Many car commercials have been filmed along this stretch of the iconic California road. The hairpin turns and switchbacks make it a wild ride for some, but the views to the west (the ocean) and the east (Northern California's inimitable green hills) make it one of the most picturesque journeys on the west coast.
Guide: Northern California
Local things that I recommend and stuff that I still have to do.
Rancho Palos Verdes, CA can be considered one of the most beautiful places to visit in Cali. The weather is great-I wore a light hoodie and pants in August (while the rest of CA experienced triple digits), the scenery is absolutely incredible, and the people are friendly. Among things to see and do in Palos Verdes: walk the Palos Verdes Loop Trail or order a cup of joe at the Starbucks Coffee overlooking the Pacific Ocean (31202 Hawthorne Boulevard), and visit Terranea. More specifically go eat at Catalina Kitchen, one of the many dining options at Terranea oceanfront resort. The food is delicious and the service is truly great.
The pictures from the top are Basil Monte Cristo-deep fried turkey, ham, swiss cheese, tomatoes, basil, fig jam, Soup of the Day-carrot ginger soup made with coconut milk, and Grilled Vegetable Sandwich-squash, eggplant, peppers, spinach, manchego cheese,...
Cat haven is a small zoo filled with felines rescued from various situations. The animals seem content an well cared for, and you can get an up close view of some large and beautiful creatures. As one if the handler's explained, there are not a lot of situons where you can be standing 6 inches from an adult lion.
Admission with a tour is 9$ for an adult, and takes about an hour.
LOST: Sitting at home in Marin County, California we both said where to next? So we decided on driving down to Death Valley via Carson Pass and Bishop. We'd stayed in DV in June for only two days so we needed more fix. Booked a room at Stovepipe Wells where we ventured out immediately after breakfast and not returning until dinner.
Dantes View is atop a bluff where the wind will howl and the temps will drop in a nano second. We wanted to hike down and around but could not locate a trail head which was most likely a good indication of DON'T GO THERE! And, we didn't!
Good to know that there is a museum dedicated to educating the community and supporting art in Oakland. Take a nice bike ride around lake Merritt before viewing the current exhibit or have a refreshing greyhound at Room 389.
Along a windy road in Sequoia's National Park you may see a sign for Hume Lake. It won't be a big sign, and if you're not looking for it, you'll think it's just one of many lakes along the winding roads thru the great Sequoia's park. This one gets a special take though, with their small campground, off the beaten path of full campgrounds in other areas of the park. Take up your place under the stars, and enjoy a campfire.
Since I’m still relatively new to San Francisco, I’m still discovering all of the amazing places just outside of the city. Every weekend I try to hop in a car and explore. My latest discovery is Nick’s Cove, a restaurant and cottages located in a historic 1930s fishing settlement in the town of Marshall, California. Driving along State Route One, Nick’s is marked by its signature red pick up truck and a large wooden boat. What used to be an old herring curing plant is now an amazing restaurant that serves not-to-be-missed barbecued oysters that are plucked just feet away in Tomales Bay. If you’re open to sharing a table and making new friends, ask to eat or have a drink out in the boat shack at the end of the Christmas light-lit pier. The tiny wooden hut is super casual and has one large table, an old piano, and great views. Look closely and you can still see the initials...
The site of Comstock saloon has quenched the city's thirst since 1907. Named after the Comstock Lode– one of the most significant gold finds in California that prompted migration, mining and the growth of the city –this bar has seen it all. With classic cocktails, a live band and a timeworn bar, traces of its history are found in every corner.
Located in between North Beach and the Financial, Comstock is at the heart of it all and, while it has a significant historic past, it's one of the liveliest bars downtown. It's tough getting seating for a big group for a post-work drink, but the cocktails here are interesting, and there's even a piano player here at this old-school saloon in North Beach.
This tiny Chinatown alterations place is a local favorite, with people walking in and out constantly. The prices are very reasonable, and I wouldn't recommend haggling with Ms. Ma.
This is one of my favorite shops in San Francisco. It is full of all sorts of curiosities and funky plants and located down in the mission.
I could spend hours in the place.
Right off of Highway 29, there's the Long Meadow Ranch Logan-Ives house and restaurant. Every so often they host three course lunches right under a tree canopy, guests enjoy a salad, main, and desert fresh from the ranch and wines from the vineyard. Before lunch, the staff gives a garden tour of the fresh ingredients. One garden is even organized by the notes of wine varietals.
Even on a rainy morning, I find this place to be so inviting. I have spent a few sunny afternoons here with my laptop and a cup o' joe (often pretending I'm a UC Berkeley grad student writing my dissertation). Early this morning, as the campus was starting to wake up and the clouds were starting to sprinkle down rain, I had to take a moment and smile at this familiar cafe.
I love it not only for its atmosphere, space, and wi-fi, but for its location. It's right across the street from the Berkeley campus, but a few blocks up from the hustle and bustle of Telegraph Avenue. It sits on the corner of Bancroft and College, bridging the town's college and its residents. Although not as disruptive as Telegraph Ave, you still get some good people watching opportunities here as well.
Pillar Point Harbor in Half Moon Bay has a little bit of everything: fishing boats, a brewery, seafood restaurants, whale watch tour boats, kayaking outfits and other businesses related to enjoying all that the sea has to offer. When walking toward the piers to board a whale watching boat, this stand of kayaks caught my eye. They reminded me of brightly colored tiki-like sculptures beckoning me to go paddling. I couldn't help but to smile at the thought.
Pillar Point Harbor is about a 25 minute drive south of San Francisco on the Pacific Coast Highway, Route 1. The view along the drive is spectacular and on clear days you can see the Farrallon Islands on the horizon (25 miles away).
On a gorgeous late-spring morning, on a tip from a Sierra Valley local, we drove down from Packer Lake to Sierra Valley Farms (near Beckwourth) for the farmers' market seasonal debut. Cherries, peaches, greens, baked goods from Longboard's, and locally made wines and teas were on offer, with promises of more bounty in the coming weeks. Around noon each Friday, a local chef cooks up a few special samples.
North of the little town of Point Reyes Station, the Marshall Store sits on the banks of Tomales Bay. I've been coming here for years after hiking or horseback riding or walking on the beach in Point Reyes National Seashore. The place is super casual, and you can bring your own picnic supplies (we stopped at Cowgirl Creamery and bought a hunk of nutty Challerhocker cheese). Order raw oysters, BBQ oysters, and oysters Rockefeller. Grab an outdoor picnic table, add in a glass of Sancerre, and the world looks pretty good.
Out The Door is one of my favorite spots in my neighborhood. My friends and I go here all the time primarily for the chicken pho, but I have ventured out and tried some other items on the menu and have never been disappointed. This past weekend we went for brunch and I decided to try something new, this time the baked eggs. I was so intrigued by the ingredients: smoked ham, goat cheese, green garlic, snap peas?! It was the perfect meal - so colorful, full of flavor, and the right amount of filling. This Vietnamese restaurant (casual spin-off of the famous Slanted Door) is so innovative with their dishes and happen to have a great wine list (all served in steel taps).
Whenever I experience power in nature, it makes me feel small, insignificant, fleeting. I get this feeling watching rugged cliffs dropping into a pounding ocean; the ceaseless force of a raging waterfall; or the colorful kaleidoscope of a setting sun. The fortunate ones who live in northern California are provided with all of these wonders every day. To add a pinch of salt to my wound of jealousy, California throws in the redwoods - show off! Not surprising, the redwoods, in all their grandeur, make me feel infinitesimal. I’ll go out on a ‘limb’ and say you’ll feel the same when you see them. Such majesty is humbling. It reminds us we are not the center of the universe. If you ever have the chance, drive down the coast on Route 101. In fact, if you can swing it, try not to be the driver. Just south of Humboldt County, the road turns inland and you’ll enter redwood country. Just past...
Pepples Donut is in a random location (San Pablo and 61st) so it's not really somewhere you would go out of your way to get to (they also sell them in the Ferry Building), but the grimy cafe store is very low key and I love getting a box of dozen colorful and interesting flavors as a house gift before visiting a friend.
The Botanical Garden in Berkeley is small enough that it's kid-friendly. Packing a lunch and having a picnic is a must.
At any time of day this forest feels enchanted. As you walk along, what are now, well marked paths there are phases of to this coastal journey. Depicted is the cypress forest which leads north to the tide pools and south to Three Palm, which needs no explanation once you are there.
What may feel like a secret, the Fitzgerald Marine Reserve is a sanctuary for lots of wild life. It has be available to cinematographers for films such as Memoirs of A Geisha. My best friends parents even got married in this forest in 1985.
What is not obvious from this photograph is that the seaside cliff is yards away. At points along the trails there is access down to the beach but at other spots please believe the signage when it tells you to "stay back from the cliff".
Whatever the occasion is that finally brings you to this hidden treasure, please be respectful to the land and animals because this is...
Can't beat a buck for an Oyster! Hogs and Rocks is a great happy hour haunt in the mission. Super lively and fun.
I shouldn't be telling you all this!
I just shot a travel piece for Draft Magazine and loved the dish included at Half Moon Bay Brewery just 20 mins south of San Francisco. Executive Chef Gaston Alfaro told me he loves to play with food and try new things. He made me a 'beer-a-misu'... a tiramisu dessert made with beer brewed in the brewery. fantastic! I also had a delicious seafood salad made with beer that had all kinds of great tastes for your palette~. every Tuesday night the brewery has a 'taste what the chef likes night'. Gaston creates dishes that suits his mood for the day and let's you try!!! check it out and enjoy one of the brewed beers, near one of the heaviest surf waves in the world; Mavericks...
Recently they opened this place near my house that serve Vietnamese sandwiches- Bun mee.
Their sandwiches are spicy at the right level, filling at the fight level and in the right price. They also have great salads and sweet potato fries with curry aioli sauce.
I've been having their sandwiches for dinner 3 times a week for the last month. Highly recommend if you feel like a light (but warm and meaty) sandwich, and you're in the neighborhood (Pacific heights).
This place is tiny, but it's one of my favorite places in my neighborhood. The menu is small so there are only a few choices, but no matter what you get, you'll be happy.
Make sure to try the iced coffee. It's made with chicory, the way it's done down in New Orleans.
This tiny market on the way to or from Sonoma Wine Country is the perfect place to stop for a meal on the go. El Brinquito is Spanish for a small jump, or a leap, and the Market is just a short hop outside of downtown Sonoma. The everyday fare is outstanding, inexpensive and authentic Mexican food. Most weekend afternoons a couple of the chefs grill whole chickens right out front on huge flat top grills. I prefer getting the food to go for an alternative to the normal wine country picnic but there are plastic tables and chairs set up under a tent in the parking lot if you just can't wait do dig in.
If you can call ahead and reserve a chicken that's great but if not, no big deal. Just wait in line and order up a family meal which serves four and comes with pinto beans, rice, salsa, tortillas and so much chicken you're sure to have leftovers. The food is great no matter what you order...