Northern California | Moon Travel Guides https://moon.com Trip Ideas, Itineraries, Maps & Area Experts Wed, 17 Jan 2018 21:18:06 +0000 en-US hourly 1 https://wordpress.org/?v=4.9.2 https://deathstar-650a.kxcdn.com/wp-content/uploads/2017/02/cropped-moon_logo_M-32x32.jpg Northern California | Moon Travel Guides https://moon.com 32 32 125073523 San Francisco to Seattle Road Trip https://moon.com/2017/07/san-francisco-to-seattle-road-trip/ https://moon.com/2017/07/san-francisco-to-seattle-road-trip/#respond Thu, 27 Jul 2017 19:51:04 +0000 https://moon.com/?p=58287 Most people view the Golden Gate Bridge as the magnificent entrance to the beautiful and storied city of San Francisco, but after my road trip driving north out of San Francisco, I now see it the other way around. That iconic red bridge is not only your gateway to the magnificent northern California coast and the emerald-meets-indigo shores of the Pacific Northwest, but it’s also the perfect start to a San Francisco to Seattle road trip.

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Most people view the Golden Gate Bridge as the magnificent entrance to the beautiful and storied city of San Francisco, but after my road trip driving north out of San Francisco, I now see it the other way around. That iconic red bridge is not only your gateway to the magnificent northern California coast and the emerald-meets-indigo shores of the Pacific Northwest, but it’s also the perfect start to a San Francisco to Seattle road trip.

There are faster ways to do this road trip. You can take Interstate 80 east out of San Francisco to Interstate 5, making the 850 (1400 km) mile drive north to Seattle in about 12 hours—a ho hum day or two, if you’re in a hurry—and if you stay on Highway 101 north of Golden Gate, it’s only four hours cutting through agricultural country to Humboldt Redwoods State Park. But if you believe life is more about the journey and less about getting from point A to point B, keep the Pacific Ocean on your left and give yourself five days to a week to soak up beautiful scenery, picturesque towns, and giant trees.

View of the coastline at Point Reyes National Seashore in Northern California.

Point Reyes National Seashore has miles of hiking trails. Photo © mtilghma/iStock.

Driving north across the Golden Gate, you’ll enter Point Reyes National Seashore after about an hour; nature lovers will marvel at the hundred square miles of unspoiled grasslands, forests, estuaries, and beaches. Another hour finds you driving along the 17-mile stretch of Sonoma Coast State Park, where every turn of the cliffside highway offers another majestic vista, showing off rocky headlands framing sandy coves below.

You’ll be tempted to think it doesn’t get any better, but the next 120 miles of remote and rugged California coast will prove you’ve only scratched the surface! Crossing from Sonoma into Mendocino county, you can spend an entire day simply stopping at viewpoints to marvel at the intense Pacific hues and endless craggy bluffs. Eventually, you’ll reach Mendocino, an artsy village presiding over a pristine bay, where every shop and gallery along Main Street boasts a million-dollar view.

Driving the Pacific Coast Highway near Mendocino.

Driving the Pacific Coast Highway near Mendocino. Photo © duha127/iStock.

Fifty miles ahead, Highway 1 rejoins Highway 101 and heads back inland, for your first taste of redwood forest. Parallel to the highway, the famous 30 mile stretch called the Avenue of the Giants cruises past centuries-old groves populated by trees taller than the Statue of Liberty. 

Next, Highway 101 returns to the coast, where the twin towns of Eureka and Arcata provide a last stop on the road to one of California’s greatest natural treasures, the Redwood National and State Parks—two million acres of old growth forest providing some of the best hiking and camping opportunities on the planet.

You may take Highway 199 out of the Redwoods to link to Interstate 5, the expressway to Portland and Seattle. But then you’d miss the entire Oregon coast, where winds have spent thousands of years carving rocky sea stacks that rise like monoliths out of flat sand beaches. The craggy, woodsy coast of Southern Oregon is interrupted only by forty miles of Oregon Dunes National Recreation Area, where shifting sands form dunes as high as 500 feet over the ocean!

Oregon Dunes National Recreation Park. Photo © Capricornis/Dreamstime.

Oregon Dunes National Recreation Park. Photo © Capricornis/Dreamstime.

Charming small towns populate Oregon’s coast, every one of them offering warm bowls of delicious local clam chowder, whether its small resort towns like Bandon and Cannon Beach, or more cosmopolitan destinations like Newport and Astoria.

From Astoria, you may easily shoot east to reach one-of-a-kind Portland, a truly creative city that wears its weirdness like a badge of honor. But for a more adventurous journey, continue north to reach Washington’s Olympic Peninsula. Rising out of the state’s southern shores, the Olympic Peninsula is home to the awe-inspiring Olympic National Park, where temperate rainforests dotted by sparkling lakes and bisected by salmon-rich rivers climb slopes up into a breathtaking snowcapped mountain range.

The entire park is surrounded by coastline where Native American communities continue to fish the oceans as they have for generations, and where driftwood pieces the size of entire trees pile up on remote beaches that are often accessible only by enervating fresh air hikes.

The Pier in Port Townsend. Photo © Jeff Ferguson/123rf.

The Pier at Port Townsend. Photo © Jeff Ferguson/123rf.

As Highway 101 curls around the northeastern corner of the Olympic Peninsula, consider a side-trip to the elegant Victorian mariner town of Port Townsend, which is surrounded by water and boasts mountain views both to the east and west. From there you may descend in short order to Bainbridge Island, where a short ferry ride takes you across the Puget Sound—the gateway to America’s gleaming northwest metropolis, Seattle: home to a thriving cosmopolitan culture, and all the delicious oysters you can eat! 

 


San Francisco to Seattle Travel Maps

Travel map of San Francisco

San Francisco

Maps - Northern California 7e - San Francisco Bay Area

San Francisco Bay Area

Travel map of California's north coast.

California’s North Coast

Color map of the South Coast of Oregon

South Coast of Oregon

Color map of the central coast of Oregon

Central Coast of Oregon

Color map of the north coast of Oregon

North Coast of Oregon

Travel map of the Olympic Peninsula and the Coast of Washington

Olympic Peninsula

Travel map of Seattle, Washington

Seattle

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Three Great Road Trips from Monterey, California https://moon.com/2017/07/three-great-road-trips-from-monterey-california/ https://moon.com/2017/07/three-great-road-trips-from-monterey-california/#respond Wed, 19 Jul 2017 20:56:28 +0000 https://moon.com/?p=57652 Perched on the southern end of the Monterey Bay, Monterey is one of the California Central Coast’s most popular visitor destinations. Though there’s plenty to see in Monterey—including the Monterey Bay Aquarium, the Monterey State Historic Park, sea otters, and more—the city is an ideal place to head out on a road trip to explore the Central Coast, whether it’s a day trip or an overnight excursion. Here are three ideas.

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Perched on the southern end of the Monterey Bay, Monterey is one of the California Central Coast’s most popular visitor destinations. Though there’s plenty to see in Monterey—including the Monterey Bay Aquarium, the Monterey State Historic Park, sea otters, and more—the city is an ideal place to head out on a road trip to explore the Central Coast, whether it’s a day trip or an overnight excursion. Here are three ideas.

Santa Cruz

roller coaster and palm trees back the beach in Santa Cruz

Santa Cruz Beach Boardwalk. Photo © Stuart Thornton.

Across the bay from Monterey, Santa Cruz has a distinctly different feel due to the youthful influence of the University of California, Santa Cruz and its vibrant surf culture. The drive from Monterey to Santa Cruz can range from 45 minutes to an hour depending on traffic. Just hop on CA-1 and head north to reach Santa Cruz.

Make your first stop at Steamer Lane Supply, a concession stand in Lighthouse Field State Beach right across from Steamer Lane, one of the beach town’s most popular surf breaks. With a tasty breakfast quesadilla and coffee from the eatery in hand, take in the waves peeling below at Steamer Lane and decide if you want to try and catch a few. The waves are best for intermediate to advanced surfers.

Beginners should head to the adjacent Cowell’s Beach, home to an easy rolling wave that is ideal for learners. Also, nearby is the Cowell’s Beach Surf Shop if you need to rent equipment or take a lesson.

After some time in the water, walk over to the Santa Cruz Beach Boardwalk on Beach Street for a pulse quickening ride on the Giant Dipper Roller Coaster, which has been thrilling visitors since opening in 1924.

Awake from adrenaline, make the two-mile drive to Akira Sushi for lunch. The wonderful menu draws from both classic sushi ingredients (tuna, salmon, ginger) and items unusual in the typical sushi roll (skirt steak, Siracha, truffle salt).

Head to downtown Santa Cruz post-lunch to browse the local shops lining Pacific Avenue. Get a boost of caffeine from local Verve Coffee, which has expanded into Los Angeles, before browsing through vinyl at Streetlight Records or perusing paperbacks at Bookshop Santa Cruz, an independent bookstore that has been open for over 50 years.

Before sunset, drive 2 miles north of Santa Cruz on CA-1 to Wilder Ranch State Park. The 7,000-acre former dairy farm has 35 miles of paths including the Old Cove Landing Trail, which takes hikers out to the craggy coastline.

On your return trip to Monterey, detour off CA-1 onto the 41st Avenue Exit for dinner at Café Cruz. This longtime local favorite has all the right ingredients for a great meal: attentive service and great food at a reasonable price.

Or if you want to keep your Santa Cruz excursion going, consider getting a room at the moderately priced Seaway Inn on West Cliff Drive. This small motel is walking distance to Steamer Lane in case you want to paddle out again the next morning.

San Luis Obispo Coast

aerial shot of Morro Bay

Morro Bay State Park. Photo © modernschism/iStock.

The coastline of San Luis Obispo County offers an ideal mix of laidback oceanside towns, recreational opportunities, and California’s best version of a European castle, Hearst Castle in San Simeon. Be sure to make reservations for a castle tour before heading out. The drive to Hearst Castle from Monterey is two and a half hours long via CA-68 West, U.S. 101 South, CA-46 West, and CA-1 North.

There are several tours available at Hearst Castle, but the “Grand Rooms Tour” is recommended for first time visitors. The one hour long guided tour includes stops in the Billiards Room, Theater, and Neptune Pool.

Next up, explore the coastline within Harmony Headlands State Park. Drive 17 miles south of Hearst Castle on CA-1 and park on the western side of the roadway. The 784-acre park opened in 2003 and includes the 1.5 mile Headlands Trail, which wanders to a coastal marine terrace with a view of the undeveloped seashore.

With an appetite growing, head five miles south on CA-1 to the small town of Cayucos. Though located in a small building, Ruddell’s Smokehouse dishes up fish tacos with big flavor. The suggested order is either the smoked salmon or smoked albacore tacos, each served with chopped apples as a condiment.

Hop on CA-1 once again and head six miles south to Morro Bay to take in one of the Central Coast’s natural wonders: Morro Rock. One of the Nine Sisters, a chain of volcanic mountains in San Luis Obispo County, the 581-foot high rock towers over the scenic harbor of the fishing village.

To further explore Morro Bay, rent a kayak to paddle around the protected estuary, where you can spot sea lions, harbor seals, and 100 different bird species. Gear is available nearby at Kayak Horizons, or opt for a tour through Central Coast Outdoors.

End your day with fresh seafood at Tognazzini’s Dockside Restaurant right on Morro Bay’s harbor. The raw oysters or barbecued oysters in garlic butter are a great start to any meal.

Not feeling like driving back to Monterey? The Masterpiece Hotel in Morro Bay is decorated with reproductions of classic artworks and has a replica Roman style bath for soaking.

Inland Adventure

vineyards in Paso Robles

Paso Robles Vineyards. Photo © Stuart Thornton.

While the coastlines of Monterey and San Luis Obispo Counties get most of the attention, there’s a handful of worthy destinations inland along the Salinas Valley down to Paso Robles on U.S. 101. One of the best sights is the rocky wonderland of Pinnacles National Park, an hour’s drive from Monterey. The western entrance in Soledad offers a superb introduction to the park’s rock spires, caves, and oversized boulders. A suggested hike is the 4.3-mile-long Juniper Canyon Trail, which includes a steep and narrow section at its highest point.

Having earned a great lunch, travel 30 minutes south on U.S. 101 to King City. This sleepy agricultural city boosted its foodie cred with the opening of The Cork & Plough in 2015. Go hearty with the venison meatloaf sandwich or lighter with the shaved cauliflower salad.

Now properly sated, hit the road again for a 40-minute drive south on U.S. 101 to Mission San Miguel. This overlooked California mission has one of the best-preserved church interiors in the whole mission system along with being the site of a murderous rampage back in 1848.

Maybe it’s the fact that the padres of the Mission San Miguel made wine or just because you are thirsty continue another 10 miles down U.S. 101 to the booming wine region of Paso Robles. Recommended stops include Opolo Vineyards and the Eberle Winery. Visit pasowine.com for more information about the area’s wineries.

Soak up the wine with a meal at Artisan in downtown Paso Robles. This longtime favorite serves up wood fired pizzas, veggies, and meatier fare including slow braised pork.

If you are getting drowsy after such a full day, splurge for a night at the Hotel Cheval, an upscale boutique hotel. Another option is to secure a room at the Paso Robles Inn, where you can relax in a private tub filled with warm local mineral waters.


Need more California road trip ideas? Check out Moon California Road Trip.

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Great Northern California Campgrounds with Swimming https://moon.com/2017/07/great-northern-california-camping-with-swimming/ https://moon.com/2017/07/great-northern-california-camping-with-swimming/#respond Mon, 17 Jul 2017 20:00:00 +0000 https://moon.com?p=58054&preview=true&preview_id=58054 Award-winning author and outdoorsman Tom Stienstra is the local authority when it comes to California camping. These are the 10 most-scenic campsites that also include swimming options in Northern California.

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Northern California has some of the most beautiful campsites in the country, but the summer heat can make campers lose their cool. Whether it’s a swimming hole carved by granite or in a lake directly outside your tent, these ten campgrounds with swimming options are sure to provide some of the best aquatic adventures in the region.

Pink sunset reflects in Lake Utica, shore is a rocky surface and three canoes are visible on the shore ahead

Fabulous Utica Lake at sunset. Photo © Steven Belcher/8532914@N05, licensed CC-BY SA 2.0.

Note: Each site in this list has a scenic rating of eight or above. Want more suggestions for campsites with swimming? Check out the latest edition of Moon California Camping to find your perfect spot.

Mcarthur-Burney Falls Memorial State Park (near Lassen National Forest)

Region: Lassen and Modoc
Scenic Rating: 9/10
Swimming: swimming hole (with waterfall)
Barney Falls plunges into a pool at its base, rocks line the shore.

Swimming in cool (literally) Burney Falls is a dream, especially on hot days. Photo © Asher Jaffe.

McArthur-Burney Falls Memorial State Park was originally formed by volcanic activity and features 910 acres of forest and five miles of stream and lake shore. The Headwaters horse camp is three miles from the main campground. (Non-equestrian campers may stay at the horse camp, but only tents are allowed.) The campground is pretty and set amid large ponderosa pines. Camping-style cabins were installed in 2008 and have been a hit since.

Burney Falls is a 129-foot waterfall, a beautiful cascade split at the top by a little grove of trees, with small trickles oozing and falling out of the adjacent moss-lined wall. Since it is fed primarily by a spring, it runs strong and glorious most of the year, producing 100 million gallons of water every day. The Headwaters Trail provides an outstanding hike to see the waterfall and Burney Creek, as well as for an easy adventure and fishing access to the stream. An excellent fly-fishing section of the Pit River is below the dam.

Note: For a similarly breathtaking waterfall/swimming hole experience, check out Fowlers Camp (scenic rating 10/10), about a half hour drive north.

Utica and Union Reservoirs (northeast of Arnold in Stanislaus National Forest)

Region: Tahoe and the Northern Sierra
Scenic Rating: 10/10
Swimming: lake
Utica Reservoir at dawn

Utica Reservoir at dawn: the glassy water looks perfect for a dip. Photo © eugevon/Flickr, CC-BY SA.

These twin reservoirs are set in Sierra granite at 6,850 feet. Union is a beautiful and quiet lake that is kept that way with rules that mandate a 5-mph speed limit. Utica does not allow motors of any kind. Most of the campsites provide lakeside views. Fishing is often good—trolling for kokanee salmon—but you need a boat. The setting is great, especially for canoes or other small boats. This area was once a secret, but alas the secret is out and there are now three new, small campgrounds around the water’s edge.

Staying at this hidden gem of a campsite will earn you membership into the 5 Percent Club: pristine, quiet spots that less than 5% of campers visit.

Sulphur Springs (on Elk Creek in Klamath National Forest)

Region: Shasta and Trinity
Scenic Rating: 8/10
Swimming: streams, lake, hot springs

This hidden spot is along Elk Creek on the border of the Marble Mountain Wilderness. The camp is at a trailhead that provides access to miles and miles of trails that follow streams into the backcountry of the wilderness area. It is a 12-mile backpack trip one-way and largely uphill to Spirit Lake, one of the prettiest lakes in the entire wilderness, making this a great spot for backpackers and serious hikers. The nearby hot springs (which are usually around 75 degrees) provide a side attraction. There are also some swimming holes nearby in Elk Creek, but these aren’t hot springs, so expect the water to be cold. Sulphur Springs Camp is at 2,300 feet.

As a bonus, this campsite is also a part of the 5 Percent Club.

D.L. Bliss State Park (on Lake Tahoe)

Region: Tahoe and the Northern Sierra
Scenic Rating: 10/10
Swimming: lake
a boulder shoreline of dark rock and a few trees overlooks the bright blue water in DL Bliss State Park, with blue mountains looming across the water in the distance

“Bliss” indeed! Photo © Kazuho Okui/naan/Flickr, licensed CC-BY.

D. L. Bliss State Park is set on one of Lake Tahoe’s most beautiful stretches of shoreline, from Emerald Point at the mouth of Emerald Bay northward to Rubicon Point, spanning about three miles. The camp is at the north end of the park, the sites nestled amid pine trees, with 80 percent of the campsites within 0.5-1 mile of the beach. The park is named for a pioneering lumberman, railroad owner, and banker of the region, whose family donated this 744-acre parcel to California in 1929. There are two great easy hiking trails: Rubicon Trail and Balancing Rock Trail (for more detailed hiking information, see the book). This camp is so beautiful it has earned a spot in the author’s Top 10 Campgrounds for Hikes with Views.

Note: All water must sometimes be pump-filtered or boiled before use, depending on current water conditions.

Lake Siskiyou Resort and Camp (near Mount Shasta)

Region: Shasta and Trinity
Scenic Rating: 9/10
Swimming: lake
Lake Siskiyou reflecting snow-capped mount Shasta under beautiful sky after sunset

Mount Shasta reflects in glassy Lake Siskiyou. Photo © Chanya Kaya/iStock

This is a true gem of a lake, a jewel set at the foot of Mount Shasta at 3,181 feet, the prettiest lake on the I-5 corridor in California. The lake level is almost always full (because it was built for recreation, not water storage) and offers a variety of quality recreation options, with great swimming, low-speed boating, and fishing. The campground complexes are huge, yet they are tucked into the forest so visitors don’t get their styles cramped. The water in this 435-acre lake is clean and fresh. There is an excellent beach and swimming area, the latter protected by a buoy line. A good boat ramp and boat rentals are available, and a 10-mph speed limit is strictly enforced, keeping the lake pristine and quiet. The campgrounds often fill on weekends and summer holidays.

There are also cabins available, along with other amenities such as restrooms with flush toilets and showers, boat rentals, volleyball, a playground, gift shop, and coin laundry—putting Siskiyou in the list of Top 10 Campsites for Families. A free movie also plays every night in the summer, so parents can get some personal time.

Note: If you can’t get a spot here, Kangaroo Lake and Toad Lake Walk-In are nearby backup campsites.

Lake Oroville Boat-In and Floating Camps

Region: Sacramento and Gold Country
Scenic Rating: 10/10
Swimming: lake
The top of a railing overlooks Lake Oroville and the dusty hills in the background

View from one of the floating campsites on Lake Oroville. It doesn’t get much better than that! Photo © cleftclips/Flickr, licensed CC-BY.

It doesn’t get any stranger than this, and for those who have tried, it doesn’t get any better. We’re talking about the double-decker floating camps at Lake Oroville, along with the great boat-in sites. The floating camps look like giant patio boats and sleep 15 people. There are also dispersed boat-in camps around the lake, which are particularly excellent in the spring and early summer, when the water level at the lake is high. In late summer, when the lake level drops, it can be a fair hike up the bank to the campsites, and, in addition, if the water drops quickly, your boat can be left sitting on the bank; it can be quite an effort to get it back in the water. Oroville is an outstanding lake for water sports, with warm water and plenty of room, and also with excellent bass fishing, especially in the spring. Keep in mind that there is no drinking water at this site, so you’ll have to pack your own.

Note: If you’re in the market for warm lakes, Collins Lake Recreation Area is another potential spot.

Seacliff State Beach (near Santa Cruz)

Region: Monterey and Big Sur
Scenic Rating: 10/10
Swimming: ocean
A sandcastle on the beach on a clear day with a pier and the shipwreck in the background

Make sandcastles or visit the mysterious shipwreck on Seacliff Beach! Photo © ddebold/Flickr, licensed CC-BY.

Here is a very pretty spot along Monterey Bay – so pretty that is in the list of Tom’s Top 10 Scenic Campgrounds. Beach walks are great, especially for dramatic sunsets on clear evenings, as is swimming and sunbathing on the long stretch of sand backed by coastal bluffs. A visitors center is open in the summer. This is a popular layover for vacationers touring Highway 1 in the summer, but the best weather is from mid-August to early October. A structure many call the “old cement ship” nearby provides some fascination, but for safety reasons visitors are no longer allowed to walk on it. It is actually an old concrete freighter, the Palo Alto. Fishing is often good adjacent to the ship.

Memorial County Park (near La Honda)

Region: San Francisco Bay Area
Scenic Rating: 8/10
Swimming: swimming hole
Trail at Memorial County State Park, a footbridge sits between two tall trees.

Lots of shade and spacious grounds make this the perfect campsite for families. Photo © Buddha Dog/Flickr, licensed CC-BY SA.

If you’re looking for a quick escape from the city, this beautiful 500-acre redwood park is on the western slopes of the Santa Cruz Mountains, tucked in a pocket between the tiny towns of La Honda and Loma Mar. The park is known for its family camping areas and Tan Oak and Mount Ellen nature trails. The campground features access to a nearby network of 50 miles of trails, with the best hike along the headwaters of Pescadero Creek. A swimming hole on Pescadero Creek next to the campground is popular during the summer. The camp is often filled on summer weekends, but the sites are spaced, so it won’t cramp your style.

Indian Springs (near the Yuba River)

Region: Tahoe and the Northern Sierra
Scenic Rating: 8/10
Swimming: stream, pools, nearby lakes

Easy to reach from I-80, this camp is in a beautiful setting at 5,600 feet along the South Fork Yuba River. There is a gorgeous stream, running deep blue-green and pure through granite, complete with giant boulders and beautiful pools for cliff jumping. Trout fishing is fair. A small swimming beach is nearby, though the water is cold. There are also several lakes in the vicinity.

Open June through September, weather permitting.

Madrone, Huckleberry, and Dawn Redwood (in Richardson Grove State Park)

Region: Redwood Empire
Scenic Rating: 8/10
Swimming: swimming holes
Sitting feet are pictured on the rocky shore of the Eel River, in the background people are swimming in the river.

Happy feet at the Eel River swimming hole. Photo © ultimateslug/Flickr, licensed CC-BY SA.

On the highway right through Richardson Grove State Park, everyone slows to gawk at the tallest trees in the world, one of the most impressive groves of redwoods you can drive through in California. There are several campgrounds available at the park, as well as a network of outstanding hiking trails. The Eel River runs through the park, providing excellent summer swimming holes and thus making reservations a necessity from Memorial Day through Labor Day weekend.

10 Great Northern California Campgrounds with Swimming Options


Excerpted from the Twentieth Edition of Moon California Camping.

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Best Secluded Camping in California https://moon.com/2017/06/best-secluded-camping-in-california/ https://moon.com/2017/06/best-secluded-camping-in-california/#respond Mon, 12 Jun 2017 23:03:04 +0000 https://moon.com?p=57503&preview=true&preview_id=57503 Outdoorsman Tom Stienstra has identified dozens of the most-rarely visited secluded campsites in California. Here are 10 of the best places to get away from it all in both Northern and Southern California.

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California has some of the most beautiful campsites in the country, but getting a reservation can be a nightmare, with the reservation system usually booked months in advance. Three of these require reservations (you shouldn’t have to fight for them, but plan ahead!) and the other seven are first-come first-served and rarely visited. All ten are great campsites that will earn you membership into what author Tom Stienstra calls the 5 Percent Club: pristine, quiet spots where less than 5% of campers camp.

Orange and purple wildflowers bloom in front of a hilly California landscape

Wildflower blooms are exceptional in spring and can be seen from many campsites. Photo © BLM, licensed CC-BY.

Secluded Camping in Northern California

Mattole (King Range National Conservation Area)

Region: Redwood Empire
Scenic rating: 8/10

The Lost Coast is often overlooked by visitors because of the difficulty in reaching it; your only access is via a slow, curvy road through the Mattole River Valley, past Petrolia, and out to a piece of coast. The experience is like being in suspended animation—your surroundings peaceful and pristine, with a striking lack of people. One of the best ways to capture the sensation is to drive out near the mouth of the Mattole, then hike south on the Coastal Trail long enough to get a feel for the area.

This is a little-known camp set at the mouth of the Mattole River, right where it pours into the Pacific Ocean. It is beautiful and isolated. An outstanding hike leads to the Punta Gorda Lighthouse. Hike from the campground to the ocean and head south. It’s a level walk, and at low tide, there’s a chance to observe tidepool life. Perch fishing is good where the Mattole flows into the ocean, best during low tides. In the winter, the Mattole often provides excellent steelhead fishing. Check the Department of Fish and Game regulations for closed areas. Be sure to have a full tank on the way out—the nearest gas station is quite distant. Leashed pets are allowed, some facilities are wheelchair-accessible.

Two campers with backpacking backpacks take in the costal view at Mattole Camp.

One of the many picturesque views at Mattole. Photo © Bob Wick, licensed CC-BY.

Martins Dairy (Little Shasta River, Klamath National Forest)

Region: Shasta and Trinity
Scenic rating: 8/10

This camp is set at 6,000 feet, where the deer get big and the country seems wide open. A large meadow is nearby, directly across the road from this remote camp, with fantastic wildflower displays in late spring. This is one of the prettiest camps around in the fall, with dramatic color from aspens, elderberries, and willows. It also makes a good base camp for hunters in the fall. Before heading into the surrounding backcountry, obtain a map of Klamath National Forest at the Goosenest Ranger Station on Highway 97, on your way in to camp. Pets allowed on leashes.

Crater Lake (Lassen National Forest)

Region: Lassen and Modoc
Scenic rating: 8/10

This hideaway near Crater Lake rests at 6,800 feet elevation in remote Lassen National Forest, just below Crater Mountain (that’s it up there to the northeast at 7,420 feet). This 27-acre lake provides trout fishing, boating (gas motors are discouraged), and, if you can stand the ice-cold water, a quick dunk on warm summer days. Leashed pets are allowed.

Sinkyone Wilderness (Sinkyone Wilderness State Park)

Region: Mendocino and Wine Country
Scenic rating: 10/10

This is a great jumping-off point for a backpacking trip in the Sinkyone Wilderness on the Lost Coast, one of the few wilderness areas where a trip can be made any month of the year. The terrain is primitive, steep, and often wet, but it provides a rare coastal wilderness experience. Starting at the northern trailhead at Orchard Camp, or the southern trailhead at the Usal Beach campground, it’s an ambitious weekend tromp of 17 miles. This is a unique 7,367-acre park that is named after the Sinkyone tribe, which once lived in this area. It is called the Lost Coast because no highways provide direct access. Regardless, it has become surprisingly popular for backpackers on the California Coastal Trail. Drinking water is available at the visitors center.

Utica and Union Reservoirs (northeast Arnold, Stanislaus National Forest)

Region: Tahoe and Northern Sierra
Scenic rating: 10/10

These twin reservoirs are set in Sierra granite at 6,850 feet. Union is a beautiful and quiet lake that is kept that way with rules that mandate a 5-mph speed limit. Utica does not allow motors of any kind. Most of the campsites provide lakeside views. Fishing is often good—trolling for kokanee salmon—but you need a boat. The setting is great, especially for canoes or other small boats. This area was once a secret, but alas the secret is out and there are now three new, small campgrounds around the water’s edge. Remember to bring pack water in with you, as there is no potable water onsite. Leashed pets are allowed.

Angel Island State Park Walk-In/Boat-In

Region: San Francisco Bay
Scenic rating: 10/10
A picnic bench overlooks a stunning vista of the Bay with the Golden Gate bridge looming in the background. Taken at Angel Island State Park campsite.

Many camping spots at Angel Island afford stunning views of the surrounding Bay Area. Photo © Ray Bouknight.

Camping at Angel Island is one of the unique adventures in the Bay Area; the only catch is that getting to the campsites requires a ferry boat ride and then a walk of 1-2 miles, or a kayak or boat trip from the mainland directly to the camp. The payoff comes at the end of the day, when all of the park’s day visitors depart for the mainland, leaving the entire island to you.

This is one campsite that it pays to be prepared; book far ahead because the sites can book up months in advance. The group camp is popular with kayakers because of beach access. From start to finish, it’s a great trip, featuring a private campsite, often with spectacular views of San Francisco Bay, the San Francisco waterfront and skyline, Marin Headlands, and Mount Tamalpais. The tromp up to 798-foot Mount Livermore includes a short, steep stretch, but in return furnishes one of the most spectacular urban lookouts in America. Be ready for cold, foggy weather at night in midsummer. The park features more than 13 miles of trails, including Perimeter Road, a must-do for all avid cyclists. Bikes are also permitted on the park’s fire road system. Angel Island has a stunning history, including being used from 1910 to 1940 to process thousands of immigrants as they entered America; historic tram tours are available.

Secluded Campgrounds in Southern California

Mono Hike-In (Mono Creek, Los Padres National Forest)

Region: Santa Barbara and Vicinity
Scenic rating: 7/10

Not many folks know about this spot, so if you’re looking for a quiet, relaxing weekend, this is the spot for you. The camp is small and primitive, at 1,500 feet elevation on little Mono Creek, but Little Caliente Hot Springs is only one mile northeast of the campground. Mono Creek is a feeder to Gibraltar Reservoir, a long, narrow lake with no direct access.

Remember to pack in enough water for your whole trip, as there is no potable water onsite.

Santa Rosa Island (Channel Islands National Park)

Region: Santa Barbara and Vicinity
Scenic rating: 10/10

Santa Rosa, the second-largest of the Channel Islands (the largest is Santa Cruz), is 10 miles wide and 15 miles long, and it holds many mysteries and adventures. A camping trip to Santa Rosa Island, available Friday through Sunday, will be an unforgettable experience even for those who think they’ve seen it all. The island is beautiful in the spring, when its grasslands turn emerald green and are sprinkled with wildflowers. There are many good hikes: The best is the Cherry Canyon Trail into the island’s interior. Another great one is the five-mile Torrey Pines Trail. The Lobo Canyon Trail is a personal favorite.

Because the boat ride to Santa Rosa is approximately 2.5 hours, longer than the trip to Santa Cruz, this island often receives fewer visitors, which makes it even more special. Bring warm clothes because of the chance of fog and wind. The back beaches and sand dunes between Skunk Point and East Point are closed to hiking March through mid-September to protect nesting habitat for the snowy plover. The coastline around Sandy Point is closed year-round to protect seal rookeries.

Sunset on Santa Rosa Island featuring gentle waves and a glowing orange sky

Sunset on Santa Rosa Island. Photo © Bitterman/Flickr, licensed CC-BY.

Two Harbors (Catalina Island)

Region: Los Angeles and Vicinity
Scenic rating: 10/10

This campground is only a quarter-mile hike away from the village of Two Harbors. Nearby attractions include the Two Harbors Dive Station with snorkeling equipment, paddleboard rentals, and scuba tank fills to 3,000 psi. There are guided tours of the island and a scheduled bus service between Two Harbors and Avalon; a shuttle bus stops at all the interior campgrounds. An excellent hike is the nine-mile round-trip from Two Harbors to Emerald Bay, featuring a gorgeous coast and pretty valleys. The ferry to Avalon is available from Long Beach, Dana Point, or San Pedro. The ferry to Two Harbors is available only from San Pedro. Once at Avalon, there is a Safari Bus (310/510-2800, $16-25 one-way) to Two Harbors.

Hermit Gulch (Avalon, Catalina Island)

Region: Los Angeles and Vicinity
Scenic rating: 10/10

This is the closest campground to the town of Avalon, the gateway to Catalina. Reaching the camp requires a 1.5-mile hike up Avalon Canyon. If you’re making a tourist trip, there are a ton of things to do: visit Avalon’s underwater city park, play the nine-hole golf course, rent a bicycle, or visit the famous casino. Scenic tours, glass-bottomed boat tours, and Wrigley Memorial and Botanical Gardens are available. Fishing can be excellent, including angling for white seabass, yellowtail, and, in the fall, even marlin. The best hiking experience in the Avalon area is found by taking the shuttle bus to the Airport in the Sky and from there hiking along Empire Landing Road. The route traces the island’s curving, hilly northern shore, providing great views of secluded beaches, coves, and rock formations, and a chance to see wildlife, at times even buffalo. Note that free hiking permits are required.

Catalina Island Harbor, featuring blue water, docked boats, and hills in the background

Catalina Island Harbor. Photo © Ken Lund, licensed CC-BY.

Craving quiet solitude and outdoor adventure? These 10 hidden camping spots are the most secluded in California.


For detailed directions and descriptions of camp amenities and planning tips, check out the 20th edition of Moon California Camping.

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Plan a California Coast Road Trip (Including Detours for Big Sur) https://moon.com/2017/06/take-a-two-week-california-coast-road-trip/ https://moon.com/2017/06/take-a-two-week-california-coast-road-trip/#comments Thu, 01 Jun 2017 18:36:09 +0000 http://moon.com/?p=7027 A day-by-day California coast road trip accounting for detours and road closures along key sections of the PCH. This itinerary includes helpful travel maps and is flexible enough to start in San Diego, Los Angeles, or San Francisco. Only have two to four days? Each section can also be its own quick getaway.

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The ideal way to experience the California coast is to hit the road. Following this legendary road trip will take you through California’s bustling cosmopolitan cities, small beach towns, redwood forests, and sandy beaches. This itinerary has been updated to take into account detours caused by 2016’s stormy winter, which caused road closures and mudslides in some regions.

You can switch back and forth between the two routes depending on your pace and your interests. Highway 1 is generally more scenic; U.S. 101 is usually faster.For the most part, you’ll cover this stunning 850 miles by following the legendary Pacific Coast Highway (Highway 1) and U.S. 101. You can switch back and forth between the two routes depending on your pace and your interests. Highway 1 is generally more scenic; U.S. 101 is usually faster. A few diversions onto other routes are necessary to cover the entire coast (for example, you’ll be driving I-5 between San Diego and Los Angeles).

The day-by-day routes below begin in Southern California, but you can just as easily start in Central or Northern California, or reverse the route (from driving north to driving south) if that works better for you. Combine all three itineraries to make a 16-day tour of the coast. If you’re pressed for time, choose just one or two of the itineraries.

Northern California travel map

Northern California

Southern California travel map

Southern California

Five Days along the Southern California Coast

San Diego

Day 1

map of San Diego

San Diego

Easygoing San Diego is a great place to start any vacation. Upon arrival, orient yourself by driving to the top of Mt. Soledad Veterans Memorial, a small mountain that has views of the entire city. After that, head down to La Jolla Cove to go kayaking or snorkeling; or just lie on the beach.

In the afternoon, visit Balboa Park, where you’ll spend most of your time at the San Diego Zoo. End your day with a craft beer at one of San Diego’s many breweries, like the giant Stone Brewing Co., followed by a meal in the Gaslamp Quarter. Try the historic Grant Grill or the nearby Café Chloe.

Day 2

The fastest way to reach the North County beach towns of Encinitas, Carlsbad, and Oceanside is to take I-5 north out of San Diego. To cruise along the coast, opt for North Coast Highway 101 (also called Camino del Mar, San Elijo Boulevard, and Carlsbad Boulevard as it travels from Torrey Pines State Beach to Oceanside). Make sure to stop for a surf or a swim since the ocean temperatures cool as you head up the coast.

Continue north on I-5 to visit Huntington Beach before turning off towards Long Beach for a nighttime ghost tour on The Queen Mary, an ocean liner that is now home to restaurants, a hotel, shops, and a museum. If you are daring enough, book a room for the night in the haunted ship.

Torrey Pines State Reserve. Photo © Chad McDermott/The Department of Creativity.

Torrey Pines State Reserve. Photo © Chad McDermott/The Department of Creativity.

Los Angeles

Day 3

map of Los Angeles

Los Angeles

Jump on I-405 to save some time and drive about 30 miles north, exiting towards Venice Beach. Park your vehicle and take a stroll along the Venice Boardwalk to take in the local wildlife that includes bodybuilders, street performers, and alternative-culture types. Without getting back on the highway, take the local roads paralleling the beach 10 minutes north to Santa Monica. Enjoy the amusement park rides of the Santa Monica Pier or just take a break on Santa Monica Beach. For dinner, get a taste of the Caribbean at Santa Monica’s casual but popular Cha Cha Chicken or backtrack to Venice for a hearty Italian meal at C&O Trattoria.

Day 4

Consider heading inland for a day of culture (and pop culture). For aesthetic stimulation, visit the world-famous Getty Center or the Los Angeles County Museum of Art. Less rigorous on the mind is a walk down the star-studded Hollywood Walk of Fame and a stop at the historic TCL Chinese Theatre, where you can find the handprints of your favorite movie stars. End the day with a cocktail at Sunset Boulevard’s Rainbow Bar & Grill. There might even be a grizzled, past-his-prime rocker sitting in the booth next to you.

Get an amazing view of Los Angeles from the Getty Center.

Get an amazing view of Los Angeles from the Getty Center. Photo © Jon Bilous/123rf.

Day 5

Take the Pacific Coast Highway (Highway 1) out of Santa Monica west as it heads away from sprawling Los Angeles and into Malibu. Stop at Malibu’s Surfriders Beach to watch the surfers compete for its famously peeling waves (or catch one yourself). After a morning outdoors, feed your mind with ancient art at The Getty Villa in Malibu. (Admission is free, but you’ll need to reserve a ticket in advance.) Finish the day by watching the sun slide into the Pacific from the outdoor deck of Neptune’s Net, while enjoying fresh seafood.

If you want to spend more time in the Los Angeles area, you can easily fill a couple of days enjoying Disneyland Resort.


Six Days along the Central California Coast

Santa Barbara and Ventura

Day 1

map of Santa Barbara

Santa Barbara

Wake up early and drive north on the scenic Pacific Coast Highway. Thirty-five miles from Malibu, at Oxnard, merge onto U.S. 101. Head north on U.S. 101 to Ventura and take the exit toward Ventura Harbor, where you can catch a boat out to Channel Islands National Park for a day of hiking, snorkeling, or kayaking on Santa Cruz Island or Anacapa Island. (Make boat reservations in advance.) Return to Ventura and eat dinner at one of its seafood restaurants, such as Lure Fish House or Spencer Makenzie’s Fish Company. Or have an Italian meal and cocktail at hip Café Fiore.

Day 2

Take U.S. 101 north just a half hour (28 miles) to Santa Barbara. Get a history fix at the Santa Barbara Mission, which might be the most beautiful of the 21 Spanish missions in California. Then taste some of Santa Barbara’s wines on the Urban Wine Trail, six tasting rooms on lower State Street, or head north for a day at palm-lined Refugio State Beach, 20 miles west of Santa Barbara on U.S. 101.

Mission Santa Barbara on a clear day.

Mission Santa Barbara was the tenth built of the California Missions. Photo © Dreamstime

If your schedule is flexible, you might consider another full day in Santa Barbara, another day of wine-tasting in nearby Santa Maria Valley, or a day on the Gaviota Coast. Whatever you do, stop at Santa Barbara’s State Street for a fine meal or cocktail at a restaurant like the local favorite Opal. Or head off State Street for superb Mexican food at La Super-Rica Taqueria.

Big Sur and the Central Coast

Day 3

Maps - Northern California 7e - Big Sur

Big Sur

Drive 1.75 hours (92 miles) north of Santa Barbara on U.S. 101 to San Luis Obispo’s Madonna Inn, where you can take in its kitschy decor during a restroom and stretch-the-legs break.

Outdoor enthusiasts will want to head off the highway and go west on Los Osos Valley Road just 20 minutes (12 miles) to Montana de Oro State Park, one of the state’s best coastal parks. Picnic at Spooner’s Cove or hike to the top of 1,347-foot-high Valencia Peak. Then head back to U.S. 101 North, but be sure to turn onto Highway 1 north to take in sunset over Morro Rock, known as the “Gibraltar of the Pacific.”

Another option is to drive an hour north (44 miles) to opulent Hearst Castle. Tours of this “ranch” built for newspaper magnate William Randolph Hearst offer insight into the lifestyle of the rich and infamous. However you spend your day, end it with a meal in one of the Central Coast’s unassuming beach towns: Morro Bay, Cayucos or Cambria.

Day 4

Big Sur was one of the area’s hit hardest by winter’s storms in 2016, but this stunning section of coast is worth the extra effort to visit. A massive landslide in May 2017 has made travel into Big Sur from the south impossible. But the good news is that you can still experience 30 miles of the iconic coastline and a section of Highway 1 from Carmel down to the Pfeiffer Canyon Bridge closure, where one of the roadway’s bridges had to be demolished after incurring major storm damage. A new bridge is scheduled to open in September 2017.

To reach Carmel from San Luis Obispo, which is a two-and-a-half-hour drive, take U.S. 101 North 118 miles and then take the Abbott Street exit towards Spreckels. After two miles, turn onto Harris Road, which becomes Spreckels Boulevard, and continue 1.5 miles until you drive onto CA-68 West. Go 17 miles on the two-lane roadway until you hit Highway 1. Opt for Highway 1 South towards Carmel and Big Sur. Maybe pop off the highway for a snack break at Carmel-by-the-Sea’s Carmel Belle, which serves up tasty and healthy sandwiches and salads.

Refreshed, it’s now time to take in the stunning scenery of Big Sur. The open northern section has many worthwhile sights and stops including Garrapata Beach, the Bixby Bridge, and the Point Sur Light Station, which is open for tours.

Warm weather meets coastal fog on the Bixby Bridge in Big Sur. Photo © Mariusz Blach/123rf.

Warm weather meets coastal fog on the Bixby Bridge in Big Sur. Photo © Mariusz Blach/123rf.

While the famous Nepenthe Restaurant is past the bridge closure and therefore inaccessible, there are a handful of Big Sur Valley restaurants open to the public, including the Ripplewood Café, the Fernwood Bar & Grill, the Big Sur Roadhouse, and the Big Sur River Inn, where you can dangle your legs in the Big Sur River while sipping a beer or cocktail from the bar.

There are also a handful of places to spend the night in the open section of Big Sur, including but not limited to the Fernwood Resort, Glen Oaks, the Big Sur River Inn, and 50 campsites within the recently reopened Pfeiffer Big Sur State Park. Or opt to helicopter into the closed section of Big Sur for a two-night stay at the Post Ranch Inn; the “Escape Through the Skies” package rates begin at $4,291.

Monterey Bay

Day 5

Maps - Northern California 7e - Monterey Bay

Monterey Bay

After waking up in Big Sur, head up CA-1 north for 21 miles to the Carmel’s Point Lobos State Reserve for a morning walk on the Cypress Grove Trail. Then drive a few miles north into Monterey to spend the afternoon at the Monterey Bay Aquarium.

Dine on fresh seafood at Pacific Grove’s Passionfish, Monterey’s Fish House in Monterey, or Phil’s Fish Market up Highway 1 in Moss Landing.

If you want to spend another day in this area, wander the galleries in Carmel-by-the-Sea, golf at Pebble Beach, or head inland to Carmel Valley for wine tasting.

Day 6

Getting to Santa Cruz is an easy 50-minute drive (44 miles) up Highway 1 from the Monterey Peninsula. The eclectic beach city is an ideal place for recreation whether you are surfing, stand up paddleboarding, or hiking redwood-filled Forest of Nisene Marks State Park or the coastal bluffs of Wilder Ranch State Park. Refuel with a healthy snack at The Picnic Basket before ending the day with thrill rides at the Santa Cruz Beach Boardwalk.

If your adrenaline is still racing from the Boardwalk rides, calm down with a drink at Red Restaurant & Bar or The Crepe Place.

The Santa Cruz Beach Boardwalk is a classic stop on a California coast road trip.

The Santa Cruz Beach Boardwalk. Photo © Ken Wolter/123rf.


Five Days along the Northern California Coast

San Francisco

Day 1

Maps - Northern California 7e - San Francisco Bay Area

San Francisco Bay Area

Wake up early for a drive on Highway 1 from Santa Cruz less than two hours (80 miles) to San Francisco. In the city, spend a few hours in the hands-on science museum The Exploratorium. As the sun goes down, make sure to head out for dinner, whether it’s seafood at the Tadich Grill, modern Vietnamese at The Slanted Door, or pizza at Tony’s Pizza Napoletena. If you still have energy, make sure to check out some of San Francisco’s vibrant nightlife or a concert at a venue like the Great American Music Hall.

Day 2

Head out on the San Francisco Bay to take a fascinating tour of the island prison Alcatraz. Or secure passage on a ferry to Angel Island, which has hiking trails that offer up some of the finest views of the city.

In the afternoon, shop the used clothing stores of Haight-Ashbury or the department stores of Union Square. Or browse the books at City Lights in North Beach.

You’ll quickly fall in love with San Francisco; you can easily extend your romance to three or four days if you have the time.

Cable car in San Francisco.

Cable car in San Francisco. Photo © vadimsto/123rf.

The North Coast

Day 3

Maps - Northern California 7e - Sonoma and Mendocino Coasts

Sonoma and Mendocino Coasts

Your journey north begins with a drive on U.S. 101 over San Francisco’s iconic Golden Gate Bridge. Then after five miles turn off U.S. 101 to Highway 1 at Mill Valley. On the slow, over-four-hour drive up the coast (around 160 miles), make time to stop at places like the tiny but unique Sea Ranch Chapel, which is just feet off Highway 1, and take a hike on the stunning cliffside trails in the Point Arena-Stornetta Unit of the California Coastal National Monument.

End the day in the community of Mendocino with a view of the sunset at Mendocino Headlands State Park or a pint at the lively Patterson’s Pub or at the one-of-a-kind dive bar Dick’s Place.

Day 4

Drive Highway 1 north of Fort Bragg until the road turns inland to connect with U.S. 101 after about an hour of driving. Opt for the Avenue of the Giants, a 31-mile drive through redwoods by the Eel River. Even though it’s only 31 miles, the drive could take a few hours if you decide to get out of your car and ponder the trees.

Get back on U.S. 101 North and head an hour north (60 miles) to Eureka. Stop to wander the city’s Old Town and Waterfront. Taste some of the delicious oysters at the Humboldt Bay Provisions.

Continue on U.S. 101 another 10 minutes or so to charming Arcata. Wander through the redwoods of the Arcata Community Forest before sundown. Dine at one of the restaurants surrounding the lively Arcata Plaza. Then catch a live band or arthouse movie at The Miniplex in Richards’ Goat Tavern.

Fern Canyon is draped in bright green ferns. Photo © Igors Rusakovs/123rf.

Fern Canyon is draped in bright green ferns. Photo © Igors Rusakovs/123rf.

Day 5

Start your morning with a tasty crepe from Arcata’s Renata’s Creperie and Espresso before hitting U.S. 101 North on your final day. About 20 minutes north (15 miles), exit to the scenic coastal city of Trinidad. Have your camera handy for photos of Trinidad Memorial Lighthouse, Trinidad Head and Trinidad State Beach.

Another half hour up U.S. 101 (26 miles), turn onto Newton B. Drury Scenic Drive to explore Prairie Creek Redwoods State Park. If you have the energy, drive out Davison Road to Gold Bluffs Beach, where Roosevelt elk roam the sands, and continue on the dirt drive to hike the one-mile round-trip Fern Canyon Trail, which passes through a steep canyon draped in bright green ferns.

Head back out to U.S. 101 to drive the 45 minutes (38 miles) to Crescent City, where you can get a hotel room and a full night’s sleep.


Plan the ultimate coastal California road trip along Highway 1. This day-by-day travel itinerary accounts for detours and road closures along key sections of the PCH, and includes helpful travel maps. Start your drive in San Diego, Los Angeles, or San Francisco. Only have two to four days? Each leg can also be its own quick getaway.

Updated from an excerpt from the Fifth Edition of Moon Coastal California.

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California’s Summer of Love 50th Anniversary Events https://moon.com/2017/05/californias-summer-of-love-50th-anniversary-events/ https://moon.com/2017/05/californias-summer-of-love-50th-anniversary-events/#respond Fri, 12 May 2017 18:51:40 +0000 https://moon.com/?p=56958 California is celebrating the 50th anniversary of the Summer of Love and the hippie counterculture movement in 2017 with these events up and down the coast.

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Fifty years ago, the Summer of Love became the pinnacle of the 1960s-hippie counterculture movement, changing popular culture, music, fashion, and art forever. California was the epicenter, and the musicians, artists, and activists that gathered in San Francisco’s Haight-Ashbury introduced flowery garments, psychedelic rock, political activism, and LSD to the greater world in the summer months of 1967.

hippie dress

An example of a flowery dress worn during the 1960s hippie counterculture movement. Photo courtesy of the Fine Arts Museums of San Francisco.

Down the coast, the Monterey International Pop Festival was a critical component of the Summer of Love. The three-day concert held in the Monterey County Fairgrounds featured career-making performances by Jimi Hendrix, Janis Joplin, and Otis Redding, while paving the way for future festivals like Woodstock.

Most local authorities at the time were not thrilled with the throngs of hippies. This year, however, several cities are fully embracing their countercultural past for the summer’s 50th anniversary. A wide variety of events will be commemorating the Summer of Love over the next few months, from major museum exhibits to a new Monterey International Pop Festival featuring acts like Jack Johnson, Norah Jones, Gary Clark Jr., Father John Misty, and more.

Organizers of a Summer of Love 2017 are still hoping to get a permit to put on a show in San Francisco’s Golden Gate Park this September—but until then, embrace the peace, love, and rock and roll of 1967 with any one of these events from LA to the Bay.

San Francisco Bay Area

The de Young Museum’s “The Summer of Love Experience: Art, Fashion, and Rock & Roll” showcases 400 significant cultural artifacts from the Summer of Love in 10 galleries. There are mannequins decked out in period apparel, record sleeves, book covers, photographs, and poster art (including the original “Skeleton and Roses” Grateful Dead concert poster created by Stanley Mouse). A more immersive experience in the exhibit is a “liquid” light show commissioned by Bill Ham, that evokes the experience of attending a psychedelic rock show in 1967.

Details: de Young Museum’s “The Summer of Love Experience: Art, Fashion, and Rock & Roll,” April 8th—August 20th, 415/750-3600, adults $15, seniors $10, college students $6, children 17 and under free

Grateful Dead skeleton and roses poster

Original Grateful Dead concert poster designed by Stanley Mouse. Photo courtesy of the Fine Arts Museums of San Francisco.

The Berkeley Art Museum & Pacific Film Archive’s “Hippie Modernism: The Struggle for Utopia” examines the architecture and design of the countercultural movement. This includes everything from quirky hand-built homes to Gary D. Anderson’s original design for the recycle symbol. Along with the exhibit, the museum will be hosting public talks, film screenings, and other events. Check out the museum website for a full schedule.

Details: Berkeley Art Museum & Pacific Film Archive’s “Hippie Modernism: The Struggle for Utopia,” February 8th-May 21st, 510/642-0808, adults $12, students and seniors $10

designer of the recycle symbol

Gary D. Anderson is the designer of the original recycle symbol. Photo courtesy of the Gary D. Anderson collection.

Organized by Grateful Dead biographer Dennis McNally, the California Historical Society’s “On the Road to the Summer of Love” looks at the cultural happenings that preceded the Summer of Love. It begins by casting its gaze at the Beat Generation in the Bay Area during the 1950s, and goes beyond the Summer of Love to when two members of the Grateful Dead were arrested in a drug bust in October 1967. Unique artifacts on display include a framed sheet of LSD and a rare photo of Janis Joplin performing as a little-known folkie before becoming a rock legend.

Details: California Historical Society’s “On the Road to the Summer of Love,” May 12th-September 10th, 415/357-1848, adults $5, children free

hippie modernism protest poster

A protest poster shows a rendition of a militarized American flag. Photo © Lincoln Cushing/Docs Populi Archive.

Jim Marshall is known as a pioneer in rock and roll photography. Located in San Francisco City Hall—which goes to show how mainstream the counterculture has become—“Jim Marshall’s 1967” features photos of Jefferson Airplane, Janis Joplin, Jimi Hendrix, and more.

Details: San Francisco City Hall’s “Jim Marshall’s 1967,” April 24th-June 17th, 415/554-4000, free

The GLBT History Museum’s “Lavender-Tinted Glasses: A Groovy Gay Look at The Summer of Love” looks at the movement through the lenses of queer figures that played prominent roles, including Janis Joplin, poet Allen Ginsberg, filmmaker Kenneth Anger, and philosopher Gavin Arthur.

Details: GLBT History Museum’s “Lavender-Tinted Glasses: A Groovy Gay Look at The Summer of Love,” April 7th-September 29th, 415/621-1107, adults $5, students $3

Magic Bus’s “Summer of Love 50th Anniversary Tour” is a bus tour in a vehicle that is described as a traveling movie theater and light show. The two-and-a-half-hour excursion includes stops at North Beach’s City Lights Bookstore and in Haight-Ashbury, the real focal point of the Summer of Love.

Details: Magic Bus’s “Summer of Love 50th Anniversary Tour,” May 1st-September 15th Mondays, Thursdays, Fridays and Saturdays at 10:30am and 1:30pm, 855/969-6244, adults $70, students $65

Hang out in the go-to haunts of Janis Joplin, Jimi Hendrix, the Grateful Dead, and Joni Mitchell on the 12-block Haight-Ashbury Flower Power Walking Tour.

Details: Haight-Ashbury Flower Power Walking Tour, Tuesdays and Saturdays 10:30am, Fridays 2pm, adults $20, children under nine years old free

crowd of people aat the Monterey Pop Festival

The Monterey Pop Festival crowd in 1967. Photo © Elaine Mayes.

Monterey

The big Summer of Love event in Monterey is without a doubt the Monterey International Pop Festival 50th Anniversary Concert. In the same venue as the groundbreaking 1967 music festival, the three-day event includes performances by Jack Johnson, Norah Jones, and Gary Clark Jr., along with Phil Lesh and Eric Burdon & The Animals, alumni of the original fest. With original organizer Lou Adler onboard, the concert will also showcase historic memorabilia.

Details: Monterey International Pop Festival 50, June 16th-18th, $295-695/three-day tickets

Monterey’s Golden State Theatre will be screening documentary filmmaker D.A. Pennebaker’s Monterey Pop: a concert film with superb footage of performances from the Monterey Pop Festival. The screening will be accompanied by a talk by photographer Tom Gundelfinger O’Neal about shooting photos at the iconic event.

Details: Golden State Theatre’s Monterey Pop Screening, May 12th, 831/649-1070, $16

Missed the Golden State screening? Not to worry—catch the remastered cut at Monterey’s Osio Theater on June 16th ($10)!

The Monterey Museum of Art’s “Who Shot Monterey Pop! Photographs from the 1967 Music Festival” showcases images from the festival from seven photographers. There will be a handful of accompanying events including a roundtable talk with the exhibit’s photographers on June 15th.

Details: Monterey Museum of Art, June 2nd-September 18th, 831/3720-5477, adults $10, students and children under 18 free

Janis Joplin singing

Janis Joplin at the 1967 Monterey Pop Festival. Photo © Elaine Mayes.

The hyper intimate Gallery Exposed in Carmel will fill its small space with photos of rock photographer Tom O’Neal during its exhibit “Tom Gundelfinger O’Neal: From Monterey Pop to Déjà Vu and Beyond.”

Details: Gallery Exposed, June 13th-August 25th, 831/238-0127, free

The West End Celebration is a music and arts festival that has been going on in the small community of Sand City for 16 years. This year, there’s a definite Summer of Love focus, with free performances by 1960s acts David LaFlamme of It’s a Beautiful Day and Big Brother & The Holding Company.

Details: West End Celebration, August 25th-27th, free

Even the Monterey Regional Airport is getting in on the Summer of Love fun with its “Feeling Groovy” exhibit, showing artifacts that help visitors step back in time to 1960s Monterey.

Details: Monterey Regional Airport, January-December, 831/648-7000, free

Los Angeles

The Grammy Museum in Los Angeles is celebrating the anniversary of the Summer of Love with two exhibits. “Jim Marshall’s 1967” displays photos taken in 1967 by the rock photographer, while “Monterey International Pop Festival: Music, Love, and Flowers, 1967” takes a look at the iconic music festival.

Details: Grammy Museum, “Jim Marshall’s 1967” March 10th-May 14th, “Monterey International Pop Festival: Music, Love, and Flowers, 1967” May 11th-October 22nd, 213/765-6800, adults $12.95, seniors and students $11.95, children 6-17 $10.95

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What to See in Wawona Basin, Yosemite National Park https://moon.com/2017/05/sights-wawona-basin-yosemite-national-park/ https://moon.com/2017/05/sights-wawona-basin-yosemite-national-park/#respond Sun, 07 May 2017 19:29:17 +0000 http://moon.com/?p=40841 Giant trees, a pioneer town, and truly spectacular vistas make up the main reasons to hit the sights in Yosemite's Wawona basin. Here's where to go.

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Giant trees, a pioneer town, and truly spectacular vistas make up the main reasons to hit the sights in Yosemite’s Wawona basin. Both Wawona and the nearby Mariposa Grove of Giant Sequoias share approximately the same elevation (5,000 feet) and the same weather: warm, mild days and cooler nights. Summer temperatures typically reach the mid-80s or low 90s during the day and drop into the 50s at night. Both areas receive a few feet of snow in winter, which often closes the road to Mariposa Grove. Highway 41 stays open year-round, but you must carry chains in your vehicle at all times in winter.

Sights in Wawona Basin

Big Trees Lodge (Formerly Wawona Hotel)

The historic Victorian-style Big Trees Lodge (formerly Wawona Hotel, 8308 Wawona Rd., 801/559-4884) makes a lovely sight alongside Highway 41 just south of Wawona. Have a seat inside the hotel dining room for breakfast, lunch, or dinner, or just drop by for a look at the old photographs in the lobby area. A gift shop, bookstore, and visitors center are located across from the hotel.

Pioneer Yosemite History Center

The Pioneer Yosemite History Center in Wawona brings Yosemite’s history to life. This collection of historic buildings, many of which were relocated from other places in the park, are from different periods of Yosemite’s history—a U.S. Cavalry office, the bakery the Degnan family used to bake bread in the Valley, a Wells Fargo station that served stagecoach passengers, a jail, and a few homesteads. Live demonstrations are often held at the blacksmith shop and other buildings (check the Yosemite newspaper for dates and times).

Horse-drawn carriage rides (10 minutes, $5 adults, $4 children 3-12) are offered daily. You can walk around the buildings’ exteriors on your own (an interpretive brochure is available); in the summer months, docents sometimes dress in period costumes and lead visitors on free tours inside the buildings.

Covered bridge in Wawona.

Covered bridge in Wawona. Photo © Bruce Washburn, www.flickr.com/btwashburn, licensed CC-BY 2.0.

To reach the Pioneer Yosemite History Center, cross Forest Drive and walk through a covered bridge across the South Fork of the Merced River. The bridge was built in 1857 by the Washburn brothers, who established a tourist facility in what later became Wawona. Although the elaborate bridge served a practical purpose—the covered deck and truss portion protected the bridge from winter weather—it may have been built more to satisfy the Washburns’ longing for the familiar sights of their East Coast family home. The Washburn brothers owned the Wawona Hotel (now the Big Trees Lodge) and most of the land in this area until 1932, when the National Park Service purchased it.

Mariposa Grove of Giant Sequoias

The Mariposa Grove is the largest grove of sequoias in the park. It contains more than 500 mature trees, each more than 10 feet in diameter, spread out over 250 acres. The grove is divided into two areas—upper and lower. Most casual visitors stroll through the lower grove to see the most famous “named” trees, like the Grizzly Giant. Adventurous hikers will want to wander around both the upper and lower groves (six miles round-trip with a 1,200-foot elevation gain), a trek that requires a good amount of climbing. Most of them say that every footstep was worth the effort required.

To get to Mariposa Grove, take one of the free shuttle buses (daily Memorial Day-Labor Day) from the park’s South entrance or from Wawona. In winter and early spring, visitors can park near the South entrance station and snowshoe or walk two miles into the grove.

Lower Grove

Many visitors choose to visit only some of the more “famous” trees by walking a shorter loop (about 0.5 mile) that passes the Fallen Monarch, the Grizzly Giant, and the California Tunnel Tree. A series of interpretive signs on the trail to the Grizzly Giant provide an informative, self-guided tour.

The Fallen Monarch, which fell more than 300 years ago, was made famous by an 1899 photograph of the U.S. Cavalry and their horses standing on top of it. A short walk east from the parking lot is the Grizzly Giant, the largest tree in this grove at 210 feet tall and 31 feet across at its base. It is the most photographed sequoia in Yosemite. Its massive, gnarled branches appear to be sculpted by some unseen hand. One particularly impressive branch measures almost seven feet in diameter—larger than the trunks of most trees.

Slightly north, the California Tunnel Tree was tunneled in 1895 so that stagecoaches could drive through. In the early 1900s it was used as a “substitute” for the more famous Wawona Tunnel Tree, located in the upper portion of the Mariposa Grove, which was frequently inaccessible due to winter storms. Today you can walk through the California Tunnel Tree. The Wawona Tunnel Tree collapsed in 1969 at the ripe age of 2,200 years. Most likely it died prematurely; the 26-foot-long, 10-foot-high tunnel carved into its base weakened its ability to withstand that year’s heavy winter snowfall.

A trio of hikers stand at the base of giant sequoias in Mariopsa Grove.

Hiking in Mariposa Grove. Photo © Ann Marie Brown.

Upper Grove

The upper grove has the interesting Mariposa Grove Museum (10am-4pm daily in summer only), housed in a log cabin, with exhibits on the history of this region and mankind’s long fascination with the giant sequoia. The museum sits on the spot where Galen Clark, the first official guardian of Yosemite, once had his home. Nearby is an unusual sequoia known as the Telescope Tree, whose hollowed-out trunk creates a telescoping effect if you stand inside it and look upward. It’s a two-mile hike from the shuttle stop to the museum.


Excerpted from the Seventh Edition of Moon Yosemite, Sequoia & Kings Canyon.

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Seeing California Wildflowers in 2017’s Super Bloom https://moon.com/2017/03/california-wildflowers-super-bloom/ https://moon.com/2017/03/california-wildflowers-super-bloom/#respond Mon, 27 Mar 2017 23:11:37 +0000 https://moon.com/?p=54743 After years of drought, followed by the coldest, wettest, and longest winter in over 30 years, California is finally ready for spring. And what a spring it will be. It is predicted to be a “super bloom,” a term dreamed up not by clever PR boosters, but by park rangers and biologists who know their flora.

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After years of drought, followed by the coldest, wettest, and longest winter in over 30 years, California is finally ready for spring. And what a spring it will be. It is predicted to be a “super bloom,” a term dreamed up not by clever PR boosters, but by park rangers and biologists who know their flora.

California’s wildflower season begins in mid-March on the floors of Southern California’s vast deserts, and moves north through its great valleys, coastal plains, woodland foothills, and culminates high in its mountain meadows in late July. Anza Borrego Desert State Park is the first stop on a wildflower tour. For just a few weeks, the park is awash in tufts of purple, yellow, white, and gold, when lilies, poppies, primrose, agave, and even the prickly barrel cactus, burst into color. Stretch your legs in the desert garden outside the visitor center, explore the brilliant Borrego Palm Canyon, or prepare to have your breath taken away by the Carrizo Badlands Overlook awash in lavender, lilies, and creosote.

Yellow and purple wildflowers blooming in California.

A variety of California wildflowers bloom in Anza Borrego State Park. Photo © Sumikophoto/123rf.

The color continues north to nearby Joshua Tree National Park, where blooms send out their tender shoots as early as February at the lower elevations, and can keep blooming until April or even June higher up. In March, the southern Cottonwood Visitor Center is the place to go for striking displays of Arizona lupine’s purple spikes, flowering ocotillo, and the hummingbird favorite, churparosa. In the northern reaches of the park, yucca, teddy bear cholla, and Joshua trees are just beginning their bloom. Look for these near the west entrance of the park, and along the Cholla Cactus Garden Nature Trail.

April is when the California poppy unfurls its deep orange petals in earnest. While found in nearly every corner of the state, there is no match for the plunging slopes of Big Sur when it comes to seeing California’s most famous flower. March through May, Big Sur’s grassland becomes a lush blanket of green, gold, and lavender (thanks to another favorite, lupine). Take the Soberanes Point and Calla Lilly Canyon trails at Garrapata State Park, just seven miles south of Carmel, to soak up the scenery.

Poppies and lupine cover the hillside.

Wildflowers bloom along the California coast near Big Sur. Photo © Kan Khampanya/123rf.

If you’re visiting the north coast, the quaint village of Mendocino is the perfect backdrop to the surrounding wildflower studded bluffs. The Mendocino Headlands State Park is just steps away from the town’s wooden boardwalks, and is filled with poppies, lupine, seaside dailies, Mendocino paintbrush, and coastal buckwheat. It’s also not a bad spot to witness migrating whales.

Wildflowers in Wine Country? You bet. The bucolic fields of the Sonoma Valley become even more beautiful when filled with poppies, lupine, forget-me-nots, buttercups, fuschia, Mariposa lilies, and yarrow. Just a stroll from Sonoma’s historic plaza, the Sonoma Overlook Trail winds three miles through grass and oak woodland, and is the ideal spot for a wildflower-filled picnic. If that’s not enough, consider booking a guided tour at the Bouverie Preserve outside Glen Ellen, home to 350 species of flowering plants and 130 species of birds.

A field of lupine in Napa.

Lupine blooming in wine country. Photo © Elizabeth Linhart Veneman.

Summer travelers need not despair. As California’s grassland turns from green to gold, the wildflowers head for the hills. With its 1100-foot range in elevation, Yosemite is in bloom nearly all year round. Starting in March on the valley floor, find clover, pine violets, evening primrose, and dogwood. At higher elevations starting in May, look for snow plant, columbine, monkshood, shooting stars, and rein orchids. Up Tioga Pass around Tuolumne Meadows, the show starts in late June with lilies, paintbrush, mountain dandelion, red heather, and fireweed, and continues into July when the late bloomers of Alpine paintbrush, wallflower, and mountain monkeyflower get their chance.

Whether you plan a trip to the desert, to the coast, or to the mountains, as a first time visitor or seasoned native, this is the year to see the Golden State sparkle.

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4-Day Northern California Road Trip Itinerary https://moon.com/2017/03/northern-california-road-trip-itinerary/ https://moon.com/2017/03/northern-california-road-trip-itinerary/#comments Fri, 10 Mar 2017 19:02:01 +0000 https://moon.com/?p=51756 Spend four days touring San Francisco and the coast with this Northern California road trip itinerary from local SF-based author Elizabeth Linhart Veneman.

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Spend four days touring San Francisco and the coast with this Northern California road trip itinerary.

Day 1

Start your trip in San Francisco, where you can fly into San Francisco International Airport and rent a car. If you’d like to explore the city, try these suggestions for spending a day in San Francisco like a local.

Cable car in San Francisco.

Photo © vadimsto/123rf.

Day 2

Your journey north begins with a drive on U.S. 101 over San Francisco’s iconic Golden Gate Bridge. After five miles, turn off U.S. 101 to Highway 1 at Mill Valley. On the slow, four-hour drive up the coast (around 160 miles), make time to stop at Fort Ross State Historic Park to explore the re-constructed Russian settlement.

End the day in the community of Mendocino with a view of the sunset at Mendocino Headlands State Park or a pint at the lively Patterson’s Pub. At night, dine at the historic MacCallum House Restaurant.

California's rocky Mendocino Coast. Photo © Elizabeth Linhart Veneman.

California’s rocky Mendocino Coast. Photo © Elizabeth Linhart Veneman.

Day 3

Follow Highway 1 north to Fort Bragg then continue inland to connect with U.S. 101 (about one hour). Take the Avenue of the Giants, a breathtaking drive through Humboldt Redwoods State Park. Even though it’s only 31 miles, the trip could take a few hours if you get out of your car to ponder the big trees.

Get back on U.S. 101 and head an hour north (60 miles) to Eureka. Stop to wander the Blue Ox Millworks and Historic Park before continuing north another 10 minutes or so to charming Arcata. Wander through Arcata Plaza, then grab a drink at The Alibi. Afterward, dine at one of several restaurants surrounding the lively plaza.

Avenue of the Giants. Photo © Suppavut Varutbangkul/123rf.

Avenue of the Giants. Photo © 
Suppavut Varutbangkul/123rf.

Day 4

Start your morning with a tasty crepe from Arcata’s Renata’s Creperie before hitting U.S. 101 north on your final day. About 20 minutes (15 miles) north of Arcata, exit to the scenic coastal city of Trinidad. Walk down to the beach at College Cove or explore the rugged coast by kayak.

After another half hour north on U.S. 101 (26 miles), turn onto Newton B. Drury Scenic Drive to explore Prairie Creek Redwoods State Park. If you have the energy, drive out Davison Road to Gold Bluffs Beach, where Roosevelt elk roam the sands. Continue on the dirt drive to hike the one-mile round-trip up Fern Canyon, which passes through a steep canyon draped in bright green ferns.

Fern Canyon is draped in bright green ferns. Photo © Igors Rusakovs/123rf.

Fern Canyon is draped in bright green ferns. Photo © Igors Rusakovs/123rf.

Head back out to U.S. 101 to drive the 45 minutes (38 miles) to Crescent City, where you can get a hotel room and a full night’s sleep.

Northern California travel map

Northern California

Excerpted from the First Edition of Moon California.

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Discover California https://moon.com/2017/02/discover-california/ https://moon.com/2017/02/discover-california/#respond Wed, 01 Feb 2017 17:58:18 +0000 http://moon.type5.co/?p=781 Diverse, wacky, and unforgettable, California is larger than life. The boisterous cities seem bigger, redwood forests and snow-capped mountains loom taller, and sandy coastlines stretch longer than anywhere else.

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Diverse, wacky, and unforgettable, California is larger than life. The boisterous cities seem bigger, redwood forests and snow-capped mountains loom taller, and sandy coastlines stretch longer than anywhere else.

If you love the outdoors, remote backpacking spots, and extreme sports, you could spend a month exploring California and never once enter the city limits of San Francisco or Los Angeles. If high art, nightlife, and gourmet restaurants top your list, you can stay entirely inside those cities, soaking in their infinitely variable culture. Hot-spot clubbing, award-winning plays, experimental art exhibits and splashy gallery openings, and some of the best cuisine in the country often coexist within the same six-block street.

The Pacific Coast Highway in Big Sur, California.

The Pacific Coast Highway in Big Sur, California. Photo © Dionigi Pozzi/123rf.

There’s no one true way to describe California, just as there’s no one true way to experience it. Southern California isn’t all surfers and movie stars, while Northern California is more than just expensive real estate and radical politics. Tiny coastal towns, sweeping farmlands, and forested mountain ranges all defy stereotypes—from oases of swimming pools in the desert to remote wineries nestled within rural mountains.

The pace of life is as diverse as everything else in the state. Fast moving and fast living are hallmarks of the Los Angeles basin, yet the quiet frenzy of the San Francisco Bay Area sometimes seems just as fast. Outside the major urban areas, the hectic speed diminishes. California’s numerous wine regions invite visitors to relax and slow that pace even further. Beyond the farms and vineyards, an even more venerable and variable pace emerges—that of nature. The gushing waterfalls of Yosemite, towering redwoods of Humboldt, bone-dry deserts of Death Valley, delicate native wildflowers along the coast… even the imperceptible crawl and occasional sudden jolt of the land itself all make up the unique rhythm of California.

To best discover what California has to offer, choose something that you want to fall in love with and pursue it here—whether your passion is organic wine, Gold Country ghost towns, Hollywood movie stars, or just lying on the beach. No matter who you are or what you’re into, you can make this place your own.


Excerpted from the First Edition of Moon California.

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