Santa Barbara: The American Riviera

With oceanfront views, cinematic festivals and fine wine, Santa Barbara has been called the "American Riviera" -- with a twist. The coastal city also comes with a down-home style all its own.

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A classic car and a Sonoran hotdog food truck called Chuyitos
Chevy 1955 Bel Air and Sonoran Hot Dogs

Chevy 1955 Bel Air and Sonoran Hot Dogs

Michael (Voltaggio) is obsessed with classic American cars. In fact, he owns this exact same model — a Chevy 1955 Bel Air. He wanted to drive it down to Arizona, but since we had to make sure he actually arrived in time for the shoot, we decided to rent one instead. Our first stop was a truck that sells the famous Sonoran hot dogs, which Michael insisted we eat several feet away from the car so as not to get it dirty.  That whole morning, I felt like we'd been transported 60 years back in time! 960 1280

Mariana van Zeller  

US-Mexico $2 Billion Border Fence

US-Mexico $2 Billion Border Fence

I've been reporting on border and immigration issues for years, but this was the first time I got to see the $2 billion border fence from above. Border Patrol says it's been effective in preventing the movement of illegal goods and people from Mexico into the US, but opponents call it a boondoggle. They say that all it does is drive immigrants to more dangerous (fenceless) terrain, which means more deaths along the border for those pursuing a better life for themselves and their families. 960 1280

Mariana van Zeller  

649-Mile Fence

649-Mile Fence

The brown line you see is part of the 649-mile fence. Since it's not a continuous fence, it covers less than a third of the 1,954-mile US-Mexican border.   960 1280

Mariana van Zeller  

The Border From Above

The Border From Above

Flying over the US-Mexican border on a 4-seat Cessna. I look calm and collected, but this is where I learned that having a chef as the co-pilot is never a good idea. You can't be good at everything, Voltaggio! 960 1280

Mariana van Zeller  

View From the Other Side

View From the Other Side

This photo was taken in Nogales, AZ. On the other side of the 18-foot fence is Nogales, Sonora, in Mexico. I've been here on reporting trips before, but the sheer size of the fence never ceases to surprise me.     960 1280

Mariana van Zeller  

'Breaking Bad'?

'Breaking Bad'?

It ain't Breaking Bad; it's Breaking Borders. Oh, and it airs every Sunday at 9|8c on Travel Channel. 960 1280

Mariana van Zeller  

Michael Voltaggio, Excited for Cuisine & Compliments

Michael Voltaggio, Excited for Cuisine & Compliments

Michael is excited to try authentic Mexican food in Nogales, Sonora. Or perhaps it's because a 70-year-old Mexican lady just said, "Qué gringo más guapo!" (“What a handsome gringo!”)   960 1280

Mariana van Zeller  

Bottoms Up!

Bottoms Up!

Yes, they were all for me — 10 shots of pure gold. What happens in the field stays in the field. 960 1280

Mariana van Zeller  

Mountain Minutemen

Mountain Minutemen

In Arizona, we spent a few hours one night with members of the Mountain Minutemen, a group of armed men and women who camp out in the desert, hunting for illegal border crossers. This man asked us not to show his face or reveal his identity, but the leader of the group, Robert Crooks, was one of our dinner guests on the episode. 960 1280

Mariana van Zeller  

Best Western Adirondack Inn
This alpine-style Best Western, located in Lake Placid, NY, has a great location across from the Olympic Center and blocks from downtown Lake Placid and Mirror Lake beach. The cozy living-room-like lobby, indoor pool, Jacuzzi, sauna, fitness center, free breakfast and game room are added bonuses.
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The Annabelle Inn
This rustic Aspen, CO, lodge stays true to its unflashy roots with nicely updated mountain-lodge-style decor in the lobby, including tons of old, unfinished barn wood (even the ceilings), comfy leather couches and a cozy stone fireplace. The layout of the Annabelle is unlike any other in the area, with a 4-story, courtyard-style layout exposing all the stairways and walkways to the elements.
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Picasa  

The Arrabelle at Vail Square, A RockResort
This rustic-luxe, chalet-inspired lodge is one of Vail's premier options, with a location in the heart of Vail Square, near the Eagle Bahn lift. The 62 luxurious rooms feature massive bathrooms, stone fireplaces and scenic balconies. Both the lavish spa and rooftop lap pool pack serious wow factor.
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Crystal Peak Lodge
As one of the higher-end properties in Breckenridge, it has a great winter location on Peak 7, right on the Breck-Connect Gondola line. Upscale details can be found throughout, including exposed wood beams in the open common area and stone fireplaces in the big, individually owned condos.
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Fairmont Chateau Whistler
This 550-room Fairmont Chateau is perched amid Bavarian-styled buildings just outside of Whistler Village, with magnificent views and close proximity to ski lifts. The 2 eucalyptus steam rooms and multiple Jacuzzis make it easy for guests to warm up after a day in the snow.
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High Peaks Resort
Near the Olympic Center and a short drive away from slopes, the High Peaks resort is built on the site of the first Lake Placed B&B, built over 100 years ago. Today, it's a great pick because of its warm, inviting interior and scenic views of the lake (seen from most rooms).
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Loden Hotel
In a bustling coastal metropolis that uniquely offers views of both the mountains and the sea, a boutique hotel is just what you need to come home to in Vancouver. The Loden Hotel will make you feel relaxed after a long day of skiing the nearby slopes.
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Nita Lake Lodge
A luxurious escape from the madness of the touristy parts of Whistler, the 77 suites at Nita Lake Lodge evoke sophisticated, mountain-town style, with high, vaulted ceilings, fireplaces and beautiful balconies with gorgeous views.
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One Ski Hill Place, A RockResort
One Ski Hill Place is located directly on the mountain in Breckenridge, CO, and the on-site Gondola transports guests within walking distance to Main Street. It's a true ski-in/ski-out property, and the views are excellent.
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Pan Pacific Whistler Mountainside
This 121-room hotel has a premier location in the heart of Whistler Village, right next to the ski lifts. Rooms are homey and functional, if not luxurious, with light wood accents, space-saving Murphy beds, kitchenettes and fireplaces. After a day out in the cold, the outdoor Jacuzzi is a wonderful treat.
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The Peery Hotel
The main draw of this quaint, historic hotel is its downtown Salt Lake City location, within walking distance of restaurants, shops, and tourist attractions. The rooms have Tempur-Pedic beds with quality linens and romantic white canopies, iPod docks and Gilchrist & Soames toiletries.
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The Sassy Moose Inn
This homey inn with quaint on-site spa and log cabin decor will help you feel like you’re in your own living room. Its proximity to Grand Teton National Park and Jackson Hole Mountain Resort make it a great, casual destination.
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The St. Regis Deer Valley
The St. Regis offers a true 5-star experience. Skiiers will love its location in Park City, UT: its is directly on the famous ski resort of the same name, offering excellent ski-in/ski-out access for guests.
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Stein Eriksen Lodge
This luxurious 170-room Park City lodge offers ski-in, ski-out access to Deer Valley Resort, and has a design style that could be described as "wilderness chic." Perks such as free ski valets and free shuttles to the slopes from the parking lots are season-long luxuries.
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Teton Mountain Lodge and Spa
In keeping with its name, hideaway has a distinct mountain-lodge vibe. This cozy hotel is just steps from the base of Jackson Hole Mountain resort, and only a mile from the entrace to Grand Teton National Park.
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Vail Mountain Lodge and Spa
This value-for-money hotel is located in a serene, creek-side spot in Vail Village, close to the Bahn ski lift. Among its many other amenities, the excellent, organic Terra Bistro is a favorite with locals as well as guests, and provides free hot breakfasts.
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Photos

Coronado Beach

Coronado Beach

Just 5 minutes from San Diego, this family-friendly beach boasts wide stretches of sand, mostly calm surf and ideal whale watching (January through March). The lifeguards on staff, nearby public facilities and free parking along Ocean Boulevard add to its convenience -- and popularity. Couples can take a romantic walk to the luxury beachfront Hotel del Coronado and sip cocktails on its patio overlooking the Pacific Ocean. 960 1280

Tashka/ iStock/ Thinkstock  

La Jolla

La Jolla

You’ll have to leave the surfboards and boogie boards behind, but trust us it will be worth it. La Jolla Cove is the most desired area for swimming, snorkeling and diving; it is ecologically protected, making it a safe home for the bright orange Garibaldi fish (among others species) in the crescent-shaped cove. Called “the jewel” of San Diego, this beach is small, but you’ll find more room to stretch out on the mile-long La Jolla Shores to the north. 960 1280

John Hoffman/ iStock/ Thinkstock   

Sonoma Coast

Sonoma Coast

Sonoma Coast State Beach comprises 13 miles of coastline, stretching from Blind Beach to Bodega Head. It’s dotted with nothing save hidden beaches tucked between the rocky coves and tall bluffs. Follow the Sonoma Coast Trail to visit these secret beaches and take postcard-worthy pictures, #nofilter necessary. 960 1280

Jairo Leiva/ iStock/ Thinkstock  

Pismo Beach

Pismo Beach

Pismo Beach, founded by the Chumash Indian Tribe, is located in central California, between Los Angeles and San Francisco. Whichever direction you travel from, there’s plenty of activities to keep you here: fishing on the 1,200-foot-long pier, strolling through the Monarch Butterfly Grove, horseback riding along private trails, and exploring tide pools and caves, to name just a few. 960 1280

JB325/ iStock/ Thinkstock  

Main Beach in Santa Cruz

Main Beach in Santa Cruz

For most beachgoers in Santa Cruz, Main Beach is where the action is -- complete with restaurants, shops, surfing spots, beach volleyball courts and, of course, a scenic boardwalk and bandstand. If you ask us, it’s just the right amount of Americana. 960 1280

Mitch Diamond/ Photodisc/ Getty Images  

Huntington Beach Pier

Huntington Beach Pier

With a location at the end of Main Street and a nickname like “Surf City, USA,” Huntington Beach evokes a time gone by. The pier (one of the longest on the West Coast), the year-round surf (thanks to ocean swells around Catalina Island) and Ruby’s Diner (the milkshakes are a must) will continue to draw crowds here for years to come. 
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Christopher Riddler/ iStock/ Thinkstock  

Venice Beach

Venice Beach

Our resident beach expert, Marianela Pereyra, can attest to its weirdness, but there’s a reason Venice Beach is world famous. It may bring to mind visions of Arnold Schwarzenegger and Muscle Beach of the ’70s, but let us assure you that the 1 1/2-mile-long boardwalk is still the perfect storm for people watching, street performers and souvenir shopping. 960 1280

Christian Kober/ AWL Images/ Getty Images  

Baker Beach

Baker Beach

To the west of the Golden Gate Bridge lies the rocky serpentine shoreline of Baker Beach. Rip currents make swimming unsafe, but you’re here for the panoramic views of the Golden Gate Bridge … and maybe to picnic. Just don’t venture too far north unless you’re looking for another kind of scene: the northernmost end of Baker Beach, which attracts clothing-optional sunbathers. 960 1280

Jamairani/ iStock/ Thinkstock  

Malibu Surfrider Beach

Malibu Surfrider Beach

Formerly known as Surfrider Beach, Malibu Lagoon State Beach’s famous right point breaks have made it the most-surfed spot in Los Angeles since the ’60s. Arrive early to find a parking spot and pick a point -- some of the perfect swells due to Surfrider Beach will give you a ride all the way to the pier (a couple hundred feet away). And for non-surfers, the historic wooden Malibu Pier offers excellent saltwater fishing, bird-watching and picnicking. 960 1280

Ryan McVay/ Digital Vision/ Thinkstock  

Dockweiler State Beach

Dockweiler State Beach

Located just west of the LAX runway, Dockweiler Beach is where people come to relax and party. That’s because the 3-mile-long shoreline is the only Los Angeles beach that has an RV park and allows bonfires. S’mores, anyone? 960 1280

Jose Gil/ iStock/ Getty Images  

Ruby's Diner is located at the end of the Huntington Beach Pier, one of the longest public piers on the West Coast. 960 1280

Huntington Beach Marketing and Visitors Bureau  

Laguna Beach is a seaside resort city made famous by MTV's series of the same name following privileged SoCal teenagers. 960 1280

Jeri Koegel through Flickr Creative Commons  

Laguna Beach is the second-oldest city in Orange County, second to Anaheim. Its picturesque coastline is midway between Los Angeles and San Diego. 960 1280

Chris Eason through Flickr Creative Commons  

There's no shortage of shopping for real housewives or tourists in Orange County. 960 1280

La Citta Vita through Flickr Creative Commons  

The newly-renovated Hilton La Jolla sits atop the bluffs and overlooks the legendary Torrey Pines Golf Course and Pacific Ocean. 960 1280

Paul Cross through Creative Commons  

One of the youngest cities in the OC, Rancho Santa Margarita is a beautifully planned community set upon the rolling hills. 960 1280

Courtesy City of Rancho Santa Margarita  

The streets of downtown La Jolla are spotted with the world's shopping elite visiting storefronts from charming boutiques to high-end art galleries. 960 1280

Alejandro Mallea through Creative Commons  

San Clemente is a popular surfing destination, catching swells all year long. 960 1280

Curtis Fry through Flickr Creative Commons  

Newport Beach Harbor is a semi-artificial harbor that created several islands such as Newport Island, Balboa Island, Collins Island and more now mostly covered with private homes. 960 1280

John Martinez Pavliga through Flickr Creative Commons  

Imagine soaking in the sunset view at home in Laguna Beach. 960 1280

Jeri Koegel through Flickr Creative Commons  

La Jolla's curving coast along the Pacific Ocean is an affluent seaside resort with home prices averaging $2 million. 960 1280

Paul Hamilton through Flickr Creative Commons  

The South Coast Plaza in Costa Mesa define luxury shopping with the highest sales in the US. 960 1280

  

With more than 12 miles of sand and surf and 8 miles of paved boardwalk downtown Huntington Beach offers one-of-a-kind shopping, dining, activities and nightlife. 960 1280

Huntington Beach Marketing and Visitors Bureau  

Yosemite Falls

Yosemite Falls

Discover the highest waterfall in North America -- and the sixth largest in the world: Yosemite Falls. At 2,424 feet, the waterfall is a major attraction in the park, located in the central Sierra Nevada mountain range of California. It’s best viewed in late spring when snowmelt flows most vigorously. 960 1280

Thinkstock  

Half Dome

Half Dome

The granite dome in the background is Yosemite’s most popular rock formation: Half Dome. The granite crest rises more than 4,737 feet above the valley floor -- hikers can ascend it with the use of cables. 960 1280

Thinkstock  

Tuolumne Meadows

Tuolumne Meadows

Discover this meadowy section of Yosemite along the Tuolumne River. Wild, wonderful plant and tree species to explore include Ross’s sedge, Lodgepole Pine and dwarf bilberry. The area also offers day-hike and camping opportunities (the park service campground is open July through late September). 960 1280

Steve Dunleavy, Wikimedia Commons  

El Capitan

El Capitan

Rock climbers will find few vertical rock formations as challenging as El Capitan (left, background). At one time “El Cap,” which stretches roughly 3,000 feet from base to top, was considered impossible to climb. Today, the most popular route to tackle is The Nose, which follows the rock’s huge projecting front. 960 1280

Thinkstock  

Valley View

Valley View

Thank the 145-mile-long Merced River: It’s responsible for carving out the glacial valley known as Yosemite Valley. The valley is about 8 miles long and a mile deep, with an amazing vantage point offered at Valley View. This turnout is located near the park exit, traveling west on Northside Drive. 960 1280

Thinkstock  

Lembert Dome

Lembert Dome

Got 3 hours to spare? Take a short hike (2.8 miles roundtrip) up the granite rock formation of Lembert Dome, which rises 800 feet above Yosemite’s Tuolumne Meadows. Then bask in the satisfaction of knowing you hiked up a real mountain. 960 1280

Ava Weintraub, flickr  

Tunnel View

Tunnel View

Journey along State Route 41 and you’re in for a treat: The viewpoint known as Tunnel View offers a breathtaking snapshot of Yosemite Valley and several of its attractions -- El Capitan, Half Dome and the waterfall Bridalveil Fall (pictured, right). 960 1280

Bala Sivakumar, flickr  

Cathedral Peak

Cathedral Peak

The Cathedral Range of mountains stretch through Yosemite -- and Cathedral Peak is their star attraction. At a height of 10,911 feet, the granite peak was first scaled in 1869 by naturalist John Muir -- perhaps the first person to undertake a class-4 climb anywhere in the Sierra Nevada range (of which Cathedral is a sub-range). 960 1280

Steve Dunleavy, flickr  

Bridalveil Fall

Bridalveil Fall

Looking to meet someone special? Head to Yosemite’s Bridalveil Fall. The 617-foot waterfall owes its name to a legend from the Ahwahneechee Native American tribe: They believed that inhaling the mist of the waterfall would improve one’s chances of getting married. 960 1280

Matt Haughey, flickr  

Glacier Point

Glacier Point

One of Yosemite’s best viewpoints is Glacier Point. Located on the south wall of Yosemite Valley, the overlook rises to an elevation of 7, 214 feet -- with great views of Half Dome, Yosemite Falls, Vernal Fall (a 317-foot waterfall) and Nevada Fall (594 feet). 960 1280

Getty Images  

Vernal Fall

Vernal Fall

After an afternoon hike, cool off with the gentle mist sprays from a nearby waterfall. That’s what you’ll experience when you take a 2- to 5-hour hike near Vernal Fall. The hike starts at the Happy Isles trailhead and reaches the base of the waterfall. 960 1280

Getty Images  

Mariposa Grove of Giant Sequoias

Mariposa Grove of Giant Sequoias

Visitors look up at one of the largest living things on Earth: a giant sequoia. It’s also one of the oldest. Within Yosemite’s mariposa grove of 500 giant sequoias, visitors will find trees more than 3,000 years old. 960 1280

Getty Images  

Nevada Fall

Nevada Fall

Within a small glacial valley (Little Yosemite Valley), you’ll find Nevada Fall. The 594-foot waterfall owes its name to its location – it’s the nearest waterfall to the Sierra Nevada mountain range. Meanwhile, the Native American name for it is Yo-wy-we, meaning “wormy” water, signifying the twists of the falling water. 960 1280

Getty Images  

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