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Guide to Spring: Spending it in Northern California

Spring time is here and no matter what age you are, you deserve a quick getaway. We’ve picked a few events and attractions beyond San Francisco that are just the tonic you need for the winter woes.

20050 Rainbow Rd. Tuolumne, CA 95379
Reserve

Indigeny Reserve

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Drive along a secluded tree-lined road, over the covered bridge … no, you’re not at Grandma’s house, you’re at Indigeny Reserve in Sonora, CA. This verdant, 160-acre, eco-friendly preserve in Tuolumne County is the home of a ciderworks and distillery. Visit the hard cider and brandy tasting bar, and enjoy delicious flavor profiles. Tours also take in the authentic double copper-pot distillery and guests will learn about apple fermentation, and get to watch the seasonal crush. Indigeny is open year-round and offers shaded picnic areas, orchard tours, self-guided trails and special events.

20050 Rainbow Rd. Tuolumne, CA 95379

There are plenty of activities to make the most of a getaway to Monterey, just 130 miles south of San Francisco. Sleuth the seas via Seven Seas Scuba’s training program or see where fresh water meets the ocean at McWay Falls in Julia Pfeiffer Burns State Park. Horse riding along Moss Landing’s pristine beaches is a popular pursuit or channel your inner cowboy and “dude up” for a cattle drive at Parkfield’s V6 Ranch.  If you prefer to leave the driving to someone else take a surrey ride along the Monterey Bay Coastal Recreation Trail. The Pebble Beach Food & Wine event coming up soon on April 9-12, 2015 draws 60 celebrity chefs and 250 wineries to Pebble Beach.

390 Capistrano Road Half Moon Bay, CA 94019

Fans of Half Moon Bay Brewing Co. are familiar with their weekly “Brews and Views” which draws a variety of speakers. There’s also live music Friday-Sunday. In case this spot is news to you this restaurant-brewery is situated on Pillar Point Harbor overlooking the marina in Princeton-by-the-Sea. The dog-friendly patio has blazing fire pits and it is all in close proximity to Mavericks which usually occurs before March 31; however, there are no swells on the horizon at this point. So content yourself with some beer and cheese pairing or check Visit Half Moon Bay for suggestions on visiting the area.

390 Capistrano Road Half Moon Bay, CA 94019
5075 Hopyard Road, Suite 240 Pleasanton, CA 94588

Speaking of brews there is a new brew trail experience in the Tri-Valley area which includes three valleys: Amador, Livermore and San Ramon just 33 miles east of San Francisco. Once home to one of the largest hop farms in the world, the Tri-Valley has returned to its roots with an emerging craft beer scene. Small brewpubs and microbreweries are cropping up in the most unexpected spots, and now a collection of 18 establishments form California’s newest beer trail. Download the Tri-Valley Beer Trail passport off the Visit Tri-Valley website, get 10 stamps from 10 different stops, and turn it in for free items. Berkeley, just over the Bay Bridge, has a 10-stop trail that includes a visit to Triple Rock Brewery, America’s oldest original brewpub. 

5075 Hopyard Road, Suite 240 Pleasanton, CA 94588

In Napa Valley it’s all about wine 365 days of the year and, of course, no visit would be complete without a visit to one of the legendary wineries. However, this adult playground has plenty to offer the under 21 crew, too. Calistoga Geyser, also known as the Old Faithful Geyser, is a roadside attraction which also includes a small farm, a geology museum and a picnic area. Or stop in at one of the spas in Calistoga; two of the more popular are Calistoga Spa Hot Springs and Indian Springs Resort & Spa. 

600 Main Street Napa, CA 94559
1699 Highway 273 Anderson, CA 96007

Folks in the Shasta Cascade region know how to float everyone’s boat whether it’s a houseboat, a canoe, a raft or maybe just an inner tube. Shasta Lake is known as the “Houseboat Capital of the World,” offering the largest rental houseboat fleet in the world and more than 360 miles of shoreline. Serene Whiskeytown Lake is a placid expanse of water ideal for kayaking, rowing and fishing. Eastward in Butte County, Lake Oroville is a hub for boating and fishing enthusiasts. One of the largest lakes in California Trinity Lake, remains uncrowded even during peak summer months.  Lake Shastina offers another option for powerboats, houseboats, chartered boats and jet skis. Frequent gusty afternoon winds also make this a favorite destination for windsurfing and sailing.

1699 Highway 273 Anderson, CA 96007

The gray whale migration is underway. All along the California coast whales and their calves are migrating north along the California coast. Some of the best viewing is on board a special whale watching excursion. Among those who specialize in them are the Oceanic Society (which even offers a recorded message detailing recent whale and marine sightings at 1-415-258-8220), S.F. Bay Whale Watching and San Francisco Whale Tours. To the south Half Moon Bay and Santa Cruz are a hub for whale watching and to the north visitors flock to Pt. Reyes and Sonoma. In Mendocino County the annual Little River Whale Festival takes place in mid-March.

5401 Graham Hill Road Felton, CA 95018

Railroad buffs have lots of options in California ranging from the Skunk Train which chugs through dense redwood forest in Mendocino to Roaring Camp Railroad which offers two routes: the Redwood Forest Steam Train and the Santa Cruz Beach Train. Napa Valley boasts the Napa Valley Wine TrainAmtrak’s Capitol Corridor is a popular choice for visiting Sacramento. Seniors 62 and over save 50 percent on midweek travel (Tuesday-Thursday through Aug. 27, 2015) or save on weekend travel with $5 fares for up to five companions with one adult fare through Sept. 6, 2015. The offer is valid for travel on Saturdays, Sundays and holiday Mondays only. All aboard! 

5401 Graham Hill Road Felton, CA 95018
601 Murray Circle Sausalito, CA 94965

Suffering from a little burn out? Maybe a hot stove might help. Rated the #1 hotel culinary school by Gayot.com, Marin County’s Cavallo Point Cooking School offers a roster of classes and programs showcasing the products of the San Francisco Bay Area. Some upcoming classes include “From Spain with Love” and “The Asian Melting Pot: Dim Sum.” Peju Province Winery in Rutherford offers a variety of cooking experiences in their kitchen including hands-on classes, chef’s table lunches and dinners, and wine and food pairing education. Also check out Cooking for Solutions from the Monterey Bay Aquarium for more food-centric events including a field trip to Napa’s Hess Collection on April 25, 2015. 

601 Murray Circle Sausalito, CA 94965

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