Chill Out: 50+ Ways to Beat the Winter Blues
Winter’s here! But you’re not happily snuggled up in your pajamas. Your feet are cold, your lips are chapped, your swimsuit’s in storage, and it gets dark at like 3 p.m., so there’s no point in even getting out of bed. All you can see is wall-to-wall gloom. What you need is a wintervention-—-someone or something to help you turn that frown upside down. Good news! That someone is us, and the something is this guide. Yes, our winter-loving elves heard your muffled sobs and compiled the ultimate survival guide—from where to slurp the best local soups and delicious hot chocolates to winter-friendly indoor crafts that will make your days fly by, along with spa treatments, warm-weather travel destinations, and even immune-boosting tips from local health care professionals. Hold the words of disco prophet Gloria Gaynor close to your heart: You will survive. We’ll make sure of it!
LET THERE BE LIGHT
January is the perfect time to enjoy local art (and abundant natural light) at the Jan Shrem and Maria Manetti Shrem Museum of Art. A major exhibition of early works by Wayne Thiebaud, one of Northern California’s best known and most accomplished artists, Wayne Thiebaud: 1958-1968, opens January 16 and entry is free. 254 Old Davis Road, Davis, 530-752-8500, manettishremmuseum.ucdavis.edu
Head to the Weborg gallery on the third floor of the Crocker Art Museum, which is bathed in natural light year-round, to enjoy the climbable “kids” Art Spot installation called Wingding, a giant, wooden, geometric landscape that encourages learning about the basic elements of art through play. Make sure you have a meal or a cup of coffee in the gorgeous sun-drenched dining area while you’re there, too. 216 O Street, Sacramento, 916-808-7000, crockerart.org
Lunch at the High Hand Café is the perfect way to make a winter’s day more beautiful. Surrounded by abundant greenery inside a beautiful glass house that accentuates every bit of available sunlight, it’ll put a smile on your dial—guaranteed. 3750 Taylor Road, Loomis, 916-652-2064 x2, highhandnursery.com /taste-the-cafe
Order up a big fat latte and snag the cozy chair by the front window to bask in the sunlight at Four Score Coffee House in Roseville. 325 Lincoln Street, Roseville, 916-390-0367, fourscorecoffee.com
The sun loves the Folsom Public Library and so do we. Browse the stacks or find a corner to sit and read, and then sneak over for a coffee at Einstein Café. 411 Stafford Street, Folsom, 916-355-7374, library.folsom.ca.us
You’ll find whatever’s left of the winter sunlight at Selland’s Market-Café where you can enjoy delicious fresh food in their airy dining hall. Side of vitamin D with your BLTA (bacon, lettuce, tomato, avocado) sandwich anyone? Locations in Sacramento and El Dorado Hills, sellands.com
Find a table upstairs by the window at Marly and Moo and enjoy a bit of sun and some delicious tater tots on a winter’s day. 608 Sutter Street, Folsom, 916-294-7691, marlyandmoo.com
DRINK IT IN
Grab a cup of yum at Caffé Santoro’s new Diamond Springs location with a delicious Ghirardelli hot chocolate— a tried-and-true local favorite that’s so good it’ll keep you coming back every winter…and spring…and summer…and fall. 493 Pleasant Valley Road, Diamond Springs, 530-350-9335, caffesantoro.com
Sweetie Pie’s famous hot chocolate comes with the perfect amount of pomp and circumstance, featuring loads of whipped cream and sprinkles in an ornate glass mug. 577 Main Street, Placerville, 530-642-0128, sweetiepies.biz
You can rely on Foxwood Coffee and Tea to serve you perfect hot chocolate; and if you’re a caffeine fiend, make sure you try their Mexican mocha for a chocolaty pick-me-up with a kick. 4068 Mother Lode Drive, Suite A, Shingle Springs, 530-387-7445, foxwoodcoffee.com
Alcohol Not Optional
Sample one of Heyday Café’s many fine port selections, including: Graham's Fine Ruby Port, 20 Year Tawny Port or Six Grapes Port, or go local with Madroña New-World Port made nearby in Camino. 325 Main Street, Placerville, 530-626-9700, heydaycafe.com
You like your winter cocktails uncomplicated, and Wally’s Pizza Bar offers The Classic—Woodford Reserve Bourbon and Antica Formula Sweet Vermouth stirred and served neat in a bucket with a big ice cube. Questions? 4079 Cameron Park Drive, Cameron Park, 530-677-5205, wallyspizzabar.com
Who doesn’t like to drink their winter-themed sweet treats? Cozy up to Bricks Eats and Drinks for a Caramel Apple: Sonoma Vodka and sour apple and butterscotch schnapps. 482 Main Street, Placerville, 530-303-3480, bricksonmainstreet.com
Belly up to the Liar’s Bench for straight-up adult beverages, straight up. If you need a stiff drink and you don’t want an infused that or a muddled this, this is the place to go. 255 Main Street, Placerville, 530-622-0494
Get your winter warmth from Sienna Restaurant’s Saged Bourbon: Old Forester Bourbon, sage-infused honey, and organic lemon juice. Purely medicinal, of course. 3909 Park Drive, El Dorado Hills, 916-941-9694, siennarestaurants.com
PRETEND IT’S SUMMER
(Fake) summer is here and the time is right for ice cream in Pine Grove! Beat the “heat” at Munnerlyn’s Ice Creamery. They have a ton of flavors and their menu changes regularly, which means many return visits for blink-and-you’ll-miss-them delights like Caramelized Pear, White Pepper Chocolate Chip, Mexican Chocolate, Black Licorice, Banana Pudding, or Dark Chocolate Coconut, just to name a few. Sadly, it’s not a 24-hour business, and they frown on you sleeping in the parking lot, so to balance out your newfound ice cream addiction, perfect your Academy Award-winning reenactment of summer at New York Fitness, Amador County’s best-kept secret. Bust out your bathing suit and swim your heart out in their divine heated pool, then head to Placerville’s Tan Central to accentuate your new summertastic physique (and resplendent ice cream belly) with a beautiful tan. Munnerlyn’s Ice Creamery 20145 State Highway 88, Pine Grove, 209-296-4400; New York Fitness, 615 New York Ranch Road, Suite 1, Jackson, 209-223-3236, newyorkfitness.online; Tan Central, 3916 Missouri Flat Road, Suite C, Placerville, 530-626-8264
HAVE A SPA DAY
Book yourself in for the Day Escape offering at the beautiful Time Out Resort and Spa in Camino. The package includes a full body massage, facial, ion detox and paraffin dip, plus breakfast, lunch and dessert; or, since Time Out doubles as a guesthouse, roll that day package into an overnight package that includes a room and meals along with the pampering. Just remember: No tears when it’s time to leave. 2452 Apple Vista Lane, Camino, 530-644-0314, timeoutspa.com
Put yourself in the hands of the massage magicians at Refresh at Sutter Creek and loosen up all that cold-weather stiffness you’ve been carrying around. From Swedish massage to aromatherapy and many more modalities, you’ll find the perfect massage and a talented masseuse to leave you refreshed and relaxed. 81 Hanford Street, Sutter Creek, 209-267-0887, refreshatsuttercreek.com
Spoil yourself rotten with a Spa Bliss package at Body Mind Spirit Soul in Placerville. After a Swedish massage, papaya facial, and a hand and foot massage, you’ll be walking out on your very own ray of sunshine. 2804 Mallard Lane, Placerville, 530-626-1363, dayspaplusmore.com
HIT THE SLOPES
If you’re looking for heritage, Squaw Valley Alpine Meadows has it—after all, they hosted the 1960 Winter Olympics. Squaw has a reputation for being an extreme-skier mecca, and it’s a huge place (6,000 acres of skiing and riding), but don’t let that shy you away—there’s plenty of room for beginners and moderate skiers here as well. And if you don’t ski, that’s OK: Ride the aerial tram and take in the spectacular view! 1960 Squaw Valley Road, Olympic Valley, 800-403-0206, squawalpine.com
Northstar California has a well-earned reputation for being a glitzy family-friendly resort, and it shares a lot in common with Disneyland—kids love it, adults love it, but it’ll definitely clean out your pockets. Extreme-skiers tend to flock elsewhere, so you’ll find the pace here pretty easygoing. Plus, they have great snowmaking facilities, so there’s always powder—no matter what the weather’s doing. 5001 Northstar Drive, Truckee, 800-466-6784, northstarcalifornia.com
A step down from the hugeness of Squaw and Northstar, Sierra-at-Tahoe takes things a little easier than their larger neighbors. There’s no resort here, for one thing—it’s all about the skiing. The overall vibe is family-friendly and it’s less expensive, which helps put a smile on parents’ faces. Sierra-at-Tahoe is also ideal for beginners, and the laid-back atmosphere provides a nice confidence booster for shy skiers who get intimidated by big crowds. 1111 Sierra at Tahoe Road, Twin Bridges, 530-659-7453, sierraattahoe.com
Remember the days when skiing wasn’t glitzy and fancy? That’s Homewood Mountain Resort. Things are down-to-earth here, and they let the spectacular views do all the talking. In other words, you won’t find any scenesters here, just scenery. There are better places to go for beginners, but if you already know your way around the slopes and hate the vibe of bigger resorts, Homewood might just be the place for you. 5145 West Lake Boulevard, Homewood, 530-525-2992, skihomewood.com
EMBRACE THE OUTDOORS
Located near Foresthill in Auburn, the Foresthill Divide Loop is roughly eight miles and was purpose-built for mountain bikes by mountain bikers, which means it’s the perfect trail to take a winter ride on. It’s so good for biking in fact that it’s also ideal for hiking or running as well—just keep an ear open for the mountain bikes whizzing by! canyonkeepers.org/tgforest.pdf
Cronan Ranch Regional Trails Park is a scenic hike featuring sweeping views of the South Fork of the American River. It’s a roughly 12-mile loop, located just off Highway 49, and is considered a moderate hike that’s still family-friendly. Plus, the picturesque views make it one you’ll not soon forget. coloma.com/recreation/riverside-parks/cronan-ranch-trails-park
Thai Noodle Express serves up noodle-y goodness with their deeply satisfying ramen bowls that are guaranteed to warm you from the tips of your hair follicles down to your toenails. Try the Thai spicy noodle soup, kimchee spicy miso ramen, and tom yum ramen, and thank us later. 374 Main Street, Placerville, 530-289-8919, thainoodleexpress.com
Warm your belly with Taste of Europe’s winter-friendly German-Czech cuisine: the sauerkraut soup or garlic potato soup are both cold-weather favorites. 545 Main Street, Placerville, 530-306-6670, tasteofeurope.cz
Don’t sleep on the soup of the day at The Main Street Buzz, where you might encounter delicious flavors like pumpkin and wild rice, African peanut, potato leek and more. 6246 Pleasant Valley Road, El Dorado, 530-303-3006, facebook.com/themainstreetbuzz
Cold weather makes your muscles tighten and contract, and hot yoga (also known as Bikram) is the perfect way to loosen up, warm up, and strengthen your core this winter. Ohana Moon Yoga turns up the heat with their power vinyasa flow classes. 3004 Green Valley Road, Suite E-2, Cameron Park, 530-208-3157, ohanamoonyoga.com
KNIT-FLIX AND CHILL (WINTER CRAFTS)
Blow out your knitting budget on a huge variety of yarn and knitting supplies at Lofty Lou’s Yarn Shop, get advice from their knowledgeable employees, or take one of their many classes (knitting, crochet, weaving, spinning or felting) and become a yarn wizard this winter (we’re pretty sure that’s a thing). 263 Main Street, Placerville, 530-642-2270, knit.us
Keep your hands busy this winter with jewelry making at Basically Beads in Diamond Springs. Visit the store for all of your jewelry-making supplies or learn how to become a pro at one of their classes. 512 Main Street, Suite 3, Diamond Springs, 530-622-2339, basicallybead.com
Winter’s the perfect season for cross-stitching and needle crafts, and Kelsey’s Needle Krafts has everything you need to see you through your next project. Take one of their many classes (cross stitch, needlepoint, embroidery, weaving or lacing), or join in on their third Saturday “Sit-N-Stitch” sessions. 447 Main Street, Suite A, Placerville, 530-622-6205, kelseys-needlekrafts.com
GO SOMEWHERE SUNNY
Don’t overlook San Diego’s smaller, less expensive, and closer-to-get-to-but-just-as-sunny sister city, Oceanside, as your winter vacation spot. The temperature doesn’t get much below 65, so while it’s not tropical, it’s warm enough to walk around in a T-shirt. Gorgeous wide sandy beaches, a picturesque harbor that’s perfect for sea kayaking, an emerging arts and culture scene, and great craft beer (try Bagby Beer Company and Breakwater Brewing) and food (the burger at 608—featuring dry-aged beef, melty cheddar, pickles, crispy onions, and a chili aioli that’s scratch-made using house-fermented chiles—is seriously to die for) make it an ideal destination for couples and families alike. Book an “ocean-side” room at the surf-inspired SpringHill Suites by Marriott Oceanside for easy access to the above-mentioned activities and a killer continental breakfast.
Roll the dice on Vegas this winter. Since the daytime average high is in the 60s, you can go out of doors during the day and not burst into flames, which means if you’re not a gambler, there’s even more to do and see! Take advantage of that mild January desert weather and book a tour at the Neon Museum. Tip: The museum offers combo ticket packages with the latest Vegas newcomer, The Mob Museum, so you can check out two great Vegas attractions. There’s great sightseeing to be had in the area, too—take a drive and see the Hoover Dam, a breathtaking monument to engineering that’s just 40 minutes away from Vegas by car, or take in a show like Michael Jackson ONE by Cirque du Soleil at Mandalay Bay.
Lake Havasu City
With its proximity to Southern California, Las Vegas and Phoenix, Lake Havasu City is an undiscovered destination that promises good (warm) times for the whole family. Featuring more than 300 days of sunshine a year, 400 miles of stunning coastline, and 60 miles of navigable waterways, Western Arizona’s desert playground is not to be missed. Book a stay at Heat Hotel (we recommend the Inferno Suite, featuring an oversized shower and color-changing LED lights), a super cool boutique property on the shores of Lake Havasu with unparalleled views of the water and London Bridge (an aqueduct built in the 1830s that formerly spanned the River Thames in London) plus a lakefront lounge and complimentary continental breakfast. Golfing, hot air balloon adventures, scenic hiking trails, and water sports are all a stone’s throw away.
If you’re more serious about the desert experience this winter, get your bohemian lifestyle on and go full desert in Sedona where high temperatures range in the 60s during January. Rent a yurt (airbnb.com/rooms/15807158) or a geodesic dome (airbnb.com/rooms/578314) or take advantage of the low-priced hotel accommodations in the area. And since Sedona is located roughly 100 miles from the South Rim of the Grand Canyon, it’s a great time of year to see one of our great natural wonders sans crowd.
Make like the sunbirds and fly down to Miami, where the average temps this month range in the 70s, and plenty of nightlife, sightseeing, and food (so much food!) await. Indulge in a café con leche, a Cuban sandwich, and a frita (a spicy hamburger topped with matchstick deep-fried potatoes); fill your belly full of delicious stone crab; chow down on good swamp food like gator bites or frogs legs; or savor Jamaican, West Indian, and Venezuelan food…I could go on (cue Willy Wonka’s “World of Pure Imagination” song).
Located on the Southwest shore of Maui, not far from Wailea, Kihei is a great pick for “under the radar” affordable accommodations; and weather-wise, the temperature averages a balmy 80 degrees. Since it’s located on the leeward (sheltered) side of the island, you’ll also find there’s less rain. Kihei is located close to the stunningly picturesque Road to Hana and Haleakalā volcano, so you can plan some great bike rides or hikes. What’s more, January is prime whale time, so make sure you schedule a whale-watching trip!
Shideh Chinichian, MD, a family medicine physician with Mercy Medical Group in El Dorado Hills, recommends the following tips to boost your immune system during winter months:
• Keep a healthy lifestyle by managing your stress! Sleep, diet, and exercise can all influence your stress levels, so keep a close eye on those factors. Maintaining a healthy weight can also help your immune system stay healthy and high functioning.
• Take supplements with immune-boosting nutrients, including vitamin C, vitamin D, zinc, omega 3, and probiotics.
• Incorporate foods that can boost your immune function, like garlic, ginger, onion, black pepper, turmeric, and green tea.
• Drink plenty of water and keep well hydrated.
Amandeep Bajwa, MD, a family medicine physician with Mercy Medical Group in Rocklin, says the secrets to boost one’s immunity during the winter months are surprisingly simple. Dr. Bajwa suggests you:
• Get at least seven to eight hours of sleep every night.
• Eliminate processed foods as often as possible, and opt for a balanced diet full of colorful fruits and vegetables, and protein.
• Exercise, even when it’s cold outside, as frequent physical activity will help boost your immunity.
• Receive the influenza vaccine (flu shot). The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention recommend that everyone over the age of six months should get the vaccine once a year ahead of flu season, which lasts from October to May.