Ryan and I have had the pleasure of visiting Northern California several times while traveling or as the destination. I thought I’d put together a list of top ten activities, lodging, and restaurants. I hope this list is useful if you are planning a trip or decide to travel on a whim.
1. Napa Valley Wine Train
The train was such an incredible and enjoyable way to take in all of Napa. You can enjoy a meal, tour the different train cars, socialize with others if you choose, enjoy a variety of beverages, and photograph the scenery. At the conclusion of the ride, you can grab some souvenirs to take home and a photo. This is the best way to experience Napa if you only have a day. If you’ve got more time, I’d schedule a few winery tours.
2. Charles Schulz Museum in Santa Rosa
If you love Peanuts or are looking for a family friendly activity, this is the place for you. You’ll get to see Schulz’s work up close and personal. The museum also has several large pieces on display, which includes a tiled Charlie Brown and a wooden representation of Snoopy’s evolution. I recommend scheduling a few hours to completely experience the museum. Across the street from the museum is an ice rink, cafe, and shop.
3. Jelly Belly Tour in Fairfield
This was such a tasty and educational experience. It’s crazy how many jelly beans are made in this facility. You really get a behind the scenes look at production. They’ve also got a great shop at the end that will satisfy any sweet tooth. I would probably schedule an hour or so for this one.
4. Oriental Pearl
This restaurant is located in the heart of San Francisco, in Chinatown. Even if we are just traveling through, we make a point to have a meal here. The food is great! I love the Chow Mein, and Ryan orders the Mongolian Beef. The staff is also very nice and attentive.
5. Salsalitos in Sausalito
I love Mexican food, and this place has some of the best I’ve ever eaten. The chips are made fresh along with two delicious salsas. We’ve had the burritos, tacos, enchiladas, and the guacamole. It’s all delicious! I can’t brag on this place enough.
6. Bosko’s Trattoria in Calistoga
We decided to have lunch here while passing through. It was incredibly good, and the service was great. The atmosphere is also very welcoming. We didn’t get a chance to walk around town, but the town was cute. Be sure to turn right at the first real light for parking.
Who loves chocolate and sundaes? I think everyone! You’ve got to grab a sundae while visiting the Wharf. There are several locations, but I prefer the newer one. No matter which flavor you like, Ghirardelli has a treat for you. I recommend the dark hot fudge topping, because it’s rich and delicious. You can also take a walk down to the pier to see the famous sea lions. FYI, they smell.
8. Inn Above Tide in Sausalito
I love this hotel! It’s right on the water and provides an incredible view of San Francisco. The rooms are large, clean, and comfortable. The staff is very attentive too. I recommend having breakfast in bed and enjoying wine on the balcony. I also like that they provide a list of activities each day, which is super helpful if you aren’t a local.
9. Alcatraz Island
I wasn’t sure I’d enjoy this one, but it was fascinating. Although I’m not big on ferry rides, you need to make the trip to see this attraction. Not only can you see the interior of the prison, but I recommend grabbing some photos around the island too. You are given a headset upon entering the prison, and you are prompted through an entire tour at your own pace. You can even speak to a former inmate at the end, if the gentleman is there. It’s an experience like no other.
10. San Francisco Zoo
If you saw my previous post, you know that I loved the zoo. It was affordable and worth every penny. Ryan and I got to see several of the animals within arms reach. They also had a good variety of animals. We both enjoyed the beautiful landscaping too. It was a great way to learn, enjoy the beautiful weather, and capture stunning photos. It was probably the highlight of our trip (at least for me).
We are beginning our fall transformation, and I can’t wait to share some pictures with you soon. Have a great week!