Okay, here's the deal. My parental units will be visiting the San Francisco Bay Area (well, me, and I happen to live in the Bay Area) in a little while--early June to be exact.

This will be their third visit. In the past we've been to Sequoia National Park, Yosemite National Park (more), The Hearst Castle, The Monterey Bay Aquarium, Big Sur, Pebble Beach, a brief visit to Napa, and a lot of the local stuff as well (San Francisco, Tech Museum, Winchester Mystery House, Chabot Space and Science Center, The Lick Observatory atop Mt. Hamilton, etc).

This time around, we'd like to hit some stuff up North and East and are looking for ideas. Our current thinking is that we'd like to spend a few days up in the Lake Tahoe area (possibly Reno?) and maybe hit something interesting on the way there: Sacramento or maybe some of the old gold towns? Ideas? Recommendations? Stuff to avoid?

Oh, I'll just have to give a glider ride or two up at Truckee too. :-)

As a separate excursion, we'll probably also visit the Napa/Sonoma area for a couple days as well. The only thing we have planned so far is a lunch ride on the Napa Wine Train. From there we'll probably head farther north up the Mendocino Coast. Again, any ideas, recommendations, or stuff to avoid in the area?

At this point I'm trying to cast a net and see what kind of ideas are out there. My parents are not the type to get out and hike five miles, but they do like scenic areas. If possible, we'd like to avoid the most touristy and crowded areas unless they're really worth it.

Let's see, what other parameters can I provide? Hmm. Stuff like one-day boat rides on a river somewhere would be right up their alley. We're not terribly big on [most] museums.

Even recommendations on scenic routes, places to stay/east, etc. are all welcome.

We'll likely also try to hit a few local things (such as a trip to Hollister for a glider ride or two), so any suggestions locally would be cool too. Is there anything worth seeing or doing in Gilroy? It's on the to and from Hollister.

I've been thinking that the Computer History Museum might be fun, but Mom probably wouldn't like it very much.

Anyway, I'll stop rambling now and hope someone out there has a good idea or two. Thanks in advance for any that turn up!

Posted by jzawodn at April 26, 2004 09:27 PM

Reader Comments
# Jim McMurry said:

Not knowing how far you are willing to drive North I will throw this idea out:


This is a REALLY cool place to visit, and is not very crowded, and has short walking paths.


on April 26, 2004 09:37 PM
# Bill Humphries said:

A drive north on Highway 1, past Pt. Reyes, Sea Ranch and into Mendochino county -- it's an overnight trip and most of the cottages along the way will want two night minimums over the weekend, so do a midweek trip. You'll also have a good shot at getting dinner reservations at St. Orres (http://www.saintorres.com/) that way.

on April 26, 2004 10:07 PM
# david said:

Avenue of the Giants is great, but may be too far north.

on April 26, 2004 10:22 PM
# david said:

I've never been around Reno when its not snowing, but I hear that it can get really really really pretty up there..when there isn't any snow.

I've never been the tourist type around California (when I want scenery, I cycle out 5 minutes to see the coast- always something new to see)..

Bring your good camera Jeremy.. :-)

on April 26, 2004 10:34 PM
# Ryan said:

For your napa/sonoma trip if you wanted a nice place to relax or camp next to the ocean there is Machester Beach. We usually stay at the KOA there, which is very nice (reservations!), nice one mile stroll to the beach through hills and sand dunes. Take 128 North and appears to be around 3 hours away from Napa. There are a bunch of wineries on that highway to stop at. If you didn't want to camp, then there are plenty of bed and breakfasts and hotels to stay at. Be careful though, the drive is a little curvy.

There is not much in Manchester, but Point Arena isn't too far away. For a get-out-of-town vacation, it's very nice.

For your trip out East (I live in Sacramento), there is a bunch to see. The Jelly Belly factory is on I-80 in Fairfield. They give free tours.

Personally, I do not think Reno is all that great. You might be able to find a nice concert there. The Silver Legacy is by-far the nicest Hotel/Cas-ino. The steak house found within was expensive, but I found it tasty.

Tahoe has a wealth of things to do. The MS Dixie, a paddlewheeler on Lake Tahoe, is supposed to have an excellent dinner cruise on the Lake.

Have Fun!

on April 26, 2004 10:37 PM
# dws said:

On the way to Truckee, turn North at Auburn and visit Nevada City (California's first capital, and the site of State Historical Marker #1). There are a couple of gold mine tours nearby, a winery or two, a few good coffee shops, and some reasonable places to eat.

on April 26, 2004 10:51 PM
# Ross Mayfield said:

Canoe the Russian River, then Sonoma wine Shade in Muir Woods and picnic on Mt Tam to and fro.

on April 26, 2004 11:20 PM
# Petri Aukia said:

If your parents are into Architecture I would recommend the Sea Ranch for its rugged beauty. A collection of unpainted houses and cottages by the sea on HW 1 with a number of houses some of them designed by then- or later famous architects.

on April 27, 2004 03:29 AM
# Kevin Ring said:

If you're heading to Napa/Sonoma, you can do worse than to visit V. Sattui Winery (http://www.vsattui.com/)

You can taste almost every wine they have (over 20) for free and they are all really great.

On top of that, it's just across the street from Dean and Deluca (http://www.deandeluca.com/) which is a place where any foodie could just curl up and die.

on April 27, 2004 03:44 AM
# gabriel ricard said:

Muir Woods is beautiful and you can spend an hour or two walking around in there. I always loved driving down Highway 1 myself. That road is wonderful for the soul.

on April 27, 2004 06:23 AM
# Rob Zazueta said:

On your way up to and around Mendocino, head through Hopland on the 101. Right off the road is the Real Goods compound, which strives to put some its ecological beliefs to practical use. From a science geek standpoint, it's a really nifty place. Plus, it's got some beautiful landscaping, complete with recycled water streams and fountains and plenty of fruit trees. Just a nifty little stop off point.

Right up the road is a little brewery that has grapes growing over the outdoor arbor. They dangle down just in reach for folks to grab and snack on. Very nifty stuff.

on April 27, 2004 06:26 AM
# Derek Willis said:

The drive up to Mendocino is long but well worth it. Heading back and forth between the coast and some inland towns can be fun, especially along the Russian River near Jenner. Towns like Ukiah and Greenwood are neat to visit, and the lighthouse at Pt. Reyes is a good stopping point between SF and Mendocino.

I second the Tahoe idea - there are plenty of great short hikes that aren't too strenuous and offer spectacular views (my sister lives outside Tahoe, so I've visited a couple times). Of course the lake is a fun, but the Desolation Wilderness has some great trails. Also, the site of the 1960 Winter Olympics is nearby.

Once I drove from Tahoe over to Mendocino not using any of the highways but mostly back roads, including crossing near the dam at Lake Berryessa, which was really neat. I have some pictures from various points mentioned here on my personal site.

on April 27, 2004 07:15 AM
# Pat said:

Lassen National Park has some very cool hiking trails. The hike to the summit of Mt. Lasses is still probably closed with snow, but if it's open it's a nice little hike with an amazing view. It's a hell of a lot easier to climb than Mt. Shasta! You can ever buy a cheesy "Go Climb A Volcano" t-shirt ;-)

on April 27, 2004 07:42 AM
# TDavid said:

Sounds like a lot of fun!

Great food at the Peppermill in Reno, although it is off the beaten track a bit. If you can't stay at Silver Legacy or Eldorado downtown, then stay at the Peppermill.

The miner's caves are worth a tour. I can't remember the name of the miner town, but it's about a 30 minute or so drive from Reno. Check with the concierge, there are tons of things to do within an hour of Reno.

on April 27, 2004 07:46 AM
# Jeff Boulter said:

Angel Island is my new favorite place. http://angelisland.org/ Great views and it's close. Take the ferry after you check out Tiburon.

on April 27, 2004 07:48 AM
# TDavid said:

We've been meaning to check out the Ponderosa Ranch (near S.Lake Tahoe) though I've heard mixed reviews. That might be worth a look.

on April 27, 2004 07:49 AM
# Nelson said:

If you're heading up near Gold Country, Placerville is a nice place to stay a day or two. The wineries just south of there are good, much more relaxing than Napa. And there are nice little gold towns on route 49 that provide an afternoon's interest.

I have an old weblog entry with a bunch of links to things to do:

Mendocino is great too. Arcata is pretty cool as well, but avoid Eureka.

on April 27, 2004 08:10 AM
# Paul Hoffman said:

On the Marin side of Sonoma, there is a small airport that has (or at least had) biplane rides. They're very loud, but the landscape from above is quite pretty, and fun to see where you just were or are about to be.

In the SF area, lots of people like Santa Cruz. (Most of us who live here do too...). It's more low-key that most tourist spots, the scenery is nice and mixed (ocean, redwoods, hills, flats), and the downtown shopping area is pretty small which is good for older folks. Most of the scenic spots can be appreciated with less than a mile of walking (particularly West Cliff for surfer-watching and Nicene Marks or Pogonip for redwood wandering).

on April 27, 2004 09:13 AM
# Tom Becker said:

I think the Cambria area near San Simeon (Hearst Castle) is really fun. If time allows, take more than one tour of the castle. Cambria has some cool places to eat and San Luis Obispo is very close. I found this area to be very relaxing compared to the valley.

In Mendocino, we stayed at the Mendocino Village Inn which had great breakfasts, decent rates and a few cool rooms.


I was dating a food snob at the time so we ate at Cafe Beaujolais a few times. I actually thought it was over-rated but their on-site bakery kicks ass.


on April 27, 2004 10:24 AM
# 6800 said:

Intel has a museum in San Jose, may be interesting for a quick stop on the way to/from Winchester Mystery House.

on April 27, 2004 11:21 AM
# culley said:

On your way to Tahoe visit the Calaveras Big Trees State Park:


Keep going through Bear Vally and over Ebbets Pass:


It is the long way to Tahoe...

on April 27, 2004 12:53 PM
# justin said:

if you ever make if over to England, there's 2 pints of ale waiting for you in my local pub in deepest Hampshire Jeremy. :-)

on April 27, 2004 03:16 PM
# Justin #2 said:

Looks for a country B&B. You'd like that I imagine.

on April 27, 2004 06:54 PM
# adamsj said:

Have you considered making an Amtrak trip, either round-trip, or one-way, with a rental car or flight return? The route from LA to the Bay is beautiful--the wife and I made that trip from OSCON two years ago, then flew home from the Bay, and we're thinking about flying into the Bay and out of Portland this year. Amtrak--especially the Coast Starliner (LASeattle)--is a great way to travel.

on April 28, 2004 08:27 AM
# Mark Mascolino said:

As for Sonomoa wineries go, I really liked Kunde ( http://www.kunde.com ) and Rodney Strong (although that's more like Alexander River Valley than Sonoma). What's nice about it is that it is open later than most of the wineries. Kunde had some really neat aging tunnels that are bored right into the hillside. They give free tours of them on the weekends.

on April 28, 2004 10:47 AM
# sandra winter said:

if you're looking for something outrageous, there is a little community called normond in the mountians near mendecino. during the gold rush, its claim to fame was its many brothels. now it's semi-ghost town and as appalachian as california gets. --absolutely beautiful nature & very friendly people

on September 22, 2004 05:56 PM
# Terry said:

Hey jeremy,
I'm pretty new at this blogging thing but pleasantly surprised to find one with someone asking for travel ideas.

Looks like you've made a great start so far. California is a large state and very diverse.

You might like to check out my latest project which should give you some additional ideas and information as the site progresses.


Happy traveling.


on May 24, 2005 09:27 PM
# Tony said:

Altamont Pass is full of numerous wind generators parched on top of rolling hills.

on July 1, 2005 11:11 AM
# Joe said:

I live in Mendocino County. I recommend Montgomery Woods and Orr Springs Resort. These are both on Orr Springs Road, which runs between Ukiah and Fort Bragg, and are most easily accessed from the Ukiah end. Montgomery Woods has as many giant redwoods as you could ever want, and few visitors. Orr Springs is a hot springs (clothing optional) and I don't think it's too expensive. As for towns, you would probably be most satisfied by Fort Bragg and Mendocino, particularly the latter, which has a lot of shops and restaurants. If you happen to be eating in Ukiah, the Ukiah Brewing Company is delicious, and sometimes has live music on the weekends.

on March 6, 2007 05:33 PM
# Katie said:

Hi there,
I've lived in Mendocino County all my life so I know it is a huge vacation destination. It's so beautiful on the coast! You could visit the Botanical Gardens, acres upon acres of blooming greenery, year round. The scenic Skunk Train, with an afternoon stop in the forest for lunch. Whale watching tours, sea fishing trips, scuba tours, horseback riding on the beach, and miles and miles of trails just waiting to be traveled. Travel highway 1 from the Bay, or take 101 to highway 20 West. As for places to stay, my mother has a vacation rental house about 1/2 mile walk from the beach, and beautiful views! It was built by my step-dad so it's made with a lot of love and care. Check it out here:


It's inexpensive, impressive, and close to everything!

Good luck on taking your trip!

on March 8, 2007 07:38 PM
# Mark Feldman said:

Hello Jeremy,

I am the owner of the Napa Valley Biplane Company and we give rides and tours of the Napa Valley in a restored 1942 Boeing Stearman out of the Napa County Municipal Airport. Please take a look at our web site at www.napabiplane.com or call 707 647-3758 for further information. We can also provide gift certificates!

Thanks & Best Wishes - Mark

on March 21, 2007 07:09 PM
# said:

Hello Jeremy,

My wife and I have a weekend home in Fiddletown, in Amador County. There are wonderful sights around, over 40 wineries, quaint towns as Amador City, Sutter Creek, Jackson. Since we're both teachers, we may have the home available for short-term rent. Our home is a rustic but clean cottage, the site of the old brewery, dating circa 1860. Right next to us is the Schallhorn building, a great historical building. Just down the street there is the Chinese Herb Doctor museum, named The Chew Kee Store. If you feel this might work for you, let me know, and I will check the availability of the place. My cell number is 916 642-6801. My name is Felipe Ferraz.

on April 30, 2007 07:30 AM
# felipe ferraz said:

Possible availability of our getaway home in the Amador Wine Country. Call me or email me if you're interested.

916 642-6801

on May 11, 2007 06:13 PM
# Mary said:

Hey Jeremy,

Did you take this trip? Where did you go? I am coming to visit my Mom in Sacramento in April and she like to take small trips. She's 87 and can't walk much but enjoys sight seeing.
Any ideas?


on January 18, 2009 08:32 AM
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