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Catching Up - Northern California

Oh my goodness, please forgive me, it is been soooooo gosh darn long since I have posted. After returning to the States last year, I took on an opportunity in Northern California, which has simply consumed every hour of every day, since.

I want to take a moment to bring you up to speed on this incredible region, and implore you to visit this absolutely stunning part of the United States. Most people talk about going to San Francisco, and I’m not going to tell you that Napa and Sonoma are not great places to visit as well, but there’s so much more to experience just a little farther North. Not only is the wine better, you also don’t have to worry about long lines and bus loads of tourists from the Bay Area. This region also offers lower tasting fees and the ability to actually meet the winemaker - how awesome is that? 100% across the board, the vineyards found in Mendocino County are absolutely stunning AND they produce incredible wine. Anderson Valley has the most densely populated area of vineyards, it’s perfect for a weekend trip, and includes the bucolic communities of Boonville and Philo which have a lovely assortment of eclectic shops. You will also be pleasantly surprised with Anderson Valley Brewing, offering up pretty tasty suds and an attached frisbee golf course - a pretty great way to spend the afternoon.

There are limited accommodation choices in this area however, so be sure to book early. Ukiah is an option if you are unable to find anything, there are a plethora of hotels about a 45 minute drive away, with some additional, exceptional wineries like Testa, Parducci and Rivino. The coast is also a good place to seek housing as there are a number of adorable B&Bs, many of which afford lovely views. Be sure to call ahead during these days of COVID to ensure open hours and protocol. Much of the wine made in Napa is created from grapes growing in Mendocino county - this is reason enough to visit, but there’s so much more to explore in the entire region. The beaches along this coast are absolutely jaw-dropping. In fact the drive North from San Francisco to Oregon along Highway 1 and 101 is, in my most humble option, one of the top 3 drives, ANYWHERE.

Also, the Redwood Coastal Corridor is the only location in the world, where you can see vast groves of Redwoods! These trees are some of the largest on the planet and the oldest as well. You will begin finding them about halfway through Mendocino County (disclaimer, there are a few stands closer to San Francisco, if you simply don't have enough time to explore North). The BEST location is called the Avenue of the Giants, just over the Humboldt County border, heading North. There are even places you can DRIVE through a TREE! You could spend an entire day here, or choose to stay at one of the many campgrounds nearby, for a night or spend a whole week. For a day trip, I encourage you to bring provisions, as this area will not afford you with many options for shopping, you’re going to want to stop and fill your cooler before arriving.

Northern California however it’s not just full of amazing wineries, rugged coastline and stunningly old trees, it also has some absolutely jaw-dropping scenery in the Sierra Nevada’s, which you will find heading North East. Whether you’re in the unusually named Town of Weed just north of Mount Shasta, or spending a day traversing the incredible waterfall circuit near Redding; or farther south by about 100 miles or so where Lake Tahoe is the blue gem of the West. Take the Trinity Highway from Eureka to Redding, about a 3 hour spectacular drive, where you can base camp for another night before hitting up Whiskey Town Waterfall. With so many great hikes and water features in the Shasta area I suggest you take several days to do this loop. While there, be sure to explore Mount Shasta and Mount Lassen. Both equally gorgeous wilderness areas, filled with trails, rivers, peaks, lakes and incredible vistas.

If you have more than a couple of days to spend in the area, there are a plethora of Hot Springs as well between the Oregon border and the Tahoe region read about them here. Lake Tahoe has a gazillion hiking trails to explore if you'd like to stretch your legs, be wary however, as many many people from the Bay Area and Sacramento head East into the mountains during the summer to escape the heat, creating a backlog of hikers along the more popular trails. My suggestion is to find off the beaten track locations or come during off-season or mid-week, and try to start as early in the day as possible. Remember too, you will be at an elevation your lungs may not be familiar with, keep this in mind if you are more winded than usual. So much to see and do! What does all this mean? You can fly into any one of the major airports in the Bay Area and be immersed into vast wildernesses, countless wineries, and eclectic shops within artsy communities, all within a three hour drive from San Fransisco International. This region is meant to be explored by car, so rent one and go. Northern California is also a dogs dream come true, be sure to bring your favorite four legged friend.

With farm to table, this regions way of life, eating out or eating in will practically be guaranteed to be sourced locally. Farmers Markets can be found in most communities at least one day per week, sometimes more. Be sure to ask the local tourism bureau when you arrive. Keep your eyes open for locally produced spirits as well, Low Gap Whiskey, made in Ukiah, is consistently rated one of the top in the world. Keep these tidbits in mind while creating your itinerary. Should you also be interested in exploring Oregon, there are more spectacular sites to be found one state up, including hundred's more miles of pristine mountains and coastlines. Crater Lake is not to be missed, the deepest lake in the USA (7th in the world!), nor the large herds of elk you will find along the road near Brookings. Southern Oregon is simply an extension of the vast beauty of Northern California. You can find a suggested itinerary HERE. With so much to do, and so much space between you and the next person, these are perfect locations to explore during our current pandemic, you can even fly into the Bay Area and then fly out of Portland, Oregon - to add even more incredible experiences into your epic adventure.

Like the rest of the world, I am not traveling as much as in the past, but that doesn't mean we can't explore regions nearby, as well as dream of locations to visit once the world order returns to some normalcy. In the meantime, stay safe, wear your mask, and contact me anytime to help create your next incredible adventure.

Cheers! Una


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