Northern California vacation ideas
May 15, 2012 11:36 PM   Subscribe

Northern California trip planning help please! I'm attending a wedding in the Sonoma region this summer and would like to plan a week-long Northern California trip ending in Geyserville. I'll be with family and need to stay in hotels or B&Bs, (not camping or not motels.) I'd love help with itinerary ideas, especially national parks/forests that might be fun for trips in the area. If you have stayed in nice hotels or B&Bs in Northern California, please share your suggestions. Kid-friendly ideas also appreciated. I've got a full week- would like to stay in maybe 2 or 3 locations (not necessarily moving every night).
posted by gen to Travel & Transportation around California (6 answers total) 4 users marked this as a favorite
I love the Agate Cove Inn in Mendocino - it's a super cute bed and breakfast with extra tasty breakfast and amazing views of the ocean. Mendocino is a cute little town, and nearby to lots of nice hiking (and redwoods). I especially like the pygmy forest, which is a boardwalk and would be great for kids (plus it's really cool to see all the mini flora and fauna!).
posted by rainbowbrite at 11:42 PM on May 15, 2012 [1 favorite]

Russian River Valley is actually very nice.. I forget the name of the place, but there is a biker-kind of bar along the river that has beach access, so could be fun for the kids as a stop over. Yes, I've brought kids on wine tours. They loved the grape juice a few places had.

I know we passed a few B&B's in the area, but can't remember anything specific - we actually stayed in the Hitlon because we were with a wedding.
posted by rich at 7:06 AM on May 16, 2012

Best answer: I used to live in Sonoma County -- don't have recommendations on the B&Bs, but here's some itinerary ideas (especially with kids):
- Armstrong Redwoods State Park is not as famous as Muir Woods, but also slightly less crowded.
- The Russian River which is next to Armstrong Redwoods is a popular place for relaxing and swimming. Please make sure you keep an eye on your kids and that they know how to swim -- every year it seems as though there is one or two drownings here -- mostly from teenagers or young adults.
- Bodega Bay is a funky little town and there are beaches to visit north and south of it. You probably won't be doing a lot of swimming without a wet suit because the water off the Pacific coast is darn cold. But, it is pretty and you can still build sand castles :).
- Howard Station Cafe, in Occidental, is possibly my favorite breakfast spot in the world. There will be a wait on weekends, but it is worth it.
- If your kids are of the playground age, Howarth Park has an awesome playground, fountain, train ride, and lake.
- For hiking in the hills, Annadel State Park is quite nice.

Enjoy your trip!
posted by elmay at 7:50 AM on May 16, 2012 [2 favorites]

I love the Russian River area. My parents had friends with a vacation home up there and it was just beautiful!

Here's a list from Trip Advisor of some places. You may also want to check out VRBO (Vacation Rental By Owner) for that real, cabin experience.

Occidental used to have 3 Italian restaurants and they would serve these ridiculous, multi-course meals. Negri's is still around. It would start off with bread and a relish tray, the soup, salad, pasta, meat and then dessert. I think they still serve the meals family style. Stick to the regular red sauce stuff.

It's a peaceful place to sit and enjoy friends, family and nature.
posted by Ruthless Bunny at 10:46 AM on May 16, 2012

Best answer: I grew up in Ukiah, about 45 miles north of Geyserville, so here are a few very local recommendations . My usual day trip when I had visitors was a drive from Ukiah to Mendocino on Orr Springs Rd, with stops at Orr Hot springs, Montgomery Woods State park.
The park is short walk, maybe 10-15 minutes to a pretty amazing redwood grove, with some further hiking to do if you like. The hot springs also rent some nice little cabins, so that might be a fun place to spend a night or two. They are fairly kid friendly, but are clothing optional, so if seeing some naked old hippies is a problem probably skip it.

If you are passing through the Ukiah area around lunch time, I highly recommend checking out the restaurants at the City of Ten Thousand Buddhas Monastery, really amazing food, and an interesting place to walk around, they have peacocks and carp to chase, and giant golden statues, and paintings of giant angry gods with swords, so it should be fun for the kids.

If you are there for dinner try Oco Time. You will probably need to call a few hours ahead for a reservation, but it is very much worth it. Great Japanese food, and a well stocked sake and soju bar.

And speaking of alcohol, the area is mostly known for the wine, but if you get tired of that, some of the best brandy in the world is made in Mendocino county. They don't really have an official tasting room, and it is fairly hard to find most of their products retail, but if you call ahead they can set up a private tasting at their warehouse. They will also have some great small batches of apple or pear brandy, vodka, and whatever else they have been playing with, also this really amazing absinthe.
posted by St. Sorryass at 5:47 PM on May 16, 2012 [1 favorite]

Response by poster: Thanks everyone- I really appreciate the ideas!
posted by gen at 12:14 AM on June 19, 2012

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