Adventurous Families Can Take on Spring Break ‘Hunger Games’ Style

May the “Paws” be Ever in Your Favor -- Hunger Games competition entices families to visit Montana // (c) 2014 Paws Up
May the “Paws” be Ever in Your Favor — Hunger Games competition entices families to visit Montana // (c) 2014 Paws Up

If you, like me, are a fan of the “Hunger Games” — or maybe if just your kids are — this could be the spring break trip for you. The Resort at Paws Up near Missoula, Mont., is inviting families to participate in its first annual Wilderness Games. That’s right, harness your inner Katniss and head into the Montana wild to find out if you can survive Hunger Games-style.

The Wilderness Games will team up family members during series of adventures. Over a four-day weekend of friendly competition, families are invited to partake in a variety of wilderness challenges. Ultimately, the family with the highest cumulative score will receive a return vacation to Paws Up with airfare included – a $25,000 value. If that incentive isn’t enought rile competitive spirits, hitting archery targets with the same bow model used in “The Hunger Games” might. Guests will have the opportunity to compete in the archery challenge with a Hoyt Buffalo Bow. From horseback riding to sporting clays, cattle drives and more, kids and adults alike can enjoy 37,000 acres of prime Lewis and Clark territory as a playground during an unforgettable spring break vacation.

The Wilderness Games are available over a choice of three weekends: March 26 to 29, April 2 to 5 and April 9 to 12. In addition to the Grand Prize of a return family vacation (awarded to the family with the highest cumulative score from all of the weekends combined), each weekend, prizes will be given to the families with the highest scores.

Inclusive spring break package rates range from $405 to $560 per person per night based on occupancy of the 28 available luxury cabins and lodges. Note: The Wilderness Games are suitable for children ages eight and older.

Quick Valentine’s Day Getaways for Mom and Dad

Make Valentine’s Day extra special with a quick Valentine’s Day Getaway. Moms and dads who are lucky enough to have someone to watch the kids overnight can escape to for a romantic weekend in Santa Barbara.

Valentine's Day getaways are a great way for parents to reconnect. // (c) Wikipedia Creative Commons
Valentine’s Day getaways are a great way for parents to reconnect. // (c) Wikipedia Creative Commons

For romantic digs during a getaway, look no further than the Four Seasons Resort The Biltmore Santa Barbara. A Hollywood favorite since 1927, the oceanfront resort’s secluded 20-acre property features a blend of botanical gardens, coastal panoramas and world-class amenities.

The Biltmore offers a number of packages and experiences specially designed to fan the flames of romance.  Enjoy champagne and strawberries then linger over breakfast in bed with the Celebration Package, or spend an extra day exploring or escaping together with a third night free.

My favorite hotel in Santa Barbara is the Canary Hotel, a Kimpton Hotel. The hotel is the perfect place to pamper a significant other and the Room for Romance package offers dinner for two and an in-room bubble bath. Add a little wine to the romance with the Urban Wine Trail package, which includes a bottle of wine, a cheese plate, bike rental for two and a map with recommendations for the best wine trail destinations.

It might be a bit of a drag to fight Thrusday-night traffic from Los Angeles, but don’t rush. Romanticize the journey and take the coastal route. If you really want to splurge, you can even hire a driver.

A New Way to Experience DineLA

Where to DineLA // (c) 2014 LACVB
It’s time to DineLA // (c) 2014 LACVB

This year, DineLA falls takes place over my birthday, Jan. 20-31, so I am paying attention to how to best take advantage of all of the many perks this event offers. Just when I start to think about all of the fabulous restaurants I want to eat at, the L.A. Tourism and Convention Board announces an $85 tasting menu at some of the city’s most sought-after dining destinations — CUT, mar’sel, Melisse, Patina Restaurant, Spago Beverly Hills and Valentino Restaurant. So much good food to be had — which one should I choose?

For a chance to savor Los Angeles’ cuisine all year long, diners can enter “dineLA for a Year.” Food lovers who sign up for the dineLA newsletter are automatically entered to win the ultimate prize—a restaurant  gift certificate every week for one year.  The 52-week prize is valued at $2,600.

To book a reservation for dineLA’s Restaurant Week simply visit and choose from over 300 restaurants offering a selection of specially-priced $15, $20 and $25 lunch menus and $25, $35 and $45 dinner menus along with tasting menu options from premier restaurants.

Take Up a New Sport in the New Year

Why not learn a new sport in the New Year? // Lee Stockwell / Big Bear Mountian Resorts
Why not learn a new sport in the New Year? // Lee Stockwell / Big Bear Mountian Resorts

It’s a new year and so that means it’s time to try new things. So, why not take up a new sport. While many people think that Southern California is just about sun and surf, it’s also got some fantastic mountain resorts. Head up to Big Bear Lake, Calif., for some of the area’s best snow sport opportunities.

To kick off the New Year, Big Bear Mountain Resorts is inviting  beginner skiers and snowboarders to come up and enjoy the snow during the month of January with free rental equipment for anyone who purchases a beginner lesson package. The offer is valid any day during the month of January, excluding holiday periods. Packages must be reserved at least one day in advance online at or by phone at 909-866-5841.

For the little tykes there is Little Bear Camp and Little Bear School at Snow Summit, where kids as young as 3 years old can get started on the bunny slopes. At Bear Mountain there is Riglet Park, where kids from 3 to 6 years old are introduced to snowboarding on miniature park features, using Burton’s innovative Learn-to-Ride Technology.

And why not make it a family affair. The ski resorts offer adult classes too. The classes are for persons age 13 and older. Some adults that have skied before but who want to want to learn how to snowboard can do so through the adult lessons. Big Bear’s qualified instructors will show anyone who wants to learn the ropes of having fun on the slopes. One of the great things about learning a new snow sport is it is never too late to learn.