Friday, 20 October 2017


The Domain Hotel
  • Gathers momentum in the U.S. 
  • fourth acquisition in the country within five months 
  • more than triples last year’s portfolio to over 2,900 units

CapitaLand’s wholly owned serviced residence business unit, The Ascott Limited (Ascott), is investing S$81.5 million to acquire and refurbish The Domain Hotel, a freehold hotel in Silicon Valley, California, to capture the fast-growing demand from global technology companies and multinational corporations. The 136-unit hotel will continue to operate as it undergoes refurbishment in phases before being rebranded to Citadines Cupertino Sunnyvale in 4Q 2018. This will be Ascott’s second Citadines-branded property in the U.S., following its acquisition of Hotel Central Fifth Avenue New York in May. The latter will be renovated and rebranded to Citadines Fifth Avenue New York in 2018. The property is Ascott’s fourth acquisition in the U.S. within five months. Ascott has more than tripled last year’s portfolio to over 2,900 units in the country.

Mr Lee Chee Koon, Ascott’s Chief Executive Officer, said: “We are acquiring Ascott’s first property in Silicon Valley which will allow us to invest in one of the most desirable property markets in the U.S. Silicon Valley has a high growth economy and is home to some of the world’s biggest and leading technology companies and multinational corporations, generating significant demand for accommodation. Our recent majority-stake acquisition of Synergy Global Housing in the U.S. will also enable Ascott to capitalise on its strong customer base of Fortune 500 companies and major Silicon Valley technology firms. Together with Ascott’s five properties in the U.S., we are in a good position to capture this ready pool of corporate clients and offer them more accommodation options in this highly sought-after location.”

Mr Lee added: “Citadines is our fastest-growing brand with close to 20,000 units in Asia Pacific, Europe and the Middle East. By stepping up our Citadines presence in the U.S., we will increase its reach to American travellers, our third largest source market, and cross sell to our properties outside the U.S. As we get closer to surpassing our target of 80,000 units globally by 2020, we will continue to seek opportunities in the U.S. in cities such as New York, Boston, Los Angeles, San Francisco and Washington DC.”

The Domain Hotel is situated along Sunnyvale’s primary thoroughfare, El Camino Real, that leads to San Francisco City and San Jose. The property is surrounded by numerous renowned corporations and startups including Apple’s new US$5 billion headquarter campus, which will accommodate more than 12,000 employees, Google, Amazon, Adobe, Intel, Netflix, Nvidia, PayPal and Telsa Motors.

The property attracts a good mix of both corporate and leisure travellers. Guests can enjoy convenience as the hotel is near San Jose McEnery and Santa Clara convention centres, and attractions such as Happy Hollow Park & Zoo, The Tech Museum of Innovation, and The Computer History Museum. A range of retail, dining and entertainment outlets can also be found at Santana Row, Westfield Valley Fair and Levi's® Stadium. Tertiary institutions in the vicinity include Stanford University, Santa Clara University and San Jose State University.

The Domain Hotel has a range of deluxe rooms as well as suites that provide separate living, dining and work areas. Some units also come with private balconies. Facilities include an outdoor heated pool, whirlpool with cabanas, bar, restaurant, fitness centre, 24-hour business centre, meeting rooms, grab-and-go food and beverage counter, as well as complimentary high-speed Wi-Fi, parking and shuttle service to companies.

Ascott has been ramping up its acquisitions in the U.S. In May, Ascott’s real estate investment trust, Ascott Residence Trust, announced the acquisition of DoubleTree by Hilton Hotel New York – Times Square South, adding to its two properties in Manhattan – Sheraton Tribeca New York Hotel and Element New York Times Square West hotel. In the same month, Ascott acquired Hotel Central Fifth Avenue New York, which will be rebranded to Citadines Fifth Avenue New York in 2018. In July, Ascott acquired an 80% stake in Synergy Global Housing, a leading accommodation provider in the U.S., to transform its operating platform and better meet the global accommodation needs of corporate customers.

About The Ascott Limited

The Ascott Limited is a Singapore company that has grown to be one of the leading international serviced residence owner-operators. It has over 43,000 operating serviced residence units in key cities of the Americas, Asia Pacific, Europe and the Middle East, as well as over 26,000 units which are under development, making a total of close to 70,000 units in over 500 properties. The company’s brands include Ascott, Citadines, Somerset, Quest, The Crest Collection, and lyf. Ascott’s portfolio spans more than 120 cities across over 30 countries.

Ascott, a wholly owned subsidiary of CapitaLand Limited, pioneered Asia Pacific's first international-class serviced residence with the opening of The Ascott Singapore in 1984. Today, the company boasts over 30 years of industry track record and award-winning serviced residence brands that enjoy recognition worldwide.

Ascott’s achievements have been recognised internationally. Recent awards include World Travel Awards 2017 for ‘Leading Serviced Apartment Brand’ in Asia and Europe; DestinAsian Readers’ Choice Awards 2017 for ‘Best Serviced Residence Brand’; TTG China Travel Awards 2017 for ‘Best Serviced Residence Operator in China’; Business Traveller Asia-Pacific Awards 2017 for ‘Best Serviced Residence Brand’; Business Traveller Middle East Awards 2016 for ‘Best Serviced Apartment Company’; Business Traveller UK Awards 2016 for ‘Best Serviced Apartment Company’ and Business Traveller China Awards 2016 for ‘Best Serviced Residence Brand’. For a full list of awards, please visit


Artist impression of the new golf course
NSW’s Illawarra region is set to become Australia's newest premier golf destination, with the construction of a new Greg Norman-designed and built golf course now underway by Silkari.

The golf resort gained planning approval in 2011, but a new grander $1.2 billion development plan has now been unveiled for the 556-hectare, near Wollongong.

Subject to planning approval, the development, Silkari Resort at Avondale, will include an Australian-first Greg Norman Golf Academy, a 290-room hotel, two spa lodges, a tennis and recreation centre, a sports academy and a residential housing development of 395 homes, overlooking the golf course.

The golf course aims to be completed in late 2019, and pending council approval, the first stage of the residential development will go on sale in 2018.

New Zealand celebrates 10th PCOA with largest-ever team

The largest-ever team of New Zealand suppliers is heading to the Gold Coast for the Professional Conference Organisers (PCO) Association’s 10th anniversary event next month.

Conventions and Incentives New Zealand (CINZ) Australia Manager Sharon Auld says 19 New Zealand suppliers will be joining the 100% Pure New Zealand hub at the Gold Coast Convention and Exhibition Centre from Sunday 26 to Tuesday 28 November 2017.

“New Zealand first exhibited under the 100% Pure New Zealand banner in Hobart in 2010. We had eight in our team then, seven years on, we have 19.

“New Zealand’s convention bureaux, hotels and Air New Zealand have been strong supporters over the years, and now we have activities and gala dinner venues joining us as well as some smaller regional areas,” she says.

Newcomers to the 100% Pure New Zealand hub this year are Skyline Queenstown, Real Journeys, the Christchurch Centre, and the Napier Conference Centre - located on the East Coast of the North Island. The Langham Auckland will also be participating under their new name Cordis Auckland as they re-brand in November.

Tourism New Zealand is sponsoring featured speaker Corbin Ball, who is an internationally recognised expert on technology. For the fifth year, he has been named one of the 25 most influential people in the meetings industry. His articles have appeared in hundreds of national and international publications and he is the only person to have received both Meeting Professionals International’s (MPI) International Supplier of the Year and MPI’s International Chapter Leader of the Year award.

Joining CINZ at the 100% Pure New Zealand hub for the 10th PCO Association event are:
  • Air New Zealand
  • Auckland Convention Bureau
  • Auckland Museum - Tamaki Paenga Hira
  • ChristchurchNZ Convention Bureau
  • Christchurch Centre
  • Cordis Auckland
  • Destination Rotorua Business Events
  • Dunedin Convention Bureau
  • Heritage & CityLife Hotels
  • Hobbiton™ Movie Set
  • Napier Conference Centre
  • New Zealand International Convention Centre (NZICC)
  • Queenstown Convention Bureau
  • Real Journeys
  • SKYCITY Auckland Convention Centre
  • Skyline Queenstown
  • Tourism New Zealand
  • Venues Wellington


It’s not just the 4350km Mekong River that connects China, Myanmar, Thailand, Laos, Cambodia and Vietnam; as a single entity they are known as the Greater Mekong Subregion.

In June, an innovative social media marketing campaign and travel inspiration platform called was launched, promoting the subregion as a single tourism destination.

The platform, which will officially go live in September 2017, aims to inspire people to research and book travel experiences in the Greater Mekong Subregion, filtered by destination or activity. It’s also a turn-key solution that will allow any business in the subregion to develop their own free social media campaign by tapping into these crowd-sourced visual moments. Shared moments are connected via geolocation to respective experiences, driving tourists to active operators.

“It’s quite a unique platform globally,” says Jens Thraenhart, executive director of the Mekong Tourism Coordinating Office (MTCO). “We call it the first truly collaborative tourism campaign.”

Global dialogue

Countries are realising the importance of working together by sharing information and marketing efforts in developing and promoting tourism.

MekongMoments is just one of many examples of the rising trend of regional collaboration and public-private partnership (PPP) in the tourism industry. The site involves many stakeholders including the six member country governments, six private sector founding partner companies (InterContinental Hotel Group, Small Luxury Hotels, Khiri Travel, Tang Dynasty Tours China, SwissContact and GIZ), and, potentially, many local businesses, consumers and travellers to the subregion who will contribute the user-generated content that will be aggregated on the platform.

“Nowadays if tourism is not developed as public-private partnership, it’s not sustainable,” says Thraenhart.

Tourism is increasingly promoted at the country-to-country level as a method to create shared economic benefits. In 2016, international tourist arrivals grew by 4 per cent year-on-year to 1.2 billion, according to the UN World Tourism Organisation (UNWTO)’s World Tourism Barometer published in April 2017.

“People continue to have a strong appetite for travel and this benefits many countries all around the world, translating into economic growth, job creation and opportunities for development,” says Taleb Rifai, UNWTO’s Secretary-General, in a press statement on the UN agency’s findings.

Read full article at BBC StoryWorks:


With just weeks to go, Australia’s premier music event, the ARIA Awards, announced its nominations this week.

A highlight of the nominations announcement was 1997 ARIA Hall of Fame inductee, Paul Kelly, who has received two Artisan ARIA Awards for Engineer of the Year and Best Cover Art, as well as seven nominations.

It was also an exciting day for Sydney’s Gang of Youths with eight nominations for Apple Music Album of the Year, Best Group, Best Rock Album, Best Video, Best Australian Live Act, Producer of the Year, Engineer of the Year and Best Cover Art.

Other nominees included Australian hip hop duo A.B Original, singer Jessica Mauboy and jazz musician James Morrison.

The winners will be revealed at The Star Event Centre, Sydney on Tuesday 28 November, and will be broadcast around Australia on the Nine Network.

Find out more at

Understand the seasons through culinary travel + find the #1 restaurant in Asia

The inevitable cycle of seasonal change gains momentum as autumn leaves fall in the north, whilst the scent of flower blossoms heralds the excitement of summer in the south. The seasons affect the way we think and the food we choose to eat. As we creep closer to the equator however, the seasonal foods shape a different way of experiencing cuisine.

Using only locally sourced ingredients, with a focus on sustainable, seasonal and organic produce, the chefs of Secret Tables produce an incredible array of gastronomic delights while also proactively changing the way we consume and think about what we eat.

Samuay & Sons, Isan, Thailand

Chef Weerawat “Num” Triyasenawat of Samuay & Sons, located in the northeastern Thai region of Isan, works across the principals that food is medicine and that cuisine itself is a rich form living history. He formed close ties with the local organic farming community and forages in the jungle for plants to supply his restaurant, discovering forgotten foods from by gone eras to share at the tables of his guests. Chef Num is fascinated by the challenge of the bringing wisdoms of the past into the present in order shape the next chapter of Thai cuisine. The menu is changed seasonally so guests may experience the gifts of Mother Nature at that moment in time, and be educated about where their food comes from and the indigenous wisdom surrounding it.

Dewakan – Kuala Lumpur, Malayasia

Dewakan is a portmanteau of the Malay words ‘dewa', to mean god, and ‘makan', meaning ‘to eat', and the passionate, creative team at Dewakan honour and serve the bounty of the local lands, celebrating local farmers, fishers, and artisans. Chef Darren Teoh combines and connects indigenous ingredients and produce from Malaysia's farms and jungles, mountains and seas, manifesting onto the plates as a culinary canvas and creating a menu of modern Malaysian cuisine, hinged upon a manifesto of fresh, naturalised or indigenous ingredients that celebrate and respect culinary traditions, creativity and terroir.

Cuca – Bali, Indonesia

Chef Kevin Cherkas devotedly crafts signature cuisine made from the best and freshest local ingredients, thoughtfully curated from artisanal producers in Indonesia. Cuca's philosophy is to showcase the uniqueness and diversity of local products whilst supporting local farmers and growers, handpicking the tastiest products Indonesia has to offer. Chef Kevin applies western techniques to prepare unique dishes inspired from Indonesian traditions, and also travels the world as a special guest chef, applying the same principals to the local produce he finds in each country.

Chef Kevin Cherkas and his team from Cuca can be found in Margret River, Western Australia at the Voyager Wine Estate for two special dinners where he will recreate his signature dishes, Thursday November 16 and Friday November 17.

Babe - Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia

Sitting aloft the roof of their skyscraper restaurant, Chef Jeff Ramsey and his team cultivate a magnificent urban garden where they grow many of their own produce and propagate hard-to-get plants, using natural methods such as worm farms to help reduce the building's energy usage, as well as it's waste. With stunning views over the Kuala Lumpur skyline, Chef Ramsey wishes to fill his diners with a sense of wonderment, and his approach to food is simple – honour the integrity of fresh produce and seasonal discoveries, and present them in a way that satiates the appetite with a lasting impression. Babe defines itself as ‘fun dining' as opposed to ‘fine dining', and enjoys the spirit of sharing a creative cuisine served as ‘Japas' (modern Japanese tapas).

In other news...

Congratulations to Secret Tables Members David's Kitchen, Locavore, Cuca and Cuisine Wat Damnak for being named as some Asia's best restaurants in TripAdvisor's 2017 Traveler's Choice Awards. Of course, we always knew these restaurants were something special but are happy to see that other traveller's agree – David's Kitchen in Chiang Mai, for instance, came in at the #1 spot for both Thailand and Asia, and #8 in the world!

Why book with SECRET RETREATS?

Anantara’s Festive Holiday Highlights Around the World

 Anantara Kihavah Xmas Tree
Anantara Hotels, Resorts & Spas presents merry escapism for Christmas and New Year travellers. Seasonal journeys offer the gift of choice - from sumptuous traditions in exotic destinations to intriguing local customs in culture-rich lands.

Extraordinary Christmas Trees
Decorating the holiday scene, Anantara Christmas trees offer unique festive backdrops. In Thailand, jungle luxury glows at Anantara Golden Triangle Elephant Camp & Resort with a Christmas coconut tree, and at a prestigious Bangkok address, Anantara Siam Bangkok Hotel exhibits designer cosmopolitan flair. In Sri Lanka, the spirit of giving back has immersed Anantara Kalutara Resort; their Christmas tree is decorated with wish cards from children of a nearby orphanage and proceeds from guest donations will be collected to purchase gifts to spread the holiday cheer and create smiles. Nestled on the Maldivian seabed, Anantara Kihavah Maldives Resort has a festive feature made from live coral; visible from the underwater wine cellar at SEA Restaurant, this is surely one not to be missed.

Iconic Christmas Experiences
Combining northern Thai culture with Christmas classics in the jungle, Anantara Golden Triangle Elephant Camp & Resort is hosting a Jungle Bells Reception & Gala Dinner on Christmas Eve. Glasses of eggnog and mulled wine are raised around a roaring fire at the old-world style bar while an Akha hill tribe family perform traditional dances. Spoiling families with a festive feast, a splendid poolside buffet of Christmas specials and exotic Thai recipes is enjoyed with Santa as the star guest and carol singers.

Renowned as Bangkok’s best, Anantara Siam Bangkok Hotel’s famous brunch is stepping up a festive notch for Christmas Day. Presenting favourites from its award-winning restaurants, celebrated cuisines from around the world and live cooking flair, merriment flows with a Christmas choir, live entertainment and the free flowing pleasures of Champagne, mimosas, martinis, a Thai Chili Bloody Mary Bar.

Showcasing Portugal’s artisan heritage, Anantara Vilamoura Algarve Resort is popping the cork on a vine-inspired Christmas Day with The Wine Guru’s Christmas Gathering. A five-course traditional Christmas lunch is paired with an exclusive handpicked selection of Portugal’s regional fine wines – all personal favourites of Anantara’s producers and destined to become great vintages and prize winners.

New Year’s Eve Spectaculars
The last night of 2017 is theatrically impressive at two Anantara resorts in the Maldives. Anantara Kihavah Villas is throwing a spectacular New Year’s Eve Carnival On The Beach. Revellers can don feathers and masks to capture dramatic moments in the photo booth. Free flow cocktails at the poolside tikki bar come with a vibrant Caribbean steel pan musician. A gala dinner in the carnival marquee presents a buffet of the finest global flavours, unique chef creations at live cooking stations, fresh seafood delights and wicked desserts worth the extra splurge. Incredible performers from around the world dazzle guests with fire, Brazilian capoeira and aerial acrobatic shows.

Transforming New Year’s Eve into a family-friendly extravaganza on a private tropical beach, Anantara Dhigu Resort boasts an enchanting Moana Disney theme. A bountiful buffet dinner serves local catches and international cuisines. The night has a lively flow at the tikki bar and kid’s entertainment wows young VIPS. DJ tunes spin and the ambience rises as midnight fireworks colour the sky and ocean.

Seasonal Music Festivals

Bringing world-class jazz to the world’s largest desert in Abu Dhabi for the festive season, Qasr Al Sarab Desert Resort by Anantara is featuring the famous Parisian band Swing Deluxe from 24 December 2017 - 1 January 2018, entertaining guests with great French and American jazz classics while they indulge in festive dining experiences at signature restaurants.

Festive Mother and Girls
Showcasing a Festive Celebration of Music from 22 December 2017 - 2 January 2018 beside Bangkok’s glittering River of Kings in Thailand, Anantara Riverside Bangkok Resort proudly presents an unforgettable 12-day concert programme. Staged on a riverside barge, jazz and acoustic musicians, as well as popular local and international bands, will delight festive diners at the resort’s river-view restaurants, and also at the waterfront Thai street food fair.

Discover Anantara’s vibrant festive journeys in your dream destination at

Queensland events calendar continues to boom in 2018

The 2018 Queensland events calendar is forecast to generate more than $780 million in economic benefit to the State’s economy.

Premier Annastacia Palaszczuk and Tourism and Major Events Minister Kate Jones said since coming to office, the Government had doubled the value of Queensland’s events calendar from $380 million in 2015 to $780 million next year.

“These events attract visitors from interstate and overseas, and help create local jobs,” the Premier said.

“Since the Government came to office, more than 115,000 jobs have been created across Queensland.”

“Queensland has proven itself over-and-over again as a world-class events destination and the growing value and variety of our events calendar is a testament to our global reputation,” she said

Ms Jones said the Queensland Government, through Tourism and Events Queensland, has shown that using events, both big and small, as a platform to showcase Queensland’s unique tourism offering has been a winning formula.

In 2016-17, TEQ supported 49 major events, 87 destination events, and 16 business events, growing TEQ’s portfolio of events by almost ten per cent from the previous financial year to generate $349.7 million in overnight visitor expenditure, $415.2 million in direct and incremental spending, 1.985 million direct visitor nights and attracting 242,350 visitors to Queensland.

Almost half of the events that TEQ invests in are held outside of the south east Queensland corner, promoting the unique tourism opportunities on offer in regional Queensland.

“In 2017 we saw huge international events in Queensland ranging from the Jeff Horn world title fight at Suncorp Stadium to the Marvel: Creating the Cinematic Universe exhibition at GoMA, the UCI World Mountain Bike Championships in Cairns and the Magic Millions on the Gold Coast,” Ms Jones said.

“Next year promises to be even bigger, spearheaded by the Gold Coast 2018 Commonwealth Games in April and of course the TV WEEK Logie Awards in July.”

“Investment in our events calendar drives visitation right across Queensland, which in turn supports local jobs and injects millions of dollars into the economy.

The Games will inject more than $4 billion into Queensland’s economy, supporting thousands of jobs and delivering world-class sporting facilities that will benefit Queenslanders for years to come.

Ms Jones said there was a total of 69 events on next year’s It’s Live! In Queensland calendar.

“The Brisbane Global Rugby Tens, followed by the Quiksilver and Roxy Pros and then CMC Rocks Qld, all before the Commonwealth Games, is a great way to kick off the year,” she said

“The Noosa Food and Wine Festival, the 40th Gold Coast Marathon, the Birdsville Big Red Bash and the Cairns Indigenous Art Fair are all iconic events which showcase the best of what Queensland has to offer.

“Then to round out the year we have the 60th Mount Isa Mines Rotary Rodeo, the ITU World Triathlon Grand Final Gold Coast, the Gold Coast 600 and the Woodford Folk Festival.

“Our world-class calendar proves Queensland is just the place to experience the world’s best live events.”

New events on the 2018 calendar include the Gold Coast 2018 Commonwealth Games, the Winds of Zenadth Cultural Festival in the Torres Strait, the World Parachuting Championships, the TV WEEK Logie Awards, the Whitsunday Clipper Race Carnival, the Australian Swimming Trials and the Australian Athletics Championships.

To see the full calendar, click here.

Thursday, 19 October 2017


A hurricane blew through The Bachelorette Australia on Wednesday night. This time it was Novacastrian band Hurricane Fall bringing their distinctive, rock-edge country sound to Network Ten’s hit show, as they performed privately for The Bachelorette Sophie Monk.

Taken from their latest EP ‘How We Get Down’, Hurricane Fall performed ‘Don’t Miss Me’ during the ‘single date’ on last night’s episode of The Bachelorette Australia (Season 3, Episode 9). Recorded and produced by the band at Spinlight Studios, ‘Don’t Miss Me’ shows Hurricane Fall’s talent and their ability to diversify their sound and make a song showcasing a softer side and one with deeper meaning. It’s a sobering look into the realities of war, an issue close to home with all band members having friends and family currently serving.

The song is based on a story told by the lead vocals and bass player, Pepper’s grandfather. When he was drafted, he told his wife that if he were never to return, ‘Don’t Miss Me’. ‘This song means a lot to us as it is very close to our hearts, and we want to share that with everyone’ said Pepper. It’s fitting that it was performed on a show like The Bachelorette, based on a search for the kind of love Pepper’s grandfather stood to lose by fighting for his country.

Hailing from Tamworth, NSW, but now calling Newcastle home, Hurricane Fall are one of the hardest working bands in the Aussie country/rock scene. They released their debut self-titled EP in January 2016, which reached No.2 on the ITunes Country charts, and followed up with their latest EP ‘How We Get Down’, which reached No.4 on the iTunes Country charts. While their EPs feature great production, Hurricane Fall takes it to the next level on stage, saying ‘We pride ourselves on our performance. Everything we do in the social media and media world is to encourage people to get to a venue and see us live. If you want to see an energetic performance with big harmonies driving rhythm section, come and see us’.

The boys are currently performing on the Rock the Boat Cruise with Status Quo, Angry Anderson and Shane Nicholson to name but a few, and will also be supporting US country music legend and actor Billy Ray Cyrus on his Australian Tour in 2018 alongside Kasey Chambers, Caitlyn Shadboltand O’Shea.

You can catch Hurricane Fall perform at one of the following shows:
  • Monday 16th – Monday 23rd October - Rock the Boat Cruise
  • Friday 27th October – Young Services Club, Young
  • Saturday 28th October - Ariah Park B & S Ball
  • Saturday 25th November – V8 Supercars - Honeysuckle Hotel, Newcastle
  • Saturday 30th December - Gin and Raspberry Boutique Bar, Wanaka NZ
  • Sunday 31st December - Top Paddock Music Festival, NZ
  • Tuesday 2nd January 2018 - Wanaka Rodeo After Party, NZ
  • Friday 19th – Sunday 28th January – Tamworth Country Music Festival, Tamworth
  • Sunday 25th March 2018 – By The Bay Country Music Festival – Sandstone Point Hotel, Sandstone, QLD (supporting Billy Ray Cyrus)



Buy Single ‘Don’t Miss Me’ here

Buy EP ‘How We Get Down’ here | |


Each month, we offer a few seasonal suggestions for things to do in San Francisco. This month, we are going a bit further and planting some ideas for the perfect fall frolic, whether you prefer to go wine tasting or visit a pumpkin patch.

Because of ongoing fires in parts of Napa and Sonoma counties, some events listed here may be cancelled and/or delayed. Check with event sponsors before making plans.

East of San Francisco

Well known by visitors to San Francisco, Hornblower Cruises & Events also has an East Bay berth at the Berkeley Marina. Locals favor it for special events—everything from a Sweet 16 celebration to a class reunion. Check out their holiday cruises, too. If you want a break from Thanksgiving Day cooking, the Thanksgiving buffet cruise offers three different entrees and, of course, all the usual fixings.

Just two-and-a-half hours east of San Francisco, Tuolumne County is in the heart of the Gold Country and is the Bay Area’s “front door” to Yosemite National Park. This time of year, don’t miss Columbia State Park’s harvest festival and Railtown 1897’s Harvest Haunt Express in October.

Visitors to the Central Valley town of Stockton might be surprised to discover the Stockton Cambodian Buddhist Temple (Wat Dharmararam), an active Buddhist temple that features more than 90 colorful and larger than life jewel encrusted statues, including a 50-foot-long recumbent Buddha.
North of San Francisco

For wine buffs this time of year is known as the “crush.” Just drive through the wine country, roll down the car window and inhale. You'll know exactly what we’re talking about. There are dozens of special events celebrating the annual harvest, from barn dances to outdoor dining events such as Calistoga’s Harvest Table in mid-September, when more than a dozen local restaurants serve guests seated at a 1,000-foot-long (305 m) table. In early September, Sonoma has its annual Crush event, and November brings a Wine & Food Affair to the Alexander, Dry Creek and Russian River Valleys.

Feeling lucky? Head to Graton Resort & Casino in Rohnert Park. This full-amenity gaming resort offers slots and video poker along with an array of table games. Beyond the great gaming, there’s 12 restaurants and a 200-guest room hotel.

Get SMART. That’s right, Sonoma-Marin Area Rail Transit (SMART) is ready to roll as of Aug. 25, 2017. Golden Gate Transit (Route 70) from San Francisco will get you to the nearest terminal which is located in San Rafael. The rail service makes stops in historic Petaluma, Sonomaand Santa Rosa. Santa Rosa is home to the Charles M. Schulz Museum where “Mud Pies and Jelly Beans: The Flavor of Peanuts” opens on Sept. 16, 2017. For transit information call 415-455-2000 or 511 within the San Francisco Bay Area.

Tickets are already available for the annual Napa Valley Film Festival (NVFF) in November. Ranked among the top 10 film festivals in the U.S. by USA Today, the five-day event showcases some of the best new independent films, and wines are available from more than 100 wineries.

South of San Francisco

Half Moon Bay, on the San Mateo coast, is the “Pumpkin Capital” of the world. What makes it so gorgeously ghordish? Well, for one thing, the Safeway World Championship Pumpkin Weigh-Off. Last year’s titanic orb tipped the scales at 1,910 pounds (866 kg). The weekend after is when all orange breaks out with the Half Moon Bay Art & Pumpkin Festival. Get inspired by the “Picasso of pumpkin carvers” sculpting pumpkins into masterpieces, harvest-inspired crafts, music and, of course, delicious slices of pumpkin pie.

Monterey County tunes up for the annual Monterey Jazz Festival in September. The longest, continuously-running annual jazz event in the whole wide world began here in 1958. Featuring more than 500 performers on eight stages, it draws 38,000-plus fans to the Monterey County Fair and Event Center. Be sure to include a visit to the Monterey Bay Aquarium, too. With nearly 200 exhibits in all, the Aquarium is a showcase for the habitats and sea life of one of the world's richest marine regions.

San Jose has the largest Vietnamese population outside of Vietnam and one of the three remaining Japantowns in the U.S.; the other two are located in San Francisco and Los Angeles. Located in the heart of Silicon Valley, it is also home to the Almaden Quicksilver Mining Museum and the mystifying Winchester Mystery House.

Football season is nigh and the San Francisco 49ers will play their first regular season game on Sept. 10 against the Carolina Panthers. If you happen to be near Santa Clara’s Levi’s Stadium on a non-game day, visit the 49ers museum, which is open 10 a.m. to 5 p.m., Friday-Monday. Not into football? How about Coldplay’s “A Head Full of Dreams Tour,” which arrives here on Oct. 4, 2017?

Still got room on your “to do” list? Be sure to check out our guide or visit one of our Visitors Information Centers before you hit the road. They are located at 900 Market St., in the Cellar level of Macy’s Union Square and at the California Welcome Center, PIER 39.