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California Now Podcast
43 minutes | 4 days ago
California’s Fascinating History
California is a world-class destination for all sorts of travelers—including history buffs. Visitors can find rich historical gems in surprising and delightful ways, from hidden plaques in San Francisco's Portsmouth Square and Chinatown to Angels Flight, a still-operating funicular in downtown Los Angeles that dates back to 1901. Many California cities can trace their roots back to Native peoples, European explorers, the Gold Rush, and a melting pot of cultures that blended over hundreds of years. On this episode of the California Now Podcast, host Soterios Johnson delves into that history in three iconic California cities: San Francisco, Los Angeles, and San Diego. Johnson starts out in the City by the Bay, connecting with author and San Francisco historian Gary Kamiya about how the city has played host to bootleggers, the Beat Generation, and everything in between. Next, Johnson speaks with Robert Petersen, host of the Hidden History of Los Angeles podcast, about some little-known aspects of La-La Land culture—including everything from Walt Disney’s favorite haunts to peacock crossings in Arcadia. Finally, Johnson talks to Bill Lawrence, president and CEO of the San Diego History Center, about how the confluence of San Diego's Spanish settlers, the military, science, and popular culture make for a fascinating history lesson—and a one-of-a-kind sightseeing experience.
45 minutes | 18 days ago
California's Delicious Diversity
In this episode of the California Now Podcast, host Soterios Johnson chats with three culinary insiders who represent different aspects of the state’s abundance. He first talks to chef Tanya Holland, owner of Brown Sugar Kitchen in Oakland, and a Top Chef alum. Known for her mouthwatering soul food, Holland has been expanding her culinary horizons via her new OWN TV show, Tanya's Kitchen Table, as well as her podcast, Tanya's Table. The multifaceted East Bay icon also shared details about her new projects with the James Beard Foundation and the Oakland Museum of California. Next, Johnson checks in with chef Claudette Zepeda, who's embarking on her own culinary adventure with her new Encinitas restaurant at the Alila Marea Beach Resort, Vaga. Drawing on her Mexican heritage but also incorporating the many cuisines she enjoyed growing up in Southern California, Zepeda revealed that she is on a mission to capture the essence of San Diego County’s eclectic culture. After that Johnson chats with food tour guide Lauren Herpich, who runs Local Food Adventures out of Oakland. From Jack London Square to the Rockridge neighborhood, she says you can eat your way across a whole world's worth of different cuisines, styles, and culinary experiences.
36 minutes | a month ago
Trip Planning in 2021
When was the last time you took a vacation? Research shows that travel is profoundly beneficial to our mental health and productivity—and according to Expedia's annual Vacation Deprivation study, Americans are not taking nearly enough vacation. Compounding matters, researchers noted that 60 percent of respondents canceled or postponed their travel plans in 2020. January 26 is National Plan for Vacation Day, and even if you’re expecting to travel later in 2021, there's no time like the present to start dreaming up your next getaway. This episode of the California Now Podcast can help you get started: Host Soterios Johnson first talks to Expedia Vice President of Customer Marketing Nathan Lump about the many benefits of travel, including the joys of travel planning. Next, Johnson connects with Condé Nast Traveler West Coast Editor Rebecca Misner to discuss the latest travel trends, including “slow travel” and splurge-filled adventures. The third guest is author and illustrator Chandler O'Leary, who shares the many joys of road-tripping up and down the state.
35 minutes | 2 months ago
California Snow Adventures
Like so many things, the pandemic has added a layer of complexity to the typical California snow season. Mountain ski resorts and outdoor recreation areas have COVID-19 safety regulations in place and restrictions on capacity that make planning ahead and pre-purchasing passes essential to a successful winter getaway on the slopes. But as California Now Podcast host Soterios Johnson found out in this episode, skiing and other snow sports can be a safe and enjoyable activity for all ages during this tumultuous time, whether it's flying down the slopes on skis, boards, or tubes. Johnson opens with a discussion of the current state of Golden State snow play with Ski California president Mike Reitzell. Then he learns about the benefits and thrills of cross-country skiing with guidebook author and ski instructor Tim Hauserman. Finally, Johnson chats with Top Flight Family blogger Carmen Sognonvi, who offers up tips for having fun in the snow with kids—and without skis.
42 minutes | 3 months ago
Exploring Gold Country
Much of California's history is inextricably tied to the region that lies between the San Francisco Bay Area and the Sierra Foothills. Gold Country takes its name from the famous historical period that kicked off in 1848 with a Coloma carpenter's discovery of gold flakes in the American River. Today, this thriving collection of river cities and towns offers visitors insight into the past as well as a delicious taste of the present. On this episode of the California Now Podcast, host Soterios Johnson uncovers some of the best attractions Gold Country has to offer, starting with a quick history lesson from Sacramento City Historian Marcia Eymann. She talks about the thriving Native American communities of the pre-Gold Rush era, and continues on to discuss the Sacramento of today, a port city known as America’s Farm-to-Fork Capital. Johnson next speaks with travel blogger Preethi Chandrasekhar to get a first-time visitor's perspective of the region. Chandrasekhar immersed herself in Gold Country, visiting historic hotels, unique shopping destinations, and unforgettable outdoor spaces. Finally, Johnson connects with travel insider Nick Leonti, who offers up an impressive rundown of good eats—including craft beer and craft cider— that dot Sacramento and surrounding towns.
42 minutes | 3 months ago
Greater Palm Springs
Surrounded by majestic mountains and pristine nature preserves on all sides, the Greater Palm Springs area is a posh nexus of natural beauty, wellness, and culture. On this episode of the California Now Podcast, host Soterios Johnson learns about the iconic mid-century modern style of architecture that sprang forth from a burst of post-WWII creative energy. Tour guide Kurt Cyr offers his insights on these must-see marvels, sprinkling in details about Hollywood’s connection to the region and how visitors can practice COVID-19 safety while viewing stylish local homes. After that, Johnson speaks with Palm Springs Life Editor-in-Chief Steven Biller to get the inside scoop on the local art scene, al fresco dining options, and great lodging. And finally, Johnson gets a rundown of the best hikes and outdoor experiences from veteran hiking guide Jason Bruecks.
43 minutes | 4 months ago
Outdoor Spaces in California Urban Centers
Hiking gear may not be among the first items on your packing list for a trip to San Diego, Anaheim, Los Angeles, or San Francisco, but you won't want to forget these articles of clothing. When you're not visiting world-class museums or checking out the diverse restaurant and nightlife scenes, California’s urban gateways offer a range of highly accessible—and highly unique—outdoor experiences. On this episode of the California Now Podcast, host Soterios Johnson chats with a few folks who know their way around the great urban outdoors. First, he connects with San Diego guide Kenneth Lippman, who provides insights on everything from the historic Gaslamp Quarter north to the alluring beaches of La Jolla. Next, Johnson gets a feel for outdoor opportunities in and around Anaheim with Orange County journalist Gregory Nagel, who discusses the culinary offerings at the Anaheim Packing House as well as the al fresco shopping scene at Fashion Island in Newport Beach. Johnson's next guest, guidebook author Casey Schreiner, knows Griffith Park like the back of his hand. He shares a few hidden gems that you may not have known about in the famous sprawling Los Angeles landmark. And finally, Johnson looks northward to San Francisco and the historic Presidio, where celebrated chef Traci Des Jardins dishes on her favorite spots.
40 minutes | 4 months ago
Safe Travels During the Pandemic
Despite restrictions brought on by the COVID-19 pandemic, travelers are slowly but surely turning their vacation daydreams into reality. And as we quickly discover during this podcast, California is ready for them. Host Soterios Johnson first checks in with San Francisco International Airport Public Information Officer Doug Yakel to get a feel for the scene at this busy travel hub. Masks and social distancing are top priorities, of course, but the airport has introduced a variety of other enhancements designed to help get the country moving again. Innovation is also the name of the game at Montage International, as Executive Vice President James Bermingham explains. Thanks to its Peace of Mind commitment, Montage Academy program, and partnership with One Medical, guests at Montage Laguna Beach and Pendry San Diego can relax with confidence. Finally, Johnson chats with San Luis Obispo brewery owner Hamish Marshall, who discusses safety protocols, entertainment pivots, and how California businesses can take advantage of the great weather.
37 minutes | 5 months ago
Celebrate California Farmers and Farmworkers
When it comes to agricultural output, California is truly the cream of the crop. The Golden State produces one-third of the nation's vegetables and two-thirds of its fruit. And those grapes you're enjoying, either in a bowl or in a glass? Odds are they were grown on a California farm. While the California sunshine, mild temperatures, and fertile soil make for optimal growing conditions, there would be no California agricultural industry without hardworking farmers and farmworkers. They toil day in and day out all year long to cultivate everything from juicy oranges and peaches to crunchy almonds. In recognition of those tireless workers, California Grown has designated October California Farmer and Farmworker Month. To mark the occasion, California Now Podcast host Soterios Johnson interviews farmers located in two of the state’s richest agricultural regions—the Central Valley and the Central Coast. Johnson first learns about the family history and traditions of a multigenerational peach and stone-fruit farm outside of Fresno. He then talks with an urban winemaker based in Paso Robles who got her start cleaning wine cellars. After that, he chats with a Central Valley grape and almond farmer who has been working the fields for 50 years.
41 minutes | 7 months ago
Northern California's Greatest Hits
In this special episode of the California Now Podcast, host Soterios Johnson looks back at some of the most memorable Northern California highlights from previous episodes. Join Johnson as he starts his journey with a tour of some of the trendiest boutiques in San Francisco and the East Bay before heading north to visit the farms that comprise the mouthwatering destinations along the California Cheese Trail. Subsequent stops include some farm-to-table dining in Sacramento, a bit of historical hiking in Butte County, and some fresh and flavorful seafood on the Mendocino coast. The episode wraps with a conversation about the spiritual side of Mount Shasta.
42 minutes | 7 months ago
Central California's Greatest Hits
In this special episode of the California Now Podcast, host Soterios Johnson revisits highlights from interviews conducted across the center of the state. Follow along as Johnson travels up the Central Coast, learning about the hidden gems of Ventura County, getting a taste of the bounty of Paso Robles wine country, sampling Julia Childs–approved bites in Santa Barbara, and discovering where to find an unforgettable cattle-wrangling adventure. Johnson also gets the inside scoop on how to make the most of a trip to the world-renowned Monterey Bay Aquarium. After that, the episode heads east into California's Central Valley, where our host gets a taste of the Bakersfield Sound at Buck Owens' Crystal Palace. The episode wraps up with a personal tour at Fresno's subterranean marvel, Forestiere Underground Gardens.
40 minutes | 8 months ago
Southern California's Greatest Hits
In this special episode of the California Now Podcast, host Soterios Johnson revisits some Southern California hotspots, hidden gems, and mouth-watering local cuisine featured on previous episodes. It’s a whirlwind tour through sunny SoCal that focuses on quantity and quality and will no doubt inspire a future road trip. Listen in as Johnson secures detailed directions for a perfect family outing in San Diego’s Balboa Park, gets the inside scoop for visits to both the San Diego Zoo and the San Diego Zoo Safari Park, and then talks to a master builder at LEGOLAND California. After that, Johnson gets a taste of Orange County's delicious Asian food scene from a Los Angeles Times food blogger before turning his attention to L.A.’s thriving hotel culture. The episode then heads east, with stops at the idyllic mountain town of Idyllwild and at the majestic Sunnylands Center & Gardens in Greater Palm Springs.
37 minutes | 10 months ago
California's Wide-Open Spaces
Do you dream about spelunking your way through a prehistoric cave? Is glamping under the stars more your style? Whatever your outdoor pleasure, you're sure to find it in California. And no matter how you choose to commune with nature, exploring by RV is a great way to go, according to Dyana Kelley, who heads up the CampCalNOW RV Park & Campground Alliance. On this episode of the California Now Podcast, she provides host Soterios Johnson with insider information about the state’s many campgrounds and RV parks, sharing a few favorites and providing listeners with essential tips. Next, Johnson talks to Pinnacles National Park Ranger Chris Symons, who discusses his favorite spots in the state's newest national park (minted in 2013). The diverse landscape of the park, he says, makes for some exciting hikes, breathtaking stargazing, and possibly a glimpse of the rare California condor. Also on this episode, Johnson talks to Matthew Doyle, who runs tours at Lake Shasta Caverns National Landmark. Formed by flowing water about 200 million years ago, this unique network of caves and caverns is an outdoor adventurer’s dream. From hulking stalactites and stalagmites to the glistening majesty of Shasta Lake, the views are unforgettable.
29 minutes | a year ago
Phil Rosenthal: Live in California
Phil Rosenthal established himself as a Hollywood player in the mid-1990s when he created the iconic sitcom Everybody Loves Raymond. But these days Rosenthal is perhaps best known as the host of Somebody Feed Phil, a Netflix travel show that chronicles his journeys — and dining experiences — around the globe. In a wide-ranging interview, Rosenthal took California Now Podcast host Soterios Johnson behind the scenes of his show, reflecting on his strong belief in the power of travel and the disarming aspect of his everyman persona: “I'm exactly like Anthony Bourdain,” Rosenthal quipped, “if he was afraid of everything.” Rosenthal dished on an upcoming episode that showcases culinary experiences in the San Francisco Bay Area, including a whirlwind tour through Thomas Keller’s culinary empire in Yountville. Rosenthal also shared some of his favorite haunts in his adopted hometown of Los Angeles, noting that his far-flung travels have inspired him to think of local spots in a totally different way.
44 minutes | a year ago
The Pacific Ocean and California Coast
Given its 840 miles of beautiful coastline, California's relationship with the Pacific Ocean is deep and abiding. And if you ask SeaWorld San Diego's Jody Westberg, getting up close and personal with California's sea-dwelling inhabitants is a great way to understand and appreciate the connection between land and sea. In this episode of the California Now Podcast, Westberg—who has helped rescue thousands of wild marine animals over the years—talks with host Soterios Johnson about conservation efforts along the coast. Johnson also chats with Lauren Bergloff, a tour guide at the oceanfront Terranea Resort in Rancho Palos Verdes. Terranea offers a wide variety of nature experiences along the shore, and Bergloff describes the benefits of tidepooling, kayaking, or simply walking on a trail that hugs the coast. The episode concludes with an interview with Allison Soergel, a conservation expert with the Monterey Bay Aquarium, who shares insights about this venerable institution’s ongoing research into marine life and habitats along the Central Coast. Soergel also underscores why Aquarium staffers are so eager to have conversations about conservation with visitors.
39 minutes | a year ago
L.A. Hotels, Family Learning Adventure, McCloud
Stay at certain upscale hotels in Santa Monica, West Hollywood, or Beverly Hills, and you have a pretty good chance of spotting a few celebrities in the lobby or at the bar. Even if you don’t, the posh amenities and glamorous atmosphere at these Los Angeles County hotels will have you feeling like an A-lister, according to Travel + Leisure Editor-in-Chief Jacqui Gifford. Gifford joins California Now Podcast host Soterios Johnson to wax poetic about this distinctly L.A. phenomenon. Johnson is next joined by Monet Hambrick, author of the popular blog The Traveling Child. Hambrick recently took her family on a fun and educational tour around the San Francisco Bay Area and Monterey, and she shares a few tips on how to make the most of a visit there. Finally, Johnson chats with travel journalist Ann Marie Brown about a tiny Northern California town that offers much more than meets the eye. McCloud was a logging powerhouse in the 19th century but has since transformed into a charming destination that blends its rich history with some modern twists—including some great hidden gems.
43 minutes | a year ago
Culinary Road Trips, Catalina Island
There's nothing worse than a wasted meal, according to Esquire's Food and Drinks Editor Jeff Gordinier—and if you follow his suggestions, you won't be in danger of facing any wasted meals on your next California road trip. Gordinier is the author of Hungry: Eating, Road-Tripping and Risking It All with the Greatest Chef in the World, and he joins California Now Podcast host Soterios Johnson to talk about his favorite culinary destinations from San Diego to Wine Country, and why food and road trips go so well together, particularly in California. Johnson also speaks with Gail Fornasiere, who knows more than most about the magic of Santa Catalina Island. The 21-mile-long island off the coast of Southern California is a popular destination for day-trippers and vacationers, blending a rich Hollywood history (Marilyn Monroe lived there before she became famous!) with a relaxing modern vibe. As Johnson learns during this episode, Catalina offers something for just about everyone.
44 minutes | a year ago
Curtis Stone, Hiking with Kids, SoCal Taco Tour
Celebrity Chef Curtis Stone believes that cuisine is the true soul of a place. And as he discovered on a recent trip, Sonoma and Mendocino have a lot of soul. He joins host Soterios Johnson on this episode of the California Now Podcast to dish on his recent journey to the region while filming his new show Field Trip, and where he found culinary inspiration. There are thousands of hiking trails in California, and a good many of them offer thrilling kid-friendly adventures. Author and tour guide Wendy Gorton knows most of them, and lets Johnson in on a few must-hikes for families visiting the Golden State. And finally, SweetC's Design lifestyle blogger Courtney O'Dell recently took a “taco tour” of Southern California, from LA to San Diego. She tells Johnson about a few places where the popular Mexican dish was unforgettable.
40 minutes | a year ago
Sonoma County’s Hidden Gems
With more than 425 wineries located within its borders, Sonoma County is truly a dream destination for wine lovers. But as Soterios Johnson discovers during this episode of California Now, this wine region offers more than just great Pinot Noir and Cabernet Sauvignon. Johnson’s first guest, Wine Road Executive Director Beth Costa, shares suggestions in and around the Alexander Valley viticultural area—with multiple recommendations in the towns of Healdsburg and Geyserville. Costa also points listeners toward five area wineries, each with its own distinctive style and approach to winemaking. After that, Kyle and Katina Connaughton of the three-star Michelin restaurant Single Thread talk about some of their favorite local haunts in the northern half of Sonoma County. The husband-and-wife team—he’s the chef, she’s the farmer—discuss their mutual love for hiking in Armstrong Redwoods Natural State Reserve, buying baked goods in Freestone, and enjoying IPAs at Russian River Brewing Company’s massive brewpub in Windsor. The episode concludes with a discussion of Petaluma, an up-and-coming town in the southwestern corner of Sonoma County. Sara Sass, owner of Boulevard Barbers, is an unofficial tour guide for this irresistible town and shares some tips and tricks for making the most of your next visit there.
42 minutes | a year ago
Family Travel, Idyllwild, Wild North Coast
The Golden State’s astonishing variety is on full display in this episode of the California Now Podcast. Travel + Leisure Editor in Chief Jacqui Gifford kicks things with off with a preview of a family trip she has in the works. Gifford, her son, and her husband are planning a getaway that includes attractions in San Diego, Orange County, Los Angeles, and the Central Coast—and she shares some of her planned stops (and a few essential strategies) for keeping everybody happy and entertained. After that, podcast regular Ann Marie Brown shines a light on Idyllwild, a tiny mountain village in the Inland Empire that is a big draw for hikers, artists, and discerning diners. Brown, an outdoor enthusiast and author who knows the area very well, recommends some essential experiences in this mile-high city located just a short drive from Los Angeles. The episode wraps up with a road trip that includes stops in Mendocino, Fort Bragg, Eureka, Trinidad, and Redwoods National Park. Jessica Wright, aka Bon Traveler, shares some of the discoveries she made while embarking on a recent road trip up the Wild North Coast.
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