Santa Ynez Wine Country With Kids

Dierberg Starlane (Photo By Lisa Paredes)

Dierberg Starlane (Photo By Lisa Paredes)

No, really, Santa Ynez Wine Country with kids is a great idea… if your children can be chill. A group of us needed a quick overnighter out of town, and the Santa Ynez area is just far enough away to make it seem like we really got away from the grind.

Staying overnight in Solvang was a good stopping point in the midst of our vacation and planning ahead was key to making the most of our short trip. Two days and one night is not a lot of time, but for three families, including six kids, there was something fun for everyone.

We got on the 101 West finally around 10 a.m. and made it to the Los Olivos Cafe right around noon. Still early enough to beat the crowds heading into town for the weekend, we started out wine country trip with lots of water and hearty food.

After a stroll through the quaint town of Los Olivos, we settled in at the Carhartt Tasting Room, a delightful little spot with shady trees and a little water feature. The wines were delicious and we especially enjoyed the whites. The Mourvedre was fascinating as well.IMG_4597

Then it was off to Beckman Vineyards, located in the country outside of Los Olivos. On the spacious porch overlooking a small pond, our kids could ramble about a bit. They finally settled themselves on a table near the pond for reading and drawing.

Beckman’s wines were enjoyable but we didn’t feel invested in purchasing a bottle at the time. The property also has some clean and functional bathrooms, which were one of the popular attractions for the steady stream of visitors.

Then it was time for Dierberg Starlane. Our friends introduced us to the winery located far out in the countryside about a half an hour from Solvang. Gorgeous wines and a spacious, well-turned out barn made Dierberg Starlane one of the highlights of the entire trip. We enjoyed the wine so much we joined their wine club for periodic shipments throughout the year.

As nighttime settled over the valley, we headed to Solvang for some well-deserved rest and relaxation. Our hotel was clean and decent and the pool was a huge hit with our patient children. Dinner at Cecco for authentic Italian food, along with some more wine, was lovely, although our server seemed a bit overwhelmed. Grilled pizzas and fresh pastas were very tasty.

The next morning we wandered about Solvang, shopping and enjoying the autumn weather and kitschy environment. By 11 a.m., we were packed and headed back out on the road.

Foxen. (Photo By Lisa Paredes)

Foxen. (Photo By Lisa Paredes)

On Day Two, we visited the two Foxens and the Cambria winery. One of the best stops of the trip was Foxen, with its amazing wines and plenty of space for kids and adults. Kids got in some playtime with volleyballs and frisbees and the adults enjoyed fantastic tasting flights in a lovely country setting.

Perhaps my most favorite wine of the trip was Foxen’s Cuvee Jeanne Marie, which tasted deep and rich, like blackberry jam. Dierberg Starlane’s Sauvingnon Blanc and Pinot Noirs were right up there, though. Foxen’s Pajarito red and Sauvignon Blanc were also delectable.

Down the road from Foxen is Foxen 7200, a quick roadside stop that was packed with tasters alighting from limos and other luxury vehicles.  The kids came up with some hilarious drawings of adults enjoying wine in the southern California sun, which entertained us all.

We ended the afternoon at Cambria Winery, a massive estate closer to the coast. The surrounding vineyards had been trimmed back after the harvest and the setting sun in late November was lovely, as the expansive vineyards glowed golden in all directions.


Parents and kids frolic in the late afternoon sunshine at Cambria. (Photo By Lisa Paredes)

We headed back to Burbank, along the 101 Freeway South as the sun set over the ocean. Famished by the time we reached Santa Barbara, we stopped for a bite of delicious and creative authentic Mexican tacos at La Super-Rica.

And then it was time for home. With souvenir wine glasses and loads of delicious wines to savor in the coming months, parents and kids alike all felt the driving trip through Santa Ynez Wine Country a deeply memorable time of fun and friendship. Another perfect southern California weekend put on the books.

Good Morning, Burbank!

Anyone who’s lived in or even visited Burbank has noticed the lone lollipop-shaped tree, the Wisdom Tree, on the top of the hill south of the city. For those motivated enough to hike about 800 feet up the backside of the hill, the views from the top are spectacular in all directions.

Looking out over Burbank from the Wisdom Tree. (Photo By Alex Zane.)

Looking out over Burbank from the Wisdom Tree. (Photo By Alex Zane.)

Several online guides exist on how to get to the Wisdom Tree and the Burbank and Cahuenga Peaks. I like this one because it includes a little history.

One can keep on hiking across the Hollywood Hills peaks to Mt. Lee and the back of the Hollywood sign, if you’re so inclined, although it looks to be a bit rugged and may take some time.

We have made it to the Cahuenga Peak and explored all around the Burbank Peak/Wisdom Tree area. The trail up from the Lake Hollywood Reservoir neighborhood is pretty steep and a great cardio workout, with spectacular views of Los Angeles from Downtown to the ocean.

From the top of the Burbank Peak, views of the length of the San Fernando Valley and the Verdugo Mountains can be enjoyed.

Looking at Lake Hollywood Reservoir. (Photo By Alex Zane)

Looking at Lake Hollywood Reservoir. (Photo By Alex Zane)

Burbank, CA, from the Cahuenga Peak. (Photo By Lisa Paredes

Burbank, CA, from the Cahuenga Peak. (Photo By Lisa Paredes)



Rain In Burbank!

Has it been months since any significant rain, here in Burbank?! The air is fresh, the sky is blue with puffy white clouds and everything looks more colorful and less dried-out and dusty.

Yay, rain!

Burbank Sky - Coast live oak and palm trees. February 27, 2014 (Photo By Alex Zane)

Burbank Sky – Coast live oak and palm trees. February 27, 2014 (Photo By Alex Zane)

More rain is on the way for tonight. Finally!


Happy New Year!

We here at Burbank Local Guide took a hiatus while continuing to write about Burbank for Now we’re back and will continue to write about how great life is in and around Burbank, CA. From hiking in the nearby mountains to shopping in trendy Magnolia Park or catching a movie in downtown Burbank to strolling the charming streets and chatting with neighbors, Burbank has so much to offer.

Great schools and city services, prompt police response and plentiful parking make this small city a dream in which to live and work. Here’s to another year in the lovely city of Burbank!!

Fire Road up near DeBell Golf Course adn Castaways Restaurant. (Photo by Alex Zane)

Fire Road up near DeBell Golf Course adn Castaways Restaurant. (Photo by Alex Zane)

Ladies Night Out in Magnolia Park – This One’s Hot!!

LNOmagparkIt’s here again – Magnolia Park’s last Friday of the month, Ladies Night Out! Bring the whole family, including the hubby, for a great summer evening out in Burbank. Or, grab a few friends and hit the town for some adult-time fun. From 6:00 pm  to 9:00 pm, food truck vendors galore and throngs of people will mob the stretch of Magnolia Boulevard east and west of Hollywood Way.

The cute and unique shops of Magnolia Park will be open late this Friday, July 26, too. Romancing the Bean will also be hosting the soon-opening Luna Vine Wine Bar’s tasting event. Get some lovely henna applied or pick up a great skirt. Check out the musicians on just about every corner. Mindfulnest will be open, with their charming eclectica, jewelry and custom perfume counter.

Check out Magnolia Park’s Facebook page for all the awesomeness:

Get Out and Walk – DeBell Clubhouse and the Fire Road

Photo by Alex Zane

Photo by Alex Zane

Under a gorgeous setting sun, we Burbank ladies headed out for a quick 3 miler, starting and ending at the beautiful DeBell Golf Course Clubhouse. Heading down Walnut, we made a right and headed west on Bel Aire and then turned north and trekked up the switchbacks on the Fire Road through Stough Park, ending up back at the Clubhouse after about 45 minutes. The incline was good enough to get us all working the cardio and sweating.

After this quick constitutional, we were ready for the cocktail part. Our group had a lovely evening at DeBell, with terrific service and delicious food and drinks. Of course, the DeBell Golf Course is situated in the natural paradise of the Burbank Verdugo Hills, and the atmosphere was relaxing and absolutely beautiful. Top notch evening out in Burbank!

Downtown Burbank Welcomes 2nd Annual Car Classic July 27

Photo courtesy Downtown Burbank Car Classic

Photo courtesy Downtown Burbank Car Classic

Downtown Burbank hosts some of the coolest Southern California pre-1974 automobiles for the Second Annual Car Classic, to be held Saturday, July 27, 2013. This year, cars with a “Hollywood” connection (appeared in a film or on television or owned by a celebrity) will be featured. I would think we’ll be seeing some of Jay Leno’s cars in attendance, and probably the man himself. He’s known for tooling around Burbank and stopping by the Monte Carlo/Pinnochios Restaurant on Magnolia for a bite.

Come check out the action on San Fernando Boulevard between Magnolia and Olive anytime from 3:00 until 9:00 pm, and bring the whole family. The Car Classic is a free event with family entertainment, music, great food and vendors. You can catch a preview of some of the awesome vehicles at Bob’s Big Boy on Riverside Drive on Friday, July 27, from 7:00 – 9:00pm.

For more information or to register a vehicle, please visit

Verdugo Pool Slated to Open Early June!

verdugopoolwaterslidesPhoto By Alex Zane

The families of Magnolia Park eagerly anticipate the opening of the new pool and water play area at the Verdugo Recreation Center. It has been a long, hot, wait of five years since the pool closed for refurbishment, and excitement for this new facility is a major topic of discussion for the kids in the area. Sources at the City Parks and Recreation department have said the new pool should open in about a week, hopefully by Saturday, June 8. Check back for updated information!

Hours for Verdugo Pool will be:
June (opening day) – August 18
Monday-Friday – 12:30 p.m. – 5:00 p.m.
Saturday and Sunday – 1:00 p.m. – 5:00 p.m.

August 19 – September 1
Monday-Friday 3:30 p.m. – 5:30 p.m.
Saturday and Sunday – 1:00 p.m. – 5:00 p.m.

Independence Day – Thursday, July 4
12:00 p.m. – 6:00 p.m.

Labor Day – Monday, September 3
12:00 p.m. – 6:00 p.m.

Entrance fees are:
12 years and under – $2.00 (resident), $5.00 (nonresident)
13 – 17 years – $2.00 (resident), $10.00 (nonresident)
18 – 54 years – $4.00 (resident), $10.00 (nonresident)
55 years and over – $2.00 (resident), $5.00 (nonresident)

Fees for the Activity Pool are $2.00 each. There are two sessions (12:30-2:30pm and 3:00-5:00pm) and they have both been selling out!

verdugopool5-13Photo By Alex Zane

Taste Chicago Serves Up Delicious Deep Dish Pizza and Italian Favorites Daily

Long for a taste of home, or do you just have a hankering for Midwestern specialties like Deep Dish pizza, Chicago dogs, Anisetta cup or Italian beef and peppers? Then Taste Chicago at the corner of Hollywood Way and Verdugo Boulevard is your spot.

Open for lunch and dinner until late, Taste Chicago is great for eat-in or take-out. Great sandwiches and pastas await. The Anisetta cup, of sliced fennel with pickles, is terrific. The Chicago Deep Dish pizza comes out perfectly. The staff are friendly and the restaurant is clean. Taste Chicago is owned by actor Joe Mantegna and his wife Arlene, and has flourished at this busy corner in Burbank for many years.