1. Wine Country

    Taking at least a day to drive up into the Napa-Sonoma hill country should be on everyone’s list. Not only is the countryside beautiful, but you can also sample some of the best wines in the world, and dip into the restorative volcanic hot springs that feed the area .

    California wine
  2. Muir Woods

    At the foot of Mount Tamalpais, this 550-acre woodland is home to one of the few remaining first-growth groves of redwoods. The oldest of these giants is at least 1,000 years old, and such trees once covered the coastal area of California. The woods are named in honor of John Muir, the 19th-century conservationist.

    Muir Woods National Monument

    Muir Woods
  3. Monterey

    This town is renowned for its world-class aquarium, the Monterey Jazz and Blues Festivals, and Cannery Row, made famous by author John Steinbeck, who described it as a collection of sardine canneries and whorehouses. Established by the Spanish in 1770, Monterey was the first capital of California – some early buildings survive.

    Monterey Bay Aquarium

    Monterey harbor
  4. Big Basin State Park, Boulder Creek

    Highway 9 is one of the most picturesque drives in the Bay Area, winding its way among the green Santa Cruz Mountains and through little towns where nothing much changes. Although it’s minutes from Silicon Valley, life has a backwoods feel here.

  5. Stanford University

    Just 30 minutes south of the city, with a CalTrain depot right at the main gates, the palm-lined beauties of this campus make it worth a trip. The visual motif of sandstone and red-tile roofs has been carried forward since the Romanesque Quadrangle was built in the late 1800s. The ornate carvings that decorate the arches and pillars are extraordinarily lovely, setting off the elaborate mosaic that graces the façade of Memorial Church.

  6. Carmel

    Carmel-By-The-Sea was founded as an artists’ colony in the early 1900s, and is now one of the most exclusive communities in the world – having recently boasted actor Clint Eastwood as its mayor. Its old Spanish mission, one of the 21 built along the coast  is considered California’s most beautiful.

    Carmel Mission

    Carmel Mission
  7. Coastal Beaches

    At least 20 different beaches line Highway 1 south of San Francisco. Some of the best include Gray Whale Cove, Montara State Beach, Miramar Beach and El Granada Beach, Roosevelt Beach, Dunes Beach, Francis Beach, Poplar Beach, Pelican Point Beach, Cowell Ranch State Beach, Martin’s Beach, San Gregorio Beach, Pescadero State Beach, Bean Hollow State Beach, and Pebble Beach.

    Coastal beach
  8. Point Reyes

    Some 110 sq miles (285 sq km) of pristine natural coastline make this promontory a haven for all sorts of wildlife and a thing of unforgettable, windswept beauty. You can watch whales and sea lions from Point Reyes Lighthouse.

  9. Santa Cruz

    This beach resort has always had a reputation for the vibrancy of its countercultural way of life. Along the beautiful coastline, the most prominent feature is the Boardwalk’s Big Dipper Rollercoaster, which has been thrilling Santa Cruzers since 1923. The best swimming in the Bay Area is also here .

  10. Saratoga and Los Gatos

    Both of these towns, in the hills above Silicon Valley, have retained their frontier quality. One of the best things to do, other than drive the scenic roads, is to visit Hakone Gardens, a beautiful Japanese park .

    Hakone Gardens

    • 21000 Big Basin Way, Saratoga

    • 408 741 4994

    • Open 10am–5pm Mon–Fri, 11am–5pm Sat–Sun

    • Adm


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