From So-Cal’s desert to Northern California’s wine country, here are some “Don’t Miss” activities along the coast.
When in Southern California, Don’t Miss…
• Earthquake Canyon Express Bicycle Tour by Big Wheel Tours. A leisurely 20-mile route that descends 1,200 feet into the San Andreas Fault zone, winding through the narrow canyon walls of Box Canyon toward the Salton Sea and the agricultural region of Coachella Valley is exhilarating.
• Palm Springs Aerial Tramway. A rotating tramcar climbs 2.5 miles as the temperature drops 20 degrees. Overlooking the desert while standing in the snow is an extraordinary experience in and of itself. The hiking trails though the forest and the endless panoramic view of the valley are spectacular.
• Sound Bath at Integratron. Quartz crystal bowls are played to correspond to our chakras for deep relaxation. The wooden dome in which we lay is “based on the design of Moses’ Tabernacle, the writings of Nikola Tesla and telepathic directions from extraterrestrials…to be an electrostatic generator for the purpose of rejuvenation and time travel.”
● The Cave Store in La Jolla. Descend 145 steps from the store into a tunnel that leads to an ocean-carved cave.
● Visit Julian, a California frontier town with pioneer storefronts. Tour the historic mines, and enjoy an apple pie, which is as good as gold.
● Hike The Slot, a narrow siltstone canyon in Anza-Borrego Desert State Park. View gravity-defying rock stacks. Stargaze at night in this Dark Sky Preserve.
● Daytrip to Tijuana. The busiest border crossing in the western hemisphere has also become a launching point for some amazing food tourism. Taco tours and craft brewery tours are all the rage. Tourista Libre crosses into Mexico, on a decommissioned school bus for a Mexican Market Hop. Visit Mercado de Artesanias to shop for artwork and ceramics. Outside the market the aroma of carnitas beckons. Who knew that a place that looks like an auto body shop would also be making the most delicious fresh tacos? Next up, Sobre ruedas la villa, where each taco is more scrumptious than the last. Pair them with Tejuino, a sweet and salty corn juice served with a scoop of lime slushy. Last stop, Mercado Miguel Hidalgo, a farmer’s market to sample wonderfully balanced coffees, and meander through a world of peppers, vegetables, mole and spices that reflect the terroir of Mexico. Here, delight in savoury duck tacos with hoisin drizzle. * Despite the genuine fun, one can’t help notice the omnipresence of the border, and that Mexican development pushes right up to it. Viewing the difference on either side is profound, but the value of this tour is the inadvertent but inevitable understanding and appreciation gained with just a taste of the industriousness and flavours at the heart of a striving community. Go to: www.turistalibre.com
● Drive along the coastal road of Bodega Bay, location of The Birds, and stop at every quaint shop within beautiful natural vistas. Crab shacks like Spud Point Crab Company cook up whole crabs, crab cakes, sandwiches and cocktails, and the most generous chowder imaginable. On the ocean-side patio of Gourmet au Bay we wine surf with flights of locally curated wines paired with selected local cheeses.
● The primeval forest of the Armstrong Redwoods is a majestic land of giants. Trees wide enough for a house and as tall as an office tower are up to 1,000 years old. A layer of fog adds a mysterious Twilight vibe to this awe-inspiring hike. Follow it up with a refreshing kayak down the winding Russian River toward the ocean. Getaway Adventures offers customized trips to actively explore all the exhilarating outdoor adventures of Sonoma.
● Savour a dreamy variety of cheese and the burgeoning craft brewery scene. Follow the Sonoma Marin Cheese Trail and beer hop Sonoma’s beer trail.
● Beer baptism. The Auberge Spa At Calistoga Ranch offers an ale immersion in a hop-infused bath while enjoying local craft beer and a selection of artisan nuts.
● High above the vineyards, Napa Valley Aloft hot air balloon rides float like portraits in the sky. Sip and survey from above.
● Stroll the Oxbow Market for all your epicurean needs. Ritual Coffee offers a flight of three different single origin drip coffees. Oxbow Cheese & Wine Merchant serves artisanal local cheese boards with flights of local wines. Hog Island Oyster Co. shucks and grills today’s catch. Model Bakery bakes deliciously warm, crisp and soft English muffins stuffed with eggs, bacon and cheddar.