I'm a native Californian who's lived and traveled the state
extensively for over 40 years. I'm now a denizen of the foothills of
the Sierras, close enough to Yosemite to practically be within
spittin' distance. I'll be happy to point you to some of my favorite
places and routes.
Philip Greenspun has a wonderful website describing his travels in
California, liberally decorated with his marvelous photographs. I find
it very easy to share many of Philip's picks and opinions.
The Central Coast
The Sierra Nevada (including Yosemite)
My own recommendations are the pick 'n choose variety - too many for
one week's vacation, but my very favorites.
Solvang - Not really -that- Danish these days, 'cept for the special
festivals, but lots of fun to browse. Stroll through Mission Santa
Inez. Look for poppyseed tebirkes [tee-BUR-keys] or cinnamon snail
weinerbrød [VEE-ner-bwodd] at the bakeries. Try Abelskiver (fresh hot
donuts smothered in raspberry sauce) or look for Rød grød med fløde
[rude glued med flued], red fruit with cream dessert, on the cafe
menus. It's obvious I associate Solvang with Danish sweets.
Picnic Spot(s): Nacimiento-Fergusson Road, about 36 miles north of
Hearst Castle offers spectacular views from the top. Ideal for a broad
vista of the Pacific. Or, Julia Pheiffer Burns State Park. A short
trail leads to a beach and waterfall overlook.
Julia Pfeiffer Burns State Park
Guide to California's Big Sur - Nacimiento-Fergusson Road
Point Sur Lightstation Sunset and Moonlight Walking Tours
19 miles south of Carmel on Hwy 1
Monterey Aquarium has been on our favorites list since its beginning.
Lots of great fish to see. The aquarium was one of the filming
locations for Star Trek IV - The Voyage Home. For fish to eat, just
stroll along Steinbeck's (now gentrified) Cannery Row. Locals like the
Tinnery. I like the Bucket 'o Boat Trash and margaritas at Bubba
Tinnery at the Beach
Monterey Bay Aquarium
For the flavor of the Sierra's follow the 49er Highway south from
Placerville to Yosemite. It'll take about a day to traverse the route,
stopping along the way. Special treats include...
The Gold Bug Mine - walk into this small hard rock mine in
Placerville, once known as Hangtown and home of the Hangtown Fry.
"Supposedly created in 1849 during the California goldrush, possibly
at the Cary House in Hangtown (now Placerville). Food was expensive in
the mining camps and towns, and oysters and eggs were the most
expensive. Either a miner with a bag full of nuggets wanted the most
expensive meal he could order, or it was the last request of an outlaw
about to be hanged. The Hangtown Fry is eggs, oysters and bacon cooked
together as a scramble or an omelette."
Gold Bug Mine Park
Hangtown Fry (Google Cache)
Murphys - A tiny gold rush town, a bit off the beaten track. Cool your
feet in the town park creek, peek into the old Murphys Pokey, and read
the E Clampus Vitus Wall of Comparative Ovations.
Murphys Main Street
Volcano - Another small Gold Rush gem
Volcano Theater Company
Sutter Creek and Angels Camp offer some of the best Gold Rush antique
shopping. The working blacksmithy in Sutter Creek is a throwback to
the 49er era. Angels Camp is the setting of Mark Twain's "The Jumping
Frog of Calaveras County."
Knight's Foundry Museum
Jamestown - Stroll down this historic mainstreet. Restaurants are a
cut above the average. The town's hotels and B&B's have all been
wonderful experiences over the years. Close to Columbia State Park,
Railtown 1897 State Historic Park - Jamestown
River Rafting - I'm a fan, and a former river guide. Central Sierra
rafting can be as exciting or relaxing as you choose. Excellent one
day rafting trips are available on the Tuolumne and American Rivers.
The Tuolumne offers spectacular scenery and a very exciting ride. Many
tour operators offer a relaxing and educational floats along the South
Fork of the American River past the California Gold Discovery Site. At
the very least, take along an innertube and float along the peaceful
portions of the Merced River in Yosemite Park itself.
Yosemite Valley Rafting Advice
Yosemite National Park - I love the Park and surroundings. I have an
annual pass, used once a month or more often. My favorite places...
Hetch Hetchy Valley
The Ahwahnee Hotel - Lunch or Afternoon Cocktails
Glacier Point - Hike or Drive from the Valley
My Favorite Valley Hike - Glacier Point to Half Dome
South from Yosemite
Yosemite Mountain Sugar Pine Railroad offers a four mile train
excursion through the forest, on a narrow gauge railway. Moonlight
Melodrama excursions include dinner and old fashioned Good Rush
Yosemite Mountain Sugar Pine Railroad
Mariposa - "Headed to Yosemite on Highway 140? It's worth a stop in
Mariposa. Mariposa was named by a Spanish explorer who found tons of
butterflies, "mariposas," in the area. Mariposa is the county seat for
Mariposa County, also called the "Mother of California Counties." When
California became a state in 1850, Mariposa County was the county, one
fifth of California."
Two noteworthy museums, California State Mining and Mineral Museum,
and the Mariposa Museum and History Center. The History Center was
named one of the best small museums in America by the Smithsonian.
Sierra Vista Scenic Byway - Start from the Nelder (Redwood) Grove end
and work your way south. Lovely day's drive through the Central
Sierra. This is the closest you can get to hikin' on wheels.
Sierra Vista Scenic Byway
Erna's Elderberry House - the best dining anywhere near Yosemite. Put
yourself in the hands of Chef James Overbaugh for lunch or dinner.
Erna's Elderberry House
Locals like: Castillo's, Oakhurst, Ducey's On The Lake (Bass Lake),
and Oka Japanese Restaurant, again in Oakhurst.
There's a brand new casino/resort, south off Highway 41, in
Further south, Sequoia and King's Canyon National Parks are worth the
loop from King's Canyon (Fresno) to Visalia. The drive east into the
mountains takes you through many of the orchards of this superb
agricultural region. Pick a fruit stand in the middle of nowhere and
enjoy the biggest, juiciest peach you've ever eaten, fresh from the
Sequoia King's Canyon Virtual Visitor Center
Sequoia/King's Canyon Chat
Highway 99 South will bring you back to Interstate 5.
Dead Tree Guidebooks
AAA Hidden Highways of Northern California
Rough Guide to California
Santa Cruz Beach Boardwalk
Rocky Point Restaurant - 10 Miles South of the Carmel, overlooking a
dramatic part of the Big Sur coast. Lunch and dinner.
Golden Chain Theater - Oakhurst
Hog's Breath Inn - Carmel
Carmel to Santa Barbara Map/Travel Guide (.pdf format)
Yosemite Adventures for Non Campers
Watching the Shooting Stars (warning: Music)
California Coast Vacation (Yosemite/California Coast
Yosemite Firefall - History and Memory
California Here We Come
Kim and Morgan's Sequoia/Kings Canyon Adventures
Google Search Terms:
travels backroads california central yosemite
"our vacation" yosemite
"our vacation" "big sur"
"our vacation" california "highway 1" OR "hwy 1"
"our vacation" "california gold rush"
"highway 1" jolon road
hetch hetchy valley
tinnery pacific grove
sequoia kings canyon adventures OR vacation
mariposa california museum
Too verbose, probably. Can you tell I love my home state, in spite of
some of the crazy characters who share it with us? As always, any
questions, or non-working links, please speak up. I hope you have a