Courtesy of Virginia Robinson Gardens

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  – May 20, 2019

Creative Commons photo by mountainfilm is licensed under CC BY 2.0

What’s the Next Free Solo? Find out at Mountainfilm

“It may not have the glitz and glamour of Sundance, but Mountainfilm has an equally magical outdoor setting in Telluride, CO and a seriously impressive lineup of films and talent. Held every Memorial Day Weekend since 1979, the festival was originally focused on climbing and mountaineering flicks. It’s since expanded way beyond to encompass social, cultural, and environmental issues. This year, Mountainfilm will showcase 150 documentaries, including 36 world premieres. On my must-watch list: Sea of Shadows, about an attempt to save the world’s smallest whale in the Sea of Cortez; Sweetheart Dancers, a short that follows a gay Native American couple fighting for the right to compete in traditional dance competitions; and Ascending Afghanistan, a feature that follows a pioneering group of female climbers attempting to scale their country’s tallest peak. In between screenings there’s plenty of time for hikes, bike adventures, and of course a beer or two at Telluride Brewing Company. And with the festival’s intimate size, there’s a good chance you might be raising a pint next to adventurers like Jimmy Chin or Conrad Anker, or filmmakers like Sebastian Junger.” —Jen Murphy, executive editor

Courtesy of Carnaval San Francisco

Vamos a Carnaval

Carnaval is one of my favorite time-honored San Francisco traditions. Every Memorial Day Weekend, thousands of participants flock to the Mission District to take part in a vibrant two-day festival celebrating Latin American cultures. The parade down Mission Street, featuring troupes of dancers in traditional costumes, musicians, youth groups, and floats, is a true highlight; the culminating block party is not to be missed, either. Last year marked the event’s 40th anniversary—I can’t wait to join in on its 41st this weekend.” —Jessica Mordo, deputy digital director

New Mexico Wine Festival, Albuquerque 

“Sip your way into Memorial Day with New Mexico’s annual Wine Festival in Albuquerque. The three-day event beginning on the 25th will take place at Balloon Fiesta Park and is the largest wine festival in the state. Enjoy a wide range of local red, white, and sparkling wines paired with live music, international food, and artist pop-ups.” —Kelsey Maloney, editorial assistant

Sunset Test Kitchen

Road Bites

“I’m traveling over the long weekend and am always looking for good airplane snacks. I’ve been obsessed with these chocolate oat bars from Liz Stanley ever since we ran the recipe in the magazine a couple years ago. Find the ingredients easily at any health food or well-stocked grocery store and you can even get the kids to help with baking. Bonus: They’re gluten-free, dairy free, refined-sugar-free, and vegan.” —Zoe Gutterman, associate digital producer

A Blockbuster for Wannabe Farmers

“While others may be doing the Endgame/Pikachu double feature, I’m going to see the new documentary The Biggest Little Farm because it fulfills a fantasy I’ve had for quite some time: A husband and wife ditch their jobs and the hustle of Los Angeles to transform 200 acres of Central Coast dirt into a fully sustainable and highly cinematic organic farm, complete with piglets, biodynamic peaches, a cute dog, and the added drama of wildfires, floods, and a marauding fox. Now that’s my kind of blockbuster.” —Hugh Garvey, food editor

Courtesy of Felton & Mary

The Portland BBQ Sauce I’ll Actually Take the Time to Order Online 

“Barbecue and Memorial Day Weekend are a two-for-one deal for me. I gather a couple friends, strategically order this Felton & Mary’s sauce online so it arrives on time, and relish the extra weekend day to eat sauce-slathered ribs in peace. The third-generation, family-owned Portland company is now in the hands of grandson Tory Campbell, whose Smokey Brown Sugar BBQ Sauce is my absolute favorite. It’s a sweet/savory blend of brown sugar plus hickory seasoning and molasses with just the right amount of tanginess.” —Maya Wongassistant editor

Felton & Mary's BBQ Sauce
   

 

Float Away

“The idea of a sensory deprivation tank used to scare me. Lying in inky silence just seemed a little bit more like being dead than I was comfortable with, and I worried that 75 minutes alone with myself might be more than anyone needs—even me. Then I learned two things: You can leave a light on if you want, and you can get out any time. I finally realized that floating, as practitioners call the practice of bobbing around in a soundproof pod full of ultra-salty water, is just a combination of two of my favorite relaxation techniques: meditating and taking a warm bath. Long weekends have always been about taking it easy, and I think this weekend is the one where I use my extra day off to learn to take relaxation to the next level.” —Nicole Clausing, digital producer

 

Stop to Smell the Roses in Beverly Hills

“If you live in Los Angeles or you’re on vacation make the trip to see the Virginia Robinson Gardens. I love the naturalistic planting on both sides of the walkway leading up to the entry. It’s not all plantings like this though. There are incredible potted plants, formal gardens, rose gardens, vegetable gardens, and so much more. When you’re in Beverly Hills, skip Rodeo Drive and visit this beautiful space. It’s filled with gardening ideas.” —Thad Orr, garden editor

Courtesy of Fisher + Baker

Fisher + Baker Greenwich Anorak

“The tempestuous weather here in Northern California calls for a versatile defense—and lately I’ve been reaching for this anorak, which uses a waterproof cotton originally designed to protect Royal Air Force pilots against wind and rain. Inside, a comfortable layer of merino wool helps to wick away moisture that can build up in less strategic rain layers.” —Matt Bean, editor in chief

Fisher + Baker Greenwich Anorak
   
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