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The Best California Getaways

Written by  Maxine Albert

Mendocino County - Nature’s Unspoiled Beauty

For those seeking to connect with nature’s beauty, California’s lesser known Northern Coast boasts dramatic cliffs, quirky beaches and breathtaking vistas. The Inn at Newport Ranch opened late 2015 in Fort Bragg, set over 2,000 acres of coastal land with cattle pastures, verdant forests, meandering trails and panoramic views, is adding cachet to this off the beaten path locale.

This luxe retreat overlooking the Pacific offers rustic chic rooms, suites and cottages decked out with wooden furniture and accents (made from local redwood), leather sofas, throw blankets and cozy fireplaces. Guests can take ATV tours, go hiking, mountain biking or horseback riding through redwoods, sit in the hot tub atop the water tower or watch for whales from the privacy of their own porch. Or perhaps take a scenic drive down to the charming seaside town of Mendocino, and enjoy a splendid lunch at one of their excellent restaurants such as Café Beaujolais.

Sonoma County - Wine Country
This small Sonoma County town has transformed into a sophisticated hub over the past few years with top artisans, superb farm to table dining, wine tasting rooms, art galleries, fashionable shops, antiques and a vibrant main square. Head to the farmer’s market Saturday morning for the sweetest peaches and other yummies. Among Healdsburg’s many outstanding restaurants, I especially enjoyed Valette and Willi’s Seafood and Raw Bar. Visitors can easily wine hop and savor Sonoma’s prized grapes at nearby wineries on Westside Road or Dry Creek, while taking in the lush countryside
Elegant Les Mars, a member of Relais & Chateaux, is ideally located in the center of town. This handsome 16 room hotel highlighting Parisian décor with 17th and 18th century antiques, hand crafted mahogany furniture, chaise lounges, armoires, draped four poster beds, Italian linens and cozy fireplaces, exudes the old world charm of a regal European mansion.
The Farmhouse Inn, just south of Healdsburg in the Russian River Valley and located in the heart of Sonoma wine country is utterly romantic. This enchanting and luxe boutique resort spread over six acres offers a collection of cottage like suites in soothing hues of white and cream, an excellent Michelin starred restaurant, heated pool and hot tub, plus a farm to table spa with ingredients harvested on site. Country rustic interiors showcase cashmere throws, antique weathervanes, featherbeds, indoor/outdoor fireplaces plus large windows overlooking the woods and private decks.

Glen Ellen
The small, quaint town of Glen Ellen in Sonoma Valley oozes a special charm. Activities include visiting nearby wineries, galleries, hiking the stunning trails and indulging in the locale’s gastronomic delights. Savor exquisite fare at the updated Fig Café and The Glen Ellen Star. A lunch poolside followed by a vinotherapy spa treatment at the Kenwood Inn and Spa, a 10 minute drive, was also impressive.
Glen Ellen’s Gaige House, nestled in a verdant setting along Calabaza Creek feels like a lovely hideaway with a serene vibe. Guests enjoy ultra stylish Asian inspired suites with glass atriums, Zen gardens, oversized tubs, stone fireplaces plus private patios and a pampering spa. Relaxing at the outdoor pool and hot tub amid the leafy ambiance and relishing the creative breakfasts and home baked cookies was simply divine.

Sausalito - Waterfront Getaway
I adore the town of Sausalito with its breezy, artsy aura and yacht filled harbor front dotted with bustling cafes, trendy shops and hip galleries. Trident waterfront seafood eatery, Poggio for Italian fare and the legendary No Name Bar, hangout of famed musicians such as Jefferson Airplane and Bob Dylan - where you can still hear good live music - are some of my beloved haunts, (all on the main drag, Bridgeway).
The star attraction here is the view across the bay of San Francisco’s skyline. For this reason The Inn Above Tide, the only hotel set on the bay and overlooking the panoramic cityscape, is hands down my favorite. I love sitting on my overwater terrace, listening to the gulls, watching the gliding ferries and taking in the gorgeousness. Attractive, contemporary rooms and suites done in neutral hues have teak furniture, fireplaces and oversized windows. Amenities include a complimentary wine and cheese selection at cocktail hour; however it’s hard to leave the spellbinding views.

San Francisco - Epicurean Epicenter
It’s not hard to linger in this picturesque, hilly epicurean epicenter. After feasting my eyes on the remarkable art at the newly opened gigantic SFMOMA, I went on a foodie feast at some of San Francisco’s best. Tsar Nicoulai Reserve caviar with fromage blanc, tortelli with nasturtium, Senese pork and bing cherries with Manjari chocolate, Sicilian pistachios and cocoa nibs were among the delectables on the 10 course tasting menu at Chef Michael Tusk’s Michelin 3 star eatery, Quince. For $398, you can enjoy a 15-20 course tasting menu at Joshua Skene’s Michelin 3 star Saison. Delicacies include buttery lobster crudo, sea urchin on sesame sourdough and ribeye aged for 48 days with heartbreads. Is it worth it? Unabashedly - Yes!
The new Hotel Zeppelin close to Union Square, offers rooms and suites with eclectic furnishings plus art and whimsical accents like vintage turntables that celebrate the city’s bohemian character.


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