Nothing puts me into a California mood like sighting a copy of Sunset at the newsstand. Sunset, for the uninitiated, is a monthly magazine devoted to the Western lifestyle. The February issue I picked up in San Francisco last week is full of good, short, item-based features trumpeting new and interesting things across the western flank of North America. Highlights include LA Chinatown grub, Denver's buzzing RiNo district, and an ode to the Sonoran hot dog, which the editors fit into their "new Western essential" rubric. I also love the magazine's climate zone maps, which are keyed to planting and shopping suggestions. The Feb issue also has a wonderfully suggestive piece on lawn-free landscaping, as practiced by Sacramento landscape designer Roberta Walker.
Budget hotel hounds should pay attention to the issue's "20 Hidden Getaways" feature, which includes write-ups of 20 guesthouses with nightly rates of $250 or under. The best values: Blue Lake Ranch (near Durango), with rates starting at $90; Deetjen's Big Sur Inn, with rates starting at $80; and Hotel Cielo Rojo (San Francisco, Nayarit), with rates beginning at $75.
Check out Sunset's online travel blog here.