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Fall-Focused Excursions in SoCal

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Image courtesy of www.VisitBuenaPark.com

If you’re looking forward to a fun-filled October, fall season or holiday getaway but haven’t decided on a destination, you should definitely consider a trip to Buena Park, California. It’s home to five of the seven major attractions in Orange County, which is why the area has long been considered the entertainment capital of Southern California. It’s an ideal location since there are so many exciting things for everyone to do within a few miles of each other! In fact, it’s only five miles from Disneyland, 15 miles from beaches and 20 miles from downtown Los Angeles … but perhaps a million miles from your everyday life. So that means you’ll get the best bang for your travel buck!

For example, you can dive into some outdoor thrills at ‘Knott’s Berry Farm’ theme park featuring rides that are sure to get your heart racing!  “HangTime,” set 150-feet above the boardwalk, is the first and only dive coaster in California, while the new white water attraction “Calico River Rapids” will take you into uncharted territory. However, if adrenaline isn’t your thing, Knott’s Berry Farm is bursting with other attractions and entertainment for all ages, including stage shows, interactive experiences, delicious food creations and family-friendly fun featuring Snoopy and the Peanuts Gang.

While in Buena Park, you can continue to make a splash at Orange County’s largest outdoor water park, “Knott’s Soak City,” which boasts 23 water slides, a gigantic wave pool and cabana rentals!

And when the sun goes down, you can make “eating” an experience with interactive dinner shows like the “Pirate’s Dinner Adventure” set aboard an 18th century Spanish galleon replica … the “Medieval Times Dinner and Tournament”… or the new vaudeville variety dinner show, “Teatro Martini.” For all you foodies hungry for high-quality cuisine, check out Porto’s Bakery and Cafe featuring the owners’ original recipes from Cuba. With its famed potato balls, pastries and more, you’ll quickly taste why this eatery has a four-and-a-half star rating on Yelp with nearly 4,000 reviews! Also be sure to check out Mrs. Knott’s Chicken Dinner, which has been family tradition In Buena Park for more than 80 years!  One of America’s most popular family restaurants, it’s been serving up Cordelia Knott’s fried chicken, homemade biscuits and boysenberry pies since 1934. In fact, Buena Park is the birthplace of the boysenberry––created right there more than 60 years ago.

I also love the food and atmosphere at Rock N Brews, the brainchild of KISS front-men Gene Simmons and Paul Stanley, which serves up comfort food and a side of rock ‘n roll. Also popular is The Cauldron Sprits and Brews, an immersive dining experience featuring uniquely themed French-casual gastro grub with a wicked twist. This includes the “Knotty Kid” cocktail named after the adjacent amusement park, made of boysenberry cotton candy, vodka and lemon juice.

Another reason I recommend vacationing in Buena Park is because it’s an affordable SoCal destination with reasonably-priced hotels, and the city often has great promotions. In fact, this November and December, the City of Buena Park will honor the men and women of the United States Military with exclusive deals on the area’s top hotels, attractions and restaurants. Perks include complimentary upgrades, free theme park admission and discounted rates on Buena Park Hotels.  Those interested can learn more at VisitBuenaPark.com/military.

So, in all, Buena Park is a fabulous home base for fall and holiday travel, with tons of potential for fun, food and adventures! Check out VisitBuenaPark.com for more information and to order your free travel guide!

Also fun this fall is Oktoberfest at Big Bear Lake happening every weekend from now through November 2, where you can break out those lederhosen and dirndls and cluck the night away to the chicken dance! Of course, you can also enjoy ice-cold German beer served at eight bars, including the Craft House, which serves a variety of beers to go along with juicy bratwurst hot off the grill, homemade sauerkraut and fresh apple strudel.

At Big Bear Lake Oktoberfest, there’s continuous live entertainment on two stages––including traditional polkas and dance floor favorites performed by real German bands. Other fun activities include log sawing competitions, stein holding contests, beer pong and more. There’s also a family section full of midway carnival games, face painting, inflatable slides and multiple bounce houses. So, see for yourself why Big Bear Lake’s event is Southern California’s number-one rated Oktoberfest. Purchase tickets online at BigBearEvents.com.

While in Big Bear, also check out the ropes course, which takes family adventure to new heights! This two-level obstacle course for both kids and adults towers 35 feet off the ground and offers 37 different challenges. Many of its features are exposed to nothing but air. One exciting element is the sky rail zipline stretching 80 feet and extending out onto a ledge, enhancing the overall thrill. Big Bear ropes course ensures the highest standards of safety, including a full-body harness connected to a safety line that’s inserted into a continuous track system. Each participant is fully secured at all times, from start to finish. The Big Bear ropes course is open daily, all-year round, and the cost is just $12 per person. Check it out at BigBearRopesCourse.com.

All of that travel will surely make you hungry, so I have some tasty finds on that front as well—a few of my favorite experiences in San Diego. ….

Travel

7 Reasons to Go on an Adventure Cycling Trip

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racing-through-city

What’s life without any adventure? For those seeking an exciting hobby that offers a lot of benefits, cycling is the way to go.

Don’t just settle for a stroll around the park, though. Go adventure cycling instead. Not convinced? Here are a few good reasons to start adventure cycling.

racing-through-city

racing-through-city

It’s a Great Way to Get in Shape

According to a study conducted by Harvard, cycling can burn up to 298 calories in just 30 minutes. Going up and down hills and mountains works out the leg muscles minus the high impact. If you’re sick of doing the same things at the gym or just simply not into committing to membership fees, cycling is an excellent way to lose a few pounds. 

Tip: alternate different intensities by biking faster or slower every few minutes.

It Boosts Creativity and Tinkering Skills  

Apart from the physical challenge adventure cycling offers, it can also test one’s creativity, especially in building the perfect bike to suit one’s needs. Each part and accessory of your bicycle should fit your needs, comfort, and taste. Build a bike that can withstand any challenge you throw at it and you will take pride in wherever you take it.

Tip: search online to get the reliable, high-quality power meters, handlebars, and unique saddlebags for an optimal ride. Make sure each part you get is durable while still looking sleek and helping you build an effective training routine.

It’s Great for Bonding with Loved Ones

Going adventure cycling will be much more fun with the company of your family and friends. Being out into the wild with loved ones is an excellent way to spend quality time. It can also reinforce trust and teamwork as working together is vital especially when riding through tricky trails. Apart from that, it’s also a great way to encourage kids to get off their phones and focus on the present. 

It’s Full of Surprises 

One of the best things about adventure cycling is that it’s never boring. Each trail you take has endless possibilities. One moment, it can be as challenging as traversing a steep, rocky mountain is. The next moment, you’re in the wide plains, savoring the cool breeze. Add to that the interesting places to see and the many people you meet along the way. Even the weather can add to the thrill of every ride.

It’s a Great way to Appreciate Nature

Apart from the health benefits, one gets from cycling, it’s also a great way to appreciate Mother Nature. Adventure cycling allows one to explore different places using different trails.

Whether it’s cruising through the countryside or biking up rocky mountains, each path taken is an adventure in itself. Adventure Cycling will not only test your physical strength but will also encourage you to work with the environment you are in at the moment.

It Helps Save the Environment 

You don’t use as much fossil fuels when you ride your bike. Plus, a bike has considerably less carbon footprint, when compared to motor vehicles. At the end of their life spans, bikes also take up less landfill waste as opposed to cars.

Using bikes helps improve the air quality in the environment, reduces cold-start emissions, and protects the wildlife. Lastly, since adventure cycling exposes individuals to nature, it encourages them to take better care of their surroundings in order to make the earth a more livable place.

Tip: encourage friends to try adventure cycling by making them understand how it helps the environment.

It Can Make You Feel Good

More people can afford to own bikes rather than cars. Cycling enables one to interact socially and feel more at home in their local community. Cycling helps boost the production of endorphins in the body, and that, in turn, can make anyone smile and feel better about themselves. Overcoming different challenges along the trail is very rewarding and will keep one pushing forward for more thrill.

Pedal On

Adventure cycling is great for anyone to have authentic and memorable experiences. There’s no time to get bored as challenges come one after the other. You’re rewarded with amazing scenery, new friends, and a better understanding of the world. 

There are hundreds of maps and tours to choose from, depending on what kind of adventure you seek. It’s slowly becoming one of the most well-loved hobbies as its community continues to increase every year.

Overall, adventure cycling is one of the best hobbies anyone can start. When not on an adventure, you may use the bike on a daily basis instead of riding cars or commuting to work. It lets one stay fit, save money, appreciate nature better, and revitalize relationships. It’s the most eco-friendly way to have fun.

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How to Take a Virtual Vacation with the Help of Talkspace

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Travel is a great way to improve your mental health. Unfortunately, not everyone has the time or finances to hop on a plane whenever they please. Though you may not be able to travel as often as you like, it is still essential to take a break from activities of daily life. According to Talkspace, a blog dedicated to mental health, here are a few ways you can have a virtual vacation without having to break your bank.

  1. Switch off your electronic devices

While on a typical vacation, you hardly ever have time to scroll down your favorite social media platform. You can apply the same case to give yourself a virtual vacation. Take some time away from your laptop or phone or lock it in a different room if you lack self-control. Alternatively, you can turn off the wi-fi signal from your device or put your mobile phone on airplane mode. Doing this will give you a chance to relax and become aware of your surroundings. You get to take your mind off the entire world and focus on yourself. If you are worried about missing essential notifications from work while you are away, you can notify your co-workers in advance and let them know your return date.

  1. Plan Ahead

In most cases, you are aware that you intend to take a vacation before you do it. The aim is to relax during your free time rather than dreading how hard you will have to work to catch up once you return. It is, therefore, essential to do as much as you possibly can before you head out on your virtual vacation. Note the vital tasks that you need your attention in a to-do list and try to complete as many of them as you can before taking a break. You may have to work a little bit harder before you take a break, but its all worth it. 

  1. Explore a new surrounding

You don’t necessarily have to go someplace far to see something new. There may be a lot of areas that you still haven’t explored even in your home town. Take some time to visit one of these places. If you have nothing in mind, you can ask a co-worker or friend for recommendations. Whether it is far away or close to home, visiting a new spot is always exciting. Enjoying the beauty of unique scenery will make you appreciate nature differently and improve your mental health. 

  1. Give yourself a treat

While on vacation, people tend to treat themselves to exotic dishes, expensive spa treatments, and more. You don’t necessarily have to go the extra mile when taking a virtual vacation. You can eat out at a nice restaurant or treat yourself to an extra hour of sleep. Indulging in a facial or massage or eating a sweet dessert can do the trick too. Giving yourself a treat enables you to take note of the sensations that you are feeling. It is an excellent form of relaxation and self-appreciation. 

Talkspace is a New York-based startup that focuses on online therapy. The platform has a network of licensed therapists who offer professional consultation and treatment plans to individuals who need therapy. Talkspace reviews have shown that users of the platform get easy access to affordable online therapy. All this is done from the comfort of your laptop or phone, provided you have an internet connection. Users of the platform are assured of 100% confidentiality, just like in any atypical therapy office visit. In most Talkspace reviews, users have stated that they were able to get therapy services that made a real and lasting effect on their lives. 

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11 Easy Techniques to Go Travel Green In 2020

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Be kind to the earth as you travel around it – in 2020. We have no excuse as there are countless apps and websites to help us, as well as the good old fashioned tips that have been around forever.

Here are a few tips to remember; apps to download and websites to visit before, during, and even after your trip to ensure it’s as environmentally friendly as possible. Some of these things are pretty obvious, but it’s important to have a reminder because even though you might do a lot of these things at home, we can sometimes abandon the rules we live by while on holiday.

Before you go, bear in mind…

Where you’re staying

You don’t have to stay in a big hotel to have a great holiday. They are certainly not the greenest places to stay – for example, The Green Hotels and Responsible Tourism Initiative have claimed that:

“A hotel emits an average of 20.6 kg of carbon dioxide per night and produces more than one kilogram of waste per guest per day.”

Try an alternative like an eco-lodge, which is usually water-efficient, and solar-powered among many other things that make it one of the great successes of the whole eco-holidaying movement. You can use websites such as greentraveller.co.uk to see a list of recommended and reviewed eco-friendly places to stay.

The homestay or hotel you choose for staying, make sure it is Green Sealed. Also, ensure that your hotel is near public transport facilities or walking distance from places you want to visit so you won’t be tempted to order taxis or rent cars.

Your mode of transport

If you can avoid air travel – do so.

According to the Environmental Transport Association, the amount of carbon footprint any return flight from London to NYC generates is higher than an entire year’s allowance needed to keep the environment safe.

Train travel is becoming increasingly popular, especially for people who want to reduce their carbon footprint. Using companies like InterRail or Loco2 can make booking trains for journeys across Europe fast, easy, and cheaper.

If you do use air travel, then try and make sure your flight is a direct one. You can calculate your flight’s emissions by going to carbonneutralcalculator.com, which also allows you to purchase carbon offsets, which ‘are quantified and sold in metric tonnes of carbon dioxide equivalent (CO2e).

Pre-book your airport parking service as I do at parking at SFO. That saves me fuel and avoid unnecessary emissions.

Greening your home

Turn the switches of all your gadgets off along with the heating, and cancel any paper or magazine deliveries.

Pack light

The heavier your luggage, the more fuel the plane uses. It will also make you a happier traveler if you have less to lug around – especially according to George Clooney.

Minimize your use of the plane bathroom

Go to the bathroom just before you board the plane at the airport – avoid using the facilities on the plane as the fuel it takes for a single flush can run a car for six miles!

Be smart about food & drink

Accept as little as you can while onboard – don’t be too tempted to take all they have to offer with their plastic cups and wrappers – especially if you’re only on the plane for a few hours.

When you get there (if you’ve decided on a hotel stay), do the same things you would do at home to be eco-friendly.

Staying green

Don’t stop at knowing your hotel has a Green Seal, ask about the hotel’s recycling policy and participate in their environmental policy – you can ask to reuse sheets/towels which would save heaps of water – only if you deem it hygienic of course.

Be conservative with toiletries

Many of the hotel’s toiletries will be covered in plastic wrapping, so don’t use them unnecessarily. Either make sure you have brought your own or if you do use them, take them with you because the hotel might not dispose of them greenly if they’re left behind.

When leaving the room

Turn off lights when you leave your hotel room – close the drapes if you know your room is going to get hot from the sun (you’re only going to turn on the AC when you get back).

Get around the green way

Encourage cycling or walk to the places. It’s habitually much more pleasing than joining the locals on long crowded buses or trains. The Moovit app can guide you on how to reach any destination with the help of public transport.

When we go on short rides, electric bikes are more cost-friendly as well as environment savvy mode of transport.

If charges using green solar power, these bikes become purely eco-friendly. The best part is – not emitting fuming exhausts.

Ensure that when you eat and shop, you are buying local products as much as possible – less fuel would have been used to transport the goods to the store. It also helps to support local businesses to keep the economy thriving. Remember, though some souvenirs may be illegal to import like those made from animal skins, horns or shells. Over 800 species of plants and animals are completely banned from international trade, and there are strict controls on the sale of a further 30,000.

Find Eco-friendly things to do

Use the app TripSketch Green Traveler which provides information on eco-friendly activities and experiences in over 80 cities. So you can go sight-seeing while simultaneously reducing your carbon footprint. You could always take a hot-air balloon ride rather than take another plane to a neighboring city.

Places that have been noted to have some of the best hot-air balloon experiences include Melbourne, California, and Tanzania.

And after your trip, once your journey of a lifetime is over…Provide feedback.

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8 Things That You Need to Avoid at the Airport

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Traveling is for sure fun, but certain things can be quite annoying. For example, standing in a long queue or waiting for the immigration officers to stamp the passport is not an easy task. You need help. Fortunately, these days, there are so many companies that are providing meet and greet services. You should select the best company.

It would be best if you planned on using Bangkok Airport fast track services when you are planning to go to Thailand via its capital city. You will avoid long queues and check out of the airport much faster.

When you are traveling abroad and are using airports, you should avoid certain things. Many people are not aware of the things that they should prevent doing. Here are some insights for your reference:

Control Your Sleep: Get enough rest before you travel to the airport. You do not want to doze off at the terminal gate. If you are lucky enough, you might get a wake-up call from one of the ground staff.

But, if you are sleeping elsewhere in the airport, you might not get any help apart from the announcement. Hence, it would be best if you indulged in an activity that will keep you awake until you get inside the flight.

Do Drink Spirits: You are indeed going on a holiday, but that does not warrant you take any alcohol when you are getting inside the airplane. Any drinks that intoxicate you may not allow you to be in the best behavior. Hence, this is one aspect that you should take care of when you are traveling.

You do not want to end up in confusion when you are at the airport. But, this is one thing that might happen to you if you drink any strong drinks before taking a flight.

Do Not Skip Lines: It is tempting to skip the queue and go to the counter. But, if you do this thing, it can irritate people who are standing in the line ahead of you. You do not want them to scold or embarrass you.

If you are in urgency, it is wise to request people who are standing in front of you. Now, this is the best way to get ahead of the queue. Plan to book Bangkok airport fast track services if you do not want to stand in the long line.

Meet and greet services help you to skip queues and get your work done in a jiffy. You can go out of the airport in a matter of a few minutes when you pick this option.

Do Not Wait at the Gate: Some people hang out at the gate, waiting for the announcement of their flight. It would be best if you planned on sitting in the chairs near the gate and do your work if there is any until they make an announcement.

You should relax. If you have access to the lounge, that’s wonderful. It would be best if you planned on spending some time in the lounge until the airlines open the gates for the passengers.

Do Not Lose Your Temper: Do not lose your temper if the flight gets delayed or if the air hostess is taking time to serve you stuff. Somethings are not in the control of the ground staff or air hostess. Try to adjust unless someone is disrespecting you.

If the staff of the airlines is irritating you, you should plan on escalating the issue to their superiors. Never show your anger on anyone. Seek out a solution to almost any problem that you are facing strategically.

Avoid Playing Videos Loudly: You should avoid playing videos loudly on your phone or laptop. It is wise to carry your headphones with you. Connect it to the laptop or mobile phone when you watch any videos or listen to music.

If you do this thing, it will not cause any disturbance to people sitting beside you. Use your headphones even if you want to make calls to your friends or relatives.

Avoid Being Sarcastic: Yes, traveling is not that fun. But, it would be best if you planned on avoiding jokes that can hurt people or being sarcastic to them. Always be gentle and kind to people who are trying to help you. This way, people will try to provide all the necessary help that you require.

Do Not Leave Your Bags Unattended: Never leave your bags unattended. Security personnel and other passengers might panic when they see unattended bags. Hence, it would help if you plan on carrying the bags wherever you go. This way, you do not have to end up searching for the bag everywhere.

These are some things that you should plan on avoiding when you go to or when you are at the airport.

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5 Dynamite San Diego Destinations for Spring & Summer

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Photo Courtesy of San Diego Mission Bay Resort

If you’re anything like me, you’ve probably started your Spring Break and even summer vacation planning to ensure availability for the desired away dates. It’s certainly never too soon to get yourself booked somewhere spectacular. No matter the occasion, reason or season, you’d do well to head over to San Diego—a region known for some of the most revered vacation options in the United States. It didn’t earn the moniker “America’s Finest City” for nothing!

If you find yourself in this enviable locale—or want to—and like to be where the action is, you’d definitely do well to schedule a trip to Harrah’s Resort Southern California.

Deemed the best resort in Funner, California, located in North San Diego County, Harrah’s Resort SoCal is an award-winning destination recognized as a top resort by Condé Nast Traveler and more.

The property’s two looming towers boast nearly 1,100 luxurious guest rooms and suites, including 22 wellness-inspired rooms complete with yoga mats, Vitamin C infused showers and built-in sound systems.

Every corner of this 86,000 square-foot adult playground leaves plenty of room for escaping ordinary life. Not the least of which is the Spa at Harrah’s—an 11,000 square-foot getaway featuring a full-service salon, barbershop, salt baths and more.

Then, be sure to soak up the sun at ‘Dive’—an adults-only pool paradise including SoCal’s first swim-up bar, a 400-foot lazy river, 23 cabanas and eight hot tubs.

The 59,000 square-foot gaming floor is also tons of fun, boasting 1,700 slot machines and 60 table games. The casino holds weekly poker and blackjack tournaments, while their monthly promotions offer thousands in cash and prizes.

And for you foodies out there, culinary creativity abounds at Harrah’s at no less than eight restaurants.

Heading south you’ll find Hard Rock Hotel San Diego, an iconic property impeccably located at entrance to the city’s acclaimed Gaslamp Quarter district.

The luxe hotel features 420 guestrooms and suites, including 17 celebrity-favored Rock Star Suites.  On-site amenities include two award-winning bars—one of which a chic rooftop pool bar featuring expansive city views; and the world-famous Nobu Japanese restaurant for a truly unforgettable fine dining experience.

Guests can also take advantage of complimentary amenities, including Fender guitars to play in your room during your stay, Crosley record players to add the perfect soundtrack to your San Diego experience and Electra beach cruisers to coast down the Embarcadero and experience the city’s nearly perfect weather.

Additionally, the property’s award-winning ‘Sunburn’ pool party takes place ever Saturday from late March through September with epic parties happening on all major holiday weekends.

Hard Rock Hotel is located just steps from Petco Park, and just a short ride away from the city’s best attractions.

America’s Finest City is also home to the recently re-imagined San Diego Mission Bay Resort, a Noble House Hotels & Resort property.

Located on the picturesque waterfront of Mission Bay Park, the lavish 357-room, year-round lifestyle destination resort is another ideal basecamp for guests seeking to explore the city’s vibrant culture, nearby attractions and to experience San Diego’s idyllic, breezy beach lifestyle.

Having just recently completed a renovation, guests can relax in their brand new rooms and suites that have been updated with plenty of modern, welcoming touches. You can opt for a spacious traditional room in their tower or upgrade to a villa with expansive views of the gardens or the glistening bay.

With romantic palms and perfect sandy beaches, this bayside hotel retreat features an amazing spa and fitness center, beach fire pits for making s’mores and state-of-the-art event space.

Foodies will delight throughout their visit to San Diego Mission Bay Resort. With three waterfront dining options to choose from, fresh California fare is designed to dazzle diner’s palates as they sip, unwind and embrace mild ocean breezes.

This property is also decidedly family friendly, as children enjoy plenty of fun activities, including a kids camp, swimming, beach games and bike rentals.

Another hugely noteworthy Noble House Hotels & Resort property is Kona Kai Resort & Spa. Nestled within the Shelter Island oasis on the southern end of San Diego, this destination offers a range of amenities and experiences unique to its beautiful waterfront location and rich history.

The property has 170 luxurious guest rooms, including 41 brand new suites featuring contemporary island-inspired decor, deep soaking tubs and oversized balconies.

The also resort boasts its very own private beach, multiple swimming pools, waterfront restaurants, an award-winning spa, a 500-slip marina, and the renowned private Kona Kai Club.

You can sip and savor at the Paloma pool and bar, Kona Kai’s new and exclusive pool area for adults only, allowing guests to enjoy poolside craft cocktails and California coastal cuisine while overlooking some of the region’s most breathtaking sunsets.

Springtime is a wonderful time of year to book a stay at Kona Kai, as they have an array of special offers. This includes an exciting “Whale Watching” package.

Also on the getaways front in San Diego in terms of fun experiences—and something that’s also highly giftable—is Sandbox VR, with locations throughout California.

Sandbox VR is an immersive social experience offering unique combinations of motion capture and virtual reality technologies, allowing you to become anyone and go anywhere. Groups can see their friends and interact with each other just as they normally would. Guests transform into virtual avatars of themselves and enter experiences that are mapped over the physical world.

So there you go, some great travel ideas to utterly ensure those San Diego-oriented vacations ahead are truly memorable.

~~~

As the Executive Editor and Producer of “The Luxe List,” Merilee Kern, MBA is an internationally-regarded brand analyst, strategist and futurist. A

***Some or all of the accommodations(s), experience(s) and/or service(s) detailed above may have been provided or arranged at no cost to accommodate this review, but all opinions expressed are entirely those of Merilee Kern and have not been influenced in any way.***

Photo Courtesy of San Diego Mission Bay Resort

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