California Road Trips - 50 Life-Changing Adventures - 72

NORTHERN CALIFORNIA ROAD TRIP

34

From Valley to Sea

Emerald hills, glassy lakes, massive redwoods, rugged coastline-
the geological diversity of this trip will take your breath away

peckish, stop at Marcel's French Bakery and Cafe in Clearlake Oaks.
The unexpected strip-mall spot imports butter and water from Paris
to craft killer baked goods. Grab a pastry for now, a baguette for later,
and gift your server some zinnias to fulfill your flowery duty.
Lake County is an under-the-radar wine region, with a number of
vineyards nestled up in the hills. Elegant grounds, stunning views, and
award-winning wines from one of only two transverse valley AVAs in
California make Brassfield Estate a must-visit. Drive down a road lined
with stately oak trees before reaching the Franciscan villa surrounded
by topiaries. Opt for a tasting (a great time to break out that bread)
or call in advance for the Farm to Bottle Vineyard Tour.
There's no better time to fish than in the late afternoon with a belly
warmed by wine-and no better spot than Clear Lake, which has more
fish per square acre than any other in the country. Rent gear from
Konocti Bait Shack, and fish off the piers at Lucerne Alpine Park. The
shop's friendly fishermen are happy to connect you with a local guide
if you'd like to get out on the water. After the sun sets, get your caboose in a caboose at Featherbed Railroad. The rooms in this lakeside
bed-and-breakfast are standalone train cars, each with a view of the
water from the back deck or enclosed cupola.
The next morning, start your day with breakfast at Featherbed
(specialties include maple-cream-cheese-stuffed French toast), then
continue west. You'll see serene pastures and deciduous trees covered
in moss. On drizzly days, the water sticks to the moss, making the
limbs sparkle in soft green. Pull over at J Bar S Ranch in Ukiah to admire the bison before grabbing some house-made jerky for the road.
Once you reach Leggett, you'll be surrounded by massive pines.
You've now entered redwood country. Right off the road, Smithe Red-

L AUJ O R E STAT E W I NE RY

woods State Natural Reserve is an ideal entry point. Enjoy the wonder
of a walk-through tree and take a short hike to a 60-foot waterfall.
When you get back in the car, it's time for the main event. A drive

T H E U N I V E R S I T Y O F C A L I F O R N I A , DAV I S , B OA ST S O N E

down the 31-mile-long Avenue of the Giants is a guaranteed jaw-drop-

curriculum perk? Davis' college-town coffeehouses serve delicious

per. Stop and stretch your legs at any of the memorial groves or

farm-to-table food. Fuel up for your drive with a honey latte and avo-

simply enjoy the view as you twist through the prehistoric forest.
The redwoods will slowly shrink as the sea approaches. Pause in

cado toast topped with cherry tomatoes and sliced radishes at Cloud
Forest Cafe. As you head north from Davis through Yolo County, you'll

Fortuna's Eel River Brewing for a late lunch and a pint of organic

cut through crop-filled fields, one of which holds a local secret: When

amber ale before reaching your final destination. After you pass over

the flowers bloom (June through September), Metzger's Zinnia Patch

the Eel River, you'll feel like you took a portal through time. Arriving in

in Woodland is open to the public for free picking. The only require-

Ferndale, you'll be greeted by quaint Victorian homes complete with

ment is pickers must gift at least half their bounty. Stop for a photo

turrets and trim. Check in at the impossibly cute Gingerbread Man-

and a couple cup-holder bouquets.

sion Inn before driving a few more miles to the mighty Pacific. Park

Travel west on State Highway 20 and leave manicured fields for

at the Lost Coast Headlands and hike down to the beach where the

rolling hills filled with grazing cows. Soon, you'll see Clear Lake, the

otherworldly coastline is the perfect place to relax, reflect, and enjoy

largest body of freshwater in the state, on your left. If you're feeling

the most beautiful sunset you've ever seen.

3

days

S TA R T Davis
F I N I S H Ferndale (Lost Coast Headlands)

M O S T AW E - I N S P I R I N G S TO P Avenue of the Giants

72
VISITCALIFORNIA.COM

287
miles

I N S I D E T I P Pack layers.
A shorts-and-flip-flops day
in sunny Lake County may
be puffy-jacket weather under
the shade of redwoods.

PHOTOGRAPH: KILEY OWENS

of the most impressive agricultural programs in the world. One


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California Road Trips - 50 Life-Changing Adventures

Table of Contents for the Digital Edition of California Road Trips - 50 Life-Changing Adventures

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California Road Trips - 50 Life-Changing Adventures - Cover1
California Road Trips - 50 Life-Changing Adventures - Cover2
California Road Trips - 50 Life-Changing Adventures - 1
California Road Trips - 50 Life-Changing Adventures - Contents
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