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Visit California Announces 2019 Eureka! Award Winners

Eureka! Awards celebrate and recognize the best of California’s storytellers, honoring travel journalists across the state

Sacramento, Calif. (Mar. 6, 2019) – Visit California’s annual Eureka! Awards aim to recognize the best and brightest of California-based travel writers and content creators. In the awards’ seventh year, an AFAR feature by San Francisco-based writer Susannah Chen was named the Grand Prize winner of the travel writing competition.

The grand-prize-winning article, “This Coastal California Getaway Is the Big Sur You Haven’t Heard of...Yet” won for Online / Digital Feature entry, one of seven categories awarded in the 2019 competition.

Chen’s story draws attention to Elk, California as a “close-knit community of artists and craftspeople” worth visiting now more than ever. The story goes on to profile the best things to do, fun places to shop, top places to eat, and most inviting places to stay in the Elk area, making for an incredibly well-rounded destination story that sheds light on a lesser-known California destination. Winning entries in other categories included stories from outlets like The Los Angeles Times, The San Francisco Chronicle and Aspire Magazine, as well as social and blog content from @Roamaroo and Hej Doll.

“We’re so proud to showcase the incredible writers and content creators who not only call California home, but also choose to share their home-state adventures with travelers from around the world,” Visit California President & CEO Caroline Beteta said. “The judges examine hundreds of published stories and video content pieces that aim to capture California’s spirit, and this year’s winners were exceptionally inspiring at telling those stories from a distinctive lens.”

California-based editors, freelancers, writers and content creators were invited to submit their best work published in 2018 for judging across seven distinct categories.

The panel of judges – including this year’s guest judge Lara Kaylor, director of communications with Mammoth Lakes Tourism – selected winning entries based on three important criteria: quality, content and originality. Content suites and articles that inspired travel to the state, provided a new take on a California destination, explored creative California stories, and did so in a well-written and articulated way were best primed to win.

Courtesy of Visit Mammoth, this year’s Grand Prize winner was awarded a two-night getaway to Mammoth Lakes at the beautiful Westin Monache Resort Mammoth; dining experiences at Petra’s Bistro, Jimmy’s Taverna, and Lakefront Restaurant; plus a special Mammoth Made Tour of the best local food and beverage products made right in town. Depending on the season of the winner’s trip, they will also enjoy skiing/snowboarding or hiking and e-biking in the beautiful Sierra Mountains.

Winners by category are as follows:

Print Magazine Feature Entry
Winner: Sarah Feldberg, Aspire Magazine, “Rising from the Ashes”
Based in San Francisco

Print Newspaper Feature Entry
Winner: Sharon Boorstin, The Los Angeles Times, “If You Are Seeking Creature Comfort”
Based in Beverly Hills

Online / Digital Feature Entry*
Winner: Susannah Chen, AFAR, “This Coastal California Getaway is the Big Sur You Haven’t Heard of...Yet”
Based in San Francisco
*Grand Prize Winner

Blog Entry
Winner: Jessica Doll, Hej Doll, “3 Days in Greater Palm Springs”
Based in Cupertino

Broadcast Entry
Winner: Emily Kaufman, The Travel Mom September in-market tour featuring Sonoma County, Costa Mesa and Greater Palm Springs
Based in West Hills

Digital Influencer of the Year
Winner: Scott & Collette Stohler, @Roamaroo Instagram and YouTube content
Based in Hermosa Beach

Best In-State Placement
Winner: Valerie Stimac, The San Francisco Chronicle, “Geek out on outer space at these 5 spots in L.A.”
Based in Oakland


Visit California is a nonprofit organization with a mission to develop and maintain marketing programs – in partnership with the state’s travel industry – that inspire travel to California. Travelers spent $132 billion in 2017 in California, directly supporting more than 1.1 million California jobs and $10.9 billion in state and local tax revenue. For story ideas, media information, downloadable images, video and more, go to