We held our breath when we asked readers to "tell us where to go." In so doing, we took the risk of opening the door to rude comments and -- perhaps worse -- being ignored. But we were pleasantly surprised on both counts. Not only did people hold their tongues (and pens), but they also came up with a great list of places they hold dear. We sifted and sorted and came up with six that we checked out and six more we considered the runners-up. But we also wanted to show the range of the submissions, so we have included the following list, culled from our e-mail.


Olympic Training Center, Chula Vista. Submitted by Patricia Blessing Rivera, who writes that it's "an overlooked and missed opportunity. A tour follows a historical film on the Olympics, usually led by an athlete in residence or docent. You also can meet athletes who are working in the gift shop, and you might see athletes training for a variety of events."

Glendeven Inn, Mendocino. Submitted by Patty O'Sullivan, who writes that it's "the most romantic getaway in California. We had gorgeous views of the coast and a short walk to Mendocino Headlands Park, great food (featuring a truly excellent in-room breakfast), a lovely room with luxurious details (bedding, fireplace, robes, etc.) If you need a real break from the ordinary, and Zen-like relaxation, this is the place."

Lark Camp, Mendocino Woodlands State Park. Submitted by Claudia Kriva, who writes that it's a "nontraditional vacation. Eight days of old-world music, dance from countries around the world and wonderful food. It takes one back in time and allows much merriment, for there is no need for phones, computers or any other 'device' to pull you away."

Red Rock Canyon State Park, near Cantil. Submitted by Theodore Benson, who writes, "This is a hidden jewel in the desert. The sandstone is breathtaking, especially during the sunrise and sunset, as you are surrounded by it on all sides. It looks good enough to eat, with its red, yellow and tan colors, layered like a cake."

North Coast Village, Oceanside. Submitted by Nancy Barna, who writes that it's the "best-kept secret in Southern California. Right on the beach, a tropical complex, pools, hot tubs."

Death Valley National Park. Submitted by Jo Ann Roche, who writes, "Go with an open mind." Also suggested by Jo Phan, who writes, "The beauty of the place is awe-inspiring."

Palm Springs Aerial Tramway. Submitted by Ellen Stevens, who writes that it's "a great place to take children and family."

Inn at Spanish Bay, Pebble Beach. Submitted by Katie Schinnerer, who writes, "Everything about this place is magical."

Alpenhorn Bed & Breakfast, Big Bear Lake. Submitted by Jan Peverill, who writes, "The inn is like coming home. You are always made welcome by the staff."

Bike ride on Catalina Island. Submitted by Ray McConn, who writes that it's "a remote spot, yet you can see L.A."

The Orchid Inn, Santa Barbara. Submitted by Ali Tolan, who writes, "My favorite bed-and-breakfast in California with a relaxing atmosphere and wonderful amenities." Also by Jill Sverdrup, who calls it a "perfect getaway from L.A. life."

Loews Santa Monica Beach Hotel. Submitted by Pat Eisenberg, who writes, "Everything is in your backyard . . . beach, fitness, sun and sand, volleyball, quiet strolls on the boardwalk. Inside is luxury at its finest."

Little River Inn, Mendocino Coast. Submitted by Gayl Biondi, who writes, "The setting is spectacular. Room 134 has a lovely balcony with rocking chairs and an ever-changing view of the coastline."

Central Coast of California. Submitted by John Pawlicki, who writes, "The Central Coast area, around San Luis Obispo generally, has a very nice coastline, lovely rolling hills and the coastal mountain range, excellent world-class wineries and lots of activities."

Ahwahnee Hotel, Yosemite National Park. Submitted by Karen Winn, who writes, "What could be better than hiking in the natural beauty that is Yosemite all day and then coming back to a luxury hotel, set amid all that beauty?"

Yosemite National Park. Submitted by Julia Halperin, who writes, "So close and so incredible."Redwood National Park, Crescent City. Submitted by Grant Roden, who writes that it has "vast uncrowded beaches and amazing rain forest, uncrowded trails and beaches. Cheap restaurants and great activities . . . We saw lots of elk (right outside our cabin) eagles, huge redwoods, a black bear and many wildflowers."

Sequoia and Kings Canyon National Park. Submitted by Linda Fleischman , who writes, "Definitely a place to be at peace with the world. Majestic, huge redwood trees. Meadows. Many easy trails as well as challenging ones. There is a wonderful river through the campground and a hike to a waterfall as well as hikes among the tall trees and in the meadows."