This is the summer that you’re going to do that road trip you’ve always wanted to do. The one to California’s north coast so you can finally see the world’s tallest trees, take a scenic drive along the Avenue of Giants, and explore The Lost Coast. I’ve been taking summer road trips to Humboldt County since I was a kid, and I haven’t even begun to experience everything this land of superlatives has to offer. It’s one of the best family road trips in the nation—a perfect combo of natural beauty, outdoor recreation, and American kitch. Keep reading and you’ll see what I mean.
Beaches & The Coast
Now that winter has passed, it’s time to start planning your summer getaways to the great outdoors. But instead of sitting on your fanny in a camp chair all weekend (not that there’s anything wrong with that), consider taking a recreational getaway that gets your blood flowing and calories burning. As a serious outdoors nut I could write a book on Northern California’s recreational getaways, but for this week’s theme I’ve narrowed it down to my seven top picks for getting some healthy exercise while exploring some of my favorite outdoor adventure destinations.
A trip to the Northern California coast is almost always a guaranteed great getaway, but when it also includes a luxuriating Swedish massage followed by a relaxing soak in an ocean-view hot tub with a flute of bubbly in your hand, then you’re approaching nirvana. Which is why I’ve put together a short list of my favorite coastal spa retreats from Mendocino to Big Sur, and at every price range—from reasonable to oh dear. It was a tough job, but I personally reviewed all of these spa retreats to make sure you won’t be rubbed the wrong way. Read full article »
I’m always amazed at how few Californians have spent time exploring the Sonoma Coast, or even knew that Sonoma County has 76 miles of gorgeous, pristine coastline. If you’re one of those people, then it’s high time you spent a long weekend exploring one of the prettiest regions of the state, brimming with golden beaches, wine tasting, romantic lodgings, hiking trails, horseback riding, and fantastic coastal cafes, crab shacks, and restaurants. I’ve been writing about this region for more than 20 years, and if I took four days explore the best of Sonoma County’s coastline, this would be my dream itinerary…
Looking for an easy, breezy romantic getaway? Well, picture this: 7.8 miles of sandy beaches, crashing waves, breath-taking views of the Pacific and sea lions, too. The artist enclave of Laguna Beach offers an eclectic fusion of sandy coves, stunning coastal bluffs, delectable treats, high fashion, coated with a surfer cool sheen. Halfway between L.A. and San Diego, Laguna Beach is the ideal choice for lazy walks, impromptu paddleboard lessons and a great opportunity to relax and enjoy one of the most resplendent spots on the California coast.
If you’re looking for something interesting, affordable, and local to do this winter (yes, summer’s really over), Mother Nature is putting on some pretty good free shows this time of year. Some of the best bird watching excursions in the state only take place in the early winter, such as the millions of migrating waterfowl in Sacramento Valley and raptor gatherings at the Marin Headlands. So grab your day-planner right now and carve out a few days for getting outdoors and enjoying a bird watching getaway to one of the top bird-watching spots in Northern California.
by Guest Guru Nancy Geller
If romance is your goal, Ojai is your destination. And it all starts with a sunset. It’s a fleeting occurrence, but sunset in Ojai is just about as stunning as it gets. Twelve miles inland from the Pacific Ocean, the city of Ojai lies in a small valley, north of Ventura and east of Santa Barbara. Since Ojai is aligned with an east-west mountain range, it’s one of few spots on earth that have a “Pink Moment” just as the sun is setting. The vanishing sun creates a ribbon of pink for several minutes on the bluffs at the east end of the Ojai Valley. It is a romantic, rare and resplendent moment that can only happen in Ojai.
If you’re looking for something interesting and affordable to do this winter, Mother Nature is putting on some pretty good free shows this time of year. Much of the wildlife in Northern California is doing the wild thing, and they don’t care who’s watching. Some of the most fascinating eco-excursions in the state only take place in the winter, such as the monarch butterfly migration to Pacific Grove, millions of migrating waterfowl in Sacramento Valley, and elephant seal mating rituals at Año Nuevo State Reserve (believe me, if you’ve never seen a pair of 2-ton elephant seal bulls fighting over a lady, you’re in for a treat). So grab your day-planner right now and sign yourself up for a Winter Wildlife Watching getaway.
Spend some time in Marin County, at the “other” end of the Golden Gate Bridge, and it doesn’t take long to figure out that the redwood-shaded, coastal hill country north of San Francisco has a ridiculous number of things to do. Miles of coastal wilderness and redwood forests to explore by foot or by bike, farm-to-table restaurants and artisan food-makers, charming towns, theaters and clubs where locals like Robin Williams, Carlos Santana, and George Lucas might be on stage or in the crowd—what’s not to love about Marin? Read full article »
I remember as a kid driving north through Ventura County with my parents and seeing nothing but fields and farmland. Coming from L.A., I might as well have been on another planet. But times they are a changin’ and now the county’s three cities—Camarillo, Oxnard, and Ventura, otherwise known as Ventura County West—have become popular destinations for a California vacation. And with so much of land devoted to farming, Ventura County is home to a wide range of up-and-coming wineries and restaurants. Here’s what I recommend for first-timers wanting to get a flavor of the region.