You’ve got to hand it to an L.A. prop shop well armed to flesh out Hollywood horror films.

There’s more shaking in Coalinga than just the remembrance of the devastating 1983 earthquake; the R.C. Baker Museum shows that.

Laugh all you want at paintings on black velvet, but you’ve never seen anything like the Velveteria in Los Angeles.

Want to be part of a sitcom’s live studio audience? It’s not for the faint of heart. Here’s a primer.

At the Computer Science Museum in Mountain View, you can match wits against “Jeopardy!” champ, Watson.

A tour makes you wonder how scientists lived for two years in this ecosystem.

Elvis lives at a truck stop and casino off the freeway in suburban Reno.

You don’t have to be a kid to be entranced by an impressive model railroad layout in Walnut Creek, but it helps.

Take a day to unearth the Bay Area’s hidden gem — Benicia. Bring your dog, too.

What the heck is Hitler’s car doing at an aviation museum in Orange County?

Palm Springs’ annual Modernism Week is a good excuse for gawking at the erstwhile homes of stars from Hollywood’s Golden Age.

Cuddle up to a giraffe, zebra or antelope in an African preserve near the Pacific Ocean.

An enduring folk art installation draws people deep into the desert.

Let’s get small and visit a “metropolis in miniature” in Carmel.

Air Force One touches down in Atwater at the Castle Air Museum; take a peek where Reagan and Clinton sat.

Amid the Spanish-dominated Central Coast Foothills, the Danish enclave Solvang is a quirky and curious change of pace.

You can literally make a run for the border at Border Field State Park.

Forget mid-century glamour: The Ace Hotel brings hipness to Palm Springs

Pay homage to the rock gods — or at least their instruments — at the Fender Guitar factory tour

Rising like a mirage in the Mojave Desert is a museum dedicated to Gen. George S. Patton. Why, you ask?

You have entered an acoustic vortex that focuses the very ions of the air in a way so that two people can have an intimate chat across a vast expanse of sidewalk.

The premise of the museum is that God created heaven and earth in six 24-hour days.

Usually, I wait until after dinner to bow to the porcelain bowl … and then, only if salmonella or E. coli accidentally has kicked in.

Get a new perspective on the Sacramento River by viewing a photo exhibit in Redding

Rockville Hills Regional Park in Fairfield may be popular with mountain bikers but is open and welcoming to all.

Based in San Francisco, the Fear of Flying Clinic helps airplane-averse travelers get airborne

For people suffering from chronic anxiety, just leaving home can be a challenge and traveling a nightmare. A local author tells her story.

“Route 66 Treasures”

This place isn’t just a dive; it’s immersion in history.

An award-winning children’s museum in Temecula serves as an interactive scientific playground for toddlers

A trip to the Weedpatch Camp and its annual Dust Bowl Festival harkens images of Steinbeck, courtesy of a former resident

Live! Tarantula! Sex! At least see the males search for mates each fall on Mount Diablo.

The sounds of children playing, those squeals of innocent delight and boisterous bleats of pent-up energy finally expelled, mingle incongruously with the percussive staccato of hammer meeting nail and the drone of saw on wood.

The ghost town of Bodie is the real thing. Or, as close as you can get, due to the ravages of time and the vicissitudes of the harsh Eastern Sierra weather.

The Magic Bus gives you a tour of things that “should’ve happened, could’ve happened, as well as the happenings that actually happened” in San Francisco.

So much to see here at Tao House, birthplace of Eugene O’Neill’s most famous and enduring plays.

You are told the best meal to be had in the Mono Basin – heck, all of Yosemite Valley – can be found at a mini-mart attached to a Mobil gas station near the intersection of highways 395 and 120.

Once you step foot aboard the garish red 24-seat TMZ tour bus, parked just off garish Hollywood Boulevard where glazed-eyed tourists in ill-matching outfits dodge garish characters dressed as Michael Jackson, Marilyn Monroe and Elmo, you sacrifice all claims on dignity and can no longer hold the moral high ground.

At first sight of this most unusual shop on Telegraph Avenue, called the East Bay Depot for Creative Reuse, your mind cycles through its mental playlist and cues George Carlin's classic comedic "Place for Your Stuff" bit.

When it comes to our pets, even the most cynical, nihilistic or evil among us get all teared up and sappily sentimental when their beloved companion shuffles off this mortal coil.

If you want to see the place where McDonald's actually got its start – and we know you do, despite all that health-conscious tsk-tsking – you go to a low-rise building at 14th and E streets in San Bernardino.

I sported no requisite pointy Van Dyke beard; no facial hair at all, in fact. I was bereft of a beret, left my cool shades in the car's glove compartment and wore running shoes instead of authentic huarache sandals.

A veritable fast-food cornucopia – enough to make Michael Pollan go apoplectic – awaits travelers along Interstate 5.

The eyes draw you in first. Round and brown, they seem so trusting, yet almost pleading. Then again, maybe this pod of rescued elephant seal pups is just hungry and looking for a little herring tartare appetizer that sure would hit the spot.

They were in their early 20s, hip in that effortless European way. He wore cool shades and a three-day stubble; she bore piercings in all the right places – lip, eyebrow, helix of the ear lobe.

Dogged by self- consciousness and suburban angst, I've always shied away from partaking in the whole U-pick produce craze that took hold a couple decades ago.

Shame on me for shirking my journalistic duty and failing before now to stop at Bravo Farms, the quintessence of roadside attractions along Highway 99.

Florence Avenue is one of those lovely and modest, in the word's best sense, neighborhoods where anyone in his right mind would yearn to reside.

I stumbled upon some human bones the other day. No, I was not out in "secluded" woods. No, I did not alert the authorities to what overheated TV news anchors always call a "grim discovery." And, no, I did not freak out in the least.

Cowboy lore saturates this spiffed-up Old West town, found in every leather-scented saddlery and turquoise-laden gift shop, but especially among the chaps-to-spur-lined walls of the Desert Caballeros Western Museum.

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