Luxurious Destinations
Northern California
Destinations Within Northern California

Northern California Trip Itineraries

Family Fun in San Francisco

Family Fun in San Francisco
Destination(s): San Francisco

San Francisco has plenty of fun-filled family adventures in store, ranging from the cultural to the natural to the nighttime entertainment variety. And the best part? These family-friendly attractions are guaranteed to delight people of all ages. read more about Family Fun in San Francisco... Read More

Napas Top 7 Secret Travel Gems

Napas Top 7 Secret Travel Gems
Destination(s): Napa Valley

Everyone has a favorite winery in Napa. But not everyone knows where to get the best ice cream in town (organic, too!) or the location of an amazing hand-built playground for kids that will keep them happy for hours. Here, my top 7 hidden travel gems in Napa. The kinds of places we tell our friends about, but hope the tourists never discover. read more about Napas Top 7 Secret Travel Gems... Read More

Top 10 Five Star Restaurants in California

Top 10 Five Star Restaurants in California
Destination(s): Yosemite National Park

The best of California’s fine dining scene
There is certainly no shortage of five star worthy restaurants in California! The state has a deeply rooted foodie culture, enjoys relatively high salaries, and is a regular trendsetter in the food department – all the better to support five star cuisine. To show you what we mean, we’ve put together a list of our top 10 picks for five star restaurants in California, including: Fleur de Lys in San Francisco for ultra formal French cuisine under a draped tent like ceiling; Ahwahnee Dining Room in Yosemite National Park for rustic style, resort level dining (even though it’s essentially located in the middle of a forest, the dining room has a strict formal dress code); The Raymond in Pasadena for elegant California cuisine in multiple dining rooms and garden patios; and Masa’s in San Francisco for French-California cuisine, fresh roses, and a wine list of 800 wines (dinner jacket required for men). read more about Top 10 Five Star Restaurants in California... Read More

One winter day

One winter day
Destination(s): Yosemite National Park

Having only one day to see a place as grand as Yosemite could be tragic, except that having any time at all in Yosemite is worth celebrating. If you can come in the winter time, you’re in for a special treat. Though it’s a lot of driving, you can reach Yosemite from as far away as San Francisco for a day trip. Anything further away than Merced, Fresno or Manteca means a 2-hour drive. In the winter, entering the park through Mariposa on Highway 140 is the best way to avoid snowy/icy roads. This day mixes a morning walk, a deluxe lunch and an easy afternoon of a few simple walking stops. It assumes you’ve got the whole day, the weather isn’t prohibitive and that you want to see a bit of everything in Yosemite Valley. The Valley is at 4000’ elevation, so check what the weather forecast is saying for that level and bring appropriate clothing. I always look at the webcams on www.yosemite.org/vryos to see what it looks like in the Valley at any given time. Park at the Day Use Parking in Yosemite Village, fill your daypack with some snacks, water and an extra layer, and just start walking due east towards the unmistakable Half Dome. It’s easy to find trails going your direction, along or across the Merced River, as long as you aim toward Half Dome. It’s about 3 miles of very gradual uphill to reach Mirror Lake. There are a couple of bathrooms along the main route. Watch for dramatic icefalls down the face of Half Dome, get the photo of Mt. Watkins reflected in the water, enjoy the ice formations along Tenaya Creek. Make your way back down the paved access trail/road and keep right at the fork, following the bike path. Just after you walk across a pair of stone bridges, you’ll see the Ahwahnee to the right; cut across and find the immense, luxurious dining room for a delicious lunch. After lunch, take the free shuttle bus from right out front, two stops to the Visitor Center to learn from the exhibits, browse the bookstore and ask questions of the rangers. Then stroll through the adjacent Ansel Adams Gallery to see the famous photographer’s art. If you still have a bit more energy, follow the bike path away from Half Dome, to walk the short, paved loop trail to the base of Yosemite Falls. This quick, easy stroll affords great views and a nice look at Lower Yosemite Fall. From here, the shuttle picks you up and will return you to the Village Store which is only two minutes from the Day Use Parking in Yosemite Village. read more about One winter day... Read More

The Best of Sonoma in One Day

The Best of Sonoma in One Day
Destination(s): Glen Ellen

Sonoma Valley is a bit like a younger sibling to Napa Valley; it’s made up of the same kind of magic, but one gets the sense that it tries hard to live up to Napa’s renown. The struggle to measure up has certainly paid off, to the degree that many visitors profess that Sonoma has actually surpassed Napa in charm—and wine. This one-day overview gives you a sense of the wineries, allows you to experience the small-town feel, and takes you along breathtakingly bucolic stretches of highway. read more about The Best of Sonoma in One Day... Read More

Hollywood and Palm Springs

Hollywood and Palm Springs
Destination(s): Palm Springs

There is more to Los Angeles than Disneyland, Beverly Hills and crime. Experience the throbbing Bohemian vibe of Silver Lake, the historical past of Hollywood's golden era and the hipster past of Palm Springs. This is the quintessential Los Angeles experience for those that want to live an updated 1950s lifestyle right here, right now. read more about Hollywood and Palm Springs... Read More

Best San Francisco Budget Attractions

Best San Francisco Budget Attractions
Destination(s): Mill Valley

San Francisco has many affordable attractions and outdoor activities to thrill people of all ages. Golden Gate Park has tons of nooks and crannies to explore, aside from its paid attractions. Muir Woods has a nominal admission fee and boasts hours and hours of nature walks and challenging hikes that extend to Mt. Tamalpais and Stinson Beach. Visiting Angel Island is free; you only have to cover the cost of the ferry ride, which in and of itself offers priceless views of the bay. Riding a Cable Car is also an inexpensive way to experience the roller coaster-worthy San Francisco hills. Take the Hyde Street line to the top of Lombard Street, one of the city’s most famous sights. If your timing works out, you can bypass costly admission fees on monthly free days at many of the city’s museums. Hungry for history? The centuries-old Mission Dolores has a $3 admission fee. Just plain hungry? Chow down at Pancho Villa for the city’s tastiest burritos—also the best dining deal in town. read more about Best San Francisco Budget Attractions... Read More

Reservations Needed

Reservations Needed
Destination(s): Oakland

This past weekend, the San Diego local expert visited the Bay Area for some fun in the unlikely sun. read more about Reservations Needed... Read More

Romantic Getaway Guide to Sonoma

Romantic Getaway Guide to Sonoma
Destination(s): Glen Ellen

The essence of romance is stripping away the distractions and pressures of daily life and finding a place to hide away together. In Sonoma, you can toast your future to the tune of crashing waves in a coastal hideout, or wine and dine in Zagat-rated and Michelin-starred comfort. Best of all, in place of chain hotels and big branded resorts, Sonoma offers intimate, boutique inns and hotels where luxurious settings and personalized service make it easy to feel that loving feeling. Take a beach walk or a stroll through town, picnic in a vineyard, soak in a mineral pool under the stars. With few crowds and no loud tasting room louts, Sonoma makes it easy to enjoy wine country culture while getting further off the beaten path. read more about Romantic Getaway Guide to Sonoma... Read More

Honeymooning in Napa

Honeymooning in Napa
Destination(s): St. Helena

If you're looking for a honey moon that doesn't skimp on luxury, Napa Valley is the perfect destination. The Meadowood is known for its hospitality. Choose to stay in a cottage complete with a fireplace and tub, with the option of ordering in breakfast or dinner one night to eat in privacy. Aside from secluded lodging, the Meadowood also offers magnificent spa treatments, tennis courts, hiking trails and award winning food. Plus, the friendly staff can recommend other activities in the area. While you're there, start the relaxation and romance off with a massage at the Meadowood Spa or a treatment at the Bathhouse in Calistoga. Napa has numerous award winning restaurants from which to choose, most offering a romantic setting and extensive wine lists. I've included some of my favorites in here, but there are also more recommended restaurants in the unscheduled items list. During your stay you should most definitely take advantage of the magnificent chefs at the Meadowood and dine in the restaurant. Depending if you want your honeymoon to be more or less active, Napa has a variety of activities. You can choose to either stay within the Meadowood, enjoy your cottage, the tennis courts, swimming pool and hiking trails within the compound, or you can venture out to do some picnicking in nearby Bothe-Napa Valley State Park, see the valley in the morning light on a hot air balloon ride or visit some of the numerous wineries in the valley. Napa Valley has a lot to offer but no matter what you choose, you can be assured that your visit will be tranquil and romantic. Enjoy! Photo courtesy of star5112 / Creative Commons read more about Honeymooning in Napa... Read More