Drivers who have sped around the track at Mazda Raceway Laguna Seca would be hard pressed to forget about its most distinctive feature: the Corkscrew. Located at turns 8 and 8a, this hard-left, hard-right combination takes vehicles on a thrilling zig-zag that drops a total of 59 feet in elevation over a scant 450 feet of track length. The 11-turn road course currently measures in at just over 2.2 miles total?courtesy of an extension long after the track originally opened in 1957?and has hosted numerous races over the decades, including rounds for events such as the American Le Mans Series, Superbike World Championship, and Rolex Monterey Motorsports Reunion. When the sounds of roaring engines, squealing tires, and lost drivers asking for directions aren't filling the air, Mazda Raceway Laguna Seca allows visitors to tour the facilities and take in its sweeping ocean views.
The López family owns three local liquor stores and a restaurant; Francisco Jacobo manages a local radio station. Together, they join forces for a common interest: tequila. Beginning this year, they are hosting their annual Salinas Tequila and Mezcal Grand Tasting, an event that gathers a variety of aged agaves for the tasting.
Inaugurated in 2012, the Monterey Bay Bacon, Blues & Brews Festival beckons Bay-area residents to take part in an afternoon filled with meat, music, and mead. Local chefs, including restaurant professionals and amateurs, compete to see who can win over the judges with bacon-centric dishes that festivalgoers can sample throughout the day. Although judges determine the grand-prize winner, guests decide the People’s Choice titleholder through a unique voting process. Each festivalgoer is granted nine marbles with which to vote, and at the end of the event, contestants’ marble jars are weighed to crown the winner. As the afternoon endures, a lineup of local and national blues musicians aims its tunes at the open sky, simultaneously entertaining onlookers and emphasizing with the lonely Man in the Moon.
The first Carmel Bach Festival, held in 1935, was a modest, four-day affair held partially in a school auditorium. Today, the event stretches across two weeks, hosting not only concerts, but also classes, lectures, galas, and even open rehearsals. At heart, however, the festival hasn't changed—it's still a celebration of the music and legacy of Johann Sebastian Bach. As with his 1706 reality show, Bach is the star here, but performers also pay tribute to his influence with works by other composers. The musicians themselves are an equal draw for audiences, showcasing press-lauded and award-winning skills during each symphonic masterwork.
At 2,600 feet up in the Santa Cruz Mountains, one might expect to find sprawling views of the ocean and surrounding forest and not flourishing vineyards. Yet there are more than 70 wineries dappling the hills at various altitudes, privy to the dewy, cooling breezes of the sea and the richness of the rocky soil. The San Francisco Chronicle speaks to their scattered presence, deeming them "less a cohesive wine region than a patchwork of vineyards." Still, this characteristic isolation has resulted in "a perfect laboratory for winemaking not held hostage to fashion"—no one style dominates in this rustic setting.
Pinot noirs and chardonnays populate the western front, and the east yields cabernets, merlots, and zinfandels. The majority of the vineyards are small and family owned—a fact reflected in their meticulously bottled libations and the matching sweaters of their holiday photos—but though they exist in chosen hermitage, many of them welcome visitors to their scenic sites. They host weddings, festivals, and open events such as Pathway to Pinot Paradise, a self-guided tour of the pinot noir hotspots.
Hand-thrown ceramic vases, custom-stained glass lamps, blown glass, and textiles. The Craft Festival's 200 booths boast the handcrafted bounty of artisans from seven western states. The festival, which takes place semi-annually in Reno and Las Vegas, sources strictly local work—you won't see anything imported or mass produced along its aisles. Instead, you'll find artists who are passionate about their craft, whether it's creating unique jewelry, custom painting T-shirts, or painting works of art.