When you mention the Wine Country most people think of Napa or Sonoma Valley. But true wine geeks have long known that some of Northern California’s best wine and wine-tasting experiences can be found well beyond the valleys, often at family owned wineries tucked away on one-lane roads that would be impossible to find if it weren’t for the periodic signs pointing you in the right direction.
It’s experiences like these—casual yet captivating conversations with winemakers as you savor the fruits of their years of hard work—that make visiting these esoteric wineries worth the effort. Ergo, here are a few of my “Who knew?” favorites.
I’m always amazed at how few Californians have spent time exploring the Sonoma Coast, or even knew that Sonoma County has 76 miles of gorgeous, pristine coastline. If you’re one of those people, then it’s high time you spent a long weekend exploring one of the prettiest regions of the state, brimming with golden beaches, […]
As the former author of Frommer’s Wine Country I’ve visited a lot of wineries in Napa and Sonoma and taken dozens of tours. One of the questions I get asked most by readers is, “Which winery has the best tour?” Well, that depends. If you don’t know anything about how wine is made, I recommend a comprehensive tour by one of the major wineries—they’ve got the Wine for Dummies thing down. The seven listed here are my top picks for an enjoyable weekend of learning the wine-making process. – Matthew
If you’re having a hard time letting go of summer, read this and you’ll be booking your family trip to San Diego faster than fall got here. When autumn arrives, San Diego’s the place to be where the weather stays warm while summer crowds quickly vanish. Fall offers some of the best reasons to visit San Diego, with “Kids Free San Diego” topping them all in October, not to mention beer and food festivals, horse racing, street fairs, and music fests that’ll take you into November. Seriously. San Diego goes child wild in October with special deals for families, so those of you traveling with the kiddos can enjoy your time in San Diego without emptying your wallet. Here’s a checklist of all the San Diego highlights to hit with the family… all October long and beyond!
If you’re not quite ready for summer to come to an end, and you feel the need to squeeze in one last sun-filled getaway, I have a recommendation you’re going to like: a road trip to the river communities of Sonoma County. If you’ve already been to Sonoma Wine Country you probably went wine tasting or drove along the coast, but when’s the last time you set out to explore the three rivers that flow through Sonoma County? If you do, I can promise you that many of your sentences will start with “Wow, I never knew….” – Matthew
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. – Matthew
One of my oldest memories as a kid was piling the family into our dad’s Volkswagen bus and driving from Sacramento to Bodega Bay every December to load up on Dungeness crab. We would set up camp at Doran Regional Park, then spend the next couple of days feasting on fresh crab, cioppino, clam chowder, fish-n-chips, and as much salt water taffy as we could choke down. Now older and saner, I usually opt for a warm and cozy suite at the Bodega Bay Lodge, but the holiday tradition continues: When crab season opens in December, we head to the Sonoma Coast.
If you don’t have time to go to the south of France, how about a summer getaway to beautiful, relaxing Santa Barbara? It’s no mystery why Santa Barbara’s been dubbed “The American Riviera” with its white-washed buildings topped with red tile roofs tucked between lush mountains and sparkling sea. This small city exudes warmth and friendliness. The sun shines nearly 300 days a year, making Santa Barbara a mecca for every kind of outdoor pursuit – both coastal and inland – along with an array of cultural attractions ranging from theater and dance to music and visual arts. Let’s go for a tour…
We always enjoy sharing a local’s perspective on California getaways. As seasoned travelers well know, a local’s insight is always the best. This one, written by our Guest Guru and longtime San Luis Obispo resident Kathleen Forster, is sure to inspire a visit to this Central Coast gem.
Say Cheese! I know, it’s a tired phrase, but so many of us here in the Bay Area are food-obsessed and can’t get enough of the creamy chevres, sharp cheddars, and herbaceous triple crèmes produced in the region. Lucky for us, more and more “swoonable” cheeses (as I like to refer to them) are made […]