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Author Valli Herman

  • Valli Herman


Perfect Getaway: The Eastern Sierra

Colorful scenery, culinary excursions, and Old West adventures await

Mark the change of seasons with a drive along the Eastern Sierra, where U.S. 395 threads a colorful path through vibrant autumn scenery. The 230-mile roadway through Inyo and Mono counties is flanked by stands of aspen, cottonwood, and willow trees in hues of gold, orange, and red until the end of October. Designated a state scenic highway, the route passes along the charming cities of Bishop, Crowley Lake, Mammoth Lakes, and Bridgeport, and the eastern side of Yosemite National Park. Pack your binoculars and be prepared for challenging mountain trails to reach some breathtaking views. Read more...

Perfect Getaway: Ventura

Uncrowded shores, waterfront dining, and a busy late-summer calendar

In-the-know beach lovers sneak up to Ventura for its sandy expanses, Victorian-era charm, and easy access to Channel Islands National Park. You’ll find the local late-summer calendar packed with events. The county fair, which runs through Aug. 10, offers a bacchanal of funnel cake, fireworks, and free concerts by the Barenaked Ladies and the Beach Boys. Catch “Who’s Minding the Store?,” an exhibit that examines the role of immigrant grocers, before it closes at month’s end at the Museum of Ventura County. Read more...

Perfect Getaway: Santa Barbara

Give your car a vacation, too, and explore the pedestrian-friendly city

Just being outdoors is a pleasure in breezy, scenic Santa Barbara, where every vista includes the shimmering Pacific or the golden faces of the Santa Ynez Mountains. With Amtrak’s Pacific Surfliner delivering passengers near the heart of town, it’s easy to leave your wheels behind for an adventure on foot. Read more...

Perfect Getaway: Downtown L.A.

The city’s revitalized core bustles with life—and night life

Most ghost towns don’t become boomtowns, but you can barely walk a block in formerly forlorn downtown Los Angeles without evidence of a real and lasting transformation. From the Staples Center to the South Park neighborhood to the Arts District along Broadway, loft dwellers, tourists, and workers are filling stores, restaurants, and bars. Long-abandoned architectural marvels are reborn as nightclubs (the Edison, Exchange LA), while historical theaters and banks are turned into hotels, bookstores, or boutiques. And late next year, Disney Hall will get an upscale neighbor when Eli Broad’s contemporary art museum opens.


Perfect Getaway: Who knew you could find good, clean fun in Sin City?

Las Vegas

Sure, it’s the place where all-night parties, gambling, and overindulgence can spark really regrettable behavior. Yet the city that’s launched a billion hangovers also is in the cure business. Hotels including the Mandarin Oriental, the Trump Hotel, Vdara, The Signature at MGM Grand, and the Las Vegas Marriott forbid smoking. And with competing spas offering wellness and pampering treatments, hotel gyms dedicated to keeping bodies swimsuit ready, and menus catering to vegans and vegetarians, Las Vegas is looking practically wholesome. Detox may not be as popular as retox, but that leaves mornings at the gyms and spas—and their cafes—wide open for teetotalers. Read more...

Perfect Getaway: Where Passion Is Always in Fashion

Mexico City

With February comes the pressure to celebrate—or the freedom to ignore—Valentine’s Day. Whether you’re blissfully paired, or happily flying solo, journey to the city that celebrates the lives and works of a romantic couple for all—Frida Kahlo and Diego Rivera. The artist duo famously married, cheated (he with her sister; she with Leon Trotsky), divorced, and remarried throughout their volatile 25-year relationship. Read more...

Perfect Getaway: Taste the High Life

Telluride, Colo.

Ski purists who dream of uncrowded slopes, short lift lines, and views to the way, way beyond will find them in southwestern Colorado. A seven-hour drive from Denver, Telluride’s remoteness ensures a dedicated focus on out-of-towners. The city’s core, a National Historic Landmark, is lined with Victorian buildings that recall its mining boomtown past—and Butch Cassidy’s first bank robbery in 1889. Read more...

Perfect Getaway: A Little Auld Twang Syne

Austin, Texas

Everything you’d ever want in a city comes together with a dose of weirdness in Austin, making it a fun, almost-warm winter getaway. Like a Southern-fried Portland, this progressive city celebrates all things local, handmade, and artistic in its stores and bazaars. Smart folks from the University of Texas and high-tech businesses coexist with enough musicians to keep the state capital’s more than 250 music venues humming. Read more...

Perfect Getaway: San Francisco

Holidays by the Bay

With its spectacular waterfront, compact footprint, thrill-ride cable cars, and tourist-friendly vibe, San Francisco during the holidays is a real-life theme park—and easily navigable on foot, even with a stroller. By midmonth, look for festive lighting at top attractions such as the Union Square Ice Rink and Ghirardelli Square. Read more...

Perfect Getaway: Nashville, Tenn.

A City Set to Music

A downtown renaissance, a booming culinary scene, and a month-long arts celebration make “Music City” the must-see town this fall. And the recent return of ABC’s “Nashville” for its sophomore season puts the spotlight on the city’s famed live-music venues—historic Ryman Auditorium (aka “The Mother Church of Country Music” and the first permanent home of the Grand Ole Opry), the Bluebird Cafe, and Tootsies Orchid Lounge. Read more...

Perfect Getaway: Yucca Valley & Joshua Tree

Serenity in the High Desert

Like a rare flower that blooms in unexpected places, the high-desert towns of Yucca Valley and Joshua Tree bring travelers surprising delights. Situated on a stretch of Twentynine Palms Highway about 30 miles north of Palm Springs, these adjacent communities offer the serenity of their remote location, extra-starry skies and, because of their 3,300-foot elevation, temperatures 10 to 15 degrees cooler than the valley floor Read more...

Perfect Getaway: Roughing It Right

Jackson, Wyoming

Much has changed in this former mountain-man town, where a clean bed and hot coffee once were the height of luxury. Life and leisure are decidedly more upscale in Jackson Hole, the Teton County valley that surrounds the town of Jackson. Read more...
READ NOW: Serial Killer Seduction

Our "Center of the Universe" story is being read all over the world right now. Click here for the story.


Who Did Randy Kraft Seduce?

Current photos of author Jay Roberts.


A Fact-Checker's Journey to a 1980 Afternoon

Our intrepid intern tracks down the details in Roberts' story.


Why Isn't Randy Kraft Dead?

Our original piece on one of California's deadliest and most depraved serial killers. 


Editor's Letter, October 2013

Our editor considers "Center of the Universe" to be compelling—and incredibly frightening. Click above to find out why.