.  The lacinto kale salad with strawberries, red grapes, spicy candied pecan & blue cheese was my favorite entree.

After enjoying the mountain views  for a couple minutes we enjoyed our next course, grilled chicken tacos with savory strawberry serrano, fire roasted corn, red onions, avocado salsa with ancho cheese.   We also savored a peanut butter, strawberry jam and bacon Kobe slider with waffle fries and strawberry ketchup.  The strawberry ketchup was delicious!

We ended our culinary experience with a strawberry shortcake popsicle and strawberries and ice cream.   It was truly one of the most amazing culinary experiences I have ever attended.  My palette is still dancing!

California Strawberries Nutritional FUN facts

  • Superfruit: 8 strawberries contain more vitamin C than an orange. Low in sugar, with only about 50 calories, strawberries are a great source of fiber, folate and potassium.
  • Stay smart with strawberries: According to a recent study, eating strawberries more than twice a week appears to delay cognitive aging by up to 2.5 years!
  • Good for your heart: Potassium found in strawberries can help control blood pressure and fight strokes. Plus, antioxidants, fiber and phytochemicals in strawberries have been shown to reduce total cholesterol levels.

 

The next time you buy and eat strawberries, I hope you remember my California Strawberries tour and consider creating nutritional strawberry inspired recipes to celebrate life. Make sure to visit California Strawberries for strawberry recipe ideas & additional tips.

I’m very thankful to California Strawberries for the opportunity to tour a California Strawberries farm and the Terry Family for sharing their love and passion for farming strawberries.

 

 

Disclosure:  I was invited by California Strawberries to tour a California Strawberries Farm.  All opinions are 100% my own.

 

Question:  What is your favorite strawberry inspired recipe?

Virtual Tour of 911 Memorial in New York

I had the opportunity to visit the 911 Memorial.  The memorial commemorates the September 11 attacks in 2001 and stand in the same location where the World Trade Center stood.  The experience was very solemn. 

We stood in silence for over an hour and crossed several lines and check points.  Once we entered the memorial  we walked through the park full of walkways and trees.   The memorial plans to install 400 oak trees in stages and symbolize hope, rebirth, renewal and resilence.   The trees will eventually grow to 80 ft in height and will also provide environmental benefits to Manhattan.  We also walked through the paths of  the twin memorial pools where the WTC twin towers once stood and read the names of victims who lost their lives.  

Towards the end of our tour we visited the survivor tree, which withstood the 9/11 attacks.  The callery pear tree was found among the rubble of the WTC and was badly burned, but still had a live branch.   The tree was nursed back to life at the NYC Parks and Recreation and returned to the 911 memorial site in time for the grand opening.  

Today on the anniversary of September 11 we honor the memory and service of all men and women who lost their lives and the families affected by this event. We also honor the men and women and families who protect our freedom.

For more information about the 911 memorial or to plan a visit go to www.911memorial.org.

Virtual Tour of 911 Memorial in New York

Question: Have you visited the 911 Memorial? Do you plan to visit the 911 memorial?  Do you remember what you were doing on 9/11? How has this event impacted you?

Google Glass Find Your Island Challenge

 

Sharing some photos and a video from our recent #FindYourIsland Challenge. The Beaches of Fort Myers & Sanibel recently sent five Google Glass Explorers on the ultimate adventure on The Beaches of Fort Myers & Sanibel for the Find Your Island Challenge. We experienced the best of the warm Gulf waters and breathtaking islands through a series of Google Glass challenges, from kayaking and parasailing to creating delicious cuisine and capturing beautiful sunsets all while sharing our experience #throughglass.

Enter the beaches of Fort Myers & Sanibel Find Your Island sweepstakes to win your own vacation experience.  The grand prize includes your very own trip to Fort Meyers & Sanibel as well as a pair of Google Glasses!

Captured on Google Glass: Our cameraman #throughglass

Captured on Google Glass: My first time parasailing! It was a very calm and serene experience above it all.  I didn’t want to go back to the boat. #throughglass

Very thankful to the Beaches of Fort Myers for the challenge.  So honored to be included in this great experience with fellow Google Glass Explorers “Loki” Williams, Jeris Miller and Keith Kaplan.

 

We found our island!   Visit the Beaches of Fort Myers  & Sanibel and find your island.

Find Your Island Google Glass Challenge


I’m so excited to share the news!  I will be participating in the Find Your Island Challenge with four other Google Glass Explorers. Take the time to meet the Find Your Island Google Explorers, read our bios and join us on an adventure of a lifetime by following the #FindYourIsland hashtag.   This seriously feels like a high tech version of survivor challenge!

 

Travel Details

We’ll be traveling to the  Beaches of Fort Myers & Sanibel from September 6-9 and sharing our experience through a series of Google Glass challenges.  We’ll be kayaking, eating delicious cuisine and enjoying beautiful sunsets.   I’m so excited to be a part of this campaign with a great group of Google Glass early adopters.

 

 

Giveaway

You can also enter to win your own Google Glass vacation experience at  http://woobox.com/g9nns5.  The grand prize includes your very own trip to Fort Meyers & Sanibel as well as a pair of Google Glasses!

 

I’m off to finish packing!   I hope you will join us on our adventure!

 

 

 

Question: What will you do with your Google Glass vacation package if you win?

Ford Trends – Go Further With Ford Conference 2013

I had the opportunity to attend the Further With Ford  ‪#‎FordTrends‬ 2013 Event & Conference in Detroit, Michigan.  Ford brought together 200 of the nations thought leaders, media and influencers to discuss 13 Trends of 2013, focusing on  five key trends: Disrupting the Drive, Greentopia, Returning to Your Senses, Sculpting the Future and Trust Is the New Black.  

It was a once in a lifetime opportunity to get an insiders look at the Ford culture and innovation.  Ford shared how they bring value and innovation to product design by focusing on the relationship with the consumer and the importance that trust has in the success of a company.  Ford  also gave us a sneak peek to test equipment, partnerships they are working on to improve sustainability and a first hand look at car prototypes of the future. I’m very excited about the way Ford is integrating technology into their product testing & development to make the vehicles of the future almost human-like.  Can you imagine a car of the future sensing your mood and modifying the climate in the car based on it’s interpretations? It’s going to happen!

One of the things I also liked about the Ford Trends conference is that I was able  to reconnect with fellow bloggers and influencers.  Ford Trends conferences provided the forum to learn, network and  partner with fellow bloggers on the test drives and sessions. 

 

Top Five Highlights at Go Further With Ford — Ford Trends 2013 Conference

Visiting the Henry Ford Museum. I was able to learn about Henry Ford’s innovation and legacy.  There are many Ford vehicles, including the Model T and several Presidential cars.  I was also able to sit in the restored Rosa Park’s bus which inaugurated the civil rights movement.  The Ford museum acquired the bus in 2001 after outbidding the Smithsonian Institute with a winning bid of $427, 919.  After doing a little more research, I also learned I sat in Rosa Park’s historic seat.

Meeting Apple Computer CoFounder and Philantropist, Steve Wozniak,  was definitely a lifetime highlight for me.  As an Engineer, I have always admired his innovation.  Steve Wozniak is credited for being the main designer of the first Apple computers. Steve Wozniak also intrigued us with his input on how technology is being integrated into the cars of the future.

We also toured the city of Detroit and participated in various Ford car test driving expeditions and had the opportunity to preview the Ford concept Atlas truck.  The car is futuristic and perfect for a man that loves big trucks with a little edge.  I learned to drive the Fusion Energi efficiently and also tested tried to drive the Ford Fusion around the track in 40 seconds.  I definitely would recommend the Fusion Energi to drivers that are looking for an earth friendly economical vehicle.

 

We celebrated the 50th birthday of the Ford Mustang, my favorite Ford vehicle! Happy Birthday Mustang.  Wishing you another 50 years of success! Ford launched a cool Youtube channel to celebrate 50th anniversary of the Mustang. Watch the Ford Mustang countdown on Youtube by clicking the link.

 

The most memorable part of the conference were the speakers. One of my favorite presentations was the Returning to Your Senses session by Google’s Jenny Lyyken and her discussion on personal choices that attribute to our health, happiness and work balance.  It definitely left a big impression on me and was a great reminder to be a compassionate leader in the workplace.

 

The 13 Trends to follow in 2013 video presentations are also available on Youtube.  If you have the time, I would recommend you watch them or at  least one presentation.

Question:   What was your favorite session at the Ford Trends conference?  What was your biggest takeaway from your favorite session.

Wordless Wednesday: Tranquil Vacation Spaces

Welcome to Wordless Wednesday link up! This week’s topic is Tranquil Vacation Spaces.   

My favorite Tranquil space is Glen Ivy Hot Springs Spas.  It’s the perfect place to relax, detox and rejuvenate.  We travel to Glen Ivy a couple times of year for a  girls day out.  It’s a perfect getaway day trip to unwind.  I also take an annual mother, daughters and granddaughter day out where we pamper my mom.

Question:  What is your tranquil vacation space?  If you’re linking up, be sure to include the title of your photo.

 

Roadtrip to Petrified Forest National Park – Arizona

The Petrified Forest National Park is a United States national park in Navajo and Apache counties in northeastern Arizona.  It is considered one of the largest concentrations of petrified trees in the world.  The tree trunks in the forest have fossilized as petrified wood and is noted for its agates and late Triassic fossils.

A Spanish explorer is rumored to have named the area “El Desierto Pintado” (The Painted Desert) because the hills looked like they were painted with the colors of the sunset.

The trees in the petrified forest look like someone sawed the logs apart but are actually cracked over a period of time.  We were very fortunate to hike throughout the park.  The climate changed several times during our visit at the National park. At the beginning of the exploration there was heavy rains, winds and monsoon warnings.

In the middle of the trip is was hot but very clear.  It was a perfect opportunity to see all the colors of the Petrified Trees.

Towards the final hour of our hike we were alone in complete silence with the petrified forest and we were able to capture the beauty of the forest and a close and personal view of a colorful collared lizard which makes the Petrified Forest their home.  It was a surreal experience for a city girl like me that loves trees.

One of the things I couldn’t help but wonder is how the Petrified Forest was formed.  According to the Petrified National Park the forest dates back to 218 million years ago.  There was a large river system with coniferous trees, tree ferns, and some gingkoes trees along the waterways. As the trees died naturally, some floated downstream to form log jams.

The mineral silica, from volcanic ash, in stages of crystallization replaced most of the organic wood to form petrified trees.  The various “forests”  are those log jams which form the individual parks.   Today some people use petrified wood as a semi-precious gem.  However, it is against the law to remove petrified trees from the National park.

For additional Petrified Forest National Park photos, please go to my FB page HERE.   To plan a visit, go to the Petriefied Forest National Park website:  http://www.nps.gov/pefo .

 

Disclosure: The Latino Heritage roadtrip was partially funded by American Latino FundVerizon Wireless & General Motors.  The vehicle driven during the roadtrip was provided by General Motors.  All opinions and content rights are my own.

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