San Francisco Bay Area / Gold Country / North Coast / Shasta Cascade – 7 days
Day 1 San Francisco
Visit one of the Golden Gate Bridge overlooks, to enjoy thrilling views of San Francisco or the ocean. Afterwards, stroll the many shops, galleries, and museums along Fisherman’s Wharf or nearby Ghiradelli Square. For lunch, savor some of the freshest seafood you’ll ever taste at a romantic restaurant, or people watch while snacking on a sourdough roll bursting with steaming chowder. Make time for a ferry ride to the infamous Alcatraz Island, the former penitentiary to some of the most notorious federal criminals of the 20th century, such as the Birdman of Alcatraz or Al Capone. Spend the late afternoon shopping in Union Square, followed by dinner in Chinatown or North Beach. For clubbing, try the SOMA district – filled with electronic music clubs, hip-hop, and chill art lounges – or the Mission District, with bar hopping for hipsters and rockers. Overnight in San Francisco.
Day 2 Sacramento
Head two hours east to Sacramento, the State Capital, where you can board a 19th century paddle-wheel boat and cruise the shores of Old Sacramento. Enjoy lunch on the Delta King and browse the historic shops along the river. Stop by Sutter’s Fort, which is all that remains of 19th century Swiss immigrant John Sutter’s agricultural empire, the earliest settlement in Sacramento and the first non- Native American settlement in California’s Central Valley. The fort’s museum and store illustrates the complete history, including how gold seekers later overran Sutter’s properties. While in this remarkable city, browse the many museums, featuring displays on farming, Native Californian heritage, historic railways, and the arts. Before heading back to the hotel, enjoy one of downtown Sacramento’s trendy eateries and bars. Overnight in Sacramento.
Day 3 Chico/Lassen Volcanic National Park/Redding
Drive about two hours north on Highway 99 to historic Chico, which was founded by General John Bidwell, a member of one of the first wagon trains to reach California in 1843 and a former employee of John Sutter. Amuse yourself at the National Yo Yo Museum, followed by a quick lunch at the Sierra Nevada Brewing Company. Drive 90 minutes northwest on highways 32 and 89 for a brief visit to Lassen Volcanic National Park, where you can drive through an otherworldly moonscape of volcanic domes, craters, and boiling fumaroles. Take Highway 44 east to Redding, home to the magnificent Sundial Bridge at Turtle Bay. Walk across the beautiful, unique pedestrian bridge that crosses the Sacramento River and connects the nationally designated trail system with the Turtle Bay Exploration Park and McConnell Arboretum. Dinner and overnight in Redding.
Get an early start and drive about an hour north on I-5 to the city of Mount Shasta, where you can pick up the scenic Everitt Memorial Highway and motor up to the base of the snow-capped Mount Shasta, the second highest volcano in the Cascade Range and in the lower 48 United States. Enjoy lunch in artsy Mount Shasta, filled with alternative coffee houses and vintage shops. Head north on I-5 to Gazelle and catch Highway 3 South to the Trinity Heritage Scenic Byway, the historic trade route that winds along the scenic Trinity River and beyond to Weaverville (two-hour drive). Stretch your legs and stroll the streets of this unique Gold Rush town. Afterwards, head west about two-hours on Highway 299 towards the coastal town of Eureka. Check into your hotel and then wander Old Town’s art scene, revolving around the exquisitely restored theater at the Arkley Center, then dine at the Lost Coast Brewery. Overnight in Eureka.
Take Highway 101 South for about an hour and visit Humboldt Redwoods State Park, where you can roll along the Avenue of the Giants, a 32-mile trip through old-growth redwood forests. An additional two hours south on 101 takes you to Fort Bragg. Enjoy lunch overlooking the rocky bluffs, and drive 15 minutes south to famous Mendocino. Spend the afternoon lingering in this 19th century, New England-style village, now a bohemian enclave with art galleries, eclectic shops, and bed & breakfasts. Enjoy a romantic dinner overlooking the sea. Overnight in Mendocino.
Day 6 Sonoma Coast/Armstrong Redwood State Reserve/Santa Rosa
Follow the coast along Highway 1 South to Point Arena Lighthouse, the only lighthouse in California where visitors can climb to the top and enjoy panoramic views. Drive an additional hour south to the coastal village of Jenner, located at the mouth of the Russian River. Enjoy lunch at the River’s End overlooking the water. Take Highway 116 NE about 30 minutes to Armstrong Redwoods State Reserve, where you can walk or drive through a grove of giant trees. Stop at the Korbel Champagne Cellars in Guerneville for a tour of the winery or famous gardens. Head SE on Highway 116 towards Santa Rosa, stopping at a winery along the way. Once in town, make a quick stop at the Charles M. Schulz Museum and Research Center, a tribute to the famous Peanut’s cartoonist. Enjoy dinner in historic Railroad Square, browsing the shops and various Peanuts’ characters dotted about the area. Overnight in Santa Rosa.
Drive an hour south on Highway 101 to San Francisco. If time permits, spend the morning strolling Fisherman’s Wharf before heading to the airport.