Thursday, August 12, 2010

Touring Northern California: A Mini Guide - Part I

Work sometimes requires travels to our US head office for mostly half of the year. Being away from family and friends in a foreign land makes me home sick. To get by each day and especially on weekends, I think of the travel as an opportunity to explore cultures and new places. 

If I'm in the US, I reside in Petaluma, one of the cities in Sonoma County. It's a 45 minute drive from San Francisco passing by the Marin County and not far from Sonoma is Napa. Northern California is a playground of beautiful landscapes, architecture, history, and culture.

Going out to places is most often costly due to entrance fees, fares, parking, etc. I know that there are many ways to explore a county and its neighboring destinations without spending too much. Here's a PART 1 compilation of some Things To Do (without the aid of tour agents) from the "road less traveled" spots (so to speak) to popular tourist destinations in Northern California.

Here are some Tips and Places to explore if you happen or plan to be in San Francisco and Sonoma. 

It's located along the Marina Avenue in San Francisco. The place has a vast expanse of green fields where you can enjoy picnics, watch locals and tourists, fly kites, enjoy the San Francisco bay, play ball, and admire the million-dollar homes along the avenue. The Marina boasts a great view of the Golden Gate Bridge and The Alcatraz

Golden Gate Bridge Vista Points
There are many spots in SFO and Marin counties to appreciate the grandeur and beauty of the hanging bridge known as Golden Gate. This is a must see attraction if you happen to be in Northern California.
Guide links: Some Known Vista Points

Palace of Fine Arts 
This place makes me appreciate nature and makes me realize that man made structures can harmoniously co-exist with nature. It's a wonderful experience to just sit back and relax at the park benches or on the grasses. Enjoy the birds, the calmness of the pond, the cool trees, the people, and the massive pillars of the Palace of Fine Arts structure.
Guide links: Fine Art Details, National Park Service, Only in San Francisco
The park is a wonderful surprise to me. I could not believe it that just a few minutes from downtown is a park with many trails that provide various overlooks and vantage points. Spring is the perfect time of the year to discover the trails especially if you love the verdant scenery of the mountain slopes.
Guide links: Flickr landscapes, Sonoma County Parks, Visit Petaluma

Petaluma is the first city in Sonoma County if you come from San Francisco. It is a quaint town with many historic architectures. The downtown gives a glimpse of dated architectures from the past.
Guide links: Visit Petaluma

Related Post:
Touring Northern California: A Mini Guide - Part II

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