Exploring the Northern California Coast

road trip

As much as I love SoCal sometimes I need a break from all the hustle and bustle. It’s time to leave town and experience something new which means…road trip! Recently my family and I hit the road and headed north. Our destination?  Portland, OR…and a whole lot of spots in between. We decided to travel via the California coast. Now, I’ve driven up the coast several times but never past the Bay Area. This trip would change that.

Bright and early one Saturday morning we headed up the 101 to begin our adventure. We traveled at a steady pace until just outside of Silicon Valley where I saw a sign advertising Casa de Fruta – a farm stand in business since 1908. 1908! The sign mentioned it was just 13 miles off the highway so we quickly detoured to check it out. What the sign didn’t mentioned was that it was 13 miles of winding, country roads. Soon enough we came upon the historic stand.


Located in Hollister Casa de Fruta has been serving customers for decades and has become a tourist destination. Though it’s in the middle of nowhere it was bustling on our visit. The stand specializes in dried fruits and there were plenty available for purchase.

IMG_9606Along with the farm stand there’s a restaurant, a wine shop, a train and a beautiful Venetian carousel.

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Soon enough it was time to hit the road with a quick stop on Sunnyvale to visit the Libby’s water tower.

IMG_9616Once upon a time Sunnyvale was home to Libby’s fruit cannery and at one point it was the largest in the world. As often happens times changed, the cannery was closed and the buildings were razed. All that remains is the water tower. It now stands in the middle of an office park but retains it’s Libby’s logo as a tribute to a long gone Silicon Valley industry.

We can never go near the Bay Area without stopping in San Francisco and spent a good day enjoying the area. Dessert at the Ice Cream Bar, breakfast in the Dog Patch and a flea market on Treasure Island were some of the things we enjoyed.

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A quick crossing of the Golden Gate Bridge landed us in Sausalito – home to Heath Ceramics. At their fabulous mid-century designed headquarters is a store that sells factory seconds. As Heath is a bit on the pricey side this was a fun way for me to grab one of their lovely designs.

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Once we hit Sonoma County we left the 101 and headed for the coast. Coming out at Bodega Bay we started north. I was the driver and soon became acquainted with Highway 1’s famous curves. Oy. The scenery was beautiful but I had little time to enjoy it. Eventually we made it to Mendocino county and hunkered in for the night.


The next day we paid an early morning visit to the glass beach in Fort Bragg. This phenomenon comes from the fact that the beach is the site of a former dump. Various glass objects that have been tossed in the sea for decades return in the form of smooth glass pebbles.

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It was one of the coolest things I’ve ever seen and a definite highlight of the trip.

Our next destination, the Point Cabrillo Light Station, was another highlight.


We arrived soon after the park opened and had the whole place to ourselves. Even though we couldn’t go inside we still were able to admire to beauty of the historic structure.


Not to mention the amazing coastal views.

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It was the perfect start to our day. Soon we were north again to begin our adventure into a whole new form of nature – the redwoods.


Not only are the redwoods amazing trees but they’re also home to some of the quirkiest tourist traps around. Of course we had to drive through the Chandelier Tree.


Of course we had to try to solve the mystery of Confusion Hill.

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And of Course we had to see the Trees of Mystery.


The Northern California coast is a magical place filled with beauty, quirk and mystery. I’m so glad I finally took it all in.


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