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Your Summer Sand Pail List

Jenna Scatena | July 11, 2013 | Story California Destinations

Summer can be overwhelming: so many options, so few vacation days. Here are our eight summer must-dos to help you use your days off.

Don't leave your hotel.
Eight brand new rooms at Auberge du Soleil are new reasons to visit the iconic elegant hotel in Rutherford. The Maison Saint-Tropez rooms have large terraces with outdoor soaking tubs overlooking the valley and light-filled cozy interiors designed by San Francisco interior artist Suzanne Tucker. Though you may not ever want to leave your terrace, don't miss the complimentary Mercedes Benz fleet, available to guests for zipping around wine country.

Dine on a mountaintop in Tahoe.
West Shore’s Homewood Mountain Resort is launching their high-altitude rendition of a farm-to-table meal this summer, with their Farm-to-Peak dinner series (the next one is August 20). Guests take a chairlift from the base midway up the summit with a view of Big Blue, then sit for a five-course meal, paired with beer and wine. Book tickets two weeks in advance here. Be sure to take advantage of the resort’s new stand up paddle boards and the West Shore CafĂ©’s Full Moon Parties, with outdoor live music and drink specials, on July 22 and August 20.

Upgrade from Dollar Day at Golden Gate Fields for Hat Day at Del Mar.
Pack your biggest, froofiest hat and hop a quick flight to San Diego for opening day at Del Mar’s racetrack on July 17. Horse race season kicks off with a hat contest, of course. Throughout the summer their bonus concert series is only an extra $20 after the race, with performances by Sammy Hagar, Pinback, and Ziggy Marley. For the full experience, stay at the just-renovated Rancho Valencia, which is doing a package with Del Mar July 17 – Sept. 4, and be sure to get margaritas at the Pony Bar.

Go to Napa for the arts, not the wine.
July is the one time of year in which there is significantly more to do in Napa than just guzzle wine. Starting this Friday, Napa turns into a stage, with world-class music, theater, dance, and more wine than you could ever drink (or afford) at Festival del Sole. Some highlights of the 10-day festival include a Gatsby-themed Gala at Meadowood this Sunday, 24-Hour Plays (a group of Hollywood actors, writers, and directors have 24 hours to produce a 10 minute play), and a performance by the Russian National Orchestra. There’s even yoga in the vineyards. Tickets available here.

See LA from the sky.
Sometimes LA looks better from a few stories up. Such is the case at the Mondrian Hotel’s updated rooftop SkyBar which makes you feel like you’re floating in the clouds, with views of the LA skyline and lounge-worthy beds. By day, sun worshippers soak up a tan and by night DJs and well-heeled patrons take over.

Document your adventures.
August 8-11 Book Passage Corte Madera will hold its 22nd annual Travel Writers & Photographers Conference with Don George (Lonely Planet), David Farley (Afar), Spud Hilton (SF Chronicle), Robert Holmes (National Geographic), and others. No need to be a professional writer—some highlights include seminars on food photography, DIY publishing photography and writing, and an evening listening to Amy Tan.

Do a digital cleanse.
Get off your iPhone—and off the grid completely—at Digital Detox’s summer camp retreat July 19 – 21st at Shambhala Ranch in Ukiah. Seriously—no technology allowed. Activities include leisurely things humans used to enjoy before Twitter and iPads, like stargazing, taking a stroll, and reading a good book by the pond.

Fly solo.
Want to travel alone, but fear you’ll be lonely? First read San Francisco author Teresa Rodriguez’s new book, Body, Mind, and Solo: Seven Keys to Conquering the World Alone. Rodriguez dishes advice and insight from her own solo traveling experiences for readers who want a fresh perspective on how to travel—without the herds.

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