Brian Vander Brug / Los Angeles Times
In November, Times staff writer Hugo Martin looked for a cheap way to tour California's iconic ski resort Mammoth Mountain in Mammoth Lakes, California. Among his finds: Wild Willy's hot spring, and here's what he had to say: ...We hiked along a wooden boardwalk to an open meadow, where hot spring water gurgled out of a fissure in the ground. The water trickled down to a 3-foot-deep pool -- about the size of a large hot tub -- that was lined with rocks and concrete. We stripped down to our skivvies and climbed into the hot tub-sized pool, looking like throwbacks from Woodstock trying to commune with nature. The magma-heated water drained the tension and aches from my muscles. A cool breeze rustled the short meadow grass. The only sound, besides our laughter, was the rippling of hot spring water. More cheapskate fun. More priceless memories. Photo: Snowboarder Tommy Fynn of Brisbane, Australia, rubs mineral-laced mud from the bottom of Wild Willy's hot spring on his face while enjoying the Eastern Sierra Nevada hot spot.
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Genaro Molina / Los Angeles Times
In November, Times Food Editor Russ Parsons explored Nick's Cove, a new complex on Tomales Bay an hour or so north of San Francisco. Here's what he found: Hotel rooms often are boring places you have to put up with just to explore some place exciting. At Nick's Cove ... you could be perfectly happy spending most of your time just exploring the hotel rooms. Not that you'd actually call any of these places "hotel rooms." A string of a dozen cabins, cottages and other assorted structures stretched alongside Highway 1 just north of the town of Point Reyes, Nick's Cove is a kind of Ralph Lauren meets Northern California fever dream of a resort. It's almost impossibly chic but not in an overly obvious way. Rather than settling for the kind of streamlined, highly polished glamour you find in most luxury resorts, Nick's revels in eccentricity. Photo: Kayaks rest on a boat launch along Tomales Bay near the town of Marshall, California.
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Join us on a visual journey of where Times photographers went this year, to places like Mango's Tropical Cafe in Miami's South Beach, St. Peter's Basilica in Rome and the rugged Na Pali Coast in Kauai.