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Spring Travel Insider

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Spring is in the air. It’s time to shake off winter and see what’s in bloom. Here are some easy escapes just a few hours away, promising more time to explore, relax and recharge.

 

Out the front door: Cruise the Pacific Coast

Departing just south of L.A., climb aboard a Celebrity Cruise ship and experience the coast in a whole new way. Relax as you sail into port in Santa Barbara, San Francisco, Monterey, Catalina Island and Ensenada, Mexico. Picture yourself reclining on deck as you pass underneath the Golden Gate Bridge. You can add shore and land excursions at each destination, but there’s plenty to do on the ship, too. Kick back in the martini bar, book a spa treatment or let it ride at the casino. www.celebritycruises.com

 

1 hour away: Laguna Beach seaside escape

Jump in the car, set your playlist and get ready to unwind. In just one hour you can enjoy the beaches and amazing views Laguna is famous for. Stop off at Heisler Park and climb the bluffs to get a stunning perspective of the Pacific Ocean. Book a stay at Casa Laguna Inn & Spa and reserve a sunset dip in the relaxing gazebo soak tub. Spend the next day strolling through some of the 100 art galleries and find just the right memento. Don’t miss the tide pools at Crystal Cove State Park and keep your eyes open — it’s the perfect place for dolphin and whale watching. www.lagunabeachinfo.com

 

2 hours away: Romantic rendezvous in Ojai

Stroll hand in hand through the citrus orchards at Friend’s Ranch in Ojai and enjoy choosing fresh oranges, tangerines, lemons and avocados straight from the trees. For a unique experience visit Ojai Olive Oil to learn how olive oil is made, sample and pick a favorite. Next, stop at Rainbow Bridge Market for some bread and salad. Select a bottle and find the perfect spot for a scenic sunset picnic Old Creek Ranch Winery. Afterward, nestle in at the Emerald Iguana Inn, a peaceful garden oasis, with your own wood-burning fireplace. Spend the next day enjoying a relaxing spa treatment and lounging poolside with drinks. www.ojaivisitors.com

 

2 hour flight away: Take off to Seattle

Start your morning in this portside city at Pike Place Market, as vendors put out their fresh produce and wares. Enjoy a pastry and a cup of joe across the street at the original Starbucks location. Get a bird’s-eye view from the observation deck of the Seattle Center’s Space Needle. Spend the evening sipping inventive cocktails at Percy’s & Co., an apothecary-style bar. Maximize your trip by booking tickets on the Rocky Mountaineer luxury railroad Coastal Passage and travel from Seattle to Vancouver, British Columbia and the Canadian Rockies.www.visitseattle.org

 

4 hour flight away: Capture cultural Chicago

Soak up myriad cultural experiences in the Windy City. Wander through the Field Museum to see prehistoric wonders, or the Art Institute to gaze at works of Monet, Picasso and Cezanne, as well as the stunning new Modern Wing. Choose one of the many Chicago Architectural Foundation tours highlighting the world-class architecture to explore by boat, foot, bike or Segway. Enjoy the beaches along Lake Michigan and visit historic Buckingham Fountain, then stroll through Millennium Park. After working up an appetite, grab a table at Mexique, one of West Town’s many famous restaurants, and enjoy the surprising combination of French food with Mexican roots. www.choosechicago.com

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