Hit the Road - Page 2

Hot-spot stops for time travelers on a California road-trip getaway
Hit the Road
Flamingo Conference Resort and Spa.
Hit the Road
Oakland Museum of California garden.
Hit the Road
The Giant Dipper rollercoaster at Santa Cruz Beach Boardwalk.

Need a place to bed down before pulling into the Bay Area? Try the Flamingo in Santa Rosa. It's not hard to spot thanks to an immense tower emblazoned with the word 'Flamingo' and topped by—what else?—a neon pink flamingo.

The 1957 motel (today the Flamingo Conference Resort and Spa), designed by architect George Vernon Russell, recently renovated its interior. But there's still a retro feeling about the place, especially around the pool, which the Santa Rosa Press Democrat recently reported "still looks like a proverbial hangout for the Rat Pack."

Passing through the Bay Area, Oakland is worth a stop for two attractions that, far from shouting out to passing motorists, hide in plain sight. Both are remarkable, modernist gardens.

The garden of the Oakland Museum of California is by Dan Kiley, one of the inventors of modern landscape design, and dates from 1969. Architect Kevin Roche wanted a building that deferred to grander edifices nearby, so it's low to the ground, with several levels of rooftop garden stepping down to a lawn.

Just a few blocks away, landscape architect Ted Osmundson's Kaiser Center rooftop garden is a delightful, abstract design from 1960, with pools, bridges, and groves of trees. There are noon concerts during the summer. The curving, aluminum-clad office tower by architect Welton Becket is a landmark along Lake Merritt.

Are you done relaxing? Then take the kids down the coast an hour-plus to Santa Cruz Beach Boardwalk, one of the last old-fashioned amusement parks left. But if you're looking for pure nostalgia, forget it. This place is kicking, with the iconic Giant Dipper rollercoaster, fun rides for kids, and events for many summer nights.