Wine country outdoor dinner, photo courtesy of Outstanding in the Field

The West is a big, big place, and every week our staff is all over it, digging up the shops and restaurants, beaches and trails, performances and, well, phenomena that make the region so vibrant. Here’s the Best of the West this week

Sunset Staff  – June 17, 2019 | Updated June 18, 2019

The Western Ranch Stay Reinvented


If you’re looking to splurge this summer, The Lodge at Blue Sky, from Auberge Resorts, is raising the bar for your typical Western ranch escape. Situated on 3,500 acres just outside of Park City, the lodge offers staple dude ranch experiences like clay shooting, fly-fishing, and horseback riding, but it also has its own helicopter to facilitate mountaintop hiking, yoga, and biking adventures. The management staff’s resume includes luxe properties like the Ranch at Rock Creek in Montana and Utah’s Amangiri, which means you can expect service that is second to none. And if you can’t afford one of the 600-square-foot rooms or two-story suites, you can still drop in on a tasting at the on-site whiskey distillery run by High West. —Jen Murphy, executive editor

Dahlia Days Are Here Again


I don’t have the greenest of thumbs. Sure, my succulent houseplants have mostly survived over the years, and my first attempts at homegrown cherry tomatoes and kale were successful. (Just don’t ask about the many wildflower seeds I’ve scattered in my garden.) Since I don’t have much floral abundance in my backyard, I go to other outdoor spaces to milk the eye candy—and one of my favorite spots in San Francisco is about ready to get going. That would be the Dahlia Dell in Golden Gate Park, which starts blooming in June, reaches its peak in the dog days of summer, and lasts into October. This technicolor collection of dahlias, with all their fractal-esque perfection and many different flamboyant hues, is a summertime must for me. I love going there at the beginning, middle, and end of the Dell’s abbreviated season to witness the changes therein. It’s time to pay my favorite flowers a first visit! —Jessica Mordo, associate digital director

Malibu’s Friendliest Little Café


While I love living on the East Side of Los Angeles, come summer I start dreaming of Malibu: its long stretches of sand, the cleanest air in all of L.A., and that preposterously idyllic beach lifestyle (when you’re not stuck in traffic on the PCH). The town just got a little more idyllic thanks to the new Le Café de La Plage, tucked into the little mini mall on Heathercliff, which locals know as the back road to Zuma beach. It has all the beachy things you want to eat and drink: pre-surfing Intelligentsia coffee, après-surf French sandwiches and omelets, and an incredible array of ice creams (including vegan options) served up by a super nice family who moved to Malibu from Provence. If you go in June be sure to get their Pride Month unicorn scoop made with dragon fruit and spirulina. 100% of the proceeds are being donated to the Los Angeles LGBT Center through the month. —Hugh Garvey, food editor

Frozen Summer Treats

Erin Kunkel

June 21st marks the summer solstice, which means popsicles. Lots and lots of popsicles. Ever since I got an extra pop maker from a Sunset Test Kitchen giveaway, I’ve reserved a spot in my freezer for the homemade variety. This tasty lemonade blueberry pop I made last summer was a great beginner’s recipe because it only needs two ingredients and some time to freeze. —Zoe Gutterman, associate digital producer

Pop Maker
   

Klutz-Proof Coffee Mug

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Gettin' back to that daily grind ☕

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I’m a slosher. Set a drink down next to me, and I will find a way to knock it over. It’s my superpower. Worse, I have a knack for taking precious things down with my beverage. You wouldn’t think it would take very many drowned laptops before I learned to be more careful, but I still can’t seem to break myself of the habit of sipping on things while I work. That’s why this little mug, from W&P’s Porter line, is a lifesaver. It’s made of sturdy ceramic, and is fairly bottom-heavy, so not every absent-minded knock tips it over. And if it does go over, it’s unlikely to spill—as long as you’ve got the tight-fitting lid on correctly and are in the habit of sliding the spout shut every time, you should be okay. It keeps hot things hot and cold things cold, and can go in both the dishwasher and the microwave. And if $25 seems a little pricy for a mug that doesn’t even identify you as The World’s Best Boss, trust me: It’s a lot cheaper than replacing a matcha-soaked Mac. —Nicole Clausing, digital producer

Porter Mug
   

Paper It Over

Courtesy of Chasing Paper

No matter how many house plants I hang or funky prints I put up, my San Francisco apartment and its all white walls continue to feel like a snooze fest. I’ve been searching for the best way to spruce things and that’s how I stumbled upon Chasing Paper and all my home-decor prayers were answered. Peel it, stick it, love it is the motto of the beautiful, stylish, and removable wallpaper. Yes, removable! Perfect for apartment-renters like me. —Kelsey Maloney, editorial assistant

Removable Wallpaper
   

Support #PlantParenthood


This spring, I’ve ditched happy hour in favor of plant swaps—I mean, plants are the new hipster millennial accessory. It seems there’s a different plant swap every week in Los Angeles, where you can barter your monstera deliciosa (that’s Swiss cheese plant, in layman’s terms) for another attendee’s pilea peperomioides (a.k.a. Chinese money plant). My most recent swap was at Planta, a friendly Highland Park spot that offers a free succulent with your Yelp check-in and hosts an annual queer pride celebration. I swapped my succulent cuttings for a passionfruit vine and gained a bunch of new Instagram #plantfriends to discuss growing tips with. The employees are goofy and fun, and Planta hosts free plant swaps every other month, so stay tuned to their Insta for your next #PlantParenthood date. —Dakota Kim, staff writer

Outstanding in the Field


Like any true California native, I love a good outdoor dinner party. The family-style plates, the perfect golden-hour light, the curated summertime soundtrack—I love it all. And while I like throwing my own last-minute Sunday evening supper-in-the-park soirées, the open-air dinners by Outstanding in the Field are on another level. The traveling pop-up event series is like a dinner party, but swap out your backyard for an almost-too-good-to-be-true outdoor location. Each event partners with a notable local chef who cooks with ingredients from nearby farms, and locations include a beach in Santa Cruz, an island along the Columbia River in Oregon, a lavender field near Boulder, or the grasslands of Walla Walla, Washington. —Maya Wong, assistant editor