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.
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.
They call it Death Valley for a reason. Utterly inhuman, this scorching region of tortured rock, shifting dunes and fetid lakes is one of the hottest and most inhospitable regions in the world, an unnatural phenomenon so eerie it would make Hieronymous Bosch cringe with envy.
Which, of course, is all the more reason to come and see it for yourself, simply because there is no other place like it on the planet: a haunting, primordial enigma that is both fascinating to behold and troubling to the soul—a geologic car wreck if you may. But describing the surreal beauty of a desert is like talking dirty on the phone; you get the picture, but it’s never as good as the real thing. For that, you must come.
“Good-bye God, I’m going to Bodie,” wrote a little girl whose family was moving to the most infamous Gold Rush boomtown in California. And if you think that’s creepy, what until you see what’s left of Bodie, one of the most authentic ghost towns in the entire West. Located about 20 miles northeast of Yosemite National Park, a road trip to see the legendary Bodie Ghost Town is the perfect excuse for taking a weekend getaway to the Eastern Sierra, which is ablaze with fall colors right now.
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…
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.
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.
When I was a kid my mom would retain her sanity each summer by sending me off on a 10-day YMCA backpacking trip with a bunch of strangers (which, by the way, I highly recommend for all you over-protective parents out there). Not only did these hiking trips get me out of the house and into the mountains, they also taught me life-long lessons about ecology, weather, navigation, and self-reliance. So do your kids a confidence-building favor and take them hiking this summer—they’ll forgive you in the end. Read full article »
Sometimes you have to go see something simply because somebody was crazy or determined enough to build it. Take the Winchester Mystery House for example: If someone spends 24 hours a day, 7 days a week, 365 days a year, for 38 years building a nuthouse, people will line up to see it (and they do). So this week’s getaway theme is a tribute to the top seven man-made wonders that people said couldn’t (or shouldn’t) be built, all of which are a fantastic excuse to get away for fun-filled weekend of exploring Northern California.
Last fall I took my annual pilgrimage up Highway 101 to revisit one of my favorite places to be on the planet: Redwood National Park. California contains the most spectacular redwood forests in the world—including the world’s tallest trees—yet it always amazes me how few Californians (yes, you) have experienced one of nature’s grandest displays. So make 2012 the year you finally dust off your binoculars, lace up your boots, book a hotel room in Eureka, and take the scenic drive up 101 to the Land of the Giants.