Hidden Gems: Where Celebrities Vacation

AVIA Long Beach Rooftop Terrace

After recent news about an arrogant flight attendant, who wants to hit the friendly skies? For a quick getaway, Angelenos can fill up the tank, avoid long security lines and visit unknown celebrity hideaways.

Just two hours away is picturesque Temecula wine country. We recently spent a brief time at the Temecula Creek Inn, situated on a luscious 300-acre golf course, near the San Jacinto Mountains. Brad Garrett and his former Everybody Loves Raymond co-star Ray Romano were seen golfing before Garrett started his new Vegas gig, a mega-bucks comedy deal. (The guys are Texas Hold’em partners, too.) Funnyman Will Ferrell golfed at the Inn.

Our first stop was the historic Robert Renzoni Winery. You’ll get an earful form the owner, who runs the family business. It dates back to 1886 when Robert’s grandfather, Domenic, made wine on the Adriatic coast of Italy. Angela Bassett, a recent guest, enjoyed the panoramic view, which overlooks the entire valley.

Anyone can reserve a private wine tasting. In addition, the vineyard produces a marinara sauce that melts in your mouth and available, with home-made olive oil, at the tastings. Known for Sangiovese and Pinot Grigio, everything is kept in the family, even a wine named after grandma, Rosa.

We stopped at Thornton Winery, run by father/son, John and Steve. Specializing in sparkling wines, the winery houses a café, as gourmet as any Angelino eatery. (Goldie Hawn and Kurt Russell dined here.) Herbs grown from a garden, a few feet away, are used in mouth-watering recipes.

This secret vineyard attracts jazz greats: Chris Botti, Dave Koz, Jonathan Butler, Shelia E, and the Worthingtons, part of their wine series, running from through October. Tori Spelling and husband Dean McDermott shot a romantic picnic for their Oxygen reality show.

On another getaway, we visited the AVIA Long Beach, secluded in the Pike area of town. Just celebrating its one-year anniversary, the boutique hotel uses minimal space with luxury design. But, my shower was large enough for several people with two shower choices, a rain shower and a hand-held grip. You may want to stay in bed with its extra-soft Italian-cotton coverlet! Sister AVIA Hotels include: Napa, Savannah and Houston area, The Woodlands. The brand just nabbed hospitality executive, Bob Haury, who relocated from Florida, as General Manager. His girlfriend, Renee, was visiting town when I stopped in.

Near the Convention Center, the AVIA is within walking distance from everything fun. You can delete street traffic by using the overhead walkway, which exits at the wharf. And if you are without your laptop, you are privy to three complimentary PC’s available in the business center. Grab a bite/drink in the lobby at the AVIA Kitchen and Lounge.

A quiet daytime getaway is upstairs at the Rooftop Terrace, with a telescope for the 180 degree views of The Queen Mary, city skyline, and harbor. Comfy cabanas anchor the pool area, which becomes a trendy nightclub on weekends. Ellen DeGeneres’ producer recently held her wedding reception there. Ben Affleck, Snoop Dogg, and Adam Sandler checked into the boutique quarters.

Steve Carell and his family recently visited the famed Aquarium of the Pacific. If you want a deal, buy a special kids’ lunch for five bucks at Café Scuba: a peanut butter and jelly sandwich, banana, chocolate chip cookie and the colorful bucket it comes in. There are many healthier choices.

Within walking distance is The Yardhouse, overlooking Rainbow Harbor, with a hundred different brews. It’s a fun environment to dine and watch the sunset, with heaters, if needed.

Sue Facter writes about all things A-list for various publications worldwide.