Northern California Marvels
California offers visitors a chance to explore natural wonders and discover unique landscapes. Its diverse geography includes arid deserts, soaring mountains, coastal forests, fertile farmlands, and serene beaches. California is home to the highest (Mt. Whitney) and lowest (Death Valley) points in the continental United States. With so many places to visit, travelers can always find something new to experience. Places that visitors often overlook are the beautiful marvels in the northern area of the state. These locations offer a completely different world than the popular destinations in the south, so you do not want to miss out on these spectacular places.
With steep hills, picturesque houses and stunning views, San Francisco is a necessary metropolitan destination in Northern California. Start your visit by driving up Twin Peaks, right in the middle of the residential city. High above the bustle below, a curtain of fog will part to reveal a breathtaking view of the entire city. After taking a snapshot of the panorama, you can then venture down the hill to explore the bustling streets and shops in China Town. Here you will pass Chinese playing chess in the park, glimpse ducks hanging in windows and devour authentic foods in restaurants. If you search for narrow Ross Alley tucked between Washington and Jackson St., you might be able to find a small one-room fortune cookie factory. Peak inside to watch a woman carefully forming the cookies and take in the delectable aroma. If the old owner likes you, then he will offer you a free, warm cookie right off the press. As you munch on your cookies and read the messages folded inside, use the historic cable cars or trolleys to zoom to the waterfront and experience Fishermanâ€™s Warf. Street vendors will yell at you through the steam, trying to sell a taste of king crab or clam chowder. If you can find your way through the maze of people, hidden by the waterfront is the old arcade. The warehouse includes games from the early 1900s such as moving pictures, palm readers and horse races. You can wander inside to step back in time. Just beyond the Warf you can catch a ferry to tour another historical site at Alcatraz Island. The infamous federal penitentiary is open for you to learn more about the prisoners and history of the island. Alcatraz offers a great view of the Golden Gate Bridge where you can end the day with a sunset view of the unique city.
Continue your northern California adventure by moving up the coast to the tranquil forests of the redwood giants, home to the tallest trees in the world. Open your windows once you are in Redwood National Park to take in the refreshing aroma of the giants. These trees can reach over 350 feet tall and stretch over 20 feet in diameter. Some can live to be 2,000 years old. Although the tree roots extend only 6 feet deep, these trees can stand tall because their roots spread over 30 feet and connect with other trees. You might recognize the forests from a few motion picture films including Jurassic Park and Return of the Jedi because both filmed scenes here. As you journey on a short walk or long hike through the trees you begin to feel the immensity of their size. Depending on the level of adventure you want, local lodges and camp grounds offer a variety of accommodations ranging from rustic to luxury.
At the edge of the giant forests Patrick's Point State Park will show you the beauty of the rugged northern coastline. Kayak through seaside caves to explore marine wildlife or, if you are not the sea faring type, stroll to a nearby meadow to catch a sight of the largest elk herd in North America. As you walk the coastline in the evening, search agate beach for volcanic rocks that formed from underwater volcanoes right off the coast. These rocks were rubbed smooth from the ocean current and glow as you shine a flashlight through them.
To see the results of another ancient volcano, you will travel inland to the Lava Beds National Monument. Volcanic eruptions that occurred over thousands of years created a desolate landscape with jagged rocks on the hot surface. Hidden under the surface are more than 700 caves formed from the lava flow and 22 are open for you to explore. Caving offers a cool escape from the desert heat, but if you are claustrophobic it may be a daunting experience. Some caves are wide enough for hundreds of people while other caves can barley fit a small explorer inching along on his or her stomach. Become an explorer as you creep your way along the dark caves and listen to distant water drips. Keep a lookout for sleeping bats and stalactites.
Moving farther inland toward the eastern side of the state beautifully blue Lake Tahoe offers you a mountain hideaway. The lake is the second deepest in the U.S. at 1,645 feet deep and the 26th largest in the world. Explore Tahoe city to grab some treats and then sit down to enjoy a charming picnic on the shore. After lunch, jump in the car for a scenic drive around the Lake that will reveal hidden coves and beaches with water access for swimmers. Take a break from the drive to dip in to the clear, cool water and enjoy stunning views from the surrounding scenery. If you are feeling adventurous, soar across the water in the one of the boats dotting the lake in summer. Do not worry if your travels take you to the area in winter because Tahoe is beautiful all year. You can join skiers and snowboarders as they take to the snow covered slopes surrounding the lake or take refuge inside a cozy cabin or lodge if you would rather read a book by the fireplace. You can reach the majestic beauty of the California Mountains by plane, train or automobile.
Talk with a Travel agent
With so many different destinations in Northern California, be sure to find a travel agent who can guide you in planning a trip. An agent can use your interests to plan an adventure that will be delightful. Booking rental cars, hotels and other services can become a headache and complicate a vacation that was supposed to be relaxing. Avoid complications and confusion by using a trusted travel agent.