USS Pampanito Submarine San Francisco

Father’s Day Getaways

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.

Embassy Suites Mandalay Beach

Ventura County Coast

I remember as a kid driving north through Ventura County with my parents and seeing nothing but fields and farmland. Coming from L.A., I might as well have been on another planet. But times they are a changin’ and now the county’s three cities—Camarillo, Oxnard, and Ventura, otherwise known as Ventura County West—have become popular destinations for a California vacation. And with so much of land devoted to farming, Ventura County is home to a wide range of up-and-coming wineries and restaurants. Here’s what I recommend for first-timers wanting to get a flavor of the region.

Fireworks

New Year’s Eve Getaways

Tis’ the year to procrastinate, eh? It’s December and you still haven’t decided what you’re going to do for New Years Eve. Heck, you barely started your Christmas shopping. Well it’s not too late to plan a relaxing winter getaway that will help release the tensions from all this holiday hubbub. At LocalGetaways we put together some special holiday hotel deals and combined them with our top picks for fun end-of-the-year events for friends, couples, and families. Think of it as a present to yourself for being such a wonderful person all year.

Bodie

The 7 Man-Made Wonders of Northern California

Sometimes you have to go see something simply because somebody was crazy or determined enough to build it. Take the Winchester Mystery House for example: If someone spends 24 hours a day, 7 days a week, 365 days a year, for 38 years building a nuthouse, people will line up to see it (and they […]

Sanctuary Beach Resort Monterey California 2

Valentine’s Day Getaways

So you’re going to take your lover to a fancy restaurant on Valentine’s Day, eh? How original. C’mon people, let’s spice it up a bit. Let’s plan the kind of romantic getaway that will make you look like the most thoughtful person on the planet. This year Valentine’s Day falls on Thursday, so that gives you both a weekday and weekend opportunity to woo and wow your better half with one of our special Valentine’s Day getaways that will keep you out of the doghouse for months (well, for weeks at least).

Redwood National Park Hike 640

Redwood National Park: Land of the Giants

Last fall I took my annual pilgrimage up Highway 101 to revisit one of my favorite places to be on the planet: Redwood National Park. California contains the most spectacular redwood forests in the world—including the world’s tallest trees—yet it always amazes me how few Californians (yes, you) have experienced one of nature’s grandest displays. So make 2012 the year you finally dust off your binoculars, lace up your boots, book a hotel room in Eureka, and take the scenic drive up 101 to the Land of the Giants. – Matthew

Symphony

A Night at the Symphony

It’s still there. In your closet. That sassy Kate Spade dress or Hugo Boss suit you bought at Nordstrom last year that’s just waiting for an excuse to be worn. Well, here’s your excuse: On March 3, at the Lesher Center in Walnut Creek, the California Symphony will be performing Beethoven’s Piano Concerto No. 4, hailed as the most admirable, singular, artistic, and complex Beethoven concerto ever. To watch San Francisco Symphony’s Donato Cabrera conduct this renown orchestra—led by award-winning pianist Haochen Zhang—is a rare opportunity. To experience this level of talent for as little as $35 is a miracle.

Niles Canyon Christmas Train California

Holiday Train Trips

There’s something about riding on a train that’s just… cool. And to ride along with your family, friends, or significant other while celebrating the holidays is all the better. During the month of December several local train companies festoon their vintage passenger cars with thousands of lights and ornaments and host a rolling Christmas party. […]

Lee Vining Canyon Fall Foliage California

Fall Foliage Getaways in Northern California

Now that autumn is upon us, it’s time to consider taking a weekend getaway to enjoy some of the best fall foliage viewing in California. Listed below are some of my favorite places to visit (and things to do) this time of year, such as riding bikes through Sacramento’s Capital Park, strolling around historic Nevada City, or taking a scenic drive along Ebbetts Pass, one of the prettiest byways in the country. It’s the perfect kind of getaway for a romantic weekend, snuggled up in a cozy B&B by the fire while looking though your photos of blazing elms, maples, and oaks that you captured during the day.

Lake Tahoe Parade 4th of JUly

Independence Day Getaways

Let me guess: It’s June 29 and you still haven’t figured out what you’re going to do for the 4th of July. Well, even though it falls on Wednesday this year, it’s still a great reason to take the day off (or a loooong weekend) and have some outdoor family fun, and there’s hardly a community […]

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