Is the weather getting you down? If so, a trip overseas could be the perfect way to perk you up. For this travel feature, we highlight some of the great places you can visit in sixteen days on a Californian Winter Road Trip.
California is a land of contrasts. With sheer cliffs and vast ancient forests, rolling sandy beaches against a backdrop of snow-capped mountains. Plus, millions of acres of desert and some of the most fertile wine-producing soils in the world, it may be daunting to fit the best of what California has to offer into one trip.
For those who can’t decide between lying on a beach, cycling through vineyards or shredding the slopes, discover the best of Northern California in this ultimate guide to a winter road trip.
Days 1-2 – Wineries and rolling hills
Landing in San Francisco, head 35 miles east and find the Tri-Valley, one of California’s hidden viticultural and outdoorsy gems. Often overlooked for big sister Napa, Tri-Valley boasts award-winning wineries, delightfully-diverse restaurants, charming downtowns and unspoiled hiking trails.
Blend your own wine at Experience the Sand and Snow on an Ultimate California Winter Road Trip, the oldest family-run winery in the US, yoga between the vines at Concannon, or simply hop on the Livermore Wine Trolley and be whisked away through miles of lush, rolling hills. For more information: visittrivalley.com
Days 3–4 – The original beach town
Head down south to Santa Cruz – the quintessential beach town an hour south. The city offers visitors an abundance of activity and true laid-back California culture to enjoy. Home to the iconic beach boardwalk, the town offers great surf, sandy beaches, an eclectic culinary scene, year-round wildlife and 14 state parks.
The state’s oldest park – Big Basin Redwoods State Park – is an emerald gem, where visitors can enjoy the majestic redwoods and embark on the Berry Creek Falls hike; an 11-mile loop through shady redwood canyons and ridges culminating at the 65-foot high Berry Creek Falls. For more information: santacruz.org
Days 5-6 – America’s iconic national park
Head east to explore some of California’s most incredible inland sights. Nestled in the heart of California, Yosemite Mariposa County is a majestic natural wonderland. Home to soaring granite icons such as Half Dome, El Capitan and Yosemite Falls, this holy grail of outdoor adventure has been inspiring authors, poets, artists and naturalists for decades. Soar above the park by plane, hike through a valley of waterfalls or take a classic car for a spin. For more information: yosemite.com
Days 7-8 – Unique winter experiences
Swing north to Yosemite’s Tuolumne County; a destination consisting of three unique experiences in the Gold Country, High Sierra and north of Yosemite National Park. Those looking for a memorable winter activity should try snowshoeing the 2.5-mile Tuolumne Grove loop in Yosemite National Park.
This grove is quieter than other popular areas, allowing for a more peaceful hike amongst the majestic giant sequoias. If time is on your side, visit the mighty Hetch Hetchy Reservoir and embark upon one of five hikes through forest and meadow terrain with spectacular views of waterfalls and vistas. For more information: visittuolumne.com