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Napa Valley Wine Train

Napa March 2014 121_89413

Recently, I had the opportunity to evaluate the Napa Valley Wine Train, which is celebrating their 25th year in operation. After making my reservation in advance, I checked in at the modern train station complete with a gift and wine shop and waited for my time to board. You can bring your own wine aboard the train, but there will ... Read More »

Trinidad – One of Northern California’s Best Kept Secrets


You can quickly drive right past the three exits for Trinidad, CA. You might even miss the green-colored “Population – 311″ sign while cruising along the dense tree lined US 101, also known as the Redwood Highway, on the Northern California coast. My recommendation? Plan a stop in Trinidad, perhaps even two. Exit number 728 will take you to the ... Read More »

Golden Gate Bridge Electronic Toll: What You Need to Know

Golden Gate Bridge 6

A year ago, when electronic toll charges for the Golden Gate Bridge went into effect, many San Franciscans breathed a huge sigh of relief. While driving northbound to Marin County is free, a toll is charged if you’re crossing southbound. Afternoon and evening rush-hour congestion into the city was slowed further by commuters stopping to pay the toll, creating headache-inducing ... Read More »

Soaking up the Serenity at Point Reyes


San Francisco is awesome. That said, it’s also crowded, hectic and often noisy (police sirens really are shrill). And the traffic congestion never seems to let up. Granted, there are plenty of hidden spots in the city where you can get away from the hustle and bustle, and I’ve blogged about several of them. But for a clean break—and as ... Read More »

Memories of the Monterey Peninsula


“Otters?!?” we asked in bewilderment. “Yes, otters that’s what they are,” explained my patient friend who has lived in Monterey her whole life before being swept off her feet by an East Coast man. A gang of Rhode Islanders have come to her hometown in preparation for their wedding. Each of us was in awe as we stared out into ... Read More »

Northern California’s Spectacular Sonoma Coast

Bodega Head

I recently blogged about my trip to Armstrong Redwoods State Natural Reserve, a protected redwood forest about an hour’s drive north of San Francisco. My base for this two-day road trip was the tiny hamlet of Occidental, at the approximate midpoint of the scenic, 10-mile Bohemian Highway. After reveling in redwoods the first day, my travel companion and I spent ... Read More »

How to Beat the Heat in Northern California


I don’t care for temperatures above 90 degrees. I could handle an entire summer at a pleasant 78 degrees, but unfortunately I don’t live by the coast. For those of you who are like me, I’d like to make two family-friendly summer destination recommendations here in northern California — minus the heat. I’m not saying these areas won’t get hot, ... Read More »

What a Difference a Diamond Can Make

Photo: Michael Troutman/www.dmtimaging.com

What a day I had! I was working the Monterey Peninsula and went into one of my favorite restaurants, The Fish Hopper, on Cannery Row. It has always had a strong AAA Two Diamond rating but never quite made it to a Three Diamond … until today. As I entered the restaurant, I noticed it had been completely renovated with ... Read More »

Lighting up San Francisco’s Bay Bridge

Bay Bridge 1

Of the eight major bridges that facilitate travel around the Greater San Francisco Bay Area, six are known mainly by the local commuters who drive across them regularly. Then you have the undeniably iconic Golden Gate Bridge. And the San Francisco-Oakland Bay Bridge? Although it is an absolutely vital transportation link between San Francisco and the East Bay cities of ... Read More »

Oakland: A Grittier San Francisco, But Just As Appealing


The City of Oakland is along an estuary from the Pacific Ocean. If you have the opportunity to fly into Oakland International Airport, don’t be surprised that the first thing you notice is water. As you get closer to the ground, you get the feeling you’re about to go for a swim. Don’t worry! Both you and the plane will ... Read More »