If you have never been to northern California, then I highly suggest you go. My husband and I took the trip out there last year with his brother and his family, and I have to say that it is one of the most amazing places that I have ever been. The diversity of the land forms is quite amazing. Here are a few places that I absolutely fell in love with.
Concord was the first town that we visited. We flew into Oakland, and Concord was a 30-40 minute ride through the Bay Area’s public transit system, BART ( which was very reasonably priced). We stayed in a hotel not to far from the BART station, and walked around the city.
The city was nice, and the weather was perfect. It was February, and we only needed a light jacket. We took BART down to a city called Walnut Creek for the afternoon, and walked around and explored. There were business, a few restaurants and shops. The scenery was beautiful.
We ate lunch at a Peruvian restaurant called “Parada” and the rotisserie chicken salad was great! ( I am pretty sure that it was on their specials.) Living in Michigan, it was nice being able to sit outside in February on their patio, and eat.
Yosemite was the most amazing place that I have ever been to. It is located about 4 hours east of San Francisco, and the drive is worth every second. As soon as you step out of the car, you can smell the redwoods in Yosemite Valley. This is definitely somewhere I would like to come back to and hike.
We walked up to Yosemite falls, which were beautiful. We are lunch at the cafeteria which was overpriced for sub-par food, but everything else was absolutely wonderful The view from the “tunnel view lookout” was breathtaking. It didn’t even look real.
There were many different lookout points to visit, with each one offering a new view of the park. You could hike up to the waterfalls, or up a mountain.
You cannot visit Northern California without spending at least one day in San Francisco! San Francisco is a very cool city. Of course, we drove over the iconic Golden Gate Bridge, and took pictures in front of it. We only spent a day there, but saw many different cool sites. We had clam chowder in a sour dough bread bowl on Fisherman’s Wharf( I actually had chili because seafood is not for me), and walked down Pier 39 and saw all of the sea lions laying out and barking. They were so cute! There were a lot of cool, reasonably priced shops around the pier. You could also look out through binoculars and see Alcatraz. We also made sure to take the drive down “The World’s Crookedest Street”, Lombard Street.
Growing up in the 90s, I loved the show, “Full House”. Turns out, the opening shot of “Full House” is a real house in San Francisco! We made sure to take a picture in front of it, although it is now painted a different color.
Haight- Ashbury was a fun place to visit. It is the “hippie district of San Francisco” and definitely had a 70s vibe. The whole street smelled like pot, regardless of the fact that there were cops parked on every corner!
We ended the day in San Francisco watching the sunset on Ocean Beach. I have never seen a sunset like that one. The sky was all different shades of orange, and the crashing of the waves on the Pacific Ocean was calming. It was beautiful. California has the best sunsets
Monterey, like everything we had visited in California was very pretty. The city was nice, and the aquarium was awesome. It was the best aquarium that I have ever been to. The otters, the sting rays and the jellyfish were my favorite. There was also a tank where you could pet the sting rays!
Big Basin State Park
California has many different parks with redwoods. We chose to visit Big Basin State Park. The trees were enormous, and the smell of the redwoods made me long for a camping trip. They also have a cute store with souvenirs, and a camping feel. They have different hiking options, and we chose to go on one of the shorter ones because we had our nephew with us.
Santa Cruz, CA
When we left Big Basin, we headed west to Santa Cruz. Santa Cruz had a really cool boardwalk with an amusement park on it. There were nice souvenir shops, and more sea lions out on the pier, where we stopped to watch a surf competition. Santa Cruz is regarded as one of the best spots in the world for surfing!
As you take The Pacific Coast Highway about 13 miles south of Carmel, there is a stretch of coast called “Big Sur”, where land meets sea. The Bixby Bridge is one of the landmarks on this stretch of highway, that you will drive across. There are many points where you can stop our car and pull over for photo ops.
Santa Clara & Silicon Valley
Santa Clara was a cool city to visit. The fact that it is located in Silicon Valley made my techy husband very happy! We visited Apple and Google. The Google campus was very cool They had red, blue, green and yellow bikes for employees to ride from building to building. They also had swings, picnic tables and a giant outdoor chess board!
Northern California is amazing. There are so many things to do and see, we didn’t even get to do it all within the week that we were there. There are mountains, the ocean, forests, small cities, and big cities. The people are friendly, the weather was perfect and the food was fantastic. I definitely recommend that everyone visits there at least once in their life!