Olivia Harden

Travel Reporter at SFGATE -- based in California. Writing about social justice and mental health everywhere else. Passionate about food, exploring the world, and uplifting the voices of those who often go unheard.

Caltrans warns of delays driving to Tahoe before holiday weekend

As Memorial Day approaches, many Bay Area travelers will undoubtedly be making their way to Tahoe to enjoy the holiday weekend.

However, this year, travelers will need to be mindful of road conditions that could complicate and slow down the journey depending on when they leave for the Sierra.

The construction is to address “an unprecedented amount of damage” caused by high levels of chain wear and wheel ruts, according to a news release. Five of the 17 construction projects addressing the dama

Two people caught on camera stealing artifacts at national park

Two people were caught on camera engaging in an “archeological theft incident” at a national park, officials said.

The National Park Service and Utah law enforcement are asking the public for help in finding two people they said stole artifacts from Canyonlands National Park.

The pair was spotted March 23 entering an enclosed area at Cave Spring Cowboy Camp in the Needles district of the park. Officials said they were seen removing artifacts from a cabinet and handling “historic harnesses in a

This might be the new way Calif. cities ban Airbnb

A group of California residents unhappy with their city’s weak restrictions on short-term rentals are determined to remove most of the rental properties from Long Beach — even if it means taking them out block by block.

The Long Beach City Council passed an ordinance in 2020 allowing up to 800 unhosted short-term rentals to operate. The law also allows individual neighborhoods to petition their census block, and if more than half of the neighbors sign on, residents can ban unhosted short-term r

Reckless visitors going off trail for photos damage Bay Area hike

California State Parks officials are once again emphasizing the importance of staying on trails — this time on Mount Tamalpais.

A recent Reddit post showed a photo of park visitors allegedly ignoring signs to remain on the trail near Cataract Falls in Mount Tamalpais State Park. The post said the visitors were “climbing” and “destroying” the falls so they could take photos.

Park officials urge visitors to stay on the trail to protect the ecosystem and avoid erosion, which can take time and mon

One of Disneyland's oldest attractions is getting an upgrade

With all the new Disneyland projects on the horizon, a Main Street staple for almost 65 years is about to get a makeover.

One of the first attractions you spot upon entry is Great Moments with Mr. Lincoln at the Opera House. However, the attraction has been closed since April 16, the Orange County Register first reported, to give it a much-needed facelift.

The $5 million project will build a new turntable and update a myriad of systems, including mechanical, electrical, plumbing, lighting, aud

Video captures brawl breaking out over a seat on flight to SFO

The dispute began after an argument erupted over a seat change, a spokesperson for the airline told CNN. Three flight attendants intervened to break apart the passengers on the May 7 flight.

Approximately three hours into the 11-hour flight, a passenger decided to change seats due to discomfort caused by a coughing neighbor. However, the seat he attempted to relocate to was previously occupied, leading to an argument and eventually a physical altercation, the airline said.

Flight attendants we

Hawaii officials investigate cruise ships too close to coast

Hawaii officials are investigating claims that at least one cruise ship sailed too close to Kauai’s protected coastline, the Hawaii Department of Transportation confirmed to SFGATE on Wednesday.

Social media posts of the Celebrity Cruises ship Celebrity Edge showed a boat that looked dangerously close to the shore on May 1, as reported by the Honolulu Star-Advertiser. The outlet is also reporting a second ship, Royal Caribbean’s Ovation of the Seas, was sighted close to the coast on the same da

SF spot that earns raves for 2 of its dishes gets a Yelp honor

While San Francisco restaurants are no strangers to the Yelp spotlight for a lively brunch scene, only one local restaurant was among the company’s top 10 best brunch spots in the country this year.

Vietnamese restaurant Mr. East Kitchen in SoMa clinched the No. 10 spot. It was specifically celebrated for contributing to trendy fusion restaurants — combining “American favorites with Vietnamese flavors,” according to Yelp’s ranking. And unlike some restaurants, Mr. East Kitchen doesn’t restrict

SFO's newest construction project will reroute United gates

As soon as San Francisco International Airport completes its runway project at the start of July, the airport plans to immediately dive back into construction, but this time, it’s inside the terminal.

United Airlines is slated to begin operational adjustments as the airport embarks on the Terminal 3 West Modernization Project. This initiative, initially slated for 2020 but postponed in 2021, will require six of the gates in Terminal 3 to close.

“The flights that would normally use these gates

Only one Calif. spot nominated for best summer travel destination

Home of gorgeous beaches, stunning hikes and great weather, Catalina Island is an unsurprising nominee in USA Today’s contest to choose this year’s best summer travel destinations in the U.S. But what is surprising is that it’s the only California destination to make the list.

Currently, USA Today’s 10Best list features 20 nominations. Catalina Island, a Channel Island destination just off Southern California’s coast, currently sits at second place in the voting, right after Ocean City, New Jer

Pain point on California's Highway 101 getting a roundabout

On April 26, the county Public Works Department, Caltrans and others broke ground at what will become the Avila Beach Drive roundabout. The county expects the $13 million project to shorten wait times in the busy area as well as provide a safer road experience for pedestrians and cyclists.

“What we’re going to have here is going to enormously improve and change this area of Highway 101 and the Avila Beach intersection in a way that will be so transformational,” county Supervisor Dawn Ortiz-Legg

Overwhelmed by tourists, European city adds fee to enter

Tourists planning to take advantage of available flights for a summer jaunt to Europe should be prepared to pay an additional fee if they plan to visit the floating city. Officials in Venice, Italy, have approved an access fee that will apply on select dates, beginning April 25 through mid-July, in an effort to combat the effects of overtourism.

Venice is a popular European destination for day-trippers, who crowd the destination without contributing as much to the local economy as overnight gue

Michelin Guide ranks U.S. hotels — Bay Area snags four top spots

The Michelin Guide, which Bay Area restaurants are no stranger to, has added several Bay Area hotels to the top of its 2024 rankings, which the company has significantly altered to highlight the most luxurious stays available.

Since the 1920s, Michelin, a French tire company, has ranked and been known for its best-of lists. After announcing its new system of ranking hotels in France earlier this month, on Wednesday the company unveiled the revamping of its rankings for U.S. hotels.

Like its st

State Parks ordered to pay $2.3M in discrimination lawsuit

A jury has ordered California State Parks to pay a former employee nearly $2.3 million this month for damages in a discrimination lawsuit.

Angel Alba, a former maintenance supervisor for 16 years at several parks within the Malibu sector, sued State Parks for discrimination.

Alba was demoted in 2016 and filed the lawsuit in 2018 in the Superior Court of California in Los Angeles. He left the job a few years ago, the LA Times reported. The decision was handed down last week, and State Parks is

Frontier Airlines’s trickery helped inspire new DOT ruling

The Biden administration and the Department of Transportation announced Wednesday a new policy that streamlines the air travel system by requiring airlines to provide automatic cash refunds for flight cancellations, significant delays and other travel inconveniences caused by an airline.

The policy shift comes after the DOT began investigating how airlines reimburse passengers for delays and cancellations in the years following the start of the pandemic. Frontier Airlines, for instance, was iss

Hidden Sierra lake lands on best campsite list

Californians who love camping might want to add this Sierra lake near Placerville to their bucket list.

In time for Earth Day, Hipcamp released its annual list of the best camping spots. The San Francisco-based company, which operates like an Airbnb for campsites, selected dozens of locations across the country, with one in the Sierra landing among the top.

Finnon Lake Recreation Area, which sits beside the 22-acre Finnon Reservoir, took third place on the list — trailing behind a campsite in

Someone sabotaged the Sacramento airport

Authorities in Sacramento are searching for a person they said intentionally cut a fiber cable that delivered internet to the Sacramento International Airport.

The internet outage delayed flights for two airlines throughout the morning on April 18 before it was restored later that day.

“One little cut and you can mess up quite a significant portion of the airport,” Scott Johnston, spokesperson for Sacramento International Airport, told SFGATE.

The outage began around 1:20 a.m. and when Southw

Kanye West's barefoot spouse caught breaking Disneyland rule

Spotting celebrities at Disneyland is nothing new — they are humans who get to enjoy the Happiest Place on Earth, too.

Nevertheless, an expected guest showed up to spend time at the park this week, which put social media in a frenzy. Kanye West, who legally changed his name in 2021 to Ye, and his wife Bianca Censori, who married him in 2022, were seen enjoying several rides and attractions, including in Star Wars: Galaxy’s Edge, according to multiple Wednesday social media posts.

The most pecu

Hawaii airport future uncertain after another runway crack

A major airport in Hawaii was forced to halt all flights last week after authorities discovered another crack in its runway. It’s the latest in a set of ongoing issues at the airport where families resorted to sleeping outside on the lawn earlier this year due to a scheduling error.

The Ellison Onizuka Kona International Airport at Keahole halted operations for two hours April 12 to repair a crack in the asphalt of the single-runway airport, according to a recent news release. The runway reopen

How a zoo ended up in the middle of California's desert

Planning takes around a year since the zoo cycles out exhibits to bring in new ones. The giant structures are built off-site and then assembled and painted once they arrive at the zoo.


“The event’s various themes are put together with hundreds of individual lanterns,” Esterbrook said. “Each year, more than 15 semis roll in, loaded with the many structures that will be covered in the colorful silk-like fabric that gives each lantern its imaginative design.”

The animal sculptures look like lan

Rattlesnakes are a problem for this sunny stretch of Calif. coast

For anyone who suffers from ophidiophobia, or the fear of snakes, it’s probably unsettling to learn that it’s rattlesnake mating season in California with the warmer weather.

“People used to kill rattlesnakes. Some still do, but more and more people are realizing that the tide has shifted,” Taylor told SFGATE. “We’ve learned enough about rattlesnakes that many people don’t want to do that anymore.”

In the five years that Central Coast Snake Services has been active, Taylor said she’s had an up

Airline quietly makes vacation flights pricier with new fee

JetBlue, known as the low-cost carrier with legacy airline perks, is tweaking its business model and joining the likes of Bay Area highways and Uber.

The airline is adopting dynamic pricing for checked bags. For flyers traveling within the U.S., Latin America, the Caribbean or Canada, prices will range from $35 to $50 for their first bag, depending on whether you pay in advance of your flight. Transatlantic flyers can expect to pay between $60 and $70.

“The cost of transporting bags has gone u

An opening day Disneyland ride is getting a huge change

Autopia may be among the oldest operating rides in Disneyland history, but it has a pungent reputation due to gasoline fumes. In fact, SFGATE’s Disneyland editor crowned it as having the worst scent in the parks.

While the cozy feeling of crawling through traffic isn’t coming to a close, the park is preparing to adapt a major feature.

Autopia is ditching its gas-guzzling engines and replacing them with “cleaner sources of energy,” Jessica Good, a Disneyland spokesperson, told SFGATE over email

How to avoid Boeing planes

While Airbus has been the world’s largest aircraft manufacturer for the past five years, Boeing, with its 42% share of the market, is still Airbus’ biggest rival, according to Reuters. This means that, while it might be tricky or inconvenient to avoid flying on Boeing planes entirely, it’s not impossible. Travel companies have added dedicated features to their websites and apps, and even created whole websites, to make it easier for travelers to figure out whether they’ll be flying on one.

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