10 Huge Parks Near Kensington to Hike in This Fall

Kensington may be tucked away in the midst of one of the country’s most populated areas, but that doesn’t mean we can’t get away to Mother Nature with a surprisingly short drive.

There are some amazing spots located not far from our dental offices. Here are 10 we recommend you visit if you love outdoor adventures:

Mount Diablo

Looming almost 4,000 feet over San Francisco Bay, from its summit you can see past the Golden Gate. Explore Rock City, Castle Rock, Fossil Ridge, Macedo Ranch and more, ride some horses, and take advantage of the over 50 campsites here.

East Bay Regional Park District 

This system of parks and trails stretches through Alameda and Contra Costa counties, with close to 120,000 acres in 65 different parks, and over 1,200 miles of trails to hike. Plus there is swimming, fishing, golf, and more.

Shadow Cliffs Regional Recreational Area

From fishing to boating, trails, even relaxing on a beach, Shadow Cliffs Regional Recreational Area is popular during the summer months, but is also fun to visit in the fall.

Sunol Regional Wilderness

Close to 7,000 acres of rolling hills, lovely views, grazing cattle and more make this a hiker’s paradise.

Contra Loma Regional Park

This 780-acre park is perfect for joggers, bikers and hikers. There is an 80-acre reservoir for swimming, paved trails and hiking trails, and the reservoir is stocked with catfish, bass, trout, and other fish. The swim beach is lifeguard protected.

Cull Canyon Regional Park

Located in Castro Valley, enjoy excellent trails and a swim lagoon that is staffed with lifeguards. The lagoon has won awards for its design.

Black Diamond Mines

Local history meets hiking. There are over 6,000 acres of land to explore, plus the mines themselves. There are over 65 miles of trails where you can see coyotes, bobcats, foxes, and even the occasional mountain lion.

Niles Canyon Railway

A museum on rails offering scenic trail rides through Niles Canyon, all taking place on historic trains. Special rides include beer and wine tastings, educational trips, and more.

Pleasanton Ridge Regional Park

A huge 5,000 acres of natural land, extensive hiking trails, and more. Plus the park links to 150 miles of interconnected trails of the Interpark Regional Trails system, so it’s ready for people looking for a lot of adventure.

Del Valle Regional Park

With 4,400 acres, this park boasts a five-mile long lake, miles of trails, a resort, swimming lakes, picnic areas, horseback riding, and loads more to see and do.

5 Dental Fears You Can Easily Get Over

It’s not unusual to be afraid of the dentist. A lot of people are. There's much less reason to be in the modern world, but we've talked to enough patients to know what those still-common fears are.

No worries! We can alleviate most of them!

Below are some of the most common fears when it comes to the dentist and what you should keep in mind when they worry you.

Getting Bad News

You might avoid the dentist because you don’t want to learn that you need major work done. We get it! No one likes bad news, and we’re all insecure about our dental habits. 

The truth, though, is that if you have taken care of your teeth it’s not likely you’ll get bad news. And hey, even if you DO, that’s not a bad thing. Spotting a problem when there is still time to fix it is a positive thing!

Remember a Bad Experience

Some people were frightened at the dentist when they were kids. We get how that bad memory could linger, but you’re older, wiser, stronger, and smarter now.

That’s why you’re reading this! A childhood experience shouldn’t stop you from enjoying good oral health.

Afraid of Pain

The truth is, these days your visit to your dentist is almost guaranteed to be pain free. Modern dental techniques have improved dramatically when compared to the old days. Dental procedures are more painless than ever before, and usually have you in and out of the office in no time.

You Don’t Want to Be Scolded

Believe it or not, we get this one a lot. No one likes to be told they’vebeen doing a bad job with their teeth. We get it.

Just keep in mind that if your dentist has feedback for you about your oral health – and it’s feedback, not a scolding! – it’s for a reason. Their job is to look out for you! Even better, what they point out to you can help you in avoiding procedures in the future.

You’re Anxious

This is something you can handle. Often, your fear of the dentist is an extension of your existing condition. The best option is to tell your dentist up front about your anxiety. They can help ensure your experience is much better than you expected!

5 Amazing California State Parks To Visit This Summer

There are many things we love about being in Kensington, but one of the things we love most is the amazing access we have to truly stunning state parks.

We have many fantastic local and county parks, too, but in many ways the state parks are the crowning jewels of the area. Here are five you HAVE to visit this summer:

Mount Tamalpais State Park

Rising up out of Marin County just north of the Golden Gate Bridge, climbing to a height of nearly 2,600 feet and boasting views that stretch all the way out of the Farallon Island, Mount Tamalpais State Park is a local treasure with plenty to do.

After you’re done at the visitor’s center up top, see what plays and programs are taking place at the Mountain Theater down below. You can even camp for the weekend in rustic old cabins.

Crown Memorial State Beach

When you hear the word “beach” you probably conjure up images of fun in the sun, surf and sand, but Crown Memorial State Beach is something different.

This historic park looking out over the San Francisco Bay features a bird sanctuary, lovely trails, boating and board sports, and picnicking. And yes, of course there is swimming, too!

McLaughlin Eastshore State Park

One of the most gorgeous destinations on the San Francisco Bay and a testament to the power of open space preservation, the McLaughlin Eastshore State Park boasts 8.5 miles of shoreline and over 1,800 acres of uplands – and it’s all beautiful.

Trails for hikers and bikes crisscross the entire park, offering spectacular views of the bay and summer day you’ll never forget.

Mount Diablo State Park

A whopping 20,000 acres comprised of 38 preserves, with an even larger 90,000 acres total on or around Mount Diablo, this state park and its surrounding lands offers stunning views, fantastic hiking, some of the best camping in the area, and plenty of history.

It’s a short drive from Kensington, and the fact that the mountain has one of the best viewsheds in the western U.S. makes it a great destination for anyone who wants their jaw dropped. The Diablo Valley Overlook is a must-see!

San Bruno Mountain State Park

This unique open space on the peninsula is over 2,400 acres strong, with rugged landscapes, excellent trails, endangered wildlife, and much more. Its unique location means it can be cool here even in the summer, sometimes even downright chilly, which makes hiking here a great choice for the adventurous.

11 Cool Things You Didn’t Know About Kensington, CA

There are many reasons we love being in Kensington, CA, the people chief among them.

But there are others, too, one of which is simple: there is some very interesting trivia surrounding the town! Don’t believe us? Take a look at this list of 11 facts about Kensington. We bet at least a few of them will make you say, “Hmm, that’s pretty cool.”

1. Kensington is an unincorporated community – in other words, it is not governed by its own incorporated municipal government, it’s more of an “unofficial” town – but unlike most unincorporated towns, it runs its own police department, parks, and more.

2. Kensington was named after South Kensington, a borough of London.

3. Many attempts have been made over the years to absorb Kensington into El Cerrito, but voters have repeatedly resisted such measures.

4. El Cerrito would not exist without the 1906 San Francisco Earthquake. Refugees from that disaster cleared out of the city and settled in what was known as Don Víctor Castro's Rancho San Pablo. By 1909, a post office had opened there. The town was incorporated in 1916, and El Cerrito was born.

5. Most towns in the region have grown over the years, but not Kensington. The town’s population of roughly 5,000 residents is actually well below its peak of 6,600 in 1950.

6. Physicist J. Robert Oppenheimer, known as the “father of the atomic bomb,” lived at 10 Kenilworth Court during World War II. At the time, he was conducting top secret work on the atomic bomb.

7. Kensington’s mid-block pedestrian paths were created thanks to a streetcar line that used to run through town, the Key System. The Key System connected Oakland, Berkeley, El Cerrito and others by streetcar until 1948, and by train until 1958.

8. Kensington is just one square mile in size.

9. The town plays a vital role in supplying the area with potable water. The pumping station in town is essential to moving water from the San Pablo Reservoir to the Summit Reservoir and other reservoirs throughout the East Bay region. Big thing for a small town!

10. Nearby El Cerrito’s boasts some notable musicians who are or once were residents, including John Fogerty (Credence Clearwater Revival), Thomas Pridgen (The Mars Volta, Suicidal Tendencies), Paul Baloff (Exodus), and Dave Mello (Operation Ivy).

11. To further the music connection, rock icons Metallica wrote their second and third albums(Ride the Lightning and Master of Puppets) in El Cerrito.

With a town as rich with interesting history, facts and trivia as Kensington – it is small only in size, not in spirit! – we’re surely missing a few interested tidbits. Let us know about them in the comments!

Let's Look at Some Other Places Named Kensington

You surely know that there are other Kensingtons out there. What you might not know is that there are a lot of Kensingtons out there.

You’re probably aware of the Kensington part of London, England, which is where our name is drawn from, but did you know there are other Kensingtons spread across the United States?

Our town of 5,000 is smack dab in the middle of the San Francisco Bay area. Most of those other Kensingtons are not so lucky. But let’s hop into our virtual car anyway and take a tour of some of them. You never know what we’ll discover!

Kensington, San Diego, California

We don’t have to travel far to reach our first Kensington. This is a neighborhood in San Diego, adjacent to Normal Heights and City Heights. Adams Avenue is the cultural center of the community, which is heavily influenced by British cultural, hence its name. It’s not a city in its own right, of course, but as a fellow California community we thought it was worth mentioning.

Kensington, Connecticut

Technically a part of Berlin Township, this community of 8,000 people is home to the famous Henry Hooker house, which is on the National Register of Historic Places. Berlin, which was settled in the late 1700s, is split between Kensington and its sister hamlet, East Berlin.

Kensington, Kansas

The City of Kensington, Kansas is rather generously called a city, considering its population of just 473. Founded in 1887 as part of the Chicago, Rock Island and Pacific Railroad, the town is just .36 square miles and has a population that rarely rises about 500. Doesn’t get much smaller than that.

Kensington, Maryland

This town of 2,200 in Maryland was largely an agricultural community until the railroad built it into a bedroom community of commuters who work outside of town.

World Book Day in the United States is celebrated here, and the town hosts farmers markets that draw people from throughout the region. There isn’t really any tourism here, but it’s a nice little community to visit all the same.

Kensington, Michigan

Kensington, Michigan is an interesting case in that it’s a community that doesn’t actually exist anymore. It used to be a village in Oakland County – another Kensington near another Oakland, quite a coincidence – but when a railroad constructed in 1871 skirted around the community, the village essentially withered away and died.

By 1905, only four families remained in the village. By 1950, it was leveled to construct a highway. A sad end to a town with a great name.

The interesting thing about these other Kensingtons is that we’re only just scratching the surface. There are many others across the United States, and even in other parts of the world. If you enjoyed this, maybe in future articles we’ll explore them, too.

5 Big Reasons (Other Than Your Mouth) That Oral Health Matters

People are often under the misconception that their dentist visit is all about maintaining their smile and appearance. Straight teeth, white teeth, etc. That's important, but it’s not the whole story.

The fact of the matter is, your oral health plays an important role in your overall health and well being. Here are five reasons how:

1) Oral Hygiene Can Affect Your Weight

This may sound outlandish, but it’s true: good oral hygiene habits can have an effect on your weight. See, brushing your teeth sends a signal to your brain that you are finished eating.

When you have an urge to snack, try brushing and see how your appetite is suppressed. Add in the fact that nothing tastes good after you’ve just brushed and you can see how good oral hygiene can help you maintain your weight.

2) Oral Infections Can Spread

Gum disease often leads to oral infections, and those infections are not just a problem for your mouth. They can spread to other parts of the body, creating digestive issues, sometimes spreading to the heart where they can cause bacterial endocarditis, and other problems.

In fact, this often works in reverse, which is how many diseases can be diagnosed through symptoms that first show up in your mouth. Some of these include heart disease, diabetes, leukemia, and kidney disease.

3) It Can Help You Look A Lot Better

We don’t need to guess: we know you don’t want your teeth look bad. Your eyes and your smile are two of the first things people notice, after all.

A good cosmetic dentist can repair many issues, but isn’t it better to avoid such issues in the first place? Good preventative oral hygiene is not only good for your overall health, it’s GREAT for how you look and feel.

4) Links Between Gum Disease And Diabetes

Those who have diabetes are more prone to gum disease. What have only recently discovered is that the link may go in both directions. Having gum disease may actually contribute to your diabetes by impacting blood glucose control.

According to the Canadian Diabetes Association, the bacteria associated with gum disease produces toxins. When your body’s immune system fights those toxins, your body’s response “can increase insulin resistance and, therefore, blood glucose levels.”

In other words, gum disease is bad for your diabetes!

5) Poor Oral Health Can Affect Your Unborn Child

Pregnant women already know that they are eating for two. What they may not realize is that poor oral health can have a direct impact in the health of their child. Experts have found a connection between periodontitis and low birth weight, as well as premature birth. That means if you want a healthy baby, be sure you have a healthy mouth, too.

The facts cannot be disputed: your oral health and your overall health go hand in hand!

14 Screen Icons Famous For Their Smile

You don’t get to be a star of the silver screen without a winning smile, and that’s saying something, because here in California we have a LOT of winning smiles.

A nice smile isn’t enough, either. It’s got to be distinctive. It’s got to stand out from the crowd. It’s got to be recognizable.

We think that you’ll agree that when it comes to these 14 stars, their smiles are a big part of what makes them stand out. We bet their dentists are proud!

1. Julia Roberts – The “Pretty Woman” has one of the distinctive smiles in Hollywood, with a set if pearly whites that have helped make her a true icon.

2. Gary Busey – The eccentric Gary Busey has a BIG smile that makes him truly stand out. In fact, after a motorcycle accident in 1988, he had his dentists replace his damaged teeth with extra large veneers in order to maintain that distinctive smile.

3. Rita Hayworth – This redhead bombshell from the classic era of Hollywood had a dazzling smile and sensual appeal that made her an icon who is still beloved today.

4. Cary Grant – The classic film star was one of the most popular heartthrobs of his time thanks in part to his radiant smile.

5. Steve Buscemi – Buscemi makes his unconventional smile work for him. His amazing talent has been the key to his success, along with being one of the most likeable people in Hollywood.

6. Will Smith – Few actors are bigger than Will Smith, thanks in part to a winning smile that is recognized the world over.

7. Christie Brinkley – She was one of the most beautiful women of the 1980s and still is, thanks in no small part thanks to her charismatic smile.

8. Anna Paquin –Paquin’s gap-toothed smile has become a signature part of her look, making this True Blood actress stand out from the crowd and win legions of adoring fans.

9. Jim Carrey – Carrey’s elastic face has made millions laugh, but it’s not all goofy faces for Carrey. The man actually has a winning smile, too, which probably helped him become a superstar.

10. Audrey Hepburn – One of the most giving, kind women in Hollywood history may have also had the most lovely smile in Hollywood history, too, making her a true icon for anyone talking about famous distinctive smiles.

11. Jack Nicholson – Jack’s smile seems to have a sinister edge to it, which is what makes it so distinctive. He knows how to make it work for him, too, which is why he’s a screen legend.

12. Clint Howard – Clint Howard has had more roles than most actors can ever dream of. That’s thanks in part to him embracing his distinctive look and learning to make it work for him. He fits this list because when it comes to smiles, no one can forget Clint’s!

13. Farrah Fawcett – Her long blonde hair shown off when she was one of Charlie’s Angels made her famous, but her it’s the big, bright smile that kept her famous!

14. Morgan Freeman – Everyone imitates his manner of speaking, but think about it and you’ll realized that a lot of Freeman’s presence comes thanks to his distinctive smile

As these 15 stars indicate, a great smile – and a great dentist to help you maintain it – can go a long way towards getting people to notice you. Happy brushing!

5 Amazing Christmas Attractions in California

We may have warm weather and sunny skies and amazing beaches here in California, but let it never be said that we don’t have amazing Christmas celebrations, too. The following list is proof of that. 

We’ve gathered together five of our favorite Christmas attractions here in California. Some are close enough for a day trip. Some are totally unique. And all are worth seeing. Enjoy!

Chill Ice Kingdom, Queen Mary, Long Beach

Dozens of elaborate ice sculptures, a big replica of the Queen Mary, ice slides, and even a huge ice castle you can walk through are some of the highlights of this unique winter wonderland.

This year, expect an Alice in Wonderland theme. Get in your warm clothes, because it gets cold in this amazing display, then get ready for fun outside with ice skating and tubing. Holiday season sights don’t get any more unique than this, so take a drive to Long Beach with the family before it all melts away!

Candy Cane Making Demonstration, Logan’s Candies, Ontario

For many years now, Logan’s Candies in Ontario have been doing something REALLY cool during the Christmas season: they do nightly demonstrations of how they make their handmade candy canes.

This historic candy maker has been around since 1939, and in recent years these displays have become a huge draw during the holiday season. It’s really cool to see the process from start to finish, and you can see it up close and personal.

The store is very small, so get there early, becomes demonstrations fill up fast. Add bonus: the store also has the world’s largest candy cane, which is a whopping 30 pounds! Plus, you can buy warm, freshly made canes in the shop. Very cool! 

Ice Skating, Pershing Square, Los Angeles

Why should New York have a monopoly on Christmas-themed ice skating getaways? Sure, Rockefeller Center is famous, but so is Pershing Square in Los Angeles, which during the holiday season opens a large public ice skating rink for winter time fun in the California sun.

Skate, enjoy Christmas concerts, and recreate your favorite holiday moments with the family. It’s a lot of fun!

Ice Skating, Hotel Del Coronado, San Diego

If San Diego is more your speed, check out the Hotel Del Coronado for a uniquely Californian twist on the traditional holiday ice skating rink.

This one overlooks the beach, which we suspect is something not many other ice skating rinks can boast. Grab your skates and go enjoy the Christmas season on the ice! 

Danish Christmas Village, Solvang 

Yes, this one is a long drive, but if you find yourself deep in Southern California it’s worth a stop. This little historic town embraces its Danish heritage to the full during the holiday season, transforming itself into Santa’s village.

Visit the bakeries, enjoy some treats, see the lights, and escape the hustle and bustle of our more populated region. Not a bad way to get away! 

If you know of any other cool holiday attractions in our lovely state, tell us about them in the comments!

10 Odd Things You Didn’t Know About California

We love this region for the amazing people who live here and in the towns surrounding it, and we also love it for another reason: it’s in one of the country’s quirkiest states!

Don’t believe us? Check out these 10 oddball things you may not know about California:

1. Soup Strainer

If you’re a man with a mustache, you may not want to pucker up in Eureka, CA. It’s actually illegal for a man with a mustache to kiss a woman there!

2. It’s North United States

When people compare California to entire countries, it’s for good reason. It’s not a small place. In fact, California’s population is larger than all of Canada’s!

3. The Twain Shall Meet

If you go to the exact midpoint of California, you’ll find a palm tree and a pine tree planted next to one another.

It’s not a coincidence. The planting is a symbolic joining of the two halves of the state, with the palm representing southern California (obviously) and the pine the north.

4. Keeps On Ticking

Head to Livermore and visit the Livermore-Pleasanton Fire Department, and you’ll see a light bulb. Not that unusual, right? Except this light bulb has been burning since 1901. Yes, that’s 115 years! The Guinness Book of World Records calls it the world’s longest lasting lightbulb.

5. (Not Quite) Anything Goes

Hollywood may have a reputation for being a crazy town where anything goes, but that’s not the case – at least, not when it comes to livestock. According to an old law still on the books, it’s illegal to drive 2,000 sheep down Hollywood Blvd. Anyone willing to test the law?

6. Nuked the Fridge

If you have a nuclear weapon, don’t bring it to Chico, CA. That city enacts a $500 fine for anyone who detonates a nuclear weapon within the city limits. Harsh penalty!

7. Made For Walkin’

If you enjoy wearing cowboy boots, you’d better have two cows to go with them, because in Blythe, CA it is illegal to wear cowboy boots unless you own at least two cows. Yes, seriously, this is a law that is on the books!

8. Thanks For The Guac

If you love Guacamole, you not only have California to thank for it, you have a single tree to thank for it. All Haas avocados are descended from a single tree in California, the origin of which is unknown.

9. No Discounts For You

Ladies Nights are popular promotions in night clubs across the country, but not in California, which is one of just four states where Ladies Nights promotions are against the law due to gender discrimination. 

10. Yum, Yum

There is a lot to see and do in Disneyland, and plenty to eat, too, but here’s one thing you probably never imaged you could eat: the plants. But in fact, you can. All the plants in Tomorrowland are edible!