EL DORADO & PLACER COUNTIES (includes Olympic Valley & Truckee)
●PlumpJack Squaw Valley Inn – 1920 Squaw Valley Road (on Lake Tahoe); 530-583-1576 or 800-323-7666; plumpjacksquawvalleyinn.com.
South Lake Tahoe
●Basecamp Hotel – 4143 Cedar Avenue; 530-208-0180; basecamphotels.com; 50-room, formerly grim, now retro-cool hotel; lobby is perfect apres-ski hangout; rooftop hot tub has mountain views; located close to Heavenly Gondola.
●Kalani’s – 1001 Heavenly Village Way; 530-544-6100; kalanis.com; creative; try miso sea bass.
Truckee (includes Homewood, South Lake Tahoe & Tahoe City)
●Cedar House Sport Hotel – 10918 Brockway Road (Truckee); 530-582-5655 or 866-582-5655; cedarhousesporthotel.com; American “green” ethos meets European hospitality.
●Cottage Inn – 1690 West Lake Boulevard (Tahoe City); 530-581-4073 or 800-581-4073; thecottageinn.com; WPA-style accommodations near lake.
●968 Park Hotel – 968 Park Avenue (South Lake Tahoe); 530-544-0968 or 877-544-0968; 968parkhotel.com; eco hotel; stylish.
●West Shore Inn – 5160 West Lake Boulevard (Homewood); 530-525-5200 or 877-263-7768; westshorecafe; small restaurant on lake’s tony west side that also rents 2 single guest rooms and 4 2-bedroom units.
●Jake’s on Lake – 780 North Lake Boulevard (Tahoe City); 530-583-0188; jakestahoe.com; family dining and great people watching.
●Moody’s Bistro & Lounge – 10007 Bridge Street (Truckee); 530-587-8688; moodysbistro.com; sustainable California cuisine.
●Squeeze – 10060 Donner Pass Road (Truckee); 530-587-9814; squeezein.com; 62 omelets and long lines.
●West Shore Café – 5160 West Lake Boulevard (Homewood); 530-525-5200; westshorecafe.com; best restaurant on lake.
●Granite Chief – 11368 Donner Pass Road (Truckee); 530-587-2908; granitechief.com; hiking and skiing equipment.
●Jordan’s at Truckee Mercantile – 10052 Donner Pass Road (Truckee); 530-582-1252; designer labels.
●Pharmacy – 10072 Donner Pass Road (Truckee); 530-582-1668; high-end bath and beauty products.
Sights & Sites
●Donner Memorial State Park – 12593 Donner Pass Road (Truckee); 530-582-7894 or 800-444-7275; parks.ca.gov/?page_id=503.
●Truckee River Raft Co. – 185 River Road/Highway 89 (Tahoe City); 530-583-0123; truckeeriverraft.com.
●Vikingsholm – Emerald Bay; 530-525-7232; grand home open to public.
Death Valley National Park
●Amargosa Hotel – 608 Death Valley Junction (Death Valley Junction); 760-852-4441; amargosa-opera-house.com; historic, somewhat crank, spot; Red Skelton stayed her on 4 different occasions.
●Furnace Creek Inn – Highway 190; 760-786-2345 or 800-236-7916; furnacecreekresort.com; higher end; nestled against Funeral Mountains and overlooking desert salt pans and Panamint Mountains; 66 classically decorated rooms; fine dining; spring-fed swimming pool; gift shop; massage therapy; oasis garden laden with towering palm trees and meandering streams; all rooms recently redecorated, some with decks or terraces; some with spa tubs; slightly larger rooms in North Wing; pool bungalows.
●Furnace Creek Ranch – Highway 190; 760-786-2345 or 800-236-7916; furnacecreekresort.com; originally working ranch in 1880s; 224 guest unit motel; 3 restaurants, saloon, and general store, and “Borax Museum”; spring-fed swimming pool; cabin units in single story duplex buildings; standard rooms in 4 2-story buildings, all with French doors leading to balconies or small patios; deluxe rooms in 2 1-story buildings, each with French doors leading to small patios adjacent to park-pool area (limited number have 1 king bed).
●Amargosa Cafe – 608 Death Valley Junction (Death Valley Junction); 760-852-4441; amargosa-opera-house.com; historic, somewhat crank, spot.
Sights & Sites
●Amargosa Opera House – 608 Death Valley Junction (Death Valley Junction); 760-852-4441; amargosa-opera-house.com; historic, somewhat crank, spot; since 1960s, owner, Marta Becket, has performed dance and mime for Sunday audiences, often with no one present.
●Badwater Basin – Badwater Road (19 miles south of Furnace Creek); 760-786-3200; nps.gov/deva; lowest point in America, at 282' below sea level.
●Scotty’s Castle (Death Valley Ranch) – 123 Scotty’s Castle Road (Grapevine Canyon); 760-786-2392; nps.gov/deva/historyculture/scottys-castle.htm; green oasis in far northern Death Valley; window into Roaring 20s and Depression 30s; engineer’s dream home, wealthy matron’s vacation home, and man-of-mystery’s getaway and hideout; Walter ("Death Valley Scotty") Scott convinced everyone he built it with money from his rich, secret area mines; Albert Mussey Johnson actually built house as vacation spot for self and wife; tours.
●Ubehebe Crater – Death Valley National Park (Death Valley Junction); 760-786-2331; nps.gov/deva/planyourvisit/ubehebe-crater.htm; large volcanic crater 600' deep and .5 mile across.
●Tenaya Lodge – 1122 Highway 41; 559-514-2167 or 888-514-2167; tenayalodge.com; unbelievably beautiful.
●Evergreen Lodge at Yosemite – 33160 Evergreen Road; 209-379-2606 or 800-935-6343; evergreenlodge.com.
Bars & Nightclubs
●Gomez’s – 100 Canyon Boulevard; 760-924-2693; gomezs.com; Mexican food with over 200 tequilas and large margaritas.
●Hyde Lounge – 6201 Minaret Road; 760-934-0669; sbe.com/hydemammoth; lives up to Sunset Boulevard predecessor; bottle-service-only booths, lasers, door policy, and pricy cocktails.
●Mammoth Brewing Co. – 94 Berner Street; 760-934-7141; mammothbrewingco.com; warehouse converted into beer-tasting room.
●Mammoth Mountain Inn – 10001 Minaret Road; 760-934-2581 or 866-466-7000; mammothmountain.com; offers snow-cat transport to Parallax Restaurant.
●Sierra Nevada Lodge – 164 Old Mammoth Road; 760-934-2515 or 800-824-5132; sierranevadalodge.com; rustic lobby recently renovated (includes Clark Gable’s baby grand); 150 units; ask for room with wood-burning stove; has ice-skating rink.
●Tamarack Lodge & Resort – off Route 203 (Twin Lakes and Lake Mary Roads); 760-934-2442 or 800-626-6684; tamaracklodge.com; LEED-certified 3-bedroom with all modern amenities, as well as barebones studios.
●Gomez’s – 100 Canyon Boulevard; 760-924-2693; gomezs.com; Mexican food.
●Lakefront R Restaurant – off Route 203 (Twin Lakes and Lake Mary Roads, at Tamarack Lodge & Resort); 760-934-2442; tamaracklodge.com; wild game dishes and excellent wine list; area’s best chef.
●Mill Café – 1 Minaret Road (at Chair 2 base); 760-934-0675; festive après-ski spot; try pulled pork nachos.
●Parallax – McCoy Station (mid-mountain gondola station, up from Main Lodge); 760-934-2571; mammothmountain.com; modern décor and Asian-themed trimmings; would not look out of place in downtown Manhattan (white bark walls); reachable only by Snow-cat from Mammoth Mountain Inn; dishes range from New Zealand lamb to grilled chicken with risotto.
●Shea Schat’s Bakery – 3305 Main Street; 760-934-6055; feels and smells like gingerbread house; try steaming hot chocolate and pastry (cinnamon nut bread, ginger cake, bread pudding).
●Stove – 644 Old Mammoth Road; 760-934-2821; cozy spot, especially for earl breakfast; long wooden booths and old pictures of cattle ranchers on walls; open over 40 years; homemade pies are great.
●Yodler – 10001 Minaret Road; 760-934-2571; Swiss-style chalet off Main Lodge; try heaping fish taco and/or nacho plates.
●Black Tie Ski Rentals – 435 Commerce Circle; 760-934-7009; blacktieskis.com.
●Double Eagle Spa – 51 Club Drive; 760-934-8511; snowcreekathleticclub.com; earthy massage rooms, Vichy showers, and yoga studio.
●Vern Clevenger’s Gallery – 220 Sierra Manor Road; 760-934-5100; vernclevenger.com; beautiful color photographs; modern-day Ansel Adams.
Sights & Sites
●Hilltop Hot Spring – 5 miles east of Mammoth Lakes; can cross road to Wild Willy’s, more secluded spring, which requires 20-minute trek and snow-shoes.
●Chateau du Sureau – 48688 Victoria Lane; 406-862-8190 or 866-875-8456; chateausureau.com; 16 miles south of Yosemite National Park; European-style estate home; excellent restaurant; on private grounds with walking paths.
Yosemite National Park
●Hetch Hetchy – nps.gov/yose/planyourvisit/hetchhetchy.htm.
●Ahwahnee Hotel – 1 Ahwahnee Drive; 801-559-4884 or 866-875-8456; yosemitepark.com/the-ahwahnee.aspx; Premier Lodge classification from National Park Reservations; striking granite facade, magnificent log-beamed ceilings, massive stone hearths, richly colored Native American artwork & finely appointed rooms; in main valley inside park, near Half Dome & Glacier Point base; built in 1927; public spaces feature giant stone fireplaces, massive hand-stenciled beams, rich tapestries & elegant stained glass; of 123 guest rooms, 99 in main building; book “Featured Room,” similar to “Classic Room,” but has balcony; Rooms 444 & 450 share deck.
Mono Lake (includes Lee Vining & Lone Pine)
Bakeries, Coffee, Ice Cream, Juice & Tea
●Latte Da Coffee Café – 51 US Highway 395 (Lee Vining); 760-647-6310; elmonomotel.com.
●El Mono Motel 2013 – 51 US Highway 395 (Lee Vining); 760-647-6310; elmonomotel.com.
●Lake View Lodge – 51285 Highway 395 (Lee Vining); 760-647-6543 or 800-990-6614; lakeviewlodgeyosemite.com.
●Tioga Pass Resort – 85 Highway 120 West (Lee Vining, 1 mile east of Tioga Pass summit); no telephone at all; tiogapassresort.com.
Sights & Sites
●Inyo National Forest – Whitney Portal Road (Lone Pine); 760-876-6219; fs.usda.gov/inyo; US National Forest covering eastern Sierra Nevada & White Mountains portions; includes: Mount Whitney, highest point in contiguous United States; Boundary Peak, highest point in Nevada; and Ancient Bristlecone Pine Forest, which protects oldest trees in world.
●Saddlebag Lake Resort – Saddlebag Lake Road (Lee Vining); 209-545-0946; saddlebaglakeresort.com; 1 of few fishing areas where can catch “High Sierra Fishing Slam”: Brooke, Brown, Golden & Rainbow Trout caught in same day.
●Cosumnes River Preserve – 13501 Franklin Boulevard; 916-491-1820; cosumnes.org; 46K acre nature preserve located 20 miles south of Sacramento; protects Central Valley remnant that once contained among largest expanses of oak tree savanna, riparian oak forest and wetland habitat in North America; Cosumnes River is last remaining free-flowing river in California’s Central Valley; diverse range animal & plant life; sandhill crane fall migration.
●Squeeze Inn – 5301 Power Inn Road (other locations); 916-386-8599; facebook.com/thesqueezeinn; hamburgers; popular with somewhat cult-like following.
●California State Railroad Museum – 125 I Street; 916-445-7387; californiarailroad.museum; interprets railroad role in connecting California to rest of nation; features 21 restored locomotives & railroad cars, some dating back to 1862; between April-October, Sacramento Southern Railroad, operated by museum, takes passengers on 40-minute, 6-mile roundtrip route along Sacramento River on portion of Walnut Grove branch of former Southern Pacific Railroad; make sure to see painting called Last Spike.
SAN BERNARDINO COUNTY
●Baghdad Café – 46548 National Trails Highway; 760-257-3101; Bagdad Cafe, movie centering on old Route 66, filmed in Newberry Springs area; this Bagdad Cafe is not original (located in Bagdad, between Amboy and Ludlow on old Route 66, nothing of which remains); Newberry Springs cafe is Route 66 survivor, though, once known as Sidewinder Café; after movie was filmed here, name just stuck; serves breakfast, lunch, and dinner.
●Halfway House Café – 15564 Sierra Highway (in Canyon Country); 661-251-0102; halfwayhousecafe.com; 1930s roadhouse.
●Trails Drive-In – 84520 Trona Road; 760-372-5803; roadside café.
Sights & Sites
●Old Guest House Museum – 13193 Main Street; www1.iwvisp.com/svhs; run by Searles Valley Historical Society; commemorates early days of borax mines, magnesium monorail, and American Potash & Chemical Corp.
●Trona Pinnacles – Route 178 (35 miles west of Death Valley’s Wildrose entrance); geographical landmarks, more than bizarre enough to make special trip.
SAN LUIS OBISPO COUNTY
Paso Robles (includes Atascadero, Los Alamos, Santa Margarita & Templeton)
Bakeries, Coffee, Ice Cream, Juice & Tea
●Negranti Dairy – 975 Jensen Road (Paso Robles); 805-801-3847; negrantidairy.com; by appointment only; sheeps’ milk products.
Bars & Nightclubs
●15c Wine Shop & Bar – 1121 Rossi Road (Templeton); 805-434-1554; 15degreescwines.com; small plates, too.
●Comus House – 5414 Vineyard Drive (Paso Robles); 805-239-4287; dennervineyards.com; 4 rooms (more like cabins); breakfast; modern.
●Hammersky Vineyards & Inn – 7725 Vineyard Drive (Paso Robles); 949-338-7813; hammersky.com; built in 1904; 4-room inn on 50 acre property; upstairs claw-foot tub peers out over vines.
●Just Inn – 11680 Chimney Rock Road (Paso Robles); 805-238-6932 or 800-726-0049; justinwine.com; 4-room inn on esteemed vineyard in Adelaide Valley; stone fireplaces and tapestry curtains give formal feel.
●Inn Paradiso – 975 Mojave Lane (Paso Robles); 805-239-2800; innparadiso.com; quaint property; only 3 master suites; must see to fully understand; each room boasts fine linens, fireplaces, travertine baths, etc.; includes full breakfast for 2 each morning, consisting of fresh-squeezed juices, fresh fruits, homemade breads and entrée; located on quiet hillside, short drive southeast of town with flowers, oaks, and spectacular views.
●Venteux Vineyards Bed & Breakfast – 1795 Las Tablas Road (Templeton); 805-369-0127; venteuxvineyards.com; set on 22 acres; 2 rustic guest rooms or can book barn with wraparound porch; breakfast.
●Artisan – 1401 Park Street, #105 (Paso Roble); 805-237-8084; artisanpasorobles.com; trail-blazing, farm-to-table cuisine.
●Bell Street Farm – 406 Bell Street (Los Alamos); 805-344-4609; bellstreetfarm.com; take-away lunch sandwiches that you can eat on back patio.
●Il Cortile – 608 12th Street, #101 (Paso Robles); 805-226-0300; ilcortileristorante.com; Italian.
●Farmstand 46 – 3750 California 46 (Templeton); 805-239-3661; farmstand46.com; gourmet, healthy food made from estate-grown, organic herbs and vegetables.
●Full of Life Flatbread – 225 Bell Street (Los Alamos); 805-344-4400; fulloflifefoods.com; pizza.
●Range – 22317 El Camino Real (Atascadero); 805-438-4500; cash-only and no reservations; diminutive; ingredient-driven, decidedly meat-centric, but vegetarian dishes such as wild mushroom ravioli; everything possible made in-house, from fresh-baked breads to start your meal to salad dressings and desserts such as Meyer lemon pound cake or Kahlúa pots de crème; reasonably priced wine list.
●Thomas Hill Organics – 1305 Park Street (Paso Robles); 805-226-5888; thomashillorganics.com; bistro sources from owners’ 10-acre farm.
●Bell Street Farm – 406 Bell Street (Los Alamos); 805-344-4609; bellstreetfarm.com; take-away lunch sandwiches.
●Central Coast Lavender – 6630 North Star Lane (Paso Robles); 805-467-3500; centralcoastlavender.com; lavender products include cookies and lemonade.
●15c Wine Shop & Bar – 1121 Rossi Road (Templeton); 805-434-1554; 15degreescwines.com.
●Happy Acres Family Farm – 1955 Templeton Road (Templeton); 805-434-7580; happyacresfamilyfarm.net; goat cheese products, edible to lotion to soap.
●Limerock Orchards – 6996 Peachy Canyon Road (Paso Robles); 805-238-6887; limerockorchards.com; walnut products, from candy to pesto.
●Pasolivo – 8530 Vineyard Drive (Paso Robles); 805-227-0186; pasolivo.com; olive oil products; tangerine-infused olive oil is “must.”
●Rinconada Dairy – 4680 West Pozo Road (Santa Margarita); 805-438-5667; rinconadadairy.com; sheeps’ milk products.
San Luis Obispo
●Granada – 1126 Morro Street; 805-544-9100; facebook.com/granadahotelandbistro; luxury boutique; 17 rooms; housed in 1920s brick building in downtown’s heart; restaurant and terrace bar.
●Sycamore Springs Resort & Spa – 1215 Avila Beach Drive; 805-595-7302 or 800-234-5831; sycamoresprings.com.
●Koberl at Blue – 998 Monterey Street; 805-783-1135; epkoberl.com.
●Luna Red – 1023 Chorros Street; 805-540-5243; lunaredslo.com; Asian and Spanish tapas; brunch.
●Meze – 1880 Santa Barbara Avenue; 805-548-8070; mezemarket.com; market cafe.
●Atmodsphere – 1119 Chorro Street; 805-594-1119; atmodsphere.com; modern home furnishings.
●Meze – 1880 Santa Barbara Avenue; 805-548-8070; mezemarket.com; market cafe; good for picnic supplies.
Sights & Sites
●Jack House & Gardens – 536 Marsh Street; 805-781-7308; slocity.org/parksandrecreation/jackhouse.asp; Victorian home open to public.
●Sycamore Springs Resort & Spa – 1215 Avila Beach Drive; 805-595-7302; sycamoresprings.com.
SAN MATEO COUNTY
Sights & Sites
●Harley Farms Goat Dairy – 205 North Street; 650-879-0480; harleyfarms.com; restored 1910 dairy farm, with 200 alpine goats on 9 pastured acres; Harley Farms chevre, fromage blanc, ricotta, and feta cheeses are consistent winners at American Cheese Society awards; open year-round for farm and dairy tours, cheesemaking classes, and events in restored hayloft; visitors see working farm, and watch milk move from goat to dairy, from curd to cheese.
Sights & Sights
●Jasper Ridge Biological Preserve – 4001 Sand Hill Road (Woodside); 650-851-6813; jrbp.stanford.edu; secret, 1.2K-acre wilderness surrounded by Silicon Valley sprawl.
●San Gregorio General Store – Highway 84 & Stage Road; 650-726-0565; sangregoriostore.com.
SANTA CRUZ COUNTY
●Gallery Viscosity – 13158 Central Avenue; 206-669-1955; viscositystudio.com; Chilhuly-like blown glass; worth detour.
Corralitos (includes Watsonville)
●Corralitos Market & Sausage Co. – 569 Corralitos Road (Watsonville); 831-722-2633; worth detour.
Sights & Sites
●Wilder Ranch State Park – 1401 Coast Road; 831-426-0505; parks.ca.gov/?page_id=54; explore California’s early ranching history by visiting 1897 Victorian home, or experience 1896 water-powered machine shop; bring picnic to enjoy on front lawn & visit farm animals; more than 35 trail miles; both into Santa Cruz Mountains & along coastal bluffs.