Mother’s Day adventures close to home!

Build a local or regional adventure outing for Mother’s Day…

The old Murphys Hotel anchors the town’s historic main drag.

Mother’s Day is just around the corner – if you’re seeking adventuresome and scenic destinations in northern California here are several recommendations from my spouse, several friends and me, both local and further afield.

If you are seeking fine dining and adventure in San Joaquin County, favorite local restaurants include Prime Table, Papapavalos and Market Tavern in Lincoln Center, CoCoRo on Miracle Mile, Bella Vista in the old Hotel Stockton, downtown Stockton and Wine and Roses in Lodi. All offer fine dining, classy décor and that vibe just right for special occasions. Couple brunch with a stop at the Haggan Museum in Stockton, or the San Joaquin Historical Society and Museum in Micke Grove Park (just south of Lodi) and you have a wonderful outing.

For an overnight trip, such special destinations should offer attributes including scenery, fine restaurant(s) nearby, classy lodging or memorable campgrounds and a sense of history – my own inclusion. These destinations, within three hours of San Joaquin County, measure up:

Wells Fargo stagecoach thunders down Sutter Creek’s Main Street.

Sierra foothill favorites offer both fine dining and cute, historic gold rush towns to explore. Murphys off Hwy. 4 is one of our favorites, with an eight block stretch of historic shops and hotels, featuring wine tasting, shopping and fine dining. Restaurants like Alchemy and the Murphys Hotel offer good options for fine food. Further south on Highway 49 you’ll find Sutter Creek with a 10 block stretch of old Main Street complete with bed-and-breakfasts, tasting rooms, shops and restaurants. The Hotel Sutter on Main Street is a fine place for lunch or dinner, as is Cavana’s Pub and Grill across the street. Pinecrest Lake, 30 miles east of Sonora on Hwy. 108 is another picturesque favorite, with the Steam Donkey Restaurant offering fine dining just a few blocks off the lake.

View looking down to Squaw Valley base area, from the dramatic tram ride to the top.

Touring to the still-snowy Sierra, North Lake Tahoe offers adventure and wildly flowing rivers; headquarter your visit in lovely Tahoe City on Tahoe’s north shore. Nearby Squaw Valley offers gondola rides to the top and fine dining at the base area, such as Plumpjack. Tahoe City also offers a host of motel options and Airbnb choices; for the best breakfast or lunch, try Rosies. Sugar Pine Point State Park, just south, features historic buildings, beautiful views of the lake and was site of several events for the 1960 Squaw Valley Olympics. Check out the small Olympic Museum building at Sugar Pine Park to refresh your memory of Olympic history on Tahoe’s western shore; scenic camping is also an option.

The Point Arena Lighthouse, above Jenner, is site for dramatic photos!

Bodega Bay, the Russian River, Jenner and points north along the California coast feature rugged scenery and a variety of lodging and restaurant choices. For Hitchcock fans, tour inland a few miles to the town of Bodega and see the old schoolhouse filmed in ‘The Birds’ movie, starring Tippi Hedren and Rod Taylor, a classic film from 1963. Dine at the Tides Wharf and Restaurant in Bodega Bay or the River’s Edge in Jenner, each with lovely views of the Pacific and fine seafood. You’ll find nice motels in both towns, and camping on the coast nearby.

The Bixby Bridge, circa 1933, frames the rugged Big Sur coast.

The Big Sur coast, just 2.5 hours to our south west, has long been a favorite. Just south of Monterey and Pacific Grove, this section of the rugged California coast coffers rocky coastline around every corner, lovely resorts, classic campgrounds if you’re camping and marvelous restaurants.

Called “El Sur Grande”, the Big South, by the Spanish for the vast reach of rugged and treacherous coastline, Mexico offered land grants in the early 1800s. Settlers in numbers would not arrive until just one hundred years ago, and Highway 1 was only completed in 1937, opening the coast to growing tourist visitation.

Heading south, scenic campgrounds include Andrew Molera State Park, just 20 miles south of Carmel, offering 4800 acres with a variety of exploring opportunities from beaches to the Big Sur River, as well as Julia Pfeiffer Burns State Park and Lime Kiln State Park. Kirk Creek Campground is further south, a gem perched on the bluff overlooking the Pacific – first come, first served, run by the US Forest Service.

Favorite restaurants include Nepenthe, Ripplewood Resort and the Big Sur Roadhouse. Ragged Point Inn on a bluff high above the ocean is a favorite resort, with ocean views spreading in several directions. With motel, cabins and restaurant surrounded by gorgeous gardens and coastal views, it offers both quiet and grandeur.

In Big Sur, see elephant seals at Ano Neuvo State Park (reservations for Ranger-led tours required) and at the six-mile long Piedras Blancas rookery, just north of San Simeon, with parking right off Highway 1, a short walk and no reservations required to view these massive animals.

For information: Murphys,; Sutter Creek,; Pinecrest,; North Lake Tahoe,; Bodega Bay and California’s north coast,; Big Sur,

Contact Tim at; follow him at Happy travels in your world!

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