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      Northern California Coast and Wine Country - travel notes

    active    architecture    food and wine    natural history    watersports   

    Day 1 - 2, Point Reyes
    You can add this itinerary to the beginning or end of any trip to California. You can also combine it with our California's Central Coast itinerary to create an 18-day best of California itinerary.

    If you have less time, you can visit just the coast (Point Reyes and Mendocino) or just the wine country (Sonoma and Napa).

    This itinerary departs from San Francisco, so make arrangements to pick up your rental car wherever it is convenient for you.

    If you'd like detailed driving directions, they are available through Mapblast at www.mapblast.com .

    The Northern California coast and wine country are popular destinations with Bay Area residents. They can be packed on weekends and almost anytime during summer. Serious wine lovers will most enjoy this itinerary in the fall. Whale watchers will want to come between December and April. And everyone else will enjoy the spring. Peak season (summer) and weekend visits will necessitate reserving accommodations well in advance.

    Inverness has the best accommodations for exploring the Point Reyes National Seashore and surrounding area. For a list of our recommended accommodations in Inverness, click here.

    Our database has detailed information about sightseeing and attractions in the Point Reyes National Seashore area. For a list of our recommended attractions in Point Reyes, click here. Or use the link to the right.

    For a list of our recommended restaurants in the Point Reyes area, click here. Or use the link to the right.

    Day 3 - 4, Mendocino
    Protected by its inclusion on the National Register of Historic Places, Mendocino is one of the most charming towns in Northern California. It can get crowded on weekends and in summer. If you prefer to be off the beaten path, you might prefer to stay in Little River, which is quieter but still provides easy access to Mendocino.

    For a list of our recommended accommodations in the Mendocino area, click here.

    Our database has detailed information about sightseeing and attractions in the Mendocino area. For a list of our recommended attractions in area, click here. Or use the link to the right.

    For a list of our recommended restaurants in the Mendocino area, click here. Or use the link to the right.

    Day 4 - 8, Wine Country
    Our database contains specific information about attractions in the Anderson Valley area, including wine-tasting and touring details. For a list of our recommended attractions in the Anderson Valley area, click here. Or use the link to the right.

    The Napa and Sonoma Valleys are only about 15 miles apart, so you can stay in either and see everything in the region. We recommend that you stay in one hotel for four nights so you don't have to change hotels. If you prefer, you can stay in Napa two nights and in Sonoma two nights.

    In general, hotels in Napa are more expensive than those in Sonoma, which is quieter and less pretentious. If money is no object, Auberge du Soleil and Meadowood are the prestige properties. Both are good choices for those who want to enjoy a spa experience, as is the Sonoma Mission Inn and Spa. Meadowood and the Sonoma Mission Inn are also good for golfers.

    For those who don't want to spend a fortune, the best values are Maison Fleurie, The Inkhouse, and the Beltane Ranch.

    For a list of our recommended accommodations in the Napa Valley, click here. For a list of our recommended accommodations in the Sonoma Valley, click here. Or use the link to the right.

    If you want to take the Napa Valley Wine Train, and you should, you should make reservations in advance. Information and schedules are available at www.winetrain.com. Or you may call them at 800.427.4124.

    If you want to take a hot air ballon flight, you can make reservations with Above the West Ballooning at www.napavalleyballoons.com.

    Those who don't wish to taste wines and drive can join a private or group tour offered by California Wine Tours and Transportation. Information is available at www.californiawinetours.com. Or you may call them at 800.294.6386.

    Bicylists can tour Napa and Sonoma with Napa Valley Bike Tours. Tours must be reserved in advance, which you can do by calling 800.707.2453.

    Many of the better wineries in the Napa Valley require reservations for tours. So if you are serious about wine, you'll need to plan in advance. Our database contains detailed information about tasting and touring at the wineries. For information about attractions in the Napa Valley, including wineries click here. Or use the link to the right.

    For information about attractions in the Sonoma Valley, including wineries click here. Or use the link to the right.

    For a list of our recommended restaurants in the Napa Valley, click here. For a list of our recommended restaurants in the Sonoma Valley, click here. Or use the link to the right.


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