This geographical gem in California is also the site of buried Egyptian relics

“Really?” I exclaim, gawking at the sign. Park closed? This takes me by surprise. We drove all the way to the map-dot town of Guadalupe — a close to three hour trek from our neck of the woods — for a closed park. Anton shoots me a disapproving look over his shoulder. I know what…

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Where to find European castles, villas and gardens in Southern California

I often wax poetic about art and architecture. I can talk for hours about Italy, looking up at old, frescoed ceilings and paintings by the masters. That’s because, thanks to my artist mom, I grew up around books on Michaelangelo and El Greco, heard her give lessons on Caravaggio’s mastery of chiaroscuro, and watched her…

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Inside Kimberly Crest House, a French château in Redlands

Money never being a concern, Mrs. Hill laid eyes on three-and-a-half acres on a hill and decided, then and there, to have a house built crowning the hill. Not just any house. She was very well-traveled, after all, and as many travelers often feel after traipsing around grand European castles, she was inspired — inspired enough to build her own. 

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European conservatories and Italian villas: Small town Sierra Madre is big on charm

Often, when we think of the kinds of landscapes that travel writers and bloggers physically traverse and turn their minds to, we don’t necessarily think of unbustling small towns. But never much of a believer in the bigger-is-better argument, I was drawn to Sierra Madre — an under-the-radar city that’s been sitting quietly at the…

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This tucked-away LA oasis is a place for quiet contemplation

I’m very much aware of my feet. The quiet lift of the heel, the bend of the knee, the extension of the toes and the clackety tap of shoe against ground. Following the serpentine path of the stone labyrinth, I take one step in front of the other, watching and listening to my feet. Tap,…

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From Cairo to Hollywood: The Academy Awards is a family tradition

By the time the first celebrity descended on the red carpet, it was around 2 a.m. in Cairo, where I lived with my mom for the better part of my life. I was already tucked away in bed in my sleepwear, but I was wide awake. We were waiting for the decade’s “it” celebrity to…

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Can you virtually tour Ireland? I am — and here’s how it’s going

In southwest Ireland, there’s a circular scenic drive that contours the Iveragh Peninsula, weaving through lush coastal landscapes and itty bitty rural seaside villages. It’s called the Ring of Kerry, and it’s an iconic trek in Ireland — an open secret boasting some incredible vistas and glimpses of diverse wildlife. Tourists from around the world…

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Pasadena, CA: University or park? Caltech’s campus offers a much-needed escape

The desire to come to America ran river-deep into my soul. My sight was fixated on it like Neil Armstrong’s on the moon, and just like space, it was alien territory. Marvelous, but alien, harboring some familiarity but equal strangeness. The United States was something I saw all the time — in movies, music and…

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Bakersfield, CA: Almond tree blossoms bring in spring

This is the first part of a three-part series on wildflowers and blooms in Southern California that focuses on almond tree blossoms in Kern County. Next up? The Antelope Valley California Poppy Reserve. Every spring, the celebration starts. You can call it an annual gathering, with an invite date set to the final days of…

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Roundup: 7 ways to play with the asymmetry trend this spring

Just a few weeks ago, I was prowling the vegetable bins at a local grocery, carrying an assortment of products with one arm and trying to pry open a plastic produce bag with two dry fingers. (If you have ever tried to do this while wearing a mask and without licking your thumb first, you…

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