Diablo Magazine June 2017 : Page 47
Summer Road Tips
Cruise from the Sierras to the Sand
LONG, LEISURELY SUMMER DAYS AND NIGHTS CALL FOR JUMPING INTOTHE CAR AND TAKING A QUICK ROADTRIR DRIVE JUST A COUPLE OF HOURS NORTH, AND YOU'LL ENJOY A SUNSHINY MOUNTAIN ESCAPE INTAHOE OR TRUCKEE, PLUS NAPA'S FAMOUS WINE REGION. HEAD SOUTH, AND KICK BACK IN GILROY, MONTEREY, AND PISMO BEACH. PREPARETO BE WINED AND DINED;TO GETTHE WIND IN YOUR HAIR, WHETHER YOU GO BIKING, BOATING, HIKING, OR RAFTING; AND TO REJUVENATE WITH SPATREATMENTS, MORNINGS BYTHE SPARKLING SEA OR LAKE, AND EVENINGS ONTHETOWN. YOU MAY EVENWANTTO BUY A PIECE OF THE LOCAL REAL ESTATE IN THESE SPOTS DEDICATED TO SUN WORSHIPPERS. LET'S GETYOU STARTED ONYOUR SUMMER ROADTRIP, FROM NORTH TO SOUTH.
START YOUR SUMMER IN THE SIERRA NEVADA
Skiers know heading north is a great idea in winter, but summer also beckons you to the Tahoe area with plenty of water sports, wine tasting, and fun in the sun. Though life is good here in the East Bay, there’s something about that fresh mountain air that makes any day spent up north feel revitalizing—not to mention the long summer eves by the lake. Every side of the shore offers astounding beauty, whether you feel like wearing yourself out on a biking trek or relaxing by the sparkling lake—or shopping, dining, or climbing a mountain.
Tucked to the north of the Tahoe-Truckee area, check out the rustic elegance of the Nakoma Resort, situated on 1,280 pristine acres. Set in the majestic Sierra Nevada, the meticulously constructed 42-room Lodge at Nakoma honors the design of the property’s original Frank Lloyd Wright clubhouse built in 1923. Keeping sustainability in mind, the lodge entices with dramatic rooflines and picture windows. Named one of Ski Magazine’s Top 30 Summer Resorts, Nakoma is constructed of natural materials, including tumbled travertine, stone, and antique woods. Golfers should rejoice: The Robin Nelsondesigned championship Dragon Golf Course features spectacular views of the mountains and the Feather River.
Summer at Nakoma offers nearly endless hours of not only golf but also fishing in nearby lakes and the river, as well as outdoorsy fun like biking, horseback riding, and tennis. Let the resort’s adventure concierge help you design your perfect day of cycling and rock climbing, fishing, or boating along the waterways. In June, cyclists can enjoy a Lost & Found Gravel Grinder getaway, including a two-night stay at the lodge, prerace dinner, shuttle to the race, breakfast, and, before or after biking, a soak in the hot tub, steam in the sauna, and swim in the pool. Need pampering? Treat yourself to a Spa Glow Package, including massage, exfoliating foot scrub and hand treatment, or a Swedish massage. The new, 12,000-squarefoot recreational facility, the Altitude Adventure Center, features soaring architecture that opens to a spectacular resort pool, and has a lineup of programs ready to thrill. Take the kids to the children’s center with an outdoor play area, and challenge yourself at the fitness center and climbing wall. Teens have their own center with gaming tables and video games, so there really is something for everyone. Or take a group swim and enjoy the expansive new lounge area. There’s even a media room/movie theater, along with a bar and bistro.
Talking about food, check out the Frank Lloyd Wright Wigwam Room in the clubhouse, which features stunning ceilings and an elaborate yet cozy center fireplace, and enjoy a lunch of Feather River fish tacos. Or relax over a dinner of warm artichoke dip and wild mushroom meatloaf. Don’t miss the Nakoma Benedict at Sunday brunch or, if you have a sweet tooth, the Cajun-style French toast soaked in sweet lemon custard.
LAKE TAHOE MOUNTAIN GETAWAY
Tahoe’s pristine beauty and picture-perfect scenery form an ideal, natural background for sports and pure enjoyment. Take in that air and those unadulterated blue skies, and prepare for the ultimate in relaxation. Mountain bikers and horseback riders will be pleased to find miles of trails for these pastimes. Summer also offers extensive sources of water fun, including boating and kayaking along with plenty of beach trips to explore sandy coves and picnic under the shade of nearby pines.
Sand Harbor, on Lake Tahoe’s eastern shore, features accommodating beaches, clear water and intriguing rock formations that welcome swimmers, kayakers and even scuba divers. This state park is open from 8am to one hour past sunset and features two ramps allowing boaters, water-skiers and fisherman to easily access the lake.
The park is also the venue for the annual Shakespeare Festival held every summer. Performances are outside, of course, with the lake behind the stage and the main gate opening at 5:30pm. Enjoy a picnic and a bottle of wine al fresco and then bask in the glow of a glorious sunset, all prior to an impressive evening of theatrical delights.
If you might be looking to stay in the area longer, or especially if you’re considering a second home, than look no further than Clear Creek Tahoe. Clear Creek encompasses 1,576 acres of the surrounding six million acres of the largest national forest in the lower 48 states. The area has a master plan and club facilities designed by architect Hart Howerton, and the homesites take advantage of the natural landscape’s alpine vistas and variety of contours, so you can set your dream home high on a hill or deep in the woods—and still admire mountain and valley views. The spacious homesites have been planned to allow for unobstructed views, outdoor gathering spaces, and an uncrowded feel dedicated to maintaining privacy and that mountain getaway feeling.
Established in 1936, famed Bay Area designer Julia Morgan’s Twin Pines clubhouse on the property remains protected by the Clear Creek Resort. Overlooking a magnificent sandy beach, the carefully restored beach house features knotty pine walls and an oversized fireplace, a spacious but still cozy area for families to gather around for a game and snack.
Golf fans will want to weave their way across the Clear Creek Tahoe golf course’s Jeffery, sugar and Ponderosa pines under the crystal blue skies, tucked just over the Nevada line—and part of a private residential community located in the mountains on the eastern side of Lake Tahoe, about 20 minutes from skiing at Incline Village and Heavenly in South Lake Tahoe. The property, part of the historic Clear Creek Ranch, has been used for more than 150 years by The Haskell Milling Company and various ranching operations. You’ll find Swift’s Station pavilion on the golf course, named for the Pony Express stop found there long ago.
Want to make your way back to Sand Harbor? Owners can keep their boats in their garages making trips to the lake convenient. And there’s always a hiking option: Clear Creek’s three trails—the Discovery, Headwaters, and Lookout—allow for easy meadow walks or heartier mountain climbs, and they connect to the Tahoe Rim Trail.
TRUCKEE: WELCOME TO MOUNTAIN LIVING
Not just Tahoe’s little sister any longer, Truckee beckons with its own indoor/outdoor activities and plenty of small-town charm. You’ll find a sunny historic main street that heats up on Truckee Thursdays—held evenings throughout the summer—which feature a farmers market, local musicians, artisanal vendors, and practically everyone from town in a partylike setting. The town is chock-full of places to eat, drink, and play.
Truckee is a happening spot for sports lovers: The Golf Academy at Old Greenwood maintains golf instruction for every level of player. But that’s not all. Truckee is the perfect spot for a hike along trails, sports at Donner Lake, and rafting. Big Blue Adventures can line you up with your own competitive event, whether you want to race the Emerald Bay Trail Run, try your skill at stand-up paddleboarding events, or enter the Donner Lake Triathlon
You may love Truckee so much that you decide this is the place for you—permanently or just for a home away from home. “Truckee-Tahoe offers endless outdoor enjoyment and is close enough to the Bay Area to offer a year-round destination lifestyle,” says Alison Elder, Real Estate Advisor, Partner, Elder Group Tahoe Real Estate - Engel & Völkers. “Only 25 minutes to six major ski resorts and Lake Tahoe, Truckee offers so many options. It’s a great place for a vacation home to create your forever family memories.”
The Truckee-Tahoe neighborhoods offer picture-perfect environments ranging from luxury developments, lake living, acreage and horse property, and amenities-based communities. Maybe you’ve been dreaming of a light-filled, woodsy chalet in Truckee, with a large wood-burning fireplace and an upstairs loft for family to visit, or a lakeside four-bedroom encampment with views of Lookout Mountain. The rustic, unspoiled Donner Lake neighborhood is nestled along Historic Route 40. Donner Memorial State Park offers camping with 154 sites, hiking over 2.5 miles of trails, biking, swimming, and kayaking. Historic Downtown Truckee, with its 33 square miles split by the river, maintains its homey feel with the Old Jail Museum and adorable Craftsman-style homes.
FOLSOM: SUN AND FUN BY THE WATER
Water-sport fans take heed: Heading south from the Tahoe-Truckee area, hidden Folsom delights with two lakes and nearby whitewater rafting not to mention a little-known wine-tasting opportunity.
Johnny Cash may have made Folsom famous with his song “Folsom Prison Blues,” but this relaxed town hides a quiet paradise—especially for the cycling fan. Conveniently located on Highway 50 between Sacramento and South Lake Tahoe, Folsom has 95 miles of scenic trails traversing its waterways and lakes, perfect for cycling, mountain biking, running, hiking, or even just an easy walk. Folsom draws cyclers from around the world for the Amgen Tour of California. Check out the 32-mile American River Bike Trail, winding from downtown Sacramento to Folsom. Country music buffs will want to ride along the Johnny Cash Trail, a family biking and hiking trail that doesn’t have too many steep inclines (but you can still keep a movin’).
Folsom is well-positioned for family water fun, with two lakes plus access to the American River. Glide along the five-mile-long, peaceful Lake Natoma, which caters to paddlers, rowers, and sailors of small boats. BYOB (boat, that is), or rent equipment at the lake.
Adventure water sports lovers will want to head to Folsom Lake in the State Recreation Area, where you can gear up to water-ski, wakeboard, and motorboat. Folsom is also adjacent to El Dorado, which is perfect for world-class whitewater rafting on the American River—no matter what your skill level.
Folsom can also fill up your day with trips to local hangouts, including Folsom City Zoo Sanctuary, which strives to be a haven for animals that can’t be released back into the wild. For families, the Folsom Valley Railway operates the last remaining 12-inch gauge railroad in the country.
Visit Folsom is launching “Be a Wine Club Member for a Day,” which offers visitors VIP wine privileges at 10-plus El Dorado County wineries. The package includes a special lodging rate and welcoming bottle of wine. Stop by family-run D’Artagnan Vineyards’ dog-friendly tasting room for handcrafted Zinfandel, Malbec, and Tempranillo. El Dorado County is home to over 70 wineries: Boeger Winery produces unique varietals and blends, like its dark-fruit Barbera blend and its robust Zinfandel.
NAPA: WARM UP WITH A DAZZLING VINTAGE
Practically in our own backyard, Napa seems to always call our name. Only an hour or so from many East Bay spots, Napa invites you to sip and swirl, and bring your own bike—or rent one. The area’s ages-old lure lives on: Rich vineyards produce world-class grapes and vintages; outdoor activities range from hot-air ballooning amidst calm valley air, cycling through vineyards and along country roads, golf, trekking, and taking in a bird’s-eye view of the Wine Country in a private glider. Plus, of course, there are all the many wineries on all those roads, along with art galleries and fine dining. Napa Valley, always worth a visit, shines in summertime.
So put the windows down and let the winding roads take you from vintner to vintner. Trinchero Family Estates, winner of the 2014 Winery Portfolio of the Year in the San Francisco International Wine Competition, awaits your visit at its grand, 5,000-square-foot tasting room, which opened in 2016. The interior features leather and brass accents. Relax on the outdoor veranda by the elaborate fire pit, or indoors in woodsy splendor, and taste from among a variety of wines at this state-of-the-art winery supported by three generations’ worth of fine wine crafting.
Founded in 1948 by Mario Trinchero, the company currently represents more than 45 wine and spirits brands in nearly 50 countries. Step inside the winery’s Victorian mansion—originally built in 1874—and you’ll find Sutter Home—creators of the first White Zinfandel. Sutter Home offers 23 high-quality, affordable varietals—try out a few at the family-run, pride-and-joy tasting room. Don’t miss Sutter’s 2017 San Francisco Chronicle Wine Medal winners: Moscato (Best of Class), Cabernet Sauvignon (Double Gold), Zinfandel (Double Gold), Red Moscato (Gold), and Riesling-Moscato (Gold). Stroll the beautifully landscaped gardens open daily.
You can also while away your day with the Art of Oak, an educational tour centering on the art of winemaking. You’ll enjoy barrel tastings from four to five different types of French oak barrels, tour the winery, and sample current releases in the tasting room. The Taste of Terroir tour offers an introduction to Napa Valley’s appellations, where you’ll discover how soil, climate, elevation, and sunlight impact Cabernets from four regions—you can then taste and compare for yourself. Other offerings include the Time in a Bottle Tasting—where you’ll sample the past, present, and future Single Vineyard wines—and Food and Wine Pairings in the Legacy Lounge put together by Trinchero’s expert culinary staff. In a hurry? Stop by for a rotating featured flight selected by the winemaker and tasting room ambassadors.
Trinchero’s current winemakers, Mario and Mary Monticelli, source their wines exclusively from more than 200 acres of the estate’s vineyards, spanning Atlas Peak, Mount Veeder, and St. Helena. Enjoy small-production, single-vineyard flights aged in the finest oak. Mary’s Single Vineyard Sauvignon Blanc has beautiful complexity from tropical pineapple, passion fruit, and mango. Ruby-purple Mario’s Cab features hints of black currant and blueberry, and a supple mouthfeel. Trinchero Family Estates’ portfolio includes such additional artisanal wines and classic luxury bottlings as Complicated, Charles & Charles, Signal Ridge, Newman’s Own, Carmen, and many more.
VISIT LODI FOR FARM TO FRESH AT ITS BEST
Venture southeast and you’ll reach the northern end of California’s Central Valley—where you’ll find a wine country worth discovering. Thirty-five miles south of Sacramento and 90 miles east of San Francisco, Lodi is the self-proclaimed “Zinfandel Capital of the World” and has quickly become one of Northern California’s prime wine country destinations. Recently named “Wine Region of the Year” by Wine Enthusiast magazine, Lodi has 190,000 acres of wine grapes in production in an industry that’s been key to the area for more than 140 years. Lodi offers a perfect, sun-drenched region to taste a variety of wines, and chat with a fourth- or fifth-generation winemaker.
Lodi has been a thriving wine grape growing region since the mid-1800s. Home to all of California’s leading varietals, Lodi produces Cabernet Sauvignon, Chardonnay, Merlot, and Sauvignon Blanc. Check out the Lodi Wine Trail Map online to plan your day (or more) of winery tours. Oak Farm Vineyards’ Albarino has won Best of Show, White Wine, at the California State Fair, so sample some in its rustic, high-ceilinged tasting room, or on the festive outdoor patio. Or take a Historical Legacy Tour, and stroll the grounds with your own personal host before your full tasting flight. Bokisch Vineyards is your stop for Spanish wines like Tempranillo. The family-run Michael David Winery, in its sixth generation, has been certified sustainable and offers a 2012 Bare Ranch Sparkling that’s fitting for a summer day. Wine Enthusiast named its 2012 Petite Petit Sirah the second best wine in the world on its Enthusiast 100 list. The Farm Cafe offers a tantalizing farm-to-table lunch worthy of a toast. Jessie’s Grove Winery, dating back to 1868, dedicates 265 acres to grape vines, some from the 1800s. Check out the historical artifacts in the restored Lodi Olde Ice House Building while sipping a crisp Zinfandel. Fields Family Wines features handcrafted wines in small lots. The 2013 Estate Syrah with notes of pepper and violets that channel its inner Northern Rhone inspiration, can be enjoyed in an always dogfriendly and fun tasting room.
Lodi is also known for its fresh farm-to-table dining. The Historic Downtown offers a mix of restaurants from upscale chic, happening breweries, tapas bars, and an Asian bistro—with galleries and boutiques thrown in. Petite Zin Bistro offers innovative, seasonal American, French, and Italian dishes in a private setting. Enjoy a special occasion at Towne House Restaurant at Wine & Roses, or feast on hip Fenix Restaurant’s sustainable American dishes from chef Richard Hyman.
Along the edge of town, head to Lodi Lake Park, where you can kayak, paddleboard, raft, or tube. Or take a 90-minute sunset pontoon-boat river tour, leaving from the lake and exploring the Mokelumne River. You’ll experience a majestic sunset along the tranquil river, and observe the sandhill cranes’ annual migration. Cyclists will enjoy the region’s back roads and Cyclefest in June, when amateurs and pros take to the downtown streets for a day of cycling action. All in all, Lodi just might be the place you’ve been dreaming about.
IT'S ANCHOR'S AWAY IN ALAMEDA
San Francisco’s quiet and quaint neighbor across the bay, Alameda, is home to one of the Bay Area’s largest antiques shows, the Alameda Point Antiques Faire, held on the first Sunday of each month. Featuring over 800 dealer booths, the fair attracts visitors with funky furniture and clothing, and hot collectibles—and the food trucks are first-rate, too.
This island city is also a recreational haven, with Crown Memorial State Beach, the Pacific Pinball Museum, and the Naval Air Museum. And it’s become a foodie’s heaven with dining along Park and Webster streets.
You’ll want to get off the land and onto the sea, and thankfully, you can finally stop waiting for that invitation to hang out on the neighbor’s boat. The Carefree Boat Club, originally founded in Virginia in 2002, offers local water lovers an alternative to boat ownership. The club provides members with a high-quality boating experience, without the hassle and expense of maintaining your own boat—and dragging it around.
The Northern California branch at the Marina Village Yacht Harbor on the Oakland-Alameda estuary sits across the street from happening Jack London Square’s fun boutiques and top-tier restaurants. Membership lets you choose from among the club’s entire fleet of boats both at Alameda and in Sacramento (and 60 locations nationwide), plus gives you unlimited safety training.
See the Bay Area in a whole new way, as your own skipper. You can take a cruiser under the Golden Gate Bridge, stop by Angel Island for a scenic hike, get out at Sam’s in Tiburon for delectable seafood and burgers, or maybe watch a Giants game from McCovey Cove. You can even dock the boat for an overnight stay at the luxurious Cavallo Point.
Instructors provide boat safety training and handling skills, so you’ll learn how to operate a boat in close quarters and practice emergencies, docking, navigating channels, radio operations, and the rules of the sea. Boats range from 18 to 27 feet and include deck and fishing boats, pontoons, cruisers, sailboats, and water sports boats—everything for a day of fun at sea.
EXPERIENCE THE SAND AND SURF OF MONTEREY BAY
We love heading south for the summer, given that the Monterey Bay coast is both so close and so inviting. Splash your way along the coast in this beachside paradise—which offers lots more than just sand and surf. The world-renowned Monterey Bay Aquarium’s mission is to inspire conservation of the ocean and the bay just behind it. And inspire it does. An area of frolicking sea otters commands the attention of kids and grown-ups alike, as do exhibits of the kelp forest; a Viva Baja Life on the Edge display; and the glorious resident jellies, squids, and penguins.
Come for the area’s historic Mission Trail and Fisherman’s Wharf, and stay for 20 world-class golf courses—and discover a bastion of great wine tasting brought to you by the ideal combination of sunshine and terroir.
Overlooking the Monterey Bay shoreline, the peaceful and private Pajaro Dunes Resort features one and a half miles of gorgeous beach under crystal blue skies—away from the hustle and bustle. Located four miles west of Watsonville, the secluded, gated resort includes 550 private, deluxe, beachfront vacation rental homes and condos, from one to seven bedrooms— fit for any size family or just a couple’s getaway. Relax in an ocean-view home equipped with a fireplace, gourmet kitchen, and private deck; a three-story open design home; or a fivebedroom manse with a wall of windows, among other deluxe properties. The Cypress Grove townhomes delight with full ocean views and fireplaces. Or tuck yourself into a cozy Pelican Point condo, with views of the Pajaro River flowing into the Pacific Ocean.
Concierge services include securing advance tickets to the Monterey Bay Aquarium, arranging a beach bonfire with s’mores (you just light the match), scheduling local restaurant delivery, help organizing helicopter tours and air glider rides or even a team rope course.
Stroll on the private beach—where you’ll take in panoramic views of the entire Monterey Bay, from Pebble Beach to Santa Cruz—and you will also see why people love having a second home here.
CANNERY ROW: SIP AND SAVOR OVERLOOKING THE SPARKLING BAY
Continue to the southernmost tip of Monterey Bay, where it’s always temperate and always gorgeous. Warm weather and welcoming locals await in this heavenly beach town that offers everything from a wiggle-your-toes-in-the-sand experience to a luxury resort stay.
A walk down Monterey’s Cannery Row will take all your cares away—especially if you stop in for wine tasting overlooking the bay. The historic district—reflected in local boy John Steinbeck’s 1945 classic Cannery Row and lined with carefully renovated canneries beckons with spas offering lavish treatments, sporting activities that help you work up an appetite, and refined restaurants serving beautifully plated seafood delicacies. Stroll the upscale boutiques and take home a bit of seaside decor and fashion. Just an easy two-hour drive, Monterey in summer offers the best on sand and sea.
Take in the Monterey Bay National Marine Sanctuary by playing on a beach, riding a bike, or walking along the bay—and stopping at one of the fire pits that overlook the water. Adventures by the Sea rents paddleboards and kayaks, and offers guides to help you spot otters—often with a baby on their tummy.
Cyclists will love riding along the 29-mile Monterey Bay Coastal Recreation Trail full of historic sites. Grab a road bike, or just cruise easily with an electric bike from Adventures by the Sea. Got family? Stop for picnic supplies, and hop off for lunch at former Chinese fishing village McAbee Beach, or continue on to San Carlos Beach’s grassy shore.
Monterey’s perfect weather makes it an ideal spot for wine growing, and you can drink like a local at A Taste of Monterey, which pours from 90-plus local wineries, highlighting Monterey County’s world-class Pinot Noir and Chardonnay. Enjoy a panoramic view of the bay, and work your way through a sampler or reserve flight, maybe with some garlic shrimp or a sun-dried tomato–pumpkin seed pesto and prosciutto flatbread.
After stimulating your senses, think about luxuriating with world-class spa treatments. The Vista Blue Spa, on the top floor of the Forbes four-star-rated Monterey Plaza Hotel & Spa, is ready to indulge you with a resplendent facial or a full-body massage and bliss treatment. You’ll be so relaxed, you’ll want to stay overnight at the Plaza’s ultra-European hotel, where you can choose from rooms with a fireplace, whirlpool tub, and a glistening view.
For a hip stayover, check out the Intercontinental The Clement, with oceanfront rooms and soaking tubs you’ll never want to leave. Enjoy a swim in the lap pool or starters and wine by the glimmering outdoor fire pits. The oceanfront C Restaurant showcases executive chef Matt Bolton’s coastal cuisine of sustainable seafood. Try chilled oysters in a ginger cider mignonette and a Washington State arctic char. Watch the parade of sea life go along the bay from any seat at the restaurant or the C bar, where surely a toast is in order.
Be sure to take your sweetheart for an opulent dining experience at the Sardine Factory. You’ll choose from generous portions of fresh seafood, the best in steaks, and a 32,000-bottle array of wines stored in the vast, authentic wine cellar. Every plate is selfie-worthy, but get a snap of the ice-sculpture swan that appears between your wild Spanish octopus salad and 10-ounce filet mignon. Schooners Coastal Kitchen & Bar offers casually elegant oceanfront dining any time of day.
GILROY: KNOWN FOR ITS GARLIC, AND LOVED FOR SO MUCH MORE
Follow your nose and head inland a bit to Gilroy— for an hour, for a day, for an entertainmentfilled getaway. Known as the “Garlic Capital of the World,” Gilroy is located just 30 miles south of San Jose and has plenty to amuse, with a darling downtown, golf courses, bike and hiking trails, a happening shopping district, a magical theme park, and a host of places to wine and dine.
On the last weekend in July, celebrate at this year’s 39th annual Gilroy Garlic Festival held at Christmas Hill Park. Taste your way through three days of garlicky bites, live music on three stages, cooking competitions, arts and crafts, and a kids area. Visitors consume about—wait for it—two tons of garlic every year. Where else might you taste such oddities as garlic ice cream, garlic kettle corn, and garlic chocolate peanut butter cups! Traditionalists will want to stick with the Pyro Chefs, who cook up a storm in Gourmet Alley, where you might sample scampi and calamari, pepper steak sandwiches, stuffed mushrooms, and of course, garlic bread and fries.
Also great fun: Pop by Historic Downtown Gilroy on Monterey Street to find a collection of shops and restaurants, and enjoy the Fifth Street Live Concert Series held Friday evenings from June to August. For eats, OD’s Kitchen serves up breakfast specials like the scrambled Kitchen Sink. The Old City Hall Restaurant, with its oldtimey decor and outdoor courtyard, entices with a roasted garlic burger, and Garlic City Café creates a tasty seafood fettuccine.
Gilroy is also for wine lovers and home to more than 25 family-owned wineries and tasting rooms set along the Santa Clara Valley Wine Trail. On weekends, Satori’s outdoor tasting cabana pours estate-grown Merlot, Petite Sirah, and more—bring the kids and the dog to play bocce and picnic. Fortino Winery’s tasting room operates Tuesday through Sunday and pours Riesling with hints of apricots, apples, and quince and Merlot with blueberry and dark fruit aromas. Take home a bottle of the 2014 Apricot champagne for your next brunch celebration. Fernwood Cellars offers a creekside redwood retreat for tasting from its varying selection, which may include a hand-harvested estate Grenache or Mirepoix of Bordeaux varietals.
Fashion-forward families will want to visit the Gilroy Premium Outlets, featuring more than 145 factory outlet stores, ranging from Kate Spade to The Gap to Nike—and savings of 25 to 65 percent. Then, put on your new Nikes and head to Gilroy Gardens, a family theme park with more than 40 rides and attractions set in six beautiful gardens. Cool off at the Water Oasis, and don’t miss the astounding 25 Circus Trees created by Axel Erlandson. These living trees were rescued from the Santa Cruz Mountains and have been grafted into fascinating shapes.
PISMO: IT DOESN'T GET ANY BEACHIER THAN THIS
Whoever came up with the expression “life’s a beach” may have been referring to Pismo, where a wonderland of beach activities awaits. Pismo is the outdoor lover’s nirvana, a blissful beach town that knows how to have fun. This is the Central Coast’s happening spot for sand dunes and sunny skies with plenty of local wineries nearby for when you get thirsty. Early June brings the three-day Wine, Waves and Beyond fest—a celebration of all things surf—where you can sip Central Coast vintages and brews, taste seaport-inspired delectables, and enjoy music and art. Proceeds benefit GleanSLO, a program of the Food Bank Coalition of San Luis Obispo County that connects volunteers to local farmers and backyard growers to help harvest fruits and veggies for local food banks.
Prepare to get your water-sport passion on. Pismo’s got surfing, kayaking, stand-up paddleboarding, and extreme kiteboarding (lessons are available—and recommended). Rent your ride at Central Coast Kayaks or the Pismo Beach Dive Shop and Kayak Rentals, where you’ll be loaded up with all the necessary gear. Or, book a cave excursion and kayak your way through the protected, intriguing Dinosaur Caves.
When it’s time to dry off, enjoy a hike on the magnificent 60-acre Pismo State Beach. It’s also the perfect place to grab a bike at PierSide Boards & Bikes, where they’ll fit you into the banana bike of your dreams, or maybe something with a little more speed.
Want to go all out? Rent an ATV at Arnie’s, and roar along the Oceano Dunes, a California state park where you can drive your ATV on 3,600 acres, including 5.5 miles of beach. Helmet and goggles provided, but bring a bandana to keep the sand out of your teeth. Also worth a look are the SunBuggies at SunBuggy Fun Rentals, which look like postmodern, open-cage dune buggies, and let the whole family ride in style.
Time to quench your thirst like the locals. Check out the Sans Liege tasting room downtown for winemaker Curt Schalchlin’s smallbatch local wines. Pismo’s Tastes of the Valleys tasting room was recognized by Wine Enthusiast as one of the top 20 wine bars in America. Or cool down at Vino Versato, with its private patio and friendly atmosphere.
All that beach fun will make you pretty hungry, and Pismo has ample solutions, from the local catch of the day to exotic cuisine. Listen to the crashing waves and share a dish of poblano steamed clams at the atmospheric Ventana Grill, followed by crab-encrusted mahi mahi or jumbo shrimp al ajillo. For a special occasion, the SeaVenture Restaurant offers stunning panoramic views and upscale dining on chef Casey Walcott’s specialties, like a 10-ounce pan-seared filet mignon or braised osso bucco. Or leave your flip-flops on and grab a bowl of the rave-worthy clam chowder at everyone’s favorite Splash Café, or get messy with some great ribs at Mo’s Smokehouse BBQ, and let the buzzing Pismo vibe win you over.
Got time for some quieter indulging? Treat yourself to a stay at the Dolphin Bay Resort & Spa, where you’ll be dazzled by your spacious room’s ocean view and crisp California decor. The Spa at Dolphin Bay will soothe your tired muscles after all that water play, with a Himalayan salt exfoliation and soothing full-body or hotstone massage. And you’re just steps away from the Lido, featuring executive chef Jacob Moss’s take on small plates and more.
Though it’s hard to decide which direction to head in, a summer road trip is sure to offer fun in the sun, plenty of fine food and finely crafted wine, and a festive outing or two. You can’t beat our neighbors just to the north, with their crisp mountain air, lake sports, and elegant vineyards. And a trip south brings to life the definition of beach fun—for the family, for the weekend, or for a romantic getaway. Here’s to helping you find your place in the sun for the summer—if not longer.
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