The majestic coast redwoods are as iconic of California in their own way as surfing and Hollywood and they truly have to be seen to be comprehended. The magnificent trees that grow in Armstrong Redwoods State Park (called sequoia sempervirens to the botanists) are considered a wonder of the natural world. They’re the tallest living things on the planet, and live to be 500 to 2000 years old – the oldest tree in the park is believed to be 1400 years old. They grow to a width of 12-15’ at the base and up to 350’ tall! The park is classified as a coastal rainforest, and is often shrouded in a mist that lends the area a mystical aura. Hiking and biking trails are clearly marked through the park, as are picnic grounds, and there are horse rental facilities as well.
The far edge of the new world, the Pacific coast’s dramatic scenery has inspired travelers since it was first discovered. The entire coastline is public property and most of the beaches are state-maintained. Stop anywhere on the way and walk down to your own private beach if you’d like solitude. The north route along the coast goes high up mountain faces with sheer cliffs down to the ocean below. Lookout points along the route offer opportunities to stop and take in the scenery – and catch your breath!
Russian River County and Sonoma County are California’s most beautiful wine growing regions, and some say they’re emerging as the premier wine regions of the world. The area is home to a vast array of microclimates and soil types, which helps winemakers tweak their grape-growing techniques and keeps them always on the avant-garde. Take a trip along the scenic Westside Road for a lyrical journey through the heart of wine country, winding over rolling hills alongside fruit groves and wineries. Along the way, stop for tastings and bring (or ship) home some of the local wine. Many of the wineries offer tours and tastings during the day. Two that come highly rated for the visitor experience are the Atascadero Creek Winery and the Ferrari-Carano Winery.