Planning our trip to Northern California had been a group effort. We (me, David, Jane and Mike), each had a hand in planning what we would see and do. It turned out to be an amazing trip
12 Days in California – Part 2
As we left Yosemite Valley, I couldn’t wait to see what Napa Valley had in store for us. The drive took us about 4 hours. The ever changing Northern California terrain kept us very entertained. We went through mountains, farmland and some very dry dusty areas. We passed cattle, almond farms and lakes. Suddenly over the horizon laid the town of Napa.
It’s a quaint town – not to small, not too big. We had lunch in downtown Napa – just the beginning of several days of delicious food. After lunch, we headed to a hike that my BIL found. At the top, we could see the town of Napa as well as Napa Valley.
We stayed in an AirBNB just a couple of blocks from the downtown area. A completely renovated bungalow. Easy access to everywhere we wanted to go.
At the end of day one, we drove down Highway 29 through Napa Valley. My first surprise was of course, how dry it was but then smell of fermenting grapes hit my nose and I was in awe. Miles of wineries from Napa to Calistoga is astounding. Acres and acres of vineyards and beautiful wineries. Our visit took place just after the harvest and we loved being able to see all the rows and rows of vines.
We decided to visit the Castello di Amorosa winery. We wanted a learning tour and this winery did not disappoint. The setting is a Thirteenth Century castle complete with a dungeon and torture chamber. The tour was great and our guide, Eric, was both entertaining and knowledgeable, and a good salesman!
Next came the tasting. We tasted about nine wines. When David and I checked out our scores of the wines, we found that we have very similar tastes in wine. Light and sweet but not too sweet. We decided to split a case of wine! We really loved it!
We also visited Sterling Vineyards. After a cable car lift up the mountain, we did a self guided tour of the winery. They have a beautiful roof top deck and bar area. Some of the most beautiful views in the area can be seen from up there!
We left Napa Valley the next morning. On our way out of town, we had breakfast at Buttercream Bakery, an old diner and donut/bakery shop. The donuts were amazing.
We headed toward San Francisco, our final destination. Along the way, we stopped at Muir Woods. We discovered that we needed to make a reservation to park to take a walk in the beautiful woods. Lucky for us, a time as available that fit perfect with our travel plans.
Our drive up to Muir Woods was exciting. It was foggy and the road was beyond curvy! The red woods are amazing. So statuesque and straight. I don’t believe I have ever seen trees so straight. And tall. We hiked a few miles and then headed to our Airbnb in San Francisco.
The drive into San Francisco, crossing the Golden Gate Bridge is something I highly recommend to everyone. The bridge is just as beautiful as all the photos you see. More about later.
When we arrived in San Francisco, we immediately noticed a significant drop in the temperature. Our Airbnb was in Golden Gate Park. This was our first visit to San Francisco and I must be honest, I am not a fan of the row houses. They architecture in this area was all over the place. All I can say is Lord help you if you have crappy neighbors!
We did all the touristy things in San Francisco. David and I took the ferry out to Alcatraz and did the audio tour. We highly recommend this. The background sounds on the audio tour make you feel as it you were really there. It is a sad and lonely place. They are working on making it a bit more cheerful with gardens – there’s even a garden tour
We ate lunch at Fisherman’s Wharf and went out to see the sea lion (my favorite thing!). The sea lions are fun to watch. Such clowns – always having fun and picking at each other!
Lombard Street – the crookedest street in the USA. It was fun to watch people drive, skateboard and walk down it. This street has appeared in so many movies, it was great to see it up close and in person!
On Saturday we went out to Point Reyes National Seashore – an amazing national park with a beautiful lighthouse that sits high above the Pacific. It was breathtaking. The drive out was crazy. The road was bumpy and curvy. We would go several miles and not see anyone other than cows and deer.
Suddenly we came to the place to park. We got out of the car to a cold blast of very wet air. And then we walked – not too far but it was cold and damp.
The lighthouse and seeing whales in the distance was worth it. On our way back from Point Reyes, we stopped for lunch at the Spinnaker in Sausalito. Very cool restaurant on the bay with a perfect view of San Francisco.
On the was back from Sausalito, we stopped at the famous Golden Gate Bridge overlooks – a Northern California icon. It was extremely crowded and we could not get the perfect photo with the fog and crowd. So we went under the bridge to the other side, got photos really fast and wondered if we could find a better vantage point to photograph the bridge. We headed across the bridge to the Presidio. We drove around the grounds and found a side street with this amazing view of the Golden Gate Bridge. Looking at the Golden Gate Bridge from the National Cemetery was very impressive and beautiful from this location.
Heading home, our flight was easy. I actually watched a movie. See the gorgeous sunset that met us when we arrived back in Nashville.
When we were planning our trip to Northern California, to say we were excited was a complete understatement. But always in the back of my mind was “what will go wrong”? Shame on me for thinking that. Most importantly, we had 12 perfect days of sunshine and no problems that derailed us. No issues with were we stayed, no car trouble, no injuries. It was as if God and the Universe were looking out for us.
Planning a trip to Northern California soon, I hope that this information will help you! Click here to read about the first part of our trip.
The places we visited:
- Big Sur
- Napa and Napa Valley
- Muir Woods
- San Francisco
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Wow that bridge is huge! What a fabulous endless landscape. And those see lions, oh my! Beautiful. Hope to see you on my Fancy Friday link up party.
I would love to join you on your link up party. Thank you for reading. The sea lions and the Pacific were my favorite things!
Hi Kim. I haven’t been to California for years. My dad was in the military and when I was 7 we stopped in San Francisco before catching a boat to Japan. I vaguely remember the crookedest street. Napa Valley looks beautiful! I’d love to go there someday. After traveling the world for 10 years, we have bought an apartment in Chiatura, Georgia. (Europe). My husband and I also enjoy semi-sweet white wine. Georgian makes some of the best wine in the world and certainly their method of making wine is the oldest in the world. I enjoyed your post so much! Thanks for sharing your anniversary trip with us.
Wow, you have had an amazing life. My Dad was military too but I have never been abroad. Europe is definitely on our bucket list. Thank you for stopping in. I will be sure to pick your brain when we plan our trip.
I loved your post since it brought back so many amazing memories for me. You see we lived in the Bay area for 7 years and enjoyed every area you highlighted. Happy for you that your anniversary was celebrated with so many joyful experiences!
It was a great gift to give ourselves. I lived in Southern California but did not make it to Northern California.
I’m glad you enjoyed Northern California! I lived in Napa for seven years and got to experience some of the best restaurants in the world. I hope you made it to The Model Bakery in Napa?? They have the best English muffins and Tom Cruise and Oprah have both flown in just for them!
I did not know about that bakery. We went to Buttercream and the donuts were fabulous. There were a few things we didn’t get to – street car, the courthouse and the other thing escapes me. We will save those for another trip!
What a fantastic trip and the photos are beautiful. Its been many years since I visited San Francisco and your blog has brought back memories for me. Thanks for sharing!
Thank you for reading. I did enjoy going through the photos. It was hard to pick from all that we took!
Hey I’m from Tennessee and used to live in northern California! I had a new baby at the time when we were in CA, so I didn’t get to do as much fun exploring, but I’d love to go back and visit all these places you shared!
Where are you in Tennessee? You definitely should go back. It’s worth it!
The food looked incredible! And wasn’t Alcatraz interesting. We also did the audio tour and it gave me shivers!
It was a bit eerie. We had great food in Carmel, Napa and San Francisco.
Wow what a fantastic trip you’ve had! I have been to California just once but was down south. The north looks just beautiful 🙂
I grew up in San CLemente. It was beautiful down there too.
I’ve been to San Fran a few times, but this gives me a whole new reason to visit North California! I’m looking forward to checking out Napa Valley! Thanks for sharing this
Napa was fun. We were only there a couple of days. I am sure we will go back!
What a beautiful trip to venture on! These monuments and attractions seem like great places to visit, and especially the Golden Gate Bridge! Must have been a fun adventure!
The bridge is fantastic. It’s awesome to drive over too. We had a blast!
Happy Anniversary 🥂 happy to see that you enjoyed your trip! What beautiful photos. It looked as though your time together created amazing memories. Great travel guidelines.
We really did enjoy this trip! Thank you Nancy.