Travel Buzz

Accidental Learning 
The enrichment possibilities abound in downtown Sacramento
From the civic gems of the Capitol to the bounty of historical nuggets in Old Town Sacramento, a weekend here will provide a lifetime of memories. Tour the Capitol and see Governor George Pardee’s office as it was in 1906, including the gas light fixtures kept there just in case electricity didn’t pan out as a power source. A life-size bronze bear statue the governor bought in an Aspen art galley guards his office, and if your timing is right, watch democracy in action via the state senate and assembly. Beyond the Capitol, Old Sacramento — as it was at the turn of the century, including the Railroad Museum — is to California history what gummy vitamins are to supplements, as in so good you don’t realize their intrinsic value.

Where to stay? Two blocks from the capitol at 926 J Street, a 1926 defunct law office has transformed (à la Joie de Vivre’s magic wand) into the Citizen Hotel. The 198 rooms and suites (some with balconies) are compact yet elegant and shared spaces are decorated with political artifacts, bookshelves and warm, serious colors. Play chess in the working law library/lobby, or enjoy an artisan cocktail in the dimly lit bar above the reception area. If you’re lucky you’ll run into bartender Juan Vasquez, who loves to serve up his special “Juan-and-only” artisan cocktail. For dinner join the political elite at Grange Restaurant, Sacramento’s latest hot spot, with a menu and decor that could rival anything in San Francisco. Executive chef Michael Tuohy culls the best from local farms, ranches and vineyards to create inventive dishes and a color-coded (by region) wine menu. Best time to visit: anytime, expect the hottest days of summer.

Pumpkin Season!
The 39th annual Half Moon Bay Art & Pumpkin Festival happens October 17-18, size up the giant gourds, great pumpkin parade, haunted house, pie-eating contest and more.

Aston Waikiki Beach Hotel’s “Front Row Seat to the Ocean” promotion offers room upgrades for only $15. For super savings, combine this with the Aston’s year-round “Kids Stay, Play & Eat Free” program, which means children 17 years and younger stay free when using existing beds and children 12 years and younger receive free admission at island attractions and free meals at popular family-friendly restaurants. Rooms range from $129 to $159; offer is good through December.

During a $50 million renovation (which is almost over), Kaua‘i Marriott Resort is offering a special “Discover Kaua‘i” room rate starting at $199 per night for a garden view room and $249 per night for a pool view room. “We’re excited about all the improvements we have in store for our guests,” says  general manager Elliot Mills. “While we undergo this transformation, we are still open and ready to serve guests with the service and hospitality they expect from a Marriott Resort in Hawai‘i.” These rates are good until December 23, 2009.