Insiders Guide To An Idyllic Escape to Northern California


There is nothing like an impromptu adventure. My husband, Gregg, and I had been talking about taking a road trip up the northwestern coast and explore the big redwoods in Northern California, venturing into Oregon and Washington. Plus, gluten-free travel within my own backyard, per se, is obviously not as stressful as traveling in a foreign country.

An Idyllic Escape to Northern California

In a ramblist manner, this weekend we did just that.

On Mother's Day weekend? See—my dad forgot it was Mother's Day weekend and surprised my mom with a vacation in Playa del Carmen. This gave us the perfect opportunity. We packed our bags, gassed up and headed up the 101-N about 3.5 hours north of San Francisco. This peaceful Sunday drive took us through wine country, and into Mendocino County.

The twists and turns of the winding roads lined by trees that seemed to get taller and taller by every inch and mile, eventually lead us to our first stop.

Goldeneye Winery in the small town of Philo of the Anderson Valley specializes in Pinot Noir. We enjoyed a tasting accompanied by a spread of local cheeses on the beautiful estate.


Their "tasting room" is the whole outdoor patio. The view is beautiful—one can sit on the back patio and just gaze at the perfect rows of vines that lead the eye into the forests in the back.

Goldeneye had provided the reds and whites served at Obama's '08 inauguration dinner (menus are still on display).

We finished our tasting we hit to the road again to stop just about a minute at a stand that said, "APPLES." We knew we had to stop.


Gowan's Oak Tree, a roadside stand featuring homegrown and local produce in the Anderson Valley, along Highway 128--2 1/2 miles west of Philo, and 8 miles from Boonville. We purchased a basket of apricots and a bag full of apples to enjoy as we journeyed to Mendocino.


We drove through the winding roads as our jaws dropped at every twist and sharp turn, fascinated by the Navarro River State Park Redwoods; we pulled over to take it all in. The Navarro River Redwoods State Park consists of 660 acres of second-growth redwood forest in a narrow stretch 11 miles long on both banks of the Navarro River. Majestic.

valerie fidan northern california

As we made our way to the coast onto Highway 1, better known as the Pacific Coast Highway to Southern Californians, we were mesmerized by the stunning ocean views with vivid blues, waves crashing upon a dark sand beach and the fog slowly creeping in. Navarro Beach is located at the bottom of the Navarro River, is a place where surfers mingle with fisherman and hippies in a laid back community.


After taking picture after picture at the beach, we hit the road again--Mendocino not too far, about 7 miles north. We checked in at the Stanford Inn by the Sea, an eco-friendly lodge with organic gardens, where they harvest threat own food for their vegan, famed restaurant, The Raven's. Everything was five star delicious.


We noshed at The Raven's. This place was amazing! A fabulous plant-based gluten-free menu, with only a handful of gluten items.


We started off with the Tamari-Maple Glazed Tofu with a wasabi emulsion, sesame seeds, and scallions.

I enjoyed a Moroccan Mushroom Salad made with romaine, diced red bell pepper, celery, red onions, olives all mixed with cilantro dressing.

Gregg enjoyed a Mushroom sandwich that was amazing! It tasted like a crab roll. The mushrooms were breaded in corn meal and dressed with avocados, picketed red onions, and delicious pesto on a gluten-free roll.

As we continue our journey up through the Northern California coast, my search for gluten-free food sounds very promising.

Ramblist Need To Note

Sip on this:Goldeneye Winery, 9200 Hwy 128, Philo, CA 95466; (800) 208-0438 Stop here:Gowan's Oak Tree, 6600 Highway 128, Philo, California 95466; 707-895-3353 Wander off here: Navarror Redwood State Park; Navarror Beach at Point Arena Nosh here:The Raven's, Located within The Stanford Inn By The Sea; Reservations requiredStay here:The Stanford Inn By The Sea, 44850 Comptche Ukiah Rd, Mendocino; (707) 937-5615

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Insiders Guide to California's Free Road Trips 2012 Guid


It's road trip season and California Road Trips 2012 encourages visitors to hit the road and explore the Golden State, with this year's focus on fun for the entire family. The newly released guide maps out special two- to three-day driving getaways as well as more detailed routes for longer vacations throughout California's 12 diverse regions.

"California is home to many iconic destinations – many of which are best viewed from the road.  Visitors who travel our highways and biways can experience the incredible diversity of the state from its spectacular coastline to the higher ground of the Sierra and everything in between," said Caroline Beteta, president and CEO of Visit California. "CaliforniaRoad Trips 2012 reinforces the best of California with a focus on our incredible attractions that every member of the family will enjoy."

This year, the theme of the guide, produced by Visit California and Sunset Publishing, is "Family Fun," a focus that has special resonance in California, with its abundance of attractions from historical sites, educational museums and hands-on experiences to incomparable theme parks to outdoor adventures.  Each itinerary presents a range of activities for all kinds of travelers, inviting people to stop, explore, learn and have fun.

Inside California Road Trips 2012, readers will find inside scoops on things to see and do and the abundance of activities they'll find throughout the state of California. As part of the guide's "Strike it Rich" trip, drivers can fuel up for a trip back through time into California's Gold Country. In "Welcome to Adventureland," visitors discover wild beaches, serene tidepools and a surprise safari along California's North Coast.  They can also head for the "Great Wild North" to sample outdoor adventures in the mountains, lakes and secret swimming holes of California's Shasta Cascade.  This is shaping up to be California's best summer ever as 2012 is a huge year for theme parks and attractions with new rides and attractions opening from north to south, including Cars Land at Disney California Adventure Park, the new Transformers: The Ride at Universal Studios Hollywood and SeaWorld's first thrill ride – Manta!

This year's issue of Road Trips will see one million distributions, with 600,000 guides being distributed in the June 2012 issue of Sunset magazine; the remaining 400,000 will be distributed through domestic and international direct fulfillment and trade shows. Road Trips 2012 will also be available for free in digital format on and on Visit California's iPad app, available in the Apple App Store.  Visitors can also get a copy by calling 1-877-CALIFORNIA.

Visit California (formerly known as the California Travel & Tourism Commission) is a non-profit organization with a mission to develop and maintain marketing programs – in partnership with the state's travel industry – that keep California top-of-mind as a premier travel destination. According to Visit California, travel and tourism expenditures total $102.3 billion annually in California (20 percent of which is international), support jobs for 893,000 Californians and generate $6.3 billion in state and local tax revenues. For more information about Visit California and for a free California Official State Visitor's Guide, go to