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Northern California offers a bounty of diverse experiences. From the idyllic settings of San Francisco and Carmel to the breath-taking wilderness of Sequoia/Kings Canyon, Yosemite and Lake Tahoe to the sophistication of the wine country in Napa. Embedded in all this is lots of fine dining and loads of recreation from golf to hiking!
California is by far one of the most diverse areas in all the world! Planning a visit presents a challenge given all the cities, diverse landscapes and attractions to choose from!
We live at the base of 3,849 foot high, Mt Diablo in Contra Costa County. From the peak one can see more land mass than from any other peak in the world, except for Mt Kilimanjaro in Africa! You can see, on a clear day, Mt Shasta to the North, Half Dome in Yosemite to the East and the Farallon Islands off the coast of San Francisco to the West. Carmel to the South is not visible but we have traveled the spokes from our residence to these points many times over the years.
Mother Nature and weather can make or break any vacation experience. The absolute, perfect time of year to visit these venues is from mid-September through the first week of October. Mark Twain's infamous quote, "The coldest winter I ever spent was a summer in San Francisco", is true for a reason. The fog banks that form off the coast in the summer are drawn inland as the central valley cools towards the evening making San Francisco sometimes unbearably cold in mid-summer! In September/October these climate regions have equalized in temperature. This produces stunning weather in San Francisco while still providing very comfortable shorts weather in the high sierras and Napa. Toss in that all the kiddies (K-16) are back in school and you get quite an opportunity to maximize your enjoyment!
California covers 163,707 square miles with the automobile being the only realistic mode of transportation to properly travel among its sites. Dependent upon your budget, since green is a movement not yet a reality in California, I would splurge on a crossover or hybrid with GPS for this trip. All the roads are wide, well signed and gas is very cheap for the European travelers. Google maps using get directions is a fantastic application for estimating driving times. So go for it, especially with four adults!
IF you do not get GPS with the car rental, we highly, highly recommend investing in a Garmin 255W with "beanbag" dashboard support and preloading all the hotels, restaurants and attractions. Then categorize them by Day for easy identification on your trip. You can use a Google Map screen and paste each item from the detailed Google routes we have provided for each days exploration. Then hit SEND via GPS and the names and addresses will automagically download to the device. Absolutely magnificent!
Our suggestions for places to see, things to do, etc are obviously based on our likes which may not match yours. We still recommend the same venues but our biases are full active days seeing and doing many things, hiking, some fine dining, picnics, wine tasting and relatively nice lodging. We are type A personalities, who walk trails in 2/3 the estimated times, drive in the fast lane and cover more territory than 90% of the travelers. But we do find time to read quite a bit, so judge our recommendations with these biases in mind.
Also, there are some golf course recommendations because Mr Strand feels golf is the greatest game on the planet, bar none! Most of these recommendations are only 9-Hole just for fun play. IF you want a couple of world ranking rounds, then play Edgewood in Lake Tahoe and Pebble or Spyglass in Carmel. Potential Discounts: The NCGA (Northern California Golf Association) offers members a substantial discount to play at Poppy Hills. Also, they run member discount promotions for play at Pebble, Spyglass & Spanish Bay. You can join an E-Club for $70/$50 spouse, or IF you are an affiliated with an Associate club it is only $25! www.ncga.org
Here is how we would allocate our overnight stays for this 1000 mile tour:
Google Map of 15-Day Loop (paste into browser):
Bring a day pack from home on your trip.
This itinerary is packed with driving and daily activities which emphasizes just how much there is to do in Northern California. We tried to limit it to 15 days as a realistic time period for most people. Obviously, certain areas can be lengthened based on individual preferences.
1 Night = San Francisco South of Market
2 Nights = Carmel / Big Sur
1 Night = Cambria / Hearst Castle
1 Night = Paso Robles Wine Region
1 Night = Sequoia / Kings Canyon National Parks
2 Nights = Yosemite National Park
2 Nights = Lake Tahoe Then Gold Country Mine Then Sacramento Railroad Museum
2 Nights = Napa Then Muir Woods Then Angel Island
2 Nights = San Francisco Fisherman's Wharf
The Greatest Planning Tool On Earth! = Google Maps.....Use this fabulous tool for driving distances but also switch to Satellite and Terrain Modes. Terrain is particularly great for Yosemite. It offers walking as well as public transit routes. Unbelievable, how did we ever survive without this in the dark ages before 2006?
SEE 13. BELOW FOR LISTING OF ALL SUGGESTED LINKS!!
San Francisco the "City By The Bay" with two bridges (Golden Gate & Bay), three islands (Alcatraz, Angel & Treasure), a wonderful long stretch of wharf/piers (embarcadero), dramatic hills scaled by cable cars, quaint skyline (compared to New York), rich histories of immigration and the gold rush, fabulous restaurants and scenic parks. It does have its warts with the homeless people who distract from its grandeur. Interestingly, the 1989 earthquake actually had a major silver-lining for tourists. The outrageously ugly Embarcadero freeway had to be torn down unveiling a beautiful stretch of scenic walks along the piers. Enjoy the divergent fairly liberal ethnic cultures, fantasize about the Barbary Coast and Al Capone, savor the cuisine, ride the cables and take in the scenery of the Bay from all angles!
First our itinerary suggestion must "assume" an arrival into SFO sometime mid-morning accompanied with the typical disorientation of a new place. So we recommend only spending one night, getting a general flavor for the City By The Bay and planning 2 nights at the back end after you become "native" Californians. You can easily qualify since nobody seems to be born in California, they all seem to be from other parts of the planet!
SFO is fairly far from the City and can be a little hectic. BART (Bay Area Rapid Transit) is very convenient from the International Terminal to take you downtown along Market Street to Powell Street station. Resist the temptation to jump on a cable car and head to Fisherman's Wharf. There will be plenty of time to do this at the conclusion of your trip.
For the first afternoon/evening explore/walk from the Chancellor Hotel to South of Market with lunch at Lulu's on Folsom, then stroll through Yerba Buena Gardens to see the SF MOMA (tour exhibits or pass for longer walk to Coit Tower) then head to AT&T Park (tour is great but last one is at 12:30), continue under the Bay Bridge along The Embarcadero to Coit Tower via the Filbert Steps and then head back to the Ferry Building for dinner at The Slanted Door. If you like oysters, then enjoy some at the Hog Island Oyster Bar in the Ferry Building! Afterward walk back to Powell/Union Square for the Chancellor Hotel or take a cab and call it a day!
Google Map of Walking Tour (paste into browser):
Note: Another excellent option besides your own walking tour is to take Rick Evans San Francisco Architecture Walking Tour. Before heading to the Galleria Park Hotel to start your tour, enjoy lunch at Luques right inside the Chancellor! On the tour you will gain some history of the City, primarily after the 1906 earthquake, and see some very unique buildings and settings. Afterward you can follow the above route to AT&T Park, Coit Tower and back to the Ferry Building for dinner at the Slanted Door. There you can celebrate your first day walking merit badge!
Logistics/Accommodation Strategy - Most car rental agencies have convenient downtown pickup locations. I would book both my accommodation and car rental pickup all within close walking distance from Powell Street BART station. One ideal recommendation is the Chancellor Hotel. For the Chancellor request a room facing Union Square on the highest floor possible. I would book my car return location in the Fisherman's Wharf area for when I return to the City.
The next morning before picking up the car, check out Union Square and some of the shops. Then its off to US 101 and Carmel-By The Sea around 10!
Carmel-By-The Sea is a very special place. Robert Louis Stevenson called it the "most beautiful meeting of land and sea on earth". We tend to agree!
The 2.5 hour drive from SF to Carmel along 101 is easy and straight forward. Stop off in Marina after Castroville at the Walmart for inexpensive beach chairs and an umbrella for Carmel Beach and Lake Tahoe.
Google Map of SF to Carmel drive and Tour of Peninsula (paste into browser):
Lookup in the Farmers Almanac Sunrise, Sunset,Tides and Forecast:
The Monterey Peninsula is a beautiful geographical setting to just leisurely enjoy. It caters to the rich with high-end art galleries, multi-million dollar homes, world championship golf courses, resort accommodations and pricey restaurants. But they do not own the scenery which is really why everything is on the high end! In fact, I count my California blessings for the golf courses along 17-Mile drive. Just think if the courses were actually home sites? If you are a golfer then your eyes see the best of both worlds!
Here is how we would approach our 2 nights on the Peninsula:
We would absolutely stay in Carmel because the micro climate produces less windy weather than Monterey and the town is oozing with charm. For a better value but still not inexpensive (this is Carmel), stay at the Best Western Carmel Bay View Inn. Try and book a room with a balcony view of the ocean (ask for 46, 47, then 58 or 59 which have the larger balconies). For higher end, L'Auberge cannot be beat and the Pine and Normandy Inns offer nice alternatives to the Best Western.
Kick off your day with a glass of Italian red wine and a nice lunch on the interior patio of Casanovas! Walking distance from the Best Western.
People feel ripped off by paying $9.50 to enter the 17-Mile drive. They should not because the coastal drive from Carmel gate to Pacific Grove gate is quite beautiful. Only drive the coastal section and pass on the inland, hilly route (very boring!). It helps if you follow golf because the courses are beautiful too! We recommend stopping at the Pebble Beach Lodge and enjoying a refreshment at the Tap Room. They will credit back the $9.50, making the cost of the first beer only fifty cents! Then take a walk by the first tee and out to the 18th green to see the ocean. Afterward follow the coastline, stop at the lone cypress and a couple of other spots to experience the waves and observe the sea animals.Then exit at Pacific Grove for the aquarium.
Golf notes: For $30 (all day rate) you can play the 9-hole pitch and putt, Peter Hay course, across from the $475 Pebble Beach course. Pacific Grove muni has a terrific back 9 and Del Monte is a fun course but much less expensive than the Peninsula courses. See intro above for NCGA Poppy Hills discount.
Monterey Bay and the Pacific Ocean are teeming with sea life. The seals and otters can be seen lazing on the rocks, floating on the surface and frolicking amongst themselves. Monterey Bay Aquarium is really special. Its concept is to lift the ocean life from Monterey Bay and place it "inside" for us humans to see. I have scuba dived in the frigid Monterey waters so I can attest about how nice the "warm" aquarium actually is! The kelp bed aquarium is terrific and they recently opened a Seahorse exhibit.
After the aquarium, stroll through John Steinbeck's Cannery Row and enjoy dinner at the Sardine Factory or the Monterey Fish House (less expensive but a drive to get too) before calling it a day.
The next day is just enjoying the scenery while hiking along beautifully situated trails, picnicking and relaxing at Carmel Beach, visiting the galleries, having a cocktail at sunset while the bagpipes play or from the balcony in your room and enjoying a very nice dinner. What is there not to like?
Google Map of exploring Carmel-By-The Sea (paste into browser):
Start the morning with a walk over to The Cottage Restaurant for a hearty breakfast. Then head South to simply stunning Point Lobos State Reserve. We have spent 3 hours there walking every trail it offers. Definitely hike on the trails at the north end. Here is a view of the circular route after parking near the Ecological Reserve: tinyurl.com/PTL-HIKE Then head back to Carmel and buy picnic food at Bruno's Market & Deli (next to Best Western). Drive to the end of Ocean Ave with your beach accessories and perch on the dune to the right within the foliage, sheltered from any wind but still overlooking the ocean. Read, take a nap and then walk down cardio dune and stroll to the north end of beach by the 8th hole at Pebble and then to the kelp strewn south end noting Point Lobos in the near distance. Here is a Google Map showing the location and the beach stroll: tinyurl.com/CARMEL-PICNIC
Afterward visit a few galleries (we like some of the photography at Photography West and Gallery Sur). Enjoy appetizer clams and an anchor steam beer at Flaherty's Oyster Bar & Seafood. Then freshen up for dinner. Drive to the Inn at Spanish Bay via the Carmel gate and the 17-mile drive or Highway 68 and the Pacific Grove gate in time for the sunset. Sit on the patio with a refreshment and watch the bagpipe player step off into the sunset (apply your gate fee against the tab). Then either dine at Roy's at the Inn or if you have a nice balcony room at the Best Western, enjoy the sunset there and walk 4 blocks to Christopher's on Lincoln for a cozy yet delicious dining experience! For less expensive enjoy the Italian restaurant Little Napoli. We would avoid Pacific's Edge at Highlands Inn because it does not deliver on value!
I sincerely hope you find this place as special as we do!
The drive from Carmel to Cambria is about expansive views of the Pacific Ocean and its "mountainous" coast line. Stop for lunch with a view and take advantage of one of the State Park inland and coastal trails along the way!
Google Map Carmel to Big Sur/Cambria (paste into browser):
From Carmel plan for a lunch around noon on the terrace at the Ventana Inn (hour drive). So head out around 11:00 after a nice breakfast and visiting more of the shops and galleries. Stop at the parking area just before the Bixby Bridge built in 1932 for a Kodak or I guess it is now just a digital moment. Nepenthe is another lunch option which is to be avoided. The food is fast food with a 5-Star price, servers are on the surly side and the decor of the place is an embarrassment for such a wonderful location (otherwise its terrific). The cost of lunch at the Ventana Inn is the same as Nepenthe!
After lunch head 8 miles south on the highway for hiking in Julia Pfeffer Burns State Park and taking in the view of McKay Falls. There is an inland hike to higher elevations looking out over the Pacific. We suggest this hike first before meandering down the waterfall trail to McKay Falls and its legendary setting. Note: There are picnic tables in some tall trees adjacent to the limited parking lot, if you wish to save on lunch.
After the hike it is a 1.5 hour drive to Cambria. Stay at the Best Western Cavalier in San Simeon (rooms lead right onto beach) and dine at Moonstone Beach unless you are doing the evening tour at Hearst Castle. Before the 7:30 (suggested time) evening tour, I would go into town for a quick bite at Indigo Moon restaurant. Otherwise, plan to take a first tour the following morning.
Hearst Castle - Note: The unique evening tours are offered in Spring & Fall on Friday and Saturday evenings lasting 2 hours and 10 minutes while starting at 6:30 to 7:50 in 20 minute intervals. Cambria is 20-30 minutes further south from Hearst Castle.
Hearst Castle should be renamed because people tend to compare La Cuesta Encantada (The Enchanted Hill) to European castles. Yes there is imported European art but it stops there. The buildings are designed by a pioneering woman architect, Julia Morgan, in a Mediterranean/Spanish style. This is classic "California" architecture found throughout the State's communities. Hearst's personal history is told as part of "Roaring" California History and concentrated in the 1920's. Considerably different than the comparable times of hyperinflation in the Weimar Republic. The advanced, artful film Citizen Kane was patterned after the life of William Randolph Hearst at decadent Xanadu aka La Cuesta Encantada!
The town of Cambria is relatively small. There are some interesting shops where we would park and walk through for an hour or so. Enjoy breakfast at the Creekside Cafe. Then head off to Paso Robles for wine tasting, a relaxing day and night before buckling up for the long drives through the Sierras.
Wine lovers will enjoy the environs and wineries in and around Paso Robles. It is a short 50 minute drive from Cambria. Stay at the Courtyard By Marriott.
Paso is divided by Highway 101 with more scenic, oak covered vineyard hills in the West and flatter terrain in the East. The town is starting to develop a more wine industry/tourist reputation but its shops and buildings are still hit and miss around the central town park.
Google Map Cambria to Paso Robles & Winery Loop, Dinner Templeton (paste into browser):
Enjoy an early (11:30) nice Thai lunch in town at Basil Thai before heading out on the tasting trail.
Here is a circle route, to be followed in order below, around the west side starting on top of a hill (Calcareous) for the views before completing the clockwise loop. Suggested is the tour at Justin but reservations are required and possibly timing will be difficult to fit in all the stops. Do not pass on Tablas Creek. Skip L'Aventure to save some time.
Purchase a bottle for corkage dining at Wuksachi Lodge in Sequoia. Although they
claim an extensive wine list!
Calcareous - New winery with a hilltop view of the surrounding terrain. Great way to start and get your bearings!
L'Aventure - Down a dirt road. Small tasting room. Fancy glass and quite nice syrah's.
Zenaida Cellars - Highly recommended by local Pasoans!
Four Vines - Hole in the wall wine maker, specializing in Zinfandel, buying grapes from various appellations. We joined the wine club for 2 years. Possibly get a ZinBitch tattoo!
Dover Canyon - Also, highly recommended by local Pasoans! Open Thur to Sunday
Tablas Creek - They specialize in French varietals and organic wine making techniques. We found these wines exceptional.
Justin Vineyards - Highly recommend the beginning tour (call in advance to confirm 800/726.0049 ext. 300). By far it was the most educational tour we have ever gone on. The GM gave the tour so it might vary based on the guide. He was outstanding. Unfortunately and surprisingly we found the wines not to our liking.
Mondo Cellars - We did not go here. But it appears quite nice and its on the completion of the loop road.
After a rugged day of wine tasting, head to Templeton for dinner at McPhee's Grill. In town, Villa Creek is very good. Artisan is only good because the value of average quality food and noisy, sub-par ambiance do not justify the higher prices.
Plan an early start the next morning for a 4 hour drive to Sequoia and Kings Canyon
National Parks. Enjoy breakfast at the Cowgirl Cafe. Before leaving purchase bottled water and other delicacies for an afternoon hike in the Giant Forest of Sequoia National.
Sequoia and Kings Canyon National Parks are truly a destination. There are no roads that travel through the park because of its massive granite peaks and rugged terrain. The road horseshoes within the parks taking people to the massive sequoia tree groves with trees estimated to be 2500 years old and to destinations typically only reached by the most ardent backpacker. The western roads to reach the Eastern Sierra's rise gradually from the Central Valley through the foothills. Later on you will make a dramatic decent at Tioga Pass in Yosemite to Lee Vining and Mono Lake which demonstrates why there are no direct roads leading to the Eastern Valley and Death Valley. Of interest, it is 110 miles from Wuksachi Lodge to Badwater in Death Valley, over Mt Whitney, and it is 400 miles to drive there!
Google Map Paso Robles to Sequoia/Kings Hiking Trail (paste into browser):
Spend some time in terrain mode and zoom in on the Lakes Trail. Note the 3 lakes and the very dramatic overlook at Panther Gap. Lone Pine on the way to Death Valley is only 38 miles on the other side of the "hill"!
From Paso Robles its a long drive of 4 hours to the Wolverton Campground which is 2 miles from Sequoia Wuksachi Lodge where we recommend you stay. This lodge has a panoramic view out over the Eastern Sierra's which range from 10,000 to 14,000 feet in height. Look where you are before complaining that you have to cart your own luggage to the room and the wine list is not as extensive as you would like. Our experience was our room was very nice and the dining enjoyable especially for being the only game in town! The location is extraordinary! I write this in reaction to some of the cry baby reviews on tripadvisor. Base starting rate is $118 for AAA members. I would confirm arrival around Three Rivers via the phone and determine if early check-in is available. Otherwise head to Wolverton Campground for your afternoon hike!
We really enjoyed a hike on the Lakes Trail to Heather Lake which is 4 miles each way. It offers wonderful vistas of the "Watchtower" at Panther Gap and a very scenic tranquil setting at Heather Lake. Bring your swimsuits for a, let's say, refreshing dip! IF you are more ambitious the trail continues to Emerald and Pear Lakes. Either enjoy your picnic at the campground before heading out or wait and enjoy it lake side at Heather Lake.
The following "Very Tall, Old Tree" day will include an early start, and visits to educational centers at the Lodgepole Visitor's Center, Giant Forest Museum and Grant Grove Visitor's Center. Then walking tours through the Giant Forest and the Sequoias of Grant Grove. Afterward it is off to Yosemite with a 2.5 hour drive to Oakhurst for lunch and another tour of Sequoia's in the Mariposa Grove (we like the vista at the summit named Wawona Point of the upper loop) very near the Wawona Hotel at Yosemite's south gate. If there are too many "Very Tall, Old Trees" in this suggested plan, then skip Mariposa Grove and consider 9 holes of golf at Wawona and/or just relaxing by the pool before dinner!
Note: Mariposa Grove is the first right after entering the South Gate Rangers Station.
Drive to grove parking for summit hike!
Google Map Visit Museums, Walk Forests, Head to Yosemite (paste into browser):
IF by luck you are driving through Oakhurst on Sunday, we would stop for brunch at Erna's 10-2. Otherwise, it's Todd's Barbecue for lunch. Also, stop in at Von's, 40044 Hwy 49, for refreshments and snacks out by the pool or sitting in your Adirondack chair at the Wawona Hotel and picnic foods for the next day bike ride in Yosemite Valley.
Yosemite is another one of the most special places on Earth! The park is expansive with the eternal Yosemite Valley being the main attraction (for good reason!). This journey takes you through groves of stately forests, up to unbelievable vistas of the granite walled valley floor, along bike paths so scenic you might crash and hiking to a small lake set in a sea of granite sentinel peaks!
Arrive at the South Gate about 3PM after 4.25 hours from Sequoia/Kings Canyon National Park. Check into the Wawona Hotel near the south entrance to the park after your hike in the Mariposa Grove. This is a very old hotel building which adds to the charm. We highly recommend that you book a room with a bath. Specify the Moore Cottage first, rooms 87 or 90, then the Clark Cottage end units, rooms 31, 37 (facing front) 32, 38 (facing back), then Little White 52 or 53. For those less inclined to hotel "rough it" the Tenaya Lodge is a very good option 7 miles away.
Hopefully you have more time than we budgeted for this area. We would add a night at the Ahwahnee if you can afford it! Stay in a cottage or request room(s) 502 and/or 507 which share one of the few balconies in the hotel. Dinner in the expansive dining room, preceded by happy hour is also terrific. Although the food quality is not "gourmet" enough to warrant the price. But it is the ONLY game in the Valley!
Mariposa Grove - This grove has 2 loop trails the lower and upper. Hiking both loops is a 5 on a difficulty scale of 10. We highly recommend you climb to the very top for a view of the Wawona Valley. 90% of the visitors do not make it up the upper loop. What is special is standing by yourself overlooking a vista of the California Central Valley while knowing you are within a 100 miles of millions of people. If there is someone else at the top, say hello, the probability is you share the same interests!
Fine Dining - Dinner at the National Park Wawona will be more than okay. Given a beautiful evening, sitting out on the outer deck will add to the experience. Breakfast is quite good. But there is a fine dining option in Oakhurst, 20 miles away/13 miles from Tenaya Lodge, at Erna's Elderberry House. An early reservation around 6:30PM might be a viable option for those who put high value on fine dining experiences. The cost with wine pairings will be around $340. Not for everyone but we have enjoyed a couple of memorable evenings at Erna's! IF I opted for Erna's I would stay at Tenaya, otherwise I would stay at Wawona and dine there due to the travel distance and time of night.
Staying in Oakhurst at Erna's is quite expensive but it is also something to consider. We obviously like dining at the Elderberry House!
Golf - Wawona has a 9-Hole golf course! It is a lot of fun to play. Keep in mind this is a National Park. I recommend to rent clubs and play in the evening before dinner or first thing in the morning before breakfast.
Google Map Drive Glacier Point, Yosemite Valley, Tioga Pass, Mono Lake Tufa State Reserve, June Lake Loop (paste into browser):
Google Maps - Terrain & Satellite Mode - This tool is simply off the charts fantastic!
Before going spend some time exploring the "terrain" on Google maps. This will give you a solid conceptual understanding of the entire Park and where all these sites are in relationship to one another. For instance, in the above route, Google Maps only recognizes a portion of Glacier Point Road, but click on B camera icon and launch street view for the turnoff leading to Glacier Point! You can move the person icon along the road to the location where Google stopped recording! Continue in terrain mode to follow the road as it wends through the topography, note how the trails are visible. Notice how the road passes by the trailhead to Sentinel Dome and the hiking trail leading out to Taft Point! "Fly/Mouse over" to Tuolumne Meadows area and check out Cathedral Lakes, Mono Lake and the June Lake loop drive. Use the Satellite mode to see the magnitude of Death Valley and its location to Yosemite! You literally get the picture!
After breakfast, head towards Yosemite Valley and follow the turn off to Glacier Point. About an hour later, be prepared for an absolutely incredible vista! 3,000 feet above the valley floor and looking straight across to Half Dome. This is a WOW! We have done a two-night back pack trip leaving from here to Little Yosemite Valley and then scaling to the top of Half Dome the next day. After the descent via the Mist Trail we checked into the Awahnee Hotel for some fine dining National Park style! Something for your next visit? But on this visit, stop at the Sentinel Dome trailhead (returning towards Yosemite Valley) and take the short 2.5 mile round trip hike to the top of Sentinel Dome. (Taft Point is super scary). Sentinel Dome offers a 360 degree vista, better than Glacier Point, and its a 2 on a scale of 10 compared to getting to the top of Half Dome!
After Sentinel Dome, head back in the car towards the valley (hour drive). Stop at the vista after the tunnel to once again admire Half Dome. Enter the valley floor and stop along the roadside adjacent to El Capitan. More than likely you will spot some climbers on its face. Enjoy your picnic lunch at the Cathedral Beach picnic area. IF the falls are running, then picnic at Swinging Bridge. See 13. below for a link to other picnic sites.
Rent bicycles next to the swimming pool at Yosemite Lodge at the Falls. There are 12 miles of very flat bike paths. Ride a big loop to Happy Isles, then towards Mirror Lake, Stop at the Ahwahnee to tour its interior and have a refreshment on the patio then back to the lodge for a drive to Tuolumne Meadows. The park also offers a free shuttle/tram service to these same locations.
In Tuolumne Meadows stay at the Tioga Pass Resort just outside the gate. These are rustic cabins but there are not a lot of options in the area. Breakfast is very good.
We recommend taking the steep drive to Lee Vining, Mono Lake Tufa State Reserve and the June Lake loop for dinner at the Double Eagle Resort restaurant. The geography is amazing how quickly you descend into the eastern valley. Use your lower gears to compression brake and save the normal brakes! The Eastern Sierra peaks extend many many miles to the south with consistent heights from 10000 to 14000 feet! Before dinner leave enough time to check out the Tufa Towers at the State Natural Reserve down by the water on the south shore. Then head further south to the June Lake loop road. This is a nice drive offering several views of lakes and surrounding peaks. Double Eagle Resort is a very attractive property with a very good restaurant.
Battle plan for the next day ending in South Shore Lake Tahoe:
Google Map for the days excursions (paste into browser):
08:15 Get an early start after breakfast for a fairly rigorous hike to Cathedral Lakes. The trailhead is in Tuolumne Meadows where you park along the side of the highway next to the bear boxes. Hike up the steep hill, through some woods and eventually reach lower Cathedral lake. The total trip is 7 miles and should include a walk around the lake. Budget 4 hours for this hike. Also, the shorter hike to Elizabeth Lake is really nice. An alternative, if you like to fish, is to rent a boat and some tackle at Saddlebag Lake for some early morning angling! Plus the hiking among the small mountain lakes, meadows and steepish split rock trails beyond the end of the lake is great. You can take a public motor launch back if you do not want to walk the perimeter of the lake.
12:30 Heading towards Lake Tahoe, stop at the Tioga Gas Mart / Whoa Nellie Deli at the bottom of the grade just before entering Lee Vining. Check out the menu and enjoy what should be a gourmet lunch!
02:00 Next head to Bodie for a 1.5 hour stop at this deserted mining town. The road to reach it is mostly dirt and gravel. Why do you think it is deserted?
06:00 Finally 2.5 hours later you will be checking into the Embassy Suites next door to Harrah's casino.
From rustic cabin to sin city in one day with an interlude at a Cathedral just to play it safe!
Lake Tahoe, an Indian word meaning "big blue" (not IBM), is unreal. The second deepest lake in the US, tenth in the world at 1,645 feet. The bottom is actually lower than the Carson Valley basin to the east which can be seen from atop the Heavenly Valley ski resort next to South Shore. The water is so clear you can see down 75 feet. It holds 39 trillion gallons of water which would cover a flat California with 14 inches of water. It has 71 miles of shoreline. Add in some casinos and golf, voila paradise for at least one of the Strands!
Stay at the Embassy Suites for 2 nights (officially still in California) especially if you enjoy casinos and possibly some live entertainment. Mrs Strand would say no but a little action after the high sierras is quite an entertaining contrast! Drop off your luggage for check in and valet park next door at Harrah's to save on the Embassy Suites parking fee. Enjoy dinner at Harvey's 19 Kitchen Bar for a view of the lake while dining. The second evening venture over to a long time establishment The Chart House on the Kingsbury grade. Nice atmosphere and seafood selections but no real view of the lake. Book a show of your choice at one of the casino showrooms. Pay for your entire trip with your winnings!
Golf is fairly expensive at Edgewood in Nevada. It is a beautifully conditioned course with a few holes played along the lake making it a special treat to play. Another lesser expensive option but also very fun to play is Lake Tahoe Golf Course to the south, close to the Y.
Morning Vistas & Ski Boat - Take the Heavenly gondola up to the summit for a panoramic view of the lake and Carson Valley. Rent a ski boat for an hour from Ski Run Boat Company and cruise up past Edgewood golf course, Zephyr Cove and enjoy the clear waters and sierra peaked rim surroundings! For a longer period head over towards Emerald Bay where you will be hiking later on!
Day Hike/Picnic & Beach Excursion - Stop at a local market for picnic supplies. Dust off your beach chairs from Carmel. Drive over to D.L. Bliss State Park just past Emerald Bay, enter park and park at trailhead at end of road. This is can be a fairly long hike along the Rubicon Trail and the shores of Lake Tahoe all the way to Vikingsholm (interesting tour of home) in Emerald Bay. Take your picnic and enjoy it on a rock overlooking the lake or a campground table by Vikingsholm. Head back, grab your chairs, umbrella and books and park yourself on the D.L Bliss beach for the rest of the day!
An alternative to Emerald Bay and DL Bliss is to spend the afternoon at Zephyr Cove beach.
Google Map for the days excursions (paste into browser):
The cry of there's gold in them thar hills in 1848 kicked off the 49er Era and the gold rush. California joined the Union in 1850! (hmmmm coincidence maybe?). A quintessential tour cannot be comprehensive without a drive down Highway 49 and some direct exposure to the history of the gold rush. The gold rush created more wealthy men on the supplier and banking sides compared to strike it reach prospectors. Leland Stanford was one such entrepreneur, who also was a driving force behind the transcontinental railroad. Old Sacramento has an excellent Railroad Museum to tour along the way.
Google Map for the days excursions (paste into browser):
tinyurl.com/N-CA-DAY-11B Optional Amador Wineries Tour.
Pick up winery picnic supplies at Safeway in Jackson for lunch at Dobra Zemlja.
On the way to Napa from Lake Tahoe, take the more scenic highways 89 & 88 towards Jackson and Columbia State Park north of Sutter Creek for a quick tour of the restored gold mining town. Before going Columbia, stop off in Sutter Creek and explore the town a little. Stop in Amador City by the Imperial Hotel and walk over to checkout the miniature train yard across the street. IF it's Saturday or Sunday enjoy lunch at the Imperial Hotel. IF NOT, head to Old Sacramento for lunch and the California State Railroad Museum before the vineyards of Napa!
Suggested pacing for the day:
08:30 Leave Lake Tahoe
10:30 Arrive Sutter Creek, explore town/shops
11:00 Tour Columbia State Park
01:30 Lunch in Old Sacramento
03:00 California State Railroad Museum
06:30 Arrive Napa or Sonoma
07:30 Dinner at Cafe La Haye in Sonoma near the plaza
But wait, today California has become one big grape factory. So there are nearby Amador County wineries to visit in lieu of the Railroad Museum, choo, choo!
Here are recommended wineries in Amador:
Head north on 49 beyond Plymouth and take a right on Old Sacramento Road then left on Shennadoah Road for a loop series of roads with over 20 wineries to choose from! Checkout amadorwine.com for listings and open times for tasting. Most are all open Thurs through Monday with Tuesday/Wednesday being dark days. This cluster of wineries tend to focus on Zinfandel, Syrah and Italian Reds (Sangiovese, Barbera) which we are really partial too!
We list daily open wineries, except for C.G. Di Arie (closed Tues/Wed), in order of suggested visits:
Head up Shenandoah Road, Then the "second" road on horseshoe shaped Steiner Road and then back via Shenandoah School Road
Vino Noceto - Start with Sangiovese and the "campy" Dogie Diner dachshund head!. Also play some Bocce Ball!
Dobra Zemlja (dobra zem-ya) means "Good Earth" in Croatian. We just like this place, for a picnic as well! Bold reds and possibly a Sauvignon Blanc with your picnic.
Deaver Vineyards - Nice setting beside a reservoir with a store to select a commemorative trinket and some good wines.
Renwood Winery - Premium reds and an opportunity to smoke a fine cigar!
C. G. Di Arie Vineyard - Over the top facility with 12,000 sq ft and 2 art galleries.
Enjoy the wines and setting before heading off to Napa/Sonoma!
The 3 main valleys Napa, Sonoma & Alexander are created by one large California Oak covered mountain range! Here is a Google map in Terrain Mode to visually see the locations of these valleys in relation to one another. The destination points are 4 picnic areas at wineries that we recommend in each valley: Field Stone (Alexander), Rutherford Hill (Napa), Bartholomew Park and Chateau St Jean (Sonoma)
tinyurl.com/N-CA-DAY-12P Paste into browser P = Picnics!
What is the Wine Country and What makes it so special? = Zoning!
The settings of all 3 valleys are so beautiful because they are zoned for agriculture (farmland) AND planning commissions have successfully kept the moguls of a multi-billion dollar industry from building totally obnoxious estates on the surrounding mountainsides. The absolute enjoyment of this wonderland is simply driving through the farmland, stopping at various wineries to sample their converted grape harvest to wine wares and NOT see anything around you while tasting and having a picnic except hills covered with mighty California Oaks. Keep this foremost in your mind as you become part of scene!
NOBODY should ever feel uneducated about wine making or proper tasting!
The hype and hoity-toity attitudes found among wine tasters is sometimes laughable. If you have a tongue with taste buds, then you are as eminently qualified to taste and judge wines as anybody else on the planet. It is strictly what you like and that is it. So do not get to caught up in the swirling glasses, measuring high tannin content and oh here is some chocolate to elevate your taste sensation world. See it for what it really is and just have fun! Did the Romans Cato and Claudius debate the tannin content while Nero entertained the guests playing his fiddle? This wine game has been played a real long time!
The Wine Making Process
Let's remove the intimidation mystique. Grow the varietal (fancy name for a type of grape) from early Spring to harvest in early Fall, crush the grapes to make juice (remove the skins to produce Rose), transfer to a stainless steel tank for 2-6 weeks, add yeast (any kind will do) to convert sugar to alcohol, blend together some varietals, age in the tank or fancy oak barrel for up to 3 years, bottle, release and drink. That's it! You can now make your own wine: Grow, crush, convert, age, bottle, drink!
So what do we recommend in and around the 3 Valleys?
The "main experience" is the drive through the farmlands. Then comes the food (picnics & fine dining) and the wine to set the relaxed mood for the entire day and evening. Also, the shops in Yountville, St Helena & around Sonoma Plaza are very interesting.
Before the day(s) of indulgence begin, we always take a hike in the morning to see the foliage up close and benefit from the exercise. Our favorite hiking trails are Bartholomew Park ("To The Top" loop (50 minutes) followed by tasting and a picnic at their grounds (beautiful) in Sonoma and Bothe-Napa Valley State Park (Redwood, Ritchey Canyon Trails - 90 minutes) in the Napa Valley.
What we do NOT recommend are hot air balloon rides (real snooze, waste of time and money) and the wine train (not the experience you are looking for). Also, for 1-2 days we would not have anything to do with the town of Napa or hiring a tour guide for the day. I could list many, many reasons for these non-recommendations! The only wineries I say to avoid are V Sattui which is a tourist trap with a picnic area suited to breathing exhaust and Del Gotto in St Helena with a "cave" that is half a sewer pipe covered with sod. Caveot Emptor!
Google Map for the days excursions (paste into browser):
tinyurl.com/N-CA-DAY-12 Assume stay in Sonoma
For high-end stay at Auberge du Soleil and dine at the French Laundry booking well in advance (2 months) to secure a table. Enjoy dinner the first evening at Auberge. For a mid-range budget stay in or around Sonoma. There are a few nice B&B's (Bungalow 313, Cottage Inn & Spa, Beltane Ranch-Glen Ellen) where the location offers a more rural feel than more commercialized Napa. Do not stay in the town of Napa. Enjoy dinner at Cafe La Haye your first night in Sonoma.
Golf - The Vintners Golf Club is a 9-hole course near Yountville which would be a fun course to play.
There are several combination's of wine tours, tastings and drives. The quality of wines and hospitality tend to make any visits an enjoyable experience. We recommend a day to include two tours, some over-the-top wineries and a picnic.
Here is a classic tour heading up Highway 29, crossing from Castello di Amorosa and returning on the Silverado Trail. Enjoy a hearty breakfast at your B&B or the Sunflower Cafe before starting out to absorb the alcohol and make it until a later lunch!
From Sonoma, head east on Napa Road towards Yountville and highway 29.
10:00 Start at Artesa up on the hill before the Highway. The view is terrific, the winery an architectural marvel but the wines a little suspect. Pass on the wine tasting.
10:20 Kick off the day with some bubbly at Domaine Chandon
11:00 Drive to Oakville Grocery and select picnic foods for lunch.
11:20 Drive into Opus One for the architecture. Pass on the overpriced tasting.
11:45 Check out Castello di Amorosa and go on the $25 tour. It is really fun.
01:30 Lunch option. Dine at Tra Vigne for Italian or Rutherford Grill for ribs, both with nice outdoor settings. Do a tasting at Merryvale with its lovely tasting room, if you pass on the picnic.
01:30 Drive 7 miles to Rutherford Hill Winery for tasting, purchase a bottle and picnic in oak tree studded picnic area at the winery
02:30 After lunch head to Joseph Phelps for seminar tasting lecturer. Reservations required ($30). The long table for presenting the wines is in a very nice room with very scenic views out over "classic vineyards" from the patio area outside.
02:30 Only In Napa suggestion - Reserve at Quixote for a tour of a very unique / whimsical winery designed by Hundertwasser (100 waters). This is a very interesting tour. Drop Joseph Phelps for this.
04:00 Final stop at Darioush for a tour to see inside this magnificent Iranian structure and enjoy the Tableside Porfolio Tasting
07:30 IF you can afford it. The French Laundry for dinner. Otherwise Rutherford Grill.
This is a big wine day, so pace yourself with shared tastings!
Next morning on the way to San Francisco stop at the Muir Woods and Angel Island off the shore from Tiburon catching the 11:00 ferry. The evening before in Sonoma buy picnic foods at The Sonoma Cheese Factory for a hike around Angel Island. There are Segway and tram tours as well.
Google Map for the days excursions (paste into browser):
08:15 Leave Sonoma
09:15 Muir Woods for viewing the stately Redwood trees. Take a short trail hike for 45 minutes
10:00 Head to Tiburon, 20 minutes away, to board ferry to Angel Island. Park in fee lot across the street from the wharf. Board 11:00 ferry at Tiburon pier for 20 minute ride. Walk perimeter trail and learn the history of this extremely fasanating island: Immigration center (Ellis Island of the West), see restored troop garrisons, pass by Nike missile base (abandoned concrete bunker) from the 1950's and take in the fabulous views of the Golden Gate Bridge, Alcatraz and the SF skyline.
12:15 For the more adventuresome, enjoy your picnic with a bottle of wine on the south side of island on Perle Beach. There is a rock outcropping to sit on while enjoying your own "private" views of Alcatraz, the City skyline and Golden Gate Bridge. This is a special spot to reflect upon your time in Northern California!
02:45 Enjoy barbecued oysters and anchor steam beer at Cove Cantina, Ayala Cove before returning on the 3:30 ferry. Confirm the schedules the day you go. Ferries run every hour on the weekends which may offer an earlier departure from the Island.
Then head to Fisherman's Wharf, across the Golden Gate Bridge for 2 nights.
Return your car after checking into your accommodation and cruising down Lombard Street from Hyde Street and the cable car tracks!
Returning to San Francisco after 13 days touring Northern California brings another set of attractions and entertainment for ones pleasure! San Francisco is very culturally diverse. The City is divided into 10 districts with several neighborhoods occupying each district. While touring SF keep in mind this diversity while visiting areas like Italian North Beach, Chinatown, Japantown, Gay/Lesbian Castro and Golden Gate Park in the Richmond. Pay attention to the Birds of a Feather!
Here is a link to San Francisco Walking Tours:
Check out Select A Tour By Neighborhood. It gives all the neighborhood names for the SF Peninsula. We absolutely love to walk and explore. So in lieu of the segway tour, you can possibly join one or two of the walking tours. OR devise a route plan for yourselves!
Sorry no time for golf!
Here are our recommendations:
Google Map for the SF City excursions (paste into browser):
tinyurl.com/N-CA-DAY-13B Evening Cable Car Tour With Dinner In Chinatown &
Note: Google walking route follows Cable Car lines!
tinyurl.com/N-CA-DAY-14 Full Day of Recreation - Segway's & Bicycling!
Followed by evening entertainment!
Last day to enjoy SF. Best done with a ride on Bay to Alcatraz and a last view of the City you have immersed yourself into!
Cable car tour late afternoon/evening after arriving from Angel Island (Island ferry is more convenient on weekends to possibly include time for Cable Car museum):
05:00 Stay in the Fisherman's Wharf area. Best Western Tuscan Inn or Fairmont Heritage Place
05:30 After checking in, return your rental car, but first take a drive up Hyde/Larkin Streets to the top of Lombard's "crooked street" and test your Ess turn skills. Drop off car and then head to cable car terminal.
06:15 Go on a cable car tour. Buy an $18 three day pass at Bay & Taylor Streets where you will board cable car. IF timing permits and you are 90 minutes earlier, hop off at the free Cable Car Museum (close 6, close 5 after 10/01). Then walk or ride up to California Street and the Top of Nob Hill.
07:00 For a sunset cocktail, martinis are the specialty, go to the Top of The Mark (InterContinental Mark Hopkins), rob a bank before hand. Check the almanac for sunset time www.almanac.com/.
07:45 Afterward board cable car and head east towards the Financial District getting off at Grant Street and Chinatown. Stroll through shops and markets for 4 blocks in route to dinner at Hunan's Home Restaurant. IF you do not want Chinese then dine at Plouf on Belden Place.
09:15 Return down Kearney after dinner to California St, board cable car to Nob Hill and transfer to Powell-Hyde line heading for a late evening stroll through Ghirardelli Square and an Irish coffee at the Buena Vista. Walk back to your hotel. Quite the action packed day!!
Followed by another action packed day:
This day explores the bay and ocean perimeter of the SF Peninsula. It starts with a Segway excursion to the Palace of Fine Arts or personal walking tour, Taxi to Fort Point beneath the Golden Gate Bridge, Bus to the Cliff House for Lunch, Bus to Golden Gate Park for a bike ride and a spot of Tea. Then a Dinner option of Fine Dining or Entertainment downtown around Union Square! Fasten your seat belts active travelers!
09:00 You only live once so put your toes down and start your electric engine! Take the first Segway tour lasting until 11:30. Hopefully the Run For The Palace tour is offered this day because it goes beyond the wharf area where you have spent time walking already. A major part of this excursion is just riding the Segway. It is a new experience and you cover quite a bit of ground. One other option is to rent a bike at Blazing Saddles and ride to Fort Point beneath the Golden Gate and then across the Bridge before taking the bus to the Cliff House and Sutro Bathes for lunch.
11.45 Take a taxi from the wharf to Fort Point (if you did the Segway tour) under the Golden Gate. Briefly tour the fort by going up to the roof and walk 17 minutes back to 957 Lincoln Blvd to catch Muni for ride to Cliff House and lunch. Utilize 511 Transit.org for connections and planning. Print before hand or ideally use your Smartphone with the Google machine!
01:00 Lunch at Cliff House with Sutro Bathes
02:45 Take Muni trip 3 to Golden Gate Park Bike & Skate (25 minutes), 3038 Fulton St (near 6th Avenue) to rent bikes with lock for park ride and tour. Cycle down JFK Dr towards the ocean, loop around Stow Lake, cruise by Strybing Arboretum, Conservatory of Flowers, Shakespeare Garden, Music Concourse, DeYoung Museum and have a spot of tea at the Japanese Tea Garden!
04:30 Reboard Muni trip 4, 50 minutes, for ride back to Wharf and hotel.
07:30 Dine at Gary Danko your last evening in SF followed by one last stroll around the wharf area you know so well or hop on the Cable Car and head back up to Nob Hill for a Mai Tai at the Tonga Room inside the Fairmont Hotel OR
06:30 Hop on the cable car and head to Union Square for dinner at Cortez (possibly just the Small Plates, $10 corkage bring your own wine), followed by
8:00 Show-Eccentrics of San Francisco and then after at
10:00 A Speakeasy at Bourbon & Branch, a bar so inconspicuously located at 501 Jones Street that you could be standing right in front of it without realizing. The cryptic sign out front reads, Anti-Saloon League, and after uttering the secret password through the stereotypical speakeasy slot (announcing yourself as having a reservation - hint, hint), the heavy wooden door creaks open to reveal burgundy, velvet-flocked wallpaper, the din of jazz and warm chatter, and grinning bartenders with metal shakers in hand!
Last 1/2 day before late afternoon/early evening flight home or elsewhere in the world Carmen Sandiego!
09:00 Avoid the crowds and take the first tour boat to Alcatraz. One last trip on the Bay now reminiscing about the vistas you have been a part of and enjoying a very interesting tour of this fascinating historic prison!
12:00 Take public Bus 10 to Battery & Green, have lunch at rustic Basque inspired Piperade at 1015 Battery St, then walk up to Coit Tower (replica of a fireman's hose) if you were not able to visit it on your first day, then return to gather your luggage with a stroll through North Beach and off to BART for your journey back home!
Use Muni passport to take light rail along the piers of the Embarcadero to Market Street to catch BART at the Embarcadero Station to the airport.
WHEW That's It........given the 15 days and the bounty of places to see and experience, we hope these suggestions are helpful. It should be quite a memorable and fun vacation. Then you can go back to work to rest up!
QUINTESSENTIAL NORTHERN CALIFORNIA IN 15 DAYS - INTERNET LINKS:
Note: Links are sometimes split due to tripadvisor 25 character limitation!
Google Maps Get Directions http://maps.google.com/
BART Schedule www.bart.gov/
Restaurant-Lulus-Folsom St www.restaurantlulu.com/
Restaurant-Slanted Door www.slanteddoor.com/
Restaurant-Hog Island Oyster www.hogislandoysters.com/
Attraction-AT&T Park www.mlb.com/sf/ ballpark/tours.jsp
Attraction-SF MOMA www.sfmoma.org/
Attraction-Yerba Buena Gardens www.yerbabuena gardens.com/ features/ garde
Attraction-Ferry Building Marketplace www.ferrybuilding marketplace.com/
Tour-SF Architecture Walking Tour www.architecturesf.com/ index.html
Hotel-Best Western Carmel Bay View www.carmelbayviewinn.com/
Hotel-Pine Inn pineinn.com/
Hotel-Normandy Inn normandyinncarmel.com/
Restaurant-Casanovas www.casanova restaurant.com/
Restaurant-Sardine Factory www.sardinefactory.com/
Restaurant-Monterey Fish House no web site just great food!
Restaurant-The Cottage Restaurant www.cottage restaurant.com/
Restaurant-Christopher's www.restauranteur.com/ christophers/
Delicatessen-Bruno's Market & Deli www.brunosmarket.com/
Pebble Beach Resorts www.pebblebeach.com/
--Restaurant-Inn at Spanish Bay Roys
--Restaurant-Tap Room @ Pebble Beach
Picnic-Carmel Beach www.carmelcalifornia.com/
Attraction-Monterey Aquarium www.monterey bayaquarium.org/
Attraction-Point Lobos State Reserve /pt-lobos. parks.state. ca.us/Trails.htm
Gallery-Photography West www. photographywest.com/
Gallery-Gallery Sur http://gallerysur.com/
Golf-Pacific Grove Municipal http://www.ci.pg. ca.us/golf/
CAMBRIA/HEARST CASTLE/BIG SUR
Hotel-Best Western Cavalier Resort www.cavalierresort.com/
Restaurant-Ventana Inn www.ventanainn.com/
--See Explore Big Sur Web Page on Ventana Inn Web Site
Restaurant-Moonstone Beach www.moonstonebeach.com/
Restaurant-Indigo Moon NO LINK! 1980 Main, Cambria (old fashioned address)
Attraction-Julia Pfeiffer Burns State Park www.parks.ca.gov/
Attraction-Hearst Castle www.hearstcastle.org/
Hotel-Courtyard By Marriott www.marriott.com/hotels/ travel/sbppr-courtyard- paso-robles/
Restaurant-Basil Thai NO LINK 828 11th St Paso Robles
Restaurant-McPhees Grill www.mcphees.com/
Winery-Mondo Cellars www.mondocellars.com/
Winery-Justin Vineyards www.justinwine.com/
Winery-Tablas Creek www.tablascreek.com/
Winery-Four Vines www.fourvines.com/
Winery-Dover Canyon www.dovercanyon.com/
SEQUOIA KINGS CANYON NATIONAL PARKS
Hotel-Wuksachi Lodge www.visitsequoia.com/
Restaurant-Wusachi Lodge www.visitsequoia.com/
Restaurant-Todd's Barbecue www.toddscookhouse bbq.com/
Restaurant-Erna's Elderberry House www.elderberryhouse.com/
Picnic-Wolverton Campground or Heather Lake www.nps.gov/ archive/seki/lpvc.htm#GF trails
Attraction-Lake Trail www.nps.gov/ archive/seki/lpvc.htm#GF trails
Attraction-Giant Forest www.nps.gov/ archive/seki/lpvc.htm
Attraction-Sequoias of Grant Grove www.nps.gov/ archive/seki/ggvc.htm
Hotel-Wawona Hotel www.yosemitepark.com/ Reservations.aspx
Hotel-Tenaya Lodge www.tenayalodge.com/
Hotel-Tioga Pass Resort www.tiogapassresort.com/
Restaurant-Wawona Hotel Put name in early on waiting list
Restaurant-Erna's Elderberry House www.elderberryhouse.com/
Restaurant-Double Eagle Resort www.doubleeagle.com/
Restaurant-Tioga Gas Mart www.thesierraweb.com/ tiogagasmart/
Picnic Areas Yosemite Valley- nps.gov/ yose/?picnicareas.pdf
Attraction-Mariposa Grove www.yosemite.ca.us/ mariposa_grove _of_giant_sequoias/
Attraction-Glacier Point www.yosemitefun.com/ glacier_point.htm
Attraction-Yosemite Bike Rental www.yosemitepark.com/ Activities_Biking_ BikeRentals.aspx
Attraction-Mono Lake Tufa Formations www.monolake.org/ about/geotufa
Attraction-Bodie Ghost Town www.bodie.com/
Attraction-Cathedral Lakes Hike www.yosemitehikes.com/ tioga-road/ cathedral-lakes/ cathedral-lakes.htm
Hotel-Embassy Suites www.embassytahoe.com/
Restaurant-Harveys 19-Kitchen Bar www.harveystahoe.com
Restaurant-The Chart House www.chart-house.com/
Entertainment-Showrooms www.virtualtahoe.com/ playground/ casino-ent.html
Attraction-Heavenly Gondola www.skiheavenly.com/ lake_tahoe/things_to_do/ gondola/
Attraction-Ski Boat Rental www.skirunmarina.com/ skirunboat.htm
Attraction-DL Bliss State Park /www.parks.ca.gov/ ?page_id=505
Attraction-Rubicon Trail www.tahomameadows.com/ sunsetmag.html
Attraction-Vikingsholm Tour www.vikingsholm.org/ tours.html
Golf-Edgewood Tahoe www.edgewoodtahoe.com/
Golf-Lake Tahoe Golf Course www.laketahoegc.com/
SUTTER CREEK/OLD SACRAMENTO/AMADOR WINERIES
Restaurant-Imperial Hotel (Sat/Sun) www.imperialamador.com/
Restaurants-Old Sacramento www.oldsacramento.com/ dining.php
Attraction-Sutter Gold Mine www.caverntours.com/ sgmt.html
Attraction-CA State Railroad Museum www.csrmf.org/ doc.asp?id=262
Wineries-Amador County www.amadorwine.com/ new/pages/home.cgi
Winery-Vino Noceto www.noceto.com/
Winery-Dobra Zemlja http://dobraz.com/
Winery-Deaver Vineyards www.deavervineyard.com/
Winery-Renwood Winery www.renwood.com/ renwood/index.jsp
Winery-C.G. Di Arie www.cgdiarie.com/
Hotel-Bungalows 313 www.bungalows313.com/
Hotel-Cottage Inn & Spa www.cottageinnandspa.com/
Hotel-Beltane Ranch www.beltaneranch.com/
Hotel-Auberge du Soleil www.aubergedusoleil.com/
Restaurant-Auberge du Soleil www.aubergedusoleil.com/
Restaurant-Cafe La Haye http://cafelahaye.com/
Restaurant-French Laundry www.frenchlaundry.com/
Restaurant-Tra Vigne www.travigne restaurant.com/
Restaurant-Rutherford Grill www.hillstone.com/
Grocery- Oakville Grocery www.oakville grocery.com/ default.php
Picnic-Bartholomew Park Winery & Hiking Trail www.bartpark.com/
Picnic-Rutherford Hill www.rutherfordhill.com/
Picnic-Field Stone Alexander Valley www.fieldstonewinery.com/
Winery-Artesa www.artesa winery.com/ index1.html
Winery-Domaine Chandon www.chandon.com/ web/index.cfm
Winery-Opus One www.opusone winery.com/
Winery-Castello di Amorosa www.castello diamorosa.com/
Winery-Rutherford Hill www.rutherfordhill.com/
Winery-Joseph Phelps www.jpvwines.com/
Golf-Vintners Golf www.vintnersgolfclub.com/
MUIR WOODS & ANGEL ISLAND
Attraction-Muir Woods www.nps.gov/muwo/
Attraction-Angel Island & Ferry www.angelislandferry.com/
Picnic-Perles Beach Page-4 www.parks.ca.gov/ pages/468/files/ AngelIslandPDFRev0905.pdf
Hotel-Best Western Tuscan Inn www.tuscaninn.com/
Hotel-Fairmont Heritage Place www.fairmontheritage place.com/
Restaurant-Hunan's Home Restaurant www.chow.com/places/22389
Restaurant-Plouf www.ploufsf.com/ 01_home.html
Restaurant-Swan Oyster Depot www.yelp.com/biz/ swan-oyster-depot- san-francisco
Restaurant-Cliff House www.cliffhouse.com/
Restaurant-Gary Danko www.garydanko.com/
Cocktails-The Buena Vista www.thebuenavista.com/
Cocktails-Top Of The Mark www.topofthemark.com/
Cocktails- Bourbon & Branch http://bourbonand branch.com/
Entertainment-Eccentrics of San Francisco www.sanfrancisco magicparlor.com/
Attraction-Transit 3-Day Passport-$18 www.sfcablecar.com/ riders.html
Attraction-Cable Car Museum www.sfcablecar.com/ barn.html
Attraction-Transit Online Routes / Bus Numbers www.transit.511.org/
Attraction-Segway Tour of Wharf Area www.electrictour company.com/
Attraction-Fort Point Under Golden Gate www.nps.gov/fopo/
Attraction-Sutro Baths Checkout at Cliff House www.sutrobaths.com/
Attraction-Bike Ride Golden Gate Park www.goldengatepark bikeandskate.com/
Attraction-Japanese Tea Garden www.sfpt.org/ japanese_tea_garden.html
Attraction-Alcatraz Tour www.alcatrazcruises.com/
Attraction-Coit Tower Telegraph Hill www.sftravel.com/ coit-tower-san-francisco .html
BART Schedule www.bart.gov/