All "Relaxing" Stories in Northern CA

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    Simply Tasty!

    Remember when wine tasting at all the good spots was free or only a few bucks? (Okay, that was quite awhile ago.) Anderson Valley never forgot! Who knows how long it will last, as this land of pinot noir is developing an outstanding reputation for premium wines, but currently you…

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    Blooms A-brewin'

    Got anything for Mom, yet? Go botanical. Nestled between idyllic meadows and woodlands, Botanic Garden in Tilden Regional Park is anything but garden variety—with a collection that has grown to include thousands of the state’s native species and 10 acres of meandering streamside…

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    Garden by the Sea

    As one of the most spectacular botanical gardens in the country, Fort Bragg’s Mendocino Coast Botanical Gardens makes a splash in more ways than its fabulous flora. Its 47 acres includes a stunning bluffside hiking trail overlooking the Pacific, where cliffs drop dramatically to…

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    Mom's the Word

    Tucked on the western slope of Sonoma Valley’s Mayacamas Mountains, Quarryhill Botanical Garden flies under the radar as people zip right past it on their way to wineries. They’re missing out on one of the world’s finest Asian botanical gardens. Exotic shade trees, tranquil ponds…

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    Still Milling After All These Years

    It’s hard to imagine anything other than wine grapes being grown in the Napa Valley. But thanks to the State Parks’ historic preservation of the Bale Grist Mill, we get to peek back in time at what folks of the mid-19th century did before the grapes moved in. In many ways the old…

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    Best Ghost Town in the West

    Located in the high desert of the Eastern Sierra, Bodie State Historic Park looks like a Hollywood set for a Western movie. But this isn’t Hollywood magic—it’s a gold-mining ghost town that’s as pure Wild West as it gets! Named after William Bodey, who discovered gold in the…

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    To the Fort!

    It’s found along one of the most scenic coastal routes in the world and surrounded by some of California’s most iconic beauty—panoramic coves, redwoods, beach after glorious beach. Fort Ross State Historic Park, just north of Jenner, couldn’t be in a better location—and that’s…

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    San Francisco A-Go-GoCar

    You’ve seen them: those wily low-riders in small bright yellow cars, zipping right past you, sightseeing San Francisco, just … gleeful. Don’t knock it till you’ve driven it: On your mark, get set, GoCar! Hop into one, follow normal traffic rules, and zip along the streets at…

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    Hill's Angels

    Admit it, you’ve always wanted to try a Segway. They’re fun and goofy … kinda like the Hall & Oates of outdoor recreation. And the best place to give it a try? Where no cars go and the views are beautiful! Strap on a helmet and Segway around Angel Island State Park. Learn about…

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    No Ordinary Beach

    Want a beach that will really get you away from it all? Fort Ord Dunes State Park is just the ticket. This relative newcomer to the state park system gives an impressive perspective of the half moon–shaped Monterey Bay. Get a great view of it from the main parking lot and try to…

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    Hello, Sur!

    Big Sur is home to numerous fantastic beaches and coves, so which one do you choose? Go for the beach that’s quintessential Big Sur (and dog-friendly!). Pfeiffer Beach in Pfeiffer Big Sur State Park recently re-opened, and its signature lilac-colored sand is waiting for your feet…

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    Surprise Factor

    Some people don’t like surprises, but we’re guessing even those people will like the surprise hidden beach at Russian Gulch. While you can drive by and see multiple beach options in these parts, most cars zip right past the locked gate on Highway 1. That might be because the…

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    Go the Extra Mile

    You can drive right up to a lot of incredible vista points in California and they make great excuses for getting out of the car to stretch the legs. But the Sonoma Coast State Beach “Vista Trail,” perched high on Highway 1, goes the extra mile, literally. Enjoy the best view of…

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    Art in the Vines

    There’s something big and bold happening in Napa, and it isn’t a cabernet. It’s the more than 200 acres of vineyard, lake, gardens, and off-the-beaten path landscape that makes up the creative spirit of di Rosa, a nonprofit art destination scenically set in the Carneros region of…

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    Vantage Point

    What’s the secret for spying gray whales during winter’s migration season? Location, location, location! And location doesn’t get any better than from the top of the tallest lighthouse on the West Coast. The historic 115-foot Lighthouse Tower at Point Arena Light Station in…

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    Aye Aye Capitan

    It’s the world’s largest granite monolith: gray and hulking and a spectacle for visitors who marvel at its massiveness (3,000 vertical feet of sheer rock!) and at the pro climbers who conquer it. El Capitan has been in the headlines a lot recently since Tommy Caldwell and Kevin…

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    TI Surprise

    It’s no secret that Treasure Island has one of the best views of San Francisco. Visitors often steer toward the western side for the grand vista. But tucked on the east side by the yacht harbor is hidden Clipper Cove Beach, reached by descending 54 wooden steps (yeah, we counted…

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    Have You Bean Yet?

    Unassuming, beautiful, and a favorite once discovered, Bean Hollow State Beach is the Maggie Gyllenhaal of the San Mateo Coast. Located 3 miles south of Pescadero, this stretch of golden sand requires no hike-in, yet on most afternoons the place is wonderfully uncrowded. Spend…

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    Dillon Dally

    If you’re going to go to a beach north of the Golden Gate, chances are it’s one of the Big 3 in Marin: the Headlands, Stinson, Point Reyes. But oft-overlooked Dillon Beach is also Marin magical. Regularly shrouded in fog during summer, the mist lifts on Dillon a little more in…

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    Bodega Booyah!

    Tiny Bodega Head in beautiful Bodega Bay has long lured visitors to its dramatic cliff-above-ocean setting and excellent vantages for spotting migrating gray whales. But visit on a winter day right before sunset and you’ll be treated to fewer crowds and a glorious technicolor…