Our 2012 hot list

The top trends, openings, and exciting developments we're eager to watch around the West this year

San Francisco’s new waterfront

Photo by Guilian Grenier

San Francisco’s new waterfront

America’s Cup is the premier sailing compe­tition in the world, so when San Francisco was named a host city of the 2013 regatta, it was huge. For the first time in a long time, the city will actually feel like a port town. The northern waterfront (for decades a tangle of dilapidated piers) begins reno­vations this summer, and two weeks of races kick off in August. americascup.com

More: Insider guide to San Francisco Bay Area

The new gardening bible

Written by Johanna Silver

The new gardening bible

The brand-new Western Garden Book hits bookstands in February. This latest edition includes more than 2,000 full-color photos, an all-new PlantFinder, and no-fail gardening tips for flowers, vegetables, natives, and more. Order at sunset.com/wgb.

More: Find the right plant for your climate zone

Vegan goes gourmet

Photo by Annabelle Breakey; written by Elaine Johnson

Vegan goes gourmet

Flirting with vegan cooking? Cast away any thoughts of bland bowls of tofu and brown rice. The new vegan cooking is all about bold flavors, colors, and textures, like the pictured Cashew, Coconut, and Pumpkin Curry--one of our favorite vegan recipes.

More: 3 delicious vegan side dishes

Mom-and-pop ski resorts

Photo by Grant Gunderson

Mom-and-pop ski resorts

Small, family-run resorts are beloved for short lines and cheap tickets, not amenities. Now that’s changing. Mt. Baker (pictured; $51 lift ticket; mtbaker.us) in the Cascades just added a charming midmountain lodge; Brundage Resort near McCall, Idaho ($55; brundage.com), has a sparkly new restaurant and spa at nearby Shore Lodge. And Utah’s Eagle Point ($50; skieaglepoint.com) reopened with slopeside massages, day lodges, and a high-wattage chef.

More: The West's best ski towns

The veggie mother lode

Written by Johanna Silver

The veggie mother lode

Do not miss the 2nd annual National Heirloom Exposition, September 11-13 in Santa Rosa, CA. You visit with over 250 farmers and producers and taste varieties of vegetables you never knew exists. theheirloomexpo.com

More: Your guide to edible gardening

Good any way you slice it

Photo by Ebbe Roe Yovino-Smith; written by Elaine Johnson

Good any way you slice it

Move over, cupcakes. The pie craze has us drooling over a new wave of shops serving up everything from savory Frito pie, veggie potpie, and beef and Pinot Noir hand pies to sweet chocolate and peanut butter pie and even pie shakes.

More: 5 amazing ice-cream pies

Chic libraries

Photo by Dave Lauridsen

Chic libraries

Just when the concept seemed destined to go the way of the Dewey decimal, the new West Hollywood Public Library blows the dust off musty stereo­types of the stacks. Meet the sexy librarian of libraries—part modern art gallery, with splashy Shepard Fairey murals, and part coffee bar/tech hub, with views of the Hollywood Hills. 310/652-5340.

More: Insider guide to Los Angeles

A celebration of succulents

Written by Johanna Silver

A celebration of succulents

Head to Castroville, CA for the 2nd Succulent Extravaganza On September 30 and October 1 at Succulent Gardens. There'll be tours of the grounds and top experts speaking about some of the most intriguing plants around. sgplants.com/events

More: How to use succulents

Beer's got flavor

Photo by Jeffery Cross; written by Elaine Johnson

Beer's got flavor

Something is happening at high-end gastropubs and breweries. Herbs, spices, exotic fruit, and even vegetables like beets and mushrooms are making their way into sophisticated beers. Turns out these special ingredients not only enhance beer's natural flavors, they create some addictive combos that might even beat out wine for food-friendliness.

More: 4 hearty stews and beer pairings

Disney’s brave new world

Photo by Bloomberg / Getty Images

Disney’s brave new world

The summer opening of Cars Land at Disney California Adventure is a big, big deal. The most ambitious addition to the Disney land­scape in a decade, the 12-acre Route 66–themed universe draws on the Disney-Pixar Cars blockbusters. Its signature ride is Radiator Springs Racers, which will zoom you through a hopped-up rendition of the Southwest. disney.com

More: 9 Disneyland tips to ensure your best-ever visit

Your home, in a new light

Written by Miranda Jones

Your home, in a new light

With new energy standards phasing out incandescent bulbs in 2014, we are looking around at alternatives and the LED beauty from SWITCH has caught our eye. switchlightbulbs.com

More: Eco-friendly lighting options

Salt Lake City’s downtown coup

Photo by Creative Crop / Getty Images

Salt Lake City’s downtown coup

It’s not just a mall. The new City Creek Center, which opens in March, is a complete rethinking of Salt Lake’s urban landscape. Wrecking balls tore down the two city blocks flanking Main Street to make way for the open-air mall (with a retractable roof), reinvigorating Main Street. In the past year, chic restaurants and one-off shops have moved in. shopcitycreekcenter.com

More: A night out in downtown SLC

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