When it comes to haute cuisine and perfect views, California is hard to beat. From North Coast fresh food kitchens to waterfront restaurants in Big Sur and rooftop lounges in Los Angeles, a trip to California offers a feast for all your senses. Follow these tips to discover the state from north to south.
North Coast and Mendocino
Cooking locally sourced ingredients from the land and sea, plus award-winning wines and beers, California’s northern coast creates culinary magic with a variety of enchanting settings. The restaurants in Mendocino, in particular, stand out for serving seafood with ocean views. Salmon, white tuna, cod, crab and abalone are just some of the delights you will taste.
With the Pacific Ocean and San Diego Bay as a gateway, San Diego is the ultimate in oceanfront cuisine. At Embarcadero, check out Sally’s Seafood on the Water or The Fish Market. Island Prime optimizes views with picture windows and an over-water patio. This one should definitely be on your list if you are taking a trip to California.
Celebrate Sacramento’s election as the national capital of fresh, assorted ingredients by savoring your meal at one of the city’s numerous locations, sustainable restaurants (usually overlooking the river) or strolling through one of its quaint street markets.
Napa Valley and Sonoma
Experience the stunning scenery, award-winning food, and fine wines of Napa Valley and Sonoma County at restaurants such as the conceptual Michelin-starred Thomas Keller; The French Laundry; or the stunning Café La Haye.
Big Sur offers breathtaking views of the mountains and ocean. Watch them over a hamburger served with a creamy “ambrosia” sauce made from tomatoes at Nepenthe, where a huge deck looks out over the Pacific Ocean. Or head to the eclectic Big Sur Roadhouse, lined with redwoods, for Cajun-influenced dishes.
A trip to California will always involve San Francisco. It’s almost impossible not to eat well with beautiful scenery. The trendy Slanted Door is tempting for its waterfront views; the Zuni Cafe overlooks bustling Market Street and Atelier Crenn is well worth a visit for its Michelin stars and minimalist decor.
Dine among the High Sierra Mountains while taking in views of Lake Tahoe or Yosemite Valley. Erna’s Elderberry House is an ideal location next to Yosemite National Park.
Among the historic architecture of the center, discover local cafes and bakeries. For dinner, sample fresh seafood and sunset views at Johnny’s Harborside or Crow’s Nest.
In Los Angeles, take the elevator to the top floor of the Mondrian Hotel in West Hollywood, where you can enjoy cocktails poolside at Skybar. Or enjoy a drink and snack on the rooftop of The Roof on Wilshire.
The state’s wine regions are as wonderfully varied as the state itself.
In California’s wine regions, you’ll discover elegant properties along rural lanes lined with vineyards. You’ll also find informal wineries in renovated barns and urban wine trails with modern tasting rooms. Follow this list to determine which regions are best suited to your trip to California.
Almost all of California’s 1,200+ wineries offer wine tastings. Some of them take place in the wineries themselves, while others include serene views of the vineyards.
The roots of ancient Zinfandel vineyards run deep in this northeastern region of California, after all, winemaking here dates back to the 1850s. Today, the Gold Country is teeming with wineries, wine-oriented tours, tasting rooms and restaurants.
Mendocino County’s wine country is known for a climate cooled by ocean breezes and terrain that ranges from rolling hills to vineyards shaded by coastal redwoods. This makes the region an ideal spot for a picnic with cliffs, beaches or the state park in the background.
Sonoma County has an intimate climate, especially as you head further north towards the stunning Russian River. Whether located inside a castle or a converted barn, wineries in Sonoma County receive gold medals and international honors.
Napa Valley reigns as the land of grand estates, large tasting rooms, unusual towns and elegant accommodations, and many of these attractions lie along the famous Silverado Trail, a picturesque country road lined with wineries.
The western region of Silicon Valley (Silicon Valley), where the terrain rises towards the trees of the Santa Cruz Mountains (Santa Cruz Mountains), has become an attractive destination for wine lovers. The charming village of Saratoga is the center of the region.
Historic ranches, a dreamlike coastline, rural pathways, welcoming towns and endless vineyards make the Central Coast an exceptional destination, with hundreds of wineries to visit. The vineyards there are some of the oldest in the state, many planted by monks in the 1700s.
Best known for excellent red wines, produced primarily from ancient Zinfandel vines, this American Viticulture Area is located about 100 miles east of San Francisco and is a leader in sustainability, with nearly 10,000 hectares of sustainable and certified vineyards.
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