Travel Column: In the Loop

By Donna McCrohan Rosenthal

February does not just mean Valentine’s Day and Presidents’ Day Weekend sales. We can do more, as you will see in this month’s roundup of tips for trips around the Golden State.

To the northwest in San Francisco, become an astronaut, oceanographer and jungle explorer at the California Academy of Sciences, Golden Gate Park, “the world’s largest all-digital planetarium at the only aquarium-planetarium-rainforest-living museum.”

The Spirit of Yosemite Festival over the Feb. 15-16 weekend marks the 150th anniversary of the first time our nation set lands aside for public use and celebrates the occasion with the Ken Burns’ documentary “Yosemite: A Gathering of Spirit ” and other events (www.calacademy.org; 415-379-8000).

Also in Golden Gate Park, the deYoung wraps up its extraordinary, glittering and exclusive U.S. exhibition “Art of Bulgari: La Dolce Vita & Beyond 1950-1990” on Monday, Feb. 17 (www.deyoung.famsf. org; 415-750-3600).

While in San Francisco, consider touring aboard the ’60s nostalgia Magic Bus (www.magicbussf.com; 855-WOW-MAGIC) and staying in the Hotel Union Square’s Dasheill Hammett Suite, once occupied by one of literature’s most esteemed mystery writers. Special touches include an antique suitcase filled with Hammett books, an old-fashioned typewriter, a vintage-style radio, Hammett’s own desk and “Spade & Archer” stenciled on the window (www.hotelunionsquare.com/rooms/dashiell-hammett-suite; 800-553-1900).

In San Jose, the multimedia production “R. Buckminster Fuller: The History (and Mystery) of the Universe” draws from the life, work and writings of the radical futurist, inventor, environmentalist, poet and visionary, and runs through Sunday, Feb. 23 (www.sjrep.com; 408-367-7255).

To the south in Costa Mesa, Segerstrom Center for the Arts presents the American premiere of the Hamburg Ballet’s “Liliom” on Friday-Sunday, Feb. 7-9, “The Wizard of Oz” on Feb. 11-23 and the Vienna Philharmonic on Monday, March 3 (www.scfta.org; 714-556-2787). In Rancho Cucamonga, the Lewis Family Playhouse joins the Community Theatre’s voices with those of the audience with a “Grease” sing-along on Saturday, Feb. 22 (www.lewisfamilyplayhouse.com; 909-477-2752).

Theatrical Arts International performs Mary Shelly’s “Frankenstein” Feb, 14-16 in San Bernardino and Saturday, Feb. 22 in Ontario (www.theatricalarts.com; 909-885-5152).

In Riverside, the Annual Dickens Festival over the Feb. 21 weekend brings costumed characters, street performers, afternoon teas, Mr. Fezziwig’s Ball, the Grand Dickens Parade and Oliver’s Alley for children, and much more (www.dickensfest.com; 800-430-4140).

Closer to home in Bakersfield’s Gaslight Melodrama Theatre & Music Hall through March 15, “The Legend of the Wasco Kid” combines the Old West with a freak tornado, time travel and the Wasco Festival of Roses (www.themelodrama.com; 661-587-3377).

On a gustatory note: Forty-five minutes north of San Francisco in wine country, the Sonoma Valley Olive Festival reaches its Finale Weekend on Feb. 14-17 (www.olivefestival.com; 866-996-1090) and southeast of Los Angeles in Newport Beach, the Dungeness Crab Festival occupies the entire month (www.larkcreek.com; 949-640-6700).

Ridgecrest resident Donna McCrohan Rosenthal covers travel stories for AAA, Bakersfield Magazine and several West Coast publications. The author of 14 books, she has appeared on Oprah and A&E Biography and lectured at the Smithsonian.

Story First Published: 2014-02-05