Northern California summer travel destinations – leave the crowds behind!


Demonstration vineyard at Lodi Wine and Visitor Center on Turner Road shows varied vineyard and viticultural methods.

Lodi-Woodbridge Winegrape Appellation map.
Main Street in Sutter Creek, a Gold Rush gem, taken from Hotel Sutter balcony.
Bixby Bridge, circa 1932, is typical of Big Sur scenery on Highway 1.
Hearst Castle’s outdoor pool looks out over the Santa Lucia Mountains!

In my last post, I noted five summer travel destinations (three California national parks (Lassen, Sequoia/Kings Canyon and Pinnacles, the North California Coast and the Central Sierra region), far from the maddening crowd, with pictures and detail on each. I mentioned three more, with less detail and no photos; this post remedies that!

With summertime almost upon us, families, particularly those with kids, are targeting some of the most popular travel destinations in N. California. These include Lake Tahoe, Yosemite and the Napa and Sonoma Valleys, to name a few. That can mean maddening crowds, traffic snarls and impossibilities in book campgrounds or lodging nearby.

Close to, or in, the San Joaquin Valley are a number of equally stunning, less visited destinations, perfect for families, or empty-nesters . Summertime is a great time to visit, and all are within about four hours or less from San Joaquin County.

If you love Napa and Sonoma Valleys but don’t want to fight the crowds, vacation nearby in the Lodi/Woodbridge Winegrape Appellation. Start at the Lodi Wine and Visitor Center on Turner Road (complete with demonstration vineyard), and visit some of the dozen tasting rooms in downtown Lodi and 60 wineries open for tours in both Lodi and Woodbridge.

The Sierra foothills, from Coloma south to Sonora/Jamestown.  Here you have several lovely old towns, a true ghost towns, and the mighty Sierra, just a few miles to the east.

California coast from Big Sur south to Morro Bay: Leave the crowds behind in Monterey and Carmel, and travel south down the wild California coastline, through the rugged Big Sur area, to Hearst Castle and Morro Bay.

For more info: For touring within San Joaquin County, see the Visit Stockton tourism organization; www.VisitStockton.comCentral; for the Sierra foothills area, For camping in national parks and forest service campgrounds,, or call 877.444.6777. And, if you are a senior, purchase the America the Beautiful senior pass, offering free admission to all national parks and half-off most federal campgrounds!

For additional travel destination inspiration, see my blog: travel; to contact me,

Happy travels in California!

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