Santa Barbara

Several celeb couples have honeymooned at this gorgeous California property.

Several celeb couples have honeymooned at this gorgeous California property.

Celebrities always travel in style, and we love checking out where they stay when on a getaway from the spotlight. So in this honeymoon edition of our (constant) celeb watch, we explore the gorgeous hotels where some of our favorite celebs celebrated their first days of wedded bliss. Sure, some didn’t last, but it’s not like these hotels are to blame. In fact, they’re probably responsible for the happiest days of the marriage! Take note, Jen and Justin: these spots will deliver the star treatment during your honeymoon.

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Let’s see if you can guess what the following events have in common: a super-secret conference hosted by the billionaire Koch brothers; a concert with $10,000 tickets featuring Mariah Carey; and an uber-luxe weekend golf retreat in Deer Valley, Utah.

If you guessed political campaign fundraising, you guessed right. Each of those events was orchestrated for one purpose — to help either Romney or Obama win the 2012 election. (Romney is currently pulling in more dollars — specifically, $35 million more than Obama in the month of June.)

But the events had something else in common, too — they all took place at some of the country’s top luxury hotels. And we wouldn’t be the hotel tell-all if we didn’t spill the details on just what went down — and where.

We’ve provided helpful color coded icons in Republican red and Democratic blue to let you know which event helped whom.

Park Hyatt Aviara Resort, Carlsbad, CA R.

Park Hyatt Aviara Resort, Carlsbad, CA

Park Hyatt Aviara Resort, Carlsbad, CA

The Event: “Path to Freedom 2012,” a fundraising summit hosted by the Koch brothers, June 24

The Power Players: The Koch brothers, conservative oil tycoons each worth $25 billion

The Spoils: Unknown, but it’s been reported that their annual fundraising goal is $400 million.

Security at the Park Hyatt Aviara was extremely tight for the Koch brothers’ biannual fundraiser, and few details about the guest list or speeches have been leaked. (A BuzzFeed reporter did manage to sneak in, before getting the boot for not wearing a name tag.) But we’re sure the wealthy conservatives who gathered to conspire raise money enjoyed the property’s gorgeous pool with lagoon views, Arnold Palmer-designed golf course, and serene gardens. See exclusive photos of the hotel

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The Best Road Trips is a weekly summer series highlighting our favorite getaways from major cities all over the United States.

Los Angeles is awesome whichever way you look at it. Despite its reputation of having few attractions for tourists and huge distances to cover to get to any of them, L.A. has plenty to offer with top-notch restaurants, world-class museums, a vibrant nightlife scene, and wonderful beaches that attract millions of visitors every year. But it’s good to take a break from all the buzz sometimes and head somewhere new, be it a more relaxed spot for some serious R&R, or the perfect stretch of sand for surfing. So whether you’re in town visiting and want to mix it up a bit, or you’re a resident and want to get away from it all, start packing and hit the road! We’ve got the perfect nearby spots that are just a short drive away.

Road Trip #1: Los Angeles to Orange County, CA

  • Total Driving Time:1 hour
  • Distance Covered:51 miles
  • Take This Trip If: You’re ready for some pampering
It'a all about fun in the sun and easy living here in the O.C.

It'a all about fun in the sun and easy living here in the O.C.

Don't you just want to take a dip in the Coliseum Pool at the Pelican Hill?

Don't you just want to take a dip in the Coliseum Pool at the Pelican Hill?

Lunch with a view at the Montage Laguna Beach

Have lunch with a view at the Montage Laguna Beach

Orange County is known for its well-heeled residents and high prices, but if you want to get some serious R&R, it’s the place to be. This string of uncrowded beaches is a good pick for families, but the area is popular among couples as well for its bucolic landscape and unparalleled sunsets. The beaches (and the waves) are definitely the main draw. If you’re planning a trip with the family, the ultra-luxe Pelican Hill is a wonderful choice. The property boasts two great golf courses, along with a plethora of other amenities, such as two gorgeous pools, a world-class spa, a fitness center, and a top-notch kids’ club. If it’s just you and your significant other, the Montage Laguna Beach is great for spending some quality time together. It offers an excellent spa, impeccable grounds, and beautiful rooms with breathtaking views.

  • Top Driving Tip: The fastest and shortest way to get there is the Santa Ana Freeway, but if you’ve got some time to spare, Cabrillo Highway (SR 1) is the most scenic. Along the way you’ll see gorgeous beaches and rolling hills.

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As one of the most romantic (and exclusive!) hotels in the country, the San Ysidro Ranch, a Ty Warner Property in Santa Barbara exudes refined luxury. The cottage-style inn is nestled between the foothills of the Santa Ynez Mountains and features charming rustic furnishings – including canopy beds, brick fireplaces, and eclectic decorative pieces like this sleepy little piglet. And we wouldn’t expect anything less adorable from Mr. Ty Warner, the man who gave us Beanie Babies.

The Olive Room at the San Ysidro Ranch, a Ty Warner Property

Read our caption after the jump, then enter your own in the comments section below!

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A Destination Wedding in the D.R.

A Destination Wedding in the D.R.

June is infamously known as wedding mayhem month. It seems like couples everywhere choose this month over any other to say their “I dos.” Even we couldn’t help but catch a little bit of the wedding bug and we’ve been doing our research. So if you happen to be planning a very last-minute wedding (perhaps a la Drew Barrymore, the mommy-to-be who tied the knot this past Saturday) or are just looking for some inspiration for your upcoming nuptials, we have all the details on where some of your favorite celebs wed. Some of the marriages may not have lasted through better or worse, but hey, at least the wedding was beautiful. Check out where stars like Megan Fox, Jennifer Garner, and Kelsey Grammer got hitched after the jump »

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Grounds at Vintners Inn in Sonoma

Grounds at Vintners Inn in Sonoma

When the weather gets warm, the daydreaming begins. Lush hideaways. Hidden cottages. Your own secret garden come to life.

These fantasies can very easily become a reality, with an outdoor space and a little elbow grease. We’ve seen a lot of beautiful gardens on our travels, and so we took what we learned to come up these 10 helpful gardening tips.

From sculptures to arbors to lighting, learn about the additions that can transform an ordinary garden into a memorable haven.

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Welcome to WTF Wednesday, wherein we highlight some of the strangest, funniest, most bizarre, or downright disturbing photos we come across while we’re out in the field. We’ll be asking you to contribute your own captions for these pictures, too, so lets get started!

This week’s photo comes from the Bacara Resort & Spa in Santa Barbara, CA. Just like an adult on a water slide or using a kid’s playground, getting involved in children’s activities doesn’t always bode well for parents. Our caption attempt: “Chill out! I’ve never started a forest fire!”

"Chill out! I've never started a forest fire!" (Kids Activities at the Bacara Resort & Spa; Santa Barbara, CA)

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