Must Visit Places in Central/Northern California

Our original plan was to spend a couple full days in San Francisco. However, after spending one day in the city and having an opportunity to see a little of the California "country," we were so hooked on the natural beauty of the state that we both agreed we would much rather explore those parts than spend another day in San Francisco. I knew there were pretty parts of the state, as there are most states, but had no idea of the abundance of breathtaking views California offers.

Our first stop was Muir Woods, outside San Francisco. The drive up to the parking area provided some impressive views of the city from what felt like mountains and cliffs. Winding up and around, it was also really cool to see some of the houses where those lucky people get to live. Fortunately, I had visited the National Park Service website for Muir Woods the day before and knew we had to have reservations to park, so we were set with parking and ready to head into the park

If you have never seen Redwoods or Sequoias, this place is incredible! The size and height of the trees is astonishing, but also quite chilly! We were there in February, so it was a little cooler already, but inside the park with the cover of these massive trees, it stays quite cool so be sure to dress accordingly. Also, be sure to bring your camera as there are tons of amazing photo ops! On the way back down the hill, we stopped at Muir Beach. It was relatively small but uncrowded and absolutely gorgeous! I had never seen dark sand like that, yet it was still so thick and soft. Watching the waves bit against big black rocks, it was mesmerizing to watch. It also reminded me of scenes from The Goonies!

From Muir Woods, we headed to Point Reyes National Seashore to see some sunshine and waves. I had read about the lighthouse and was excited to walk down to it to watch for whales and get some awesome views. Unfortunately, after driving (a beautiful drive on some really rough paved roads) for about 45-60 minutes through the area, we discovered that the lighthouse was closed and only open on certain days. While I was pretty disappointed, it was still not only a gorgeous drive, but some inspiring views from the observation deck. We did not see any whales but apparently, winter and spring are the time to watch for them.

The following day, we were ready for more California nature, so we headed west to Bodega Bay. Between the drive there, the walk on the beach, the drive up the coast, and lunch with wild sea lions swimming around and bobbing up to say hello, the natural beauty is almost overwhelming. The vegetation up and down the coast has flowers and all different colored flora, set against the backdrop of sandy beaches, white waves,  black rocks, and gorgeous blue ocean. This was one of my favorite places in the world. 

 After walking up and down the beach a couple miles, we stopped at The Tides Wharf Restaurant for some seafood. They did not disappoint! We started with an appetizer of calamari, artichokes, and giant prawns that were absolutely delicious. I ordered a crab sandwich and he had chef's choice seafood linguine with vegetables - both were quite tasty! While enjoying our food, we were seated facing the water, which surrounded the restaurant on 3 sides. We saw something bobbing up and down so we lifted the shade to see it better. It was a sea lion just a few feet away! During the course of our meal, we saw at least 8-10 of them, swimming around, popping up to look around. It really made the meal even more enjoyable and entertaining. After several full days of California's seafood, wildlife, and breathtaking landscapes, we can't wait to go back!


  1. Thanks for sharing this! I've been to California a few times, but I've never been to these places! The next time I go I want to check out Bodega Bay!

  2. Thanks for sharing! I've always wanted to visit California and these places look gorgeous!

    Em ~


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