The GF and I must travel to California for two (yes TWO) weddings in the space of 2 days in August. Luckily, both weddings take place, generally, in Northern California. This Central Texan (and the GF) happens to think that visiting Northern California in August (even with two weddings in two days) is pretty dang awesome. Accordingly, we decided to turn our wedding attendance duties into a week-long vacation. Normally, I would repair to San Francisco, and enjoy a nice vacation there (with, of course, day trips to Napa/Sonoma). However, we have visited SF several times recently. So, we’ve decided we need to branch out and see/experience new stuff. Our thoughts turned to northern California, and I thought I might see if the collective berserkers could lend a hand with suggestions of places to go, things to see, hotels to sleep, restaurants to dine, etc. etc. etc.
Roads (somewhat) less traveled - gourmet dining and luxury lodging might be a little hard to find on a loop like this, but the scenery can’t be beat:
Hwy 1 north from the city through Mendocino, up as far as Garberville
101 north from Garberville up past Trinidad to Redwood National Park
299 east from Eureka to Redding through the Trinity Alps area
(Redding in August? Don’t stop - keep moving)
44 east from Redding through Lassen Park to Susanville
395 south from Susanville to Reno, Carson City, or points further south
If you want to see some big ass trees - drive up through Santa Rosa and just keep heading up 101. Hit some of the southern Redwood Forests and experience the ‘real’ Northern California. The coastal route up in that area is simply amazing.
Any way you go, you should have a great time. Tahoe is a great choice and the weather should be amazing. You can get to Tahoe from Napa area in 3-4 hours for reference. Once you get north of Sacramento along the I-5 corridor, things are more spread out and less interesting. I was born/raised up in areas more north then south and its incredibly beautiful but gets fairly dull in terms of activities.
Another alternative is to hit Monterey and Big Sur. You can still experience wine down in the SLH area or even further south if you choose. Otherwise, spectacular area to explore and only a few hours south of the Bay Area or 4 hours from Napa proper.
I love Lk Tahoe. We go there every summer and occasionally in other seasons.
I usually stay at South Shore because there’s lots to do in town and you’re close to the casinos on the NV side. But it depends what you’re looking for as there’s nice things to say about the North Shore. Tahoe City, on the west side of the lake, is a little too crowded for me in the summer (though I suppose some would say that about the South Shore).
I like the Forest Suites & Royal Valhalla, both right at the state line. Be careful as there are a few dumpy motels in the area.
Shopping in the morning, lunch at The Brewery at Lake Tahoe, afternoon sailing trip on the lake, happy hour at Cabo Wabo Cantina, followed up by winning at the tables. It’s a full day!
Can’t recommend Mendocino enough. It’s a beautiful part of the coastline and sort of surreal in that it seems so out of place (ie modeled on a New England style town). Plus you still have redwood forests and alot of rural area to explore. If you decide to head that way, Navarro, Husch, Roederer, Lazy Creek, Golden Eye all come to mind as Anderson Valley wineries worth the visit.