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.
We’ve all been there: You’re at work on Monday morning, listening to your co-worker tell you what an awesome time she had at the Cheese Festival in Petaluma on Sunday and how you would have loved it. Okay, so now you wish you had gone, but A) you didn’t know about it or B) you forgot to add it to your calendar. Well, now there’s no excuse. Below are my four favorite events taking place this spring in Sonoma County’s Wine Country and four great excuses to hop in the car for a fun weekend road trip. So open the calendar on your smart phone and start typing.
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 »
Creamy chevres. Sharp cheddars. Herbaceous triple crèmes. Lucky for us Californians, more and more “swoonable” cheeses (as I like to refer to them) are made right in our own backyards, particularly in and around Petaluma. In between nibbles of fresh burrata and tantalizing sheeps milk fetas, discover some of the Wine Country’s other culinary artisans, including a honey farm, award winning bread makers, and pioneering olive oil makers. Combined with a little wine tasting, it’s all the right ingredients for a wonderful weekend getaway.
An Anderson Valley winemaker once told me, “If you see redwoods growing, Pinot Noir can’t be far away.” Thanks to the cooling influence of the fog that follows the Navarro River through much of Anderson Valley, grapes like Pinot Noir and Gewurztraminer are able to flourish amongst vast groves of verdant redwoods. It’s one of the prettiest regions in California, and produces some of our finest wines. And while Anderson Valley doesn’t have the quantity or glitz of Napa Valley wineries, it does have far more intimate tasting rooms, warm and friendly locals, and enough great dining options for a very memorable—and romantic—weekend getaway.
Some of the best memories I have as a kid are the family road trips we’d take from Sacramento—my sisters and I piling in the back of our wood-paneled station wagon loaded with luggage, fighting for a window seat while dad fires up another cigarette and checks the map. It’s the quintessential American family experience, so what better way to start summer than a fun and affordable Father’s Day road trip getaway? Right then: Here are my top tips on places to go and things to do in Northern California that I promise your dad—and the entire family—will enjoy. Read full article »
Some of the best memories I have as a kid growing up in Sacramento include piling into the Country Squire station wagon (Seatbelts? What seatbelts?) and taking road trips to the mountains or coast. Every trip was a mini-adventure filled with discovery and danger (Don’t make me pull this car over!). Even now I still get that tingle of anticipation as I load up the car with luggage and hit the open road to anywhere but my office. So in the spirit of good times and grand adventures, I’d like to share you five of my favorite scenic drives in Northern California. Read full article »
So there you are, sitting in your office or cubical on a sunny day, wishing you were working somewhere, anywhere else right now. Like on a small family farm for instance, planting strawberries and picking pears in dirty jeans and warm sunshine. It’s not an impossible dream you know. Mavericks such as Dee Harley of Harley Farms have pursued their passion for life beyond office walls and made it work.
So beyond the obvious benefits of taking a weekend getaway to a family farm—fresh produce, scenic drives, baby goats—is the incentive of inspiration, of meeting people who, even in these troubling economic times, are happily living off the land. Read full article »
The Lost Coast is proof that if you don’t build it, they won’t come. What wasn’t built along 90 miles of pristine California coastline north of Mendocino was a road: The topography of this rugged region—steep mountain ranges abutting rocky shore—wouldn’t allow it, forcing the builders of Highway 1 to make a detour far inland. The result of this absence of asphalt is the last untamed and undeveloped stretch of coastline in California, a place so devoid of urbanization that more cows repose on its beaches than people (seriously). In fact, you can spend days roaming the coastal range and without seeing a soul, making the Lost Coast the sine qua non of “get-away-from-it-all” experiences.
There’s something about strolling around a small town that restores your faith in America— that, in the long run, everything’s going to be alright. It’s the kind of getaway that does your soul some good, a relaxing visit to a place where the locals nod and say hello, the shops and restaurants are locally owned, and the pace is pleasantly slow. So if all this talk of hard times is getting you down, perhaps it’s time for a rejuvenating and quaintly romantic getaway to one of my six favorite small towns in Northern California. Read full article »