Best Bed & Breakfast Inns for Winter Whale Watching
Winter Specials & Packages
How I Became an Innkeeper: Bridge Creek Inn
CABBI Cookbook Recipe: Croissant French Toast with Spiced Apples, Pears and Cranberries
Ben Maddox House Innkeeper Helps Special Needs Chidlren Through Feast of the Senses
Aspiring Innkeepers Workshop in January
Follow CABBI on Facebook and Twitter to learn about special offers, discounts, recipes, and more.
Bridge Creek Inn
by Sally Kruger
“So what are you going to do when we retire? You don’t have any hobbies.” This was my hubby’s frequent question during our first 35 years of marriage. My standard answer was, “Well, I love to cook, I like people, I love sipping wine, so I’ll open a bed and breakfast.”
I guess he believed me because after a difficult two-and-a-half year search in a “hot” real estate market, we finally found a home in the Edna Valley (wine country just south of San Luis Obispo, California). Since I was still working at the time and he was already retired, he was making the treks from LA to SLO every time one of our three realtors in the area gave us a jingle. When he finally found the property he thought would work, he put it into escrow, and I’d never seen it. The primary criteria were being in the country and having awe-inspiring views. Criteria satisfied! Situated on a 10-acre parcel, it had a lovely two bedroom, two bath Craftsman-style house and a small house (the “hovel” as we call it) for us to inhabit.
A seasonal creek runs through the property and is lined with fresh mint and blackberry vines. We moved into the hovel in November of 1999 and started our 14-month remodel. We added a grand entry complete with waterfall and a mural of the views of the Santa Lucia Mountains that we see out our windows. We gutted the kitchen and both baths, and moved a few walls around to open up the living space. The process was terrible; the results are terrific.
As the time went on and on and the bank accounts went down and down, I began to wonder if I should have had my sanity checked before embarking on my “retirement hobby.” My previous career had been in medical research for 30 years; the first 15 doing basic cellular immunology in autoimmune diseases research and the second 15 running clinical trials on HIV/Aids drugs. So what if I hated my new career in the hospitality industry? Oh goodness, I thought, I’ll have to keep it open for at least 5 years to try to recoup some of this terrific investment we’ve made, even if I wasn’t happy doing it. My training for my new career consisted of taking one Quick Books class and one flower arranging class at the local adult school.
The nnn finally opened in March of 2001, and I love my new career. We only have two rooms, and it truly is my retirement hobby. Of course, most of my friends think I’m absolutely crazy and not really retired and to some extent they’re correct. I cook, I clean, I shop, I do laundry, I garden, but I always stop for wine and just love getting to know interesting folks from all over the world. Many of our guests come back again and again and have truly become our friends. The winemakers in this lovely valley are also personal friends, and so my wine education has expanded exponentially.
When we were going through our remodel, one of my dear friends, looked at me and said, “I can’t believe you’re actually going to act on your dream, Sally. Most folks just talk about it!” I’m so glad I did.
Aspiring Innkeepers Workshop in January
Interested in buying and running your own inn? CABBI’s Innkeeping As a Profession workshop will be held Saturday, January 29 – Sunday January 30, 2011.
This two-day workshop provides a behind-the- scenes look into the innkeeping lifestyle. Sessions include: finding the perfect inn, financing, marketing, operations and more.
Ask veteran innkeepers your toughest questions and attend the InnSpire opening reception and trade show.
Best Bed & Breakfast Inns
for Winter Whale Watching
Catching sight of a breaching gray whale is a spectacle to remember. Grab your binoculars and book your stay at one of California’s coastal inns to experience the thrill of whale watching. Through the winter months, approximately 20,000 gray whales cruise the waters off the California coast during their annual migration from Alaska’s Bering Sea to the warm lagoons of Baja and back. Their 10,000 to 14,000-mile round-trip trek is the longest known annual migration of any mammal.
Perched on a bluff above the Dana Point Harbor on the southern California coast, the Blue Lantern Inn offers the perfect base for a winter whale watching trip. Here, grey whales travel close to shore during their annual winter migration. Whale watching cruises depart from the harbor several times daily providing an up-close view of the whales. Back at the inn, you’re still likely to spot whales; nearly every room at the Blue Lantern Inn offers dramatic views of the Pacific Ocean. Most guest rooms offer ocean and harbor views, and Tower Suites even include telescopes among their in-room amenities. Contact the Blue Lantern Inn for winter value packages.
The Santa Barbara Channel is home to over 30 different species of whales, dolphins, and seals and sea lions that visit throughout the year, making these waters some of the most consistent locations found anywhere to view a variety of marine mammals. During winter and spring months, a tour of the channel is certain to bring sightings of migrating gray whales. The Simpson House Inn in Santa Barbara is the perfect to place to be pampered after a day of whale watching. The inn offers special rates for the winter season, featuring rooms with wood burning fireplaces and whirlpool tubs. The rates include afternoon refreshments, evening wine and hors d'oeuvres, and a full gourmet vegetarian breakfast.
With its enviable position at water’s edge, the Green Gables Inn in Pacific Grove is an ideal spot for whale watching on the Central Coast, whether on a bay charter cruise, or from the inn itself. In December, the southern migration of the grey whales is well underway, but guests may also see a few blue whales, bringing up the rear of their own migration. Many guest rooms at the Green Gables Inn offer ocean views, and the panoramic perspective from the downstairs parlor is jaw-dropping. Sit on a sofa next to the roaring fireplace with your binoculars trained on the window; you’ll be toasty warm and enjoy the show on the bay. Contact the Green Gables Inn for winter value packages.
From the Headlands Inn Bed and Breakfast in Mendocino, guests are within walking distance of everything the coastal village has to offer, including whale watching. The inn is located in the heart of the village, and is just a short stroll to unique shops, fine galleries, superb dining, and the Headlands State Park, known for some of the best whale watching on the Mendocino Coast. Walk the bluffs of Mendocino or relax on a bench to enjoy the mighty Pacific Ocean and view the passing whales. The Headlands Inn Bed and Breakfast is a historic New England-style Victorian saltbox, where personalized service, charming accommodations, and tantalizing breakfasts ensure a perfect getaway.
Located in Westport, at the southern end of California’s remote Lost Coast Wilderness, Howard Creek Ranch is an historic, 60 acre, ocean-front farm with three miles of bluffs looking out over the Pacific. From October through the end of January and then again from February through the middle of May, guests can catch sight of the gray whales from the bluffs as the whales make their journey to Baja and back. The whales hug the coastline along this stretch, spouting columns of water, rising to the surface with gallons of spray, and then diving back down with a flash of their tails.
Croissant French Toast with Spiced Apples, Pears and Cranberries
Makes 12 Servings
Spiced apple, pear and cranberry topping:
1 1/2 cups frozen cranberries
1 teaspoon plus 1 tablespoon Grand Marnier
3/4 cup loosely packed brown sugar, divided
3/4 stick butter
4 medium Fuji apples, peeled and diced
4 medium Granny Smith apples, peeled and diced
6 Bartlett pears, peeled and diced
2–3 tablespoons cinnamon
1/8 teaspoon nutmeg
1/2 cup maple syrup
2 cups half and half or cream
4 large eggs
1 tablespoon cinnamon
1/4 cup powdered sugar, plus extra for garnish
24 mini or 12 large croissants, cut in half lengthwise
For the spiced apple topping: Combine cranberries, 1 teaspoon of Grand Marnier and 2 tablespoons of brown sugar in a saucepan over medium heat. Cook until cranberries are tender; set aside. Melt butter in a saucepan over medium heat. Add apples, pears, remaining brown sugar, cinnamon and nutmeg; cook for 5 minutes. Add 1 tablespoon of Grand Marnier and maple syrup; cook, stirring often, until fruit is tender. Remove from heat and stir in cranberry mixture. For the French toast: Combine half & half, eggs, cinnamon and powdered sugar. Dip croissants into egg mixture. Cook on a hot, greased griddle or skillet until golden brown on both sides. Top with spiced apple topping and drizzle with pan juices. Dust with powdered sugar and serve.
For more delicious recipes from CABBI-member inns, order our CABBI Cookbook online at or peruse recipe collections at our Online Recipe Box.
Three for Free:
Receive Three Free Gifts with the Purchase of a CABBI Gift Certificate
In the spirit of giving this holiday season, CABBI is offering a “Three for Free” promotion to make gift giving three times as easy. Purchase of a CABBI gift certificate of $250 or more and receive three free gifts:
(1) A FREE copy of the California Bed & Breakfast Cookbook, which features culinary specialties from over 130 CABBI inns across California.
(2) A FREE copy of the California Bed and Breakfast Inns Travel Guide, which includes listings for over 250 California bed and breakfast inns.
(3) FREE UPGRADE to Priority Shipping (available only on orders shipping to the United States). This shipping upgrade allows your CABBI Gift Certificate to ship within 2-3 business days (plus processing time).
CABBI gift certificates make a perfect gift for a loved one or special friend. Order now to take advantage of this limited-time offer and receive three additional gifts. The Three for Free gift certificate offer is good through December 31, 2010.
Book your 2011 Winter Getaway with the Carmel Resort Inn--Carmel’s most affordable B&B style accommodations--and save. Book any two consecutive nights in the month of January and get the third night free during the same stay! With Carmel Resort Inn you get more Carmel time for your money, plus free wireless internet, free onsite parking, free local calls, free use of spa and sauna, free daily newspaper, and free daily breakfast basket delivered to your door! Email the inn for details.
Escape to Morro Bay with the Back Bay Inn’s Winter Week Day Special. Book two nights, and get $20 off the total room charge; or book three nights, and get $40 off the total room charge. The special is valid for stays Sunday through Thursday January 2 through March 17, excluding January 16 and February 20. The special is valid for the following rooms: 210, 211, 212, 214, cottage and loft. When making your reservation online, enter the following code in the box called “Additional Guest Name”. W2N-20 or W3N-40. We will then update your reservation with the $20 or $40 off the total charges. When making your reservation over the phone, please mention the above code. Applies to new reservations only. This special offer cannot be combined with any other discounts or third party gift certificates. Not valid for group reservations.
Plan a midweek getaway with a winter special in Mendocino. Stay at Sea Gull Inn, Sunday through Thursday nights, and receive 25% off regular rates. Winter Rates are valid for non-holiday stays between November 1 and March 31. See the inn’s availability calendar for exact midweek winter rates.
“Bundle up” for winter at the Birmingham Bed & Breakfast in Sonoma Valley. Winter is a beautiful, quiet time to visit the region’s award winning wineries and outstanding restaurants, many within walking distance from the inn. The “Queen Bundle” special includes one night for $160 plus tax, two nights for $280 plus tax or three nights for $360plus tax. The “King Bundle” special includes one night for $175 plus tax, two nights at $306 plus tax, or three nights at $390 plus tax. All “bundles” include a full breakfast, complimentary wine tasting valid at over 25 local wineries, and free Wifi. Please mention the “Bundle Up for Winter Special” when booking your reservation. Offer subject to availability.
Just 15 minutes from the entrance to Yosemite National Park, A Haven of Rest Bed & Breakfast is offering a 20 percent discount during the winter months (holidays excluded). The special includes a continental breakfast.
In Mendocino, stay at the MacCullum House Inn November 1 through April 30 and receive the lowest rates of the season: $149-$349.
Ben Maddox House Innkeeper Helps Special Needs Children Through Feast of the Senses
A little over a year ago, innkeeper Lucy Robinson of the Ben Maddox House Bed & Breakfast in Visalia was up one night feeling sorry for herself. Business was down, the inn was empty, and she was lonely. The former nurse who had spent 25 years serving special needs children and the elderly decided to write a plan to bring people to the inn for a charitable cause.
Robinson launched “Feast of the Senses,” which is a non-profit program designed to help special needs children and their families. Robinson brings children and their entire families to the Ben Maddox House for a free, week-long life skills vacation. The families are treated to unique opportunities to explore the Central Valley’s farms, dairies, orchards, vineyards, museums, and national parks through each of the five senses. The experience has brought families closer, boosted the children’s confidence, and achieved remarkable results, including encouraging one child with autism to speak for the first time; another child allowed others to hug him for the first time.
In the last year, the Feast of the Senses has served over 30 children and their families. Feast of the Senses is currently seeking sponsors and donations to continue its programming. For more information, visit feastforthesenses.org.