In the Loop


August seems to have issued a challenge: Eat your way through the month, escape with music, or play in the dirt. Other opportunities beckon too, and we pass them along to you in this monthly roundup of tips for short hops to nearby destinations and longer trips in California and the Southwest.

To the northwest in San Francisco, the Ritz-Carlton has launched exclusive “Inside the Kitchen Culinary Tours” on Saturdays, Aug. 10, 17, 24 and 31 (; 415-773-6199; advance reservations required) while across the Bay in Oakland, Localite’s guided walking tours provide behind-the-scenes gastronomic experiences ranging from the Pork Tour to the Retro Cocktail Tour ( Farther inland, 200 wineries and chefs join forces for the Sonoma Wine Country Weekend Aug. 30-Sept. 1 – Labor Day weekend (; 800-939-7666).

In Sacramento, the eighth annual “BBQ on the Ramp” fundraiser at the Aerospace Museum of California combines food and wine tasting with a display of vintage military and civilian aircraft, fireworks and music of the ’40s on Saturday, Aug. 24 (; 916-643-3192) and nearly 200 tons of dirt transform the streets of Old Sacramento’s historic district into a scene out of the 1850s for the free Gold Rush Days complete with theatrics, musicians, re-enactments, cowboys, gold panning and hands-on children’s activities over the Aug. 30-Sept. 2 weekend (www.sacra; 916-808-7777).

To the west, Oceano presents rotten-to-the-core con man John Livingstone in the action-packed Western drama “Death at Devil’s Cave or No Mother to Guide Her” at Great American Melodrama through Sept. 22 (; 805-489-2499) and Paso Robles presents free concerts in the Downtown City Park through Aug. 23 (; 805-238-4103).

Down below over Labor Day weekend, the Los Angeles Times’ “The Taste” transforms Paramount Pictures Studio into wine-and-food heaven (, the Hollywood Bowl salutes Tchaikovsky with bands augmenting the LA Philharmonic and the “1812 Overture” accompanied by pyrotechnics lighting the sky on Saturday, Aug. 17 (www.; 323-850-2058), and Melting Pot Tours has announced discounts through Sept. 30 on its two-and-a-half-hour Farmers Market Food & History Tour (; 424-247-9666; use promotion code ALIST2013).

To the south, Carlsbad revisits its summer tradition of jazz and dancing in Poinsettia Park, Fridays through Aug. 23 (; 800-227-5722).

Go without driving: You can board a bus in Ridgecrest for the Saturday, Aug. 24 “Festival of the Arts/Pageant of the Masters” in Laguna Beach, a spectacular 90 minutes of real people posing to faithfully replicate famous pieces of art. Buy your ticket at the Maturango Museum (www.matu; 760-375-6900).

More of a journey: Gearing up for the Sunday, Aug. 11 season premiere of “Breaking Bad,” Albuquerque, N.M, offers location tours, bath salts, candy and beer inspired by the wildly popular TV show (

Story First Published: 2013-08-07