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Spots I love in Northern California

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Northern California is more than San Francisco.
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Whitethorn, CA 95589, USA

This is some of the finest, most remote backpacking in northern California.

Its stunning.

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Black Sand Beach, California, USA
We began our walk up the Lost Coast Trail by enjoying Black Sands Beach, which doesn't really have very much sand, in the Kings Range National Conservation Area. For the next 24 miles from Black Sands Beach, the Lost Coast Trail is primarily on...
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1 Muir Woods Rd, Mill Valley, CA 94941, USA
Just 12 miles north of the Golden Gate Bridge is Muir Woods National Monument, a 554-acre park; old-growth coast redwoods, the tallest trees in the world, cover 295 of those acres. Peaceful and lush, the forest is ideal for simply communing with...
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Fort Bragg, CA 95437, USA
After the big crab cake event at the Mendocino Crab & Wine Days festival, a walk to the windy shore provided a bracing, refreshing break from the weekend's indulgences.
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Inverness, CA, USA
Explore the natural beauty of West Marin, with plenty of small towns to explore. At Point Reyes Station, stop at the CowGirl Creamery to grab a picnic lunch while exploring the small shops, or head to Point Reyes National Seashore. Later stop in...
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913 Cedar St, Santa Cruz, CA 95060, USA
There’s nothing like a cold creamy treat on a warm day, and one ice cream shop in the cozy California beach town of Santa Cruz is doing it so, so right. Penny Ice Creamery isn’t your average ice cream joint; you won’t find Ben & Jerry’s-style...
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Bodega Head, Bodega Bay, CA 94923, USA
After weeks of increasing stress from the daily grind of work and family responsibilities, I spent one perfect weekend in Bodega Bay, on the coast of California north of San Francisco. The highlight was a walk on Bodega Head, a piece of land that...
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Petaluma Ave, Sebastopol, CA 95472, USA
The Sea Ranch, a community located three hours north of San Francisco on the coast, comes close to Utopia for me. Founded by a group of UC Berkeley architects in the 1960s, Sea Ranch was conceived as a rustic escape from the city. The houses are...
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California, USA
A World Heritage site since 1980
This California state and national park contains the world’s biggest coastal redwood forest, with some of the planet’s oldest and tallest trees. With 200 miles of hiking trails, it’s perfect for...
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Golden Gate Bridge, California, USA

There is perhaps no landmark of San Francisco, and perhaps even the entire state of California, more iconic than the Golden Gate Bridge. This much-photographed bridge spans the Golden Gate, the strait separating San Francisco (to the south) and...

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2601 Monarch St, Alameda, CA 94501, USA
At St. George Spirits, a liquor distiller located inside a huge hangar on the decommissioned Alameda Naval Base, you can learn all about alcohol production—and you can taste all-natural vodkas, gins, Eau de Vie, whiskeys, and more. The tour lasts...
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23240 California 1, Marshall, CA 94940, USA
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...
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52801 California State Route 1, Big Sur, CA 93920, USA
Driving Highway 1 through Big Sur is one of my favorite California experiences. Last year, I made the stunning trip north after visiting my family in Santa Barbara for Thanksgiving. Fall is one of the best times to visit because the cold fog that...
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California, USA
I started to rock climb outside this year. Cathedral Peak in Tuolumne meadows can be climbed in 5 pitches. This is the view from the top.
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1 Sausalito - San Francisco Ferry Bldg, San Francisco, CA 94105, USA
The Ferry Building in San Francisco is a must for any food lover, and Cowgirl Creamery is one of my favorite stops. This producer of artisanal cheeses is a place to pick up cheese for a snack or picnic and to ask questions about California cheese....
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Fort Bragg, CA 95437, USA
And what did we eat at The Q, the downhome but culinarily upscale barbecue shack near Noyo Harbor in Fort Bragg? Delicious pulled pork, onion rings, and cole slaw (not shown), and this generous serving of super tender brisket with sides of sweet...
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Fort Bragg, CA 95437, USA
Another highlight of the annual Mendocino Coast Crab and Wine Days festival is the cioppino dinner, held in the Fort Bragg Pentacostal Church hall. The fresh Dungeness crab is "swimming" in an amazing broth given added texture and kick from ground...
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7751 CA-1, Little River, CA 95456, USA
I was invited to be one of six judges at the annual Mendocino County Crab & Wine Days crab cake cook-off and wine-pairing competition. This was the first of the 11 entries we sampled. We later tasted 50 wines (!) to see how they paired with fresh...
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25050 CA-1, Jenner, CA 95450, USA
Salt Point Park is in the Northern part of Sonoma County in California. There are 20 miles of trails in this park and we hiked the Central Trail to the Pygmy Forest and looped around the Prairie to the South Trail to return via the Powerline...
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210 Pigeon Point Rd, Pescadero, CA 94060, USA
I stumbled across this Hostel while driving up the Coast Highway and took a quick pitstop. The view was amazing with cliffs on either side of us, a lighthouse in the middle, and ocean everywhere in front.
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Drakes Bay, California, USA
A lot of people are aware of Hog Island in Tomales Bay, but just a few minutes down the road is Drake's Bay which also offers fresh oysters on the cheap. It may not have as many tables and areas to eat, but it also doesn't have the crowds and you...
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Point Reyes Station, CA 94956, USA
On beautiful Drakes Bay, the beach is wonderful on a nice sunny day. And it's quite a treat to have access to pretty good food, out of the wind and with a great view from this cafe.
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1 Pilot Rd, Carmel Valley, CA 93924, USA
While many visit Carmel By The Sea for a weekend getaway, near by Carmel Valley is my preference for a weekend retreat as home base. It feels more worn in a beautiful livable sort if way. After an afternoon of exploring the shops and tasting rooms...
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3501 Civic Center Dr, San Rafael, CA 94903, USA
Every Sunday rain or shine, you can find the Marin County farmer's market. The vegetables are organic and seasonal (because they are from nearby farms!). You can find pastries, coffee, smoothies, spreads, and craft items. Row after row of them. If...
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205 North St, Pescadero, CA 94060, USA
My day hanging with a family of goats was far more thrilling than I initially expected. The excursion was one of several during a trip through San Mateo County and Silicon Valley - the areas surrounding San Francisco. As a child I remember feeding...
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21047 Geyserville Ave, Geyserville, CA 95441, USA
Catelli's Restaurant sits on the 2-block main drag of the tiny town of Geyserville in Northern California. This town is part of the wine country that runs north-south through the Alexander Valley. Even though the town and its run-down structures...
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Coleman Beach, California 94923, USA
Foggy even in the summertime, you will still find the surfers at Coleman Beach, a beautiful stop along Highway 1 on the Sonoma Coast. Stop to people watch or if you are brave a swim! This stretch of road is very similar to that of Big Sur but less...