Recommendations please for the nearest gorgeous landscape. [Northern CA]
December 21, 2013 2:02 PM   Subscribe

I am finishing finals and me and a bud would like to go somewhere on tuesday and look at something really gorgeous. I live in Davis, CA and am willing to drive 2.5 hours in any direction. Looking for specific recommendations.

- ocean would be cool. cliffs. big skies. i have a really broad definition of gorgeous. you liked looking at it, I want to know about it.
- bonus points if there is a cafe or lunch spot nearby for a leisurely bite. might be kinda tough because tuesday is the 24th.
- want to park and have gorgeousness overwhelm me. (not looking to hike, unfortunately)
- will definitely go to santa cruz if thats where you recommend.
- goal = law school finals were long and I just want to be refreshed about all the natural gorgeousness in our state/world

Thank you all!
posted by afterdark to Travel & Transportation around California (13 answers total) 10 users marked this as a favorite
The Marin Headlands are hard to beat for gorgeous views and proximity to excellent food. Bring jackets though! There's a youth hostel where you can stay for cheap if you want to spend the night.
posted by latkes at 2:12 PM on December 21, 2013 [1 favorite]

Point Reyes is one of the most beautiful places I've ever been.
posted by ottereroticist at 2:12 PM on December 21, 2013 [4 favorites]

seconding point reyes. used to go there all the time when i was in law school.
posted by bruce at 2:15 PM on December 21, 2013

A bunch of folks from my grad program and I (at Berkeley) just went to Point Reyes, stayed in the hostel, and hiked around. Totally gorgeous, and a beautiful drive out there too. I don't have recommendations for particular stopping points, but I bet there are a lot of notes to that effect on Google. It was all lovely as far as I was concerned.

Congrats on finals being done!
posted by c'mon sea legs at 2:15 PM on December 21, 2013

Came in here to suggest the place I live: Marin. The headlands and Point Reyes (just over the hill) are excellent suggestions. Congrats on finishing finals!
posted by guster4lovers at 2:21 PM on December 21, 2013

Point Reyes. Drive through Nicasio on your way, because there's this one curve in the road where you come around and just go oh wow. Or at least I do.
posted by rtha at 2:41 PM on December 21, 2013

The coast of California in Sonoma county is, for me, one of the most beautiful places in the world. It makes everything else I've ever seen seem a little pedestrian in comparison. I find Sea Ranch to be an amazing little "town." (It's barely a town.) However this might be a bit out of your 2.5 hours range, but just thought I'd throw it out there.
posted by drjimmy11 at 4:26 PM on December 21, 2013 [1 favorite]

Lake Tahoe! Google says it's 2:04 from Davis to Tahoe City, 2:09 to Emerald Bay. The drive up will also be pretty. The weather looks clear this week so driving should not be a problem. I don't have any specific lunch recommendations with a view but there are lots of restaurants around Tahoe.
posted by carolr at 5:52 PM on December 21, 2013 [1 favorite]

Drive out to SF and go south on Hwy 1. Drive down the coast…. the cliffs start soon after the city, and you'll drive by vista after vista of dramatic cliffs overlooking the Pacific, pelicans flying by in formation, fantastic. There are plenty of stopping points -- if you're interested in marine life, stop at Pescadero, Fitgerald Beach, wherever. Stop for breakfast at the Davenport cash store if you want. When you get to Santa Cruz, grab something to take with you to either the beach at Natural Bridges or to the picnic area at Steamer Lane.

This might take a little more than 2.5 hours but not much.
posted by fingersandtoes at 5:55 PM on December 21, 2013

You want to go to Point Reyes, and you want to take the road to the lighthouse. You then want to take the turnoff to either North or South beach, well before the lighthouse. Those are the best two drive-up beaches at Pt. Reyes. No hiking necessary.

Before you go there, you might want to stop in the small town of Pt. Reyes Station to get some good food to eat on the beach.
posted by mudpuppie at 8:22 PM on December 21, 2013 [1 favorite]

The other option, if all you want to do is LOOK at gorgeous things, is to head up towards Truckee, and take Old Highway 40 to where it overlooks Donner Lake.

Here's one link. Here's another.

I actually hereby rescind my previous recommendation for Pt. Reyes, and insist that you go here instead. You can have lunch in Truckee. Burger Me is a good option.
posted by mudpuppie at 8:26 PM on December 21, 2013

From Davis I would vote for Tahoe. Truly spectacular lake, lots of snow on the mountains, and the drive up is fantastic.
posted by gingerbeer at 9:49 PM on December 21, 2013

Point Reyes is great. In addition to every other thing there is to do up there, I recommend off-trail hiking on the esteros. There are no trees, so you can't really get lost, and the terrain is really mild.

If the misguided environmental nutjobs haven't shut down the Drakes Bay Oyster Farm yet, stop off and gorge yourself on the freshest oysters anywhere.

Salt Point is cool too.
posted by MeanwhileBackAtTheRanch at 12:52 AM on December 22, 2013

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