Spring brings new life to California, not just in its fields, but also in its many destinations. Let’s hop around the state to see some of what’s new.
Running through next February at the California Museum, the exhibit Ray Eames: A Century of Modern Design celebrates the centennial of the legendary designer in her hometown of Sacramento at the California Museum (californiamuseum.org). The exhibit explores Ray’s early life and art before meeting her husband and business partner, Charles Eames, in 1941. Rarely-seen artifacts and works including paintings, paper dolls, fashion designs, furniture and other of her works spanning her remarkable, 60-year career will be displayed. Ray Eames’ designs epitomized the evolution of mid-century modern art, incorporating bold to pastel colors in whimsical, flowing forms. She broke barriers for female designers in an era of limited opportunities, establishing herself as one of the 20th century’s most influential artists.
Zip Yosemite (zipyosemite.com) opens a fully guided, three-hour tour of seven zip lines at the Calvin Crest Conference center in the Sierra National Forest. In addition to zipping along 90 feet above the ground, guests will learn about area ecology, geology and history as they are led through the course.
At ECO (Experience, Conserve, Outdoors), visitors experience a forest by ascension. After gearing up and training in rope climbing, participants ascend five stories into a Coast Live Oak for a birds-eye perspective. Thereafter, participants head into the Santa Cruz Mountains to forage for edibles, including seasonal fungi, elderberries and redwood sorrel with a naturalist. It all happens at Mt. Hermon in the Santa Cruz Mountains (mthermonadventures.com).
Several trails have been improved, expanded or are opening this spring across California, notably: the Greenhorn Park Trail in Yreka (shastacascade.org), the Hiksari Waterfront Trail in Eureka, the Lost Coast Mountain Bike Trail in the Paradise Ridge area of the King Range National Conservation Area, and the first phase of the new Skyline Trail for mountain biking, hiking and horseback riding in Big Bear.
The 130-year-old Truckee Hotel reopens this spring, after a thorough renovation of all its rooms. Improvements restore the historical atmosphere of the hotel, with claw foot tubs and fixtures that provide period character. Truckee celebrates its 150th anniversary since establishment in 1863 as Gray’s Toll Station and 20 years since becoming a fully incorporated municipality. These milestones will be worked into Truckee Thursdays, Big Truck Day, the town’s famous Fourth of July Parade and a special Mayor’s celebration, this spring (truckeehotel.com).
Known for being a center of high-altitude training, Mammoth Lakes opens the Whitmore Track and Sports Complex with an eight-lane, all-weather track to be the site of the Mammoth Running Camp, Running Vacation Packages and sanctioned high-altitude track and field events. A green design incorporates recycled tires into its polyurethane track, as well as a synthetic infield for soccer, football and javelin training (monocounty.org).
In a glowing example of energetic artistry, the western section of the San Francisco Bay Bridge becomes the world’s largest LED sculpture. A 1.8-mile-long, 50-foot-tall section of the Bay Bridge’s suspension cables will be lit with programmable LEDs from dusk until 2 a.m., daily (thebaylights.org).
In the 2013 episode of roller coaster wars, California’s Great America theme park in Santa Clara will open Gold Striker, the tallest and fastest wooden coaster in California(cagreatamerica.com); Six Flags Magic Mountain in Valencia opens Full Throttle, the world’s tallest and fastest looping coaster; and Knott’s Berry Farm in Buena Park, remakes its legendary flume ride, Timber Mountain, bigger and better (knotts.com).
Also making a big splash at Six Flags Discover Kingdom in Vallejo, aerialists, acrobats, music and dolphins will perform in Cirque Dreams Splashtastic (sixflags.com). The Monterey Bay Aquarium’s sea otter exhibit reopens, as does improved otter viewing from high-powered telescopes, and a film on sea otters debuts in the aquarium’s auditorium (mbayaq.org). While, the Aquarium of the Bay on Pier 39 in San Francisco prepares to open a River Otter exhibit, this summer.
Safari West in Santa Rosa opens a new observation deck in May to provide closer interaction with giraffes and flamingos (safariwest.com). The Aquarium of the Pacific in Long Beach opens a new ocean exploration exhibit in May and is now showing an exhibit of shark sculptures by Victor Douieb until May 5 Santa Ana’s Discovery Science Center features a collection of Leonardo da Vinci’s works, including 200 unique pieces and 75-life-sized machine inventions, beginning May 25.
San Francisco’s ground-breaking museum of science, art and human perception – The Exploratorium (exploratorium.edu) – reopens on April 17 at Pier 15 in the heart of the city’s revitalized waterfront. The new museum will be three times bigger than its predecessor with 150 new exhibits to engage and fascinate all ages.
West Marin Food and Farm Tours unveils Point Reyes tours this spring, including a Cheese Lover’s Tour that visits dairy farms and cheese factories with tastings of over 25 artisan cheeses. On the Oyster Farmer for a Day Tour, visitors explore Tomales Bay by boat and harvest their own oysters. The Oyster Lover’s Tour visits all of the area’s oyster farms with tastings of oysters cooked in six ways (foodandfarmtours.com).
Amgen’s Tour of California rides from Southern to Northern California, May 12-19, the first time it has routed from south to north. More than 2 million spectators are expected. Northern California finishes include: San Jose, Livermore, Mt. Diablo, San Francisco and Santa Rosa (amgentourofcalifornia.com ).
That’s just the beginning of What’s New This Spring. To find more, go to visitcalifornia.com.
John Poimiroo of El Dorado Hills is a travel writer who specializes in California destinations.