Learn about The Gold Coast of California by reading The Golden Miles by Jayne Condon. It features all you'll need to know to plan your trip including objective info on places to stay, eat and things to do. At the end of the article, we've provided a summary of the contact info for your easy reference. Enjoy!
by Jayne Condon - Leisure
Traveler and WTA Member
was discovered here in 1848, the Gold Rush took place the following year,
and in 1850 the Golden State became the 31st member of the Union.
California’s state flower is the golden poppy, and its motto is Eureka,
for “I have found it.” The “it,” of course, is gold.
even if those first nuggets had never been spotted, the nickname, the
flower and the motto would still apply. From the break of daylight over
the mountains to the cobbled paving of the sea at sunset, from the
northern grasslands to the southern deserts, based on its rank as America’s
richest state or simply on the color of its air, California is truly El
travelers on its awesome coastline, the northern third, from the Oregon
border to San Francisco Bay, may be the mother lode.
year, my husband Bill and I spent ten days in November, exploring, lazing
and luxuriating along this gorgeous stretch of the country’s waterfront.
an hour of our landing at SFO, we stood on the overlook at the northern
end of the Golden Gate for another (nearly) airborne view of the magical
city across the Bay. Some of the most dramatic views of the bridge itself
show it rising above frequent fog. We were luckier than that; the day was
crystal clear, and the vista awesome.
the end of the second hour, we were in Muir Woods National Monument,
walking the mossy trails and drinking in the beauty of old growth sequoias
that date back to the time of the Crusades.
the redwoods, we viewed the rugged coast from Muir Beach Overlook, and
then that evening dined on wonderful local rock cod and barbecued Hog
Island oysters at the Olema Inn, 800-532-4252, in Olema. We spent
our first night at the lovely Ten Inverness Way Inn, 415-669-1648,
just a few miles up the coast in Inverness. Rates are $145-180, and
includes a full breakfast.
first morning was a Sunday. We awoke to brilliant sunlight, and took our
time with the Inn’s famous breakfast. That afternoon, leaning into
50-mile winds, we walked out to a point high above the ocean for another
breathtaking view of the coast from the Point Reyes lighthouse.
looked at South Beach, from ground level, where the wind-buoyed noisy
birds above the billowing surf and the glittering, streaked,
sea was anything but pacific. But just around the corner, the scene
changed dramatically at Drake Beach, where we found the sanctuary
discovered by its namesake, the English explorer who had sheltered in the
embrace of this pristine cove some 400 years before us.
inland and northward from Point Reyes, this part of the California coast
is verdant, rolling, sometimes-precipitous farmland, and the pasturage to
great dairy farms. In more than one Hollywood epic, it has doubled for an
idealized 19th century New England, and sometimes even old England. The
resemblance isn’t so much in the topography as in its wild openness and
breakfast on day three, we headed north again by car, this time for
the way, we stopped at Goat Rock State Beach (1 mile south of Jenner),
to admire the great herds of seals. Wonderfully graceful and energetic in
the water, they become ungainly inchworms on the shore, which is
probably why they spend their land time just lolling lethargically at the
water’s edge, grunting, barking, and basking in the sun.
we visited the rustic beach at 60,000-acre Salt Point State Park, 707-847-3221,
and from the overlook at Fisk Hill Cove we had a dramatic view of Sentinel
is all thirsty work, and late that afternoon we pulled in at the quaint
Their tasting room is in a rustic, rose-covered wooden cottage, which in
turn is at the edge of the vineyard, where row after row of colorful and
impeccably neat grapevines stretch on forever. The hostess welcomed us
with warmth and a pleasant, easy humor, and we tasted a number of award-winning offerings.
recommended a dinner stop at the Albion River Inn Restaurant, 707-937-1919,
even helping us with reservations. From peppered oyster appetizers,
entrees of broiled prawns in a lime sauce and fresh swordfish, through to
the multi-berry syllabub topped with poppy ice cream, it was one of the
best meals ever.
stayed that night at Surf ‘n Sand Lodge, 800-964-0184 , in Ft. Bragg. Rates are $59-175, depending on the season and room size.
The next morning, after a 2.5 mile walk, we headed into town for a
delicious breakfast at the Mendocino Hotel, 800-548-0513, served in
a garden setting.
fun takes in this small but vital town include the many New England style
homes, which line its streets (one of them famous locally as the setting
for Murder She Wrote), and the quaint and interesting shops at its
enjoyed Mendocino Headlands State Park, 707-937-5804,
and its visitors’ center in the restored 1854 Ford House, as well as the
winding floral trails through nearby Mendocino Coast Botanical Gardens, 707-964-4352,
admission $1-6, with lookouts for whale watching and spectacular ocean
long, twisty ride to Garberville ended happily that evening at the
pleasant, Tudor-style, nautically named Benbow Inn, 800-355-3301,
just south of town. Rates for 2000 season range from $115-305, double
occupancy. Breakfast at Woodrose Cafe, 707-923-3191, on Redwood
Drive got us off to a good start the following morning for a day trip to
Shelter Cove, a quiet, seasonal community that reminded us of Cape Cod.
Further along, we walked a short distance on the black sand of 25-mile
Lost Beach before returning to the Benbow.
started Thanksgiving Day at church in Garberville, where we met a lovely
local couple who invited us to their home that evening for a holiday
dinner. It turned out the Orazems owned the Eel River Cafe, 707-923-3783,
where we’d had a pleasant breakfast a few mornings before, so we knew we
were in safe hands, but we were even more grateful for the warm and
filled the middle of that day with a trip to Avenue of the Giants in the
Humboldt Redwoods State Park,
Words are inadequate to describe the majesty of this winding drive among
some of the tallest trees on earth, many as high as 30-story buildings.
The Dyerville Giant, toppled in a lightning storm, measures 340 feet, with
a root mass 35 feet across.
spent the next day among gingerbread houses and interesting shops in
nearby Ferndale, then moved on up the coast on the last leg to Eureka.
accommodations in Eureka were at the Hotel Carter, 800-404-1390,
connected with the popular Carter House Country Inn. Room rates range from
$94-187, suites from $195-297. We enjoyed a dip, more like total
immersion in our immense hot tub, right beside a window with a lovely
view of the harbor.
Saturday night we went to the Sonoma Cook House, 707-442-1659, just
a few miles up the coast and the real northern terminus of our journey.
One of the last of the famous lumber camp eateries, it’s now a family
restaurant with good food and lots of it - at a reasonable price.
good dining during our stay in Eureka was at Cafe Waterfront, 707-443-9190,
and the Restaurant 301 at the Hotel Carter was outstanding.
On the final day of our stay, it rained buckets. Fortunately, we had
planned a visit to the Pacific Lumber Mill
and managed to stay reasonably sheltered. The tour was a real eye-opener,
at times even exciting. NOTE: as of 2008, the Pacific Lumber Mill is
trip north, with all its side trips and back roads, totaled over 600
miles. Our return, straight down 101 to San Francisco, was only 240 miles
and took less than half a day.
All in all, a terrific
trip and highly recommended for any time of the year from early spring to
Places to Stay,
Eat, and Other Contact Information
Inn, Olema, CA, 800-532-4252
Inverness Way Inn, 415-669-1648,
‘n Sand Lodge, 800-964-0184
River Cafe, 707-923-3783
Cook House, 707-442-1659
Woods National Monument,
Rock State Beach,
Point State Park, 707-847-3221,http://www.parks.ca.gov
Headlands State Park, 707-937-5804,
Coast Botanical Gardens, 707-964-4352,
Redwoods State Park,
Notice: This information is current as of
November 2000. It is recommended that you contact the numbers, and/or
visit the websites above to determine any changes to the