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.
Thrills & Adventure
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.
So you don’t ski or snowboard—big deal. There are plenty of other exhilarating winter activities in the Tahoe region that don’t require you to buy absurdly expensive lift tickets and humiliate yourself on the bunny slopes. I’ve been heading up to Tahoe every winter since I was a toddler and I know all the best places to play in the snow, whether it’s bombing down the hill on a saucer at Granlibakken or dog sledding through a snowy alpine meadow. No previous experience is required for any of these activities, so start planning your Tahoe getaway today.
This weeklong road trip covers two of my favorite places on the planet: Lake Tahoe and Yosemite National Park. I’ve visited both these mountain regions countless times, yet each time I’m nonetheless awestruck by their beauty. The trip starts in North Lake Tahoe, winds its way to South Lake Tahoe, and then veers southeast along Hwy. 395 to Mono Lake. From there, it cuts westward on Hwy. 120 and heads up, up, up to the famed Tioga Pass and into Yosemite National Park. Just reading about it will make you want to drop everything and start packing. Read full article »
A fan of LocalGetaways, Laura Joseph, sent me an email about her family vacation in Southern Oregon. I liked it so much I asked if I could publish it for her, and voila! Here it is. If you have a favorite local getaway that you’d like to share, send it to firstname.lastname@example.org. – Matthew
Over the past couple of years our family has been discovering what a beautiful and diverse area Southern Oregon is for vacationing. It started when my parents introduced us to Shady Cove Oregon, a little community northeast of Medford along the Rogue River. It’s only about an hour’s drive from the California border and is my dad’s new favorite fishing spot. My parents coaxed us to join them there for a week-long vacation (they promised there would be more to do than just fish), so we packed up and headed north! Our week was filled with so many adventures that we simply ran out of time. We’ve since taken three more family vacations to Southern Oregon both during winter and summer, and here are some of our favorite experiences.
There are certain people who will do just about anything to fulfill their dream. When Hugh Hefner decided to launch Playboy magazine in 1953, he mortgaged his furniture to pay for the first edition. In 1945, Dave McCoy, a hydrographer for the Los Angeles Department of Water and Power, mortgaged his motorcycle so he could build a rope tow on Mammoth Mountain. Now every guy secretly wants to be Hugh Hefner (at least for a day), and every serious skier wants to carve turns at one of the best downhill ski areas in North America. And Mammoth is also one of the prettiest regions in California—especially in the fall. In fact, the Eastern Sierra is rated by GORP as the nation’s second-best spot for viewing fall foliage.
In case you missed it, spring officially arrived on March 20th. But don’t hang up your skis and sleds just yet, because the best time to head to the Sierra for some fun in the snow is right now. Lake Tahoe’s ski resorts have experienced a frustratingly late winter season, but now there’s plenty of snow up on the slopes. Throw in a flurry of end-of-the-season discounts, spring festivals, and apres ski events, and voila!—the perfect recipe for a fun and affordable snow-play getaway. 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 »
Some of my favorite family road trips as a kid were to places like the Exploratorium in San Francisco or Lawrence Hall of Science in Berkeley to play with all the hands-on science and technology exhibits. My dad was all for it because the tickets were cheap, and my sisters and I always came home with great mind-expanding toys from the museum gift shop. So if y’all are looking for a fun and affordable family getaways, this week’s theme is all about where to take the Little Einstiens in your family for a mind-expanding getaway: The best kid-friendly museums in Northern California.
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