As 101 winds north the changing scenery lets you know when farm country gives way to wine country. But a little more than an hour past the Golden Gate, a giant opportunity is tucked away to the west of all those distracting vines.
Take the River Road exit off 101 in Santa Rosa and head 15 miles or so to Guerneville. But instead of heading into town, hang a right on Armstrong Woods Road and explore Armstrong Redwoods State Natural Reserve.
Surrounded by grapes and vineyards, soaking up the warm ambience of Calistoga is easy. Sitting at the northern end of Napa Valley, it’s further from San Francisco than many of its well-known Wine Country neighbors, but thanks to geothermal hot springs, this laid-back spa city’s warm welcome will make you forget about the extra minutes in the car.
It’s easy to forget, but there’s more to Sonoma than just grapes. A touch over three miles off the town square there’s a special spot of shade. Set along a brook, among a grove of oak trees you’ll find picnic tables and a trapeze rig. You know the song, fly through the air with the greatest of ease. Move over Cirque du Soleil, you no longer have to run away from home to join the circus. You can just run to Sonoma.
Vacationing in Australia is often a once in a lifetime opportunity. There’s never enough time to see it all. So before you lock in flights to glimpse the world’s most famous opera house, consider a change of scenery in Queensland. Home to the Great Barrier Reef and oldest rainforest on the planet, what’s waiting for you will be music to your eyes and ears.
Whenever I arrive somewhere new, I like to go walking and exploring with my family to help us get our bearings. Especially if the getting there took some time in a car or plane. The drive from San Francisco to Santa Barbara is a little less than 6 hours - long but doable for a traveling family. Picturesque and pedestrian-friendly, Santa Barbara is a great place to park the car and get some fresh air while seeing the town.
Amazing things can happen when folks get an idea and just go for it. Gary Erickson was on a bike ride when he decided he could make a better energy bar and went on to create what we all know now as Clif Bars. Throw in a love of wine making and the result is the Clif Family Winery tasting room at Velo Vino Napa Valley with a new spin on Wine Country.
Corn dogs, cotton candy and funnel cakes. The off-the-charts caloric combination can only mean one thing: the Sonoma County Fair is about to get cooking. It’s an American pastime of sorts – eating, drinking, riding the Ferris Wheel and getting your “country fix” petting barnyard animals. Running July 25 through August 12, (closed on Mondays) you’ve got 17 days to get your fair fill.
The Sonoma County Fair Concert Series
It’s fun to be pleasantly surprised when you travel, especially when it’s a the type of situation where you wind up enjoying a place much more than you anticipated. Here’s my scenario; it's a trip to Old Sacramento with six teen girls, now officially high schoolers, celebrating the end of the school year. The possibilities are endless, yes?
Kids aren’t the first thing that pop into your mind when planning a trip to Wine Country. But times are changing. More and more, parents don’t want to miss out on what’s growing right in their backyard, and the wineries, well, they’re listening. Parents with kids in tow can get a new taste of Wine Country and the whole family’s happy about it.
It may have to do with its waterfront setting, but Vancouver has a certain sparkle to it. In the winter, skiers and boarders enjoy nearby snow-covered mountains. In the summer, its seaside location provides beaches, waterside trails, and a variety of ways to get out and about to enjoy the fresh air. San Francisco folks may be reminded a tad bit of home when they hit the ground. But they’ll be able to hit the ground running. Time in the air is just a little over two hours and a number of airlines offer direct flights from SFO to Vancouver.
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