17 Ways to Summer

Leilani Marie Labong | June 3, 2016 | Story Further Afield California Destinations Weekend Escapes National

Trek the vineyards in Healdsburg
You can do more than taste the terroir at Healdsburg’s Jordan Vineyard & Winery—you can walk it. New three-mile guided hikes ($75; next up: June 21) let guests explore the vineyard’s terrain of cabernet and malbec vines, majestic live oaks, and olive orchards. Shaded pit stops along the way are catered with seasonal agua fresca and estate olive oil tastings. A lunch of charcuterie and cheese is paired with one of Jordan’s super-smooth wines. Shelter for the night in a newly remodeled room at the Hotel Healdsburg (from $479 per night), designed by local legend Myra Hoefer with low-slung beds, hide-covered benches, and painter Wade Hoefer’s moody landscapes.

Honeymoon in Carmel Valley
Coupledom is fortified in high style at the exclusive Bernardus Lodge (from $950 per night), located deep in Carmel Valley. Enjoy lavender-strewn soaks in hammered-copper tubs, private moonlit yoga sessions, and intimate chef’s table dinners. Sleep (or don’t) in one of 14 new villas and suites, then wake up and drive, stopping at all the plum Highway 1 turnouts. Make sure those sacred vows are airtight: Will Big Sur Guides and Hiking lead you to a secret waterfall for a marriage-purification ritual like those long practiced by the native Esselen Tribe ($90)?

Feast local in Sacramento
Dinner in Sacramento never tasted so San Francisco: Given the surrounding 1.5 million acres of farmland, the city is fixated on the hyper-local. Take a meat moratorium at Mother, a casual vegetarian eatery from former Wayfare Tavern chef de cuisine Michael Thiemann, with imaginative small plates such as green-tomato toast with smoked mushrooms. Around the corner at Grange Restaurant & Bar, a sophisticated tavern located in the Citizen Hotel, chef Oliver Ridgeway takes a more omnivorous approach: grilled flatbread with charred-onion tzatziki, remarkably succulent porchetta with a verdant tangle of pea greens and crispy pork skin, and velvety butterscotch pudding, glazed with a thin layer of salted caramel sauce.

Strike a pose in Tahoe
In eight short years, Wanderlust (July 14–17; $490 for four-day ticket), the original Squaw Valley yoga jubilee, has exploded into a wildly lucrative series of international festivals where kombucha-fueled yogis supplement stretching and chanting with live music (Yeasayer’s on this year’s bill), downhill mountain biking, and plenty of enlightenment. At this one, speakers such as celeb butcher Anya Fernald and eco-evangelist Lauren Singer will soapbox on the topics “The Future of Meat” and “Living a Trash Free Life,” respectively. At the open-air, mat-to-mat asana-thons, the sun-saluting masses will sync up their chi with yoga gurus such as Annie Carpenter, Seane Corn, and L.A.-based Vinnie Marino, who cues poses to classic rock.

Bike the Strand in Santa Monica
Make like an L.A. hard body and bike the entire Marvin Braude Bike Trail, otherwise known as the Strand, a sinuous 22-mile bike path from north of Santa Monica to Torrance Beach. Rent a sherbet-hued beach cruiser at Perry’s, which has 12 locations along the route. The beloved Rose Café in Venice, fresh from a stunning renovation, is serving up cauliflower-and-black-truffle pizza and walnut sidecars. End the day with a view from atop the Santa Monica Pier’s iconic Pacific Wheel, the world’s only solar-powered Ferris wheel.

Blaze a rosé trail in Santa Ynez Valley
The Santa Ynez Mountains are part of the Transverse Ranges, which run east to west, drawing ocean winds inland and making for warm days, cool nights, and vast grape varietals—a rosé promised land. Begin your pink-wine pilgrimage at Casa Dumetz Wines, where the syrah rosé is Provence dry. Continue on to Kaena in Los Olivos to sip a grenache rosé with nectarines on the nose. At Sunstone Vineyards & Winery in Santa Ynez, the 2014 rosé is especially nice when sipped in a garden of olive and oaks. You must be starving: Try the Spanish lamb with braised fennel and chorizo at Solvang newcomer First & Oak. After dinner, it’s a short walk to the Landsby (average $279), a new boutique hotel outfitted in Scandinavian simplicity.

Stay cool in Palm Springs
If you’re spending a long summer weekend in Palm Springs, you’d better be near water. The new Arrive Hotel (from $159) has 32 boutique rooms and a sparkling pool oasis with private cabanas, a bocce court, Ping-Pong tables, and an onsite ice cream parlor (don’t miss the date flavor—the nearby Coachella Valley is known as the Date Capital of the World). On Thursday evenings, the Palm Springs Art Museum offers free admission from 4 to 8 p.m. And the Palm Springs International ShortFest (June 21–27), the largest short-film gathering in North America, offers nightly screenings at the historic Camelot Theatres.

Digital detox in Big Sur
Just what the higher power ordered: A no-technology retreat on the Big Sur coast that won’t break the bank. Say goodbye to push notifications and hello to the Benedictine monks of New Camaldoli Hermitage, whose five monastic practices fortunately include hospitality. Most guestrooms and cottages come with private gardens or decks overlooking the Pacific (from $130 per night). Overnights include three often-vegetarian squares a day, featuring Mystic Monk coffee and house-made Holy Granola to ameliorate texting withdrawal. (The four daily prayer sessions and silent evening meditations are, spiritually speaking, also analgesic in nature.)

Tent down in the Sierras
From June 10 to September 18, a less-than-one-mile hike from the Marvin Pass trailhead in Kings Canyon leads to Sequoia High Sierra Camp, a luxurious refuge that includes 330-square-foot canvas tents ($250 per person, two-night minimum), artisan furniture, shuttered windows, and—cue angels on high—maid service. Onsite chefs prepare three gourmet meals a day that eschew Oscar Mayer for gorgonzola-stuffed filet mignon. For a more economical option, Nevada City’s newly opened Inn Town Campground (from $90) offers deluxe canvas tents kitted out with private porches, plush beds, and the miracle of electricity.

Beachcomb in southern Oregon
Named after the gold-flecked placers that surrounded the mouth of the Rogue River in the mid–1800s, Gold Beach is now known for its agates, those less valuable but no less captivating treasures of the mineral kingdom. Thanks to El Niño’s ocean-churning weather, beachcombers might have even better luck finding more of the semiprecious stones to stash. If you’re in town from June 8 to 12, you’ll witness the world’s best windsurfers turning tricks—air funnels to e-sliders—at the Pistol River Wave Bash, the second stop of the American Windsurfing Tour’s annual showcase.

Tipping back in Baja
South of the border in Baja, unconventional microbrews such as blue-corn beers, horchata porters, and oyster stouts are commandeering the Corona throne. Start your cervercería crawl by directing your Uber (the company’s UberPassport service from San Diego into Tijuana started in March) to the open-air Plaza Fiesta in Tijuana, where there are numerous taprooms to visit, including the popular Cervecería Insurgente, whose black IPA is best imbibed on the rooftop garden. If the last time you spoke Spanish was in high school, book a guided outing with Club Tengo Hambre (from $75), which picks up from San Diego and offer tours of Baja’s craft-beer and street-food scenes. The trendy but basic rooms—vibrant walls, comfy beds, air-conditioning—at B My Hotel (from $33 per night), just a two-minute drive from the border, make it a good spot for hangover recovery.

Go AWOL in the Noyo River Canyon
Accessible only by a nearly two-hour ride on the historic Skunk Train, the Noyo River Canyon is a remote redwood wilderness 17 miles east of Fort Bragg that’s home to Camp Noyo, a former logging camp dating back to the 1900s. Shack up in the River View Chalet ($220 per night), or in the property’s other eight campsites, complete with flushable toilets, fire-fueled hot showers, and pots and pans. You’ll still need to pack sleeping bags and food—unless you feel confident in your fishing skills, in which case you can hook dinner from the Noyo River, which teems with rainbow trout and salmon. Heads up: You’ll need to plan your stay around the Boy Scouts’ annual late-July pilgrimage.

R&R at the Russian River
At AutoCamp in Santa Barbara, glampers wait up to six months to book one of just five renovated Airstream campers. Not so at the new location in Guerneville: With 24 silver bullets (averaging $225 per night)—appointed with Coyuchi bedding, spa-inspired showers, and private fire pits—you won’t have to wait nearly as long to reserve. The rest of the scene is like summer camp: bocce courts in play, bicycles on the move, canoes lazily floating by. Hit up Guerneville’s funky main drag, with stops at the Guerneville Bank Club, for Chile Pies Baking Company’s green chile apple pie, and Seaside Metal, from the Bar Crudo team, for hearty chowder.

Art crawl DTLA
Downtown L.A. is fast becoming a perma–Art Basel for the West Coast. The new Hauser Wirth & Schimmel offshoot, housed in a historic flour mill, has nearly 24,000 feet of gallery space—all the better to showcase Revolution in the Making, an exhibit of bold, oversize works by such legendary female sculptors as Ruth Asawa and Louise Bourgeois (through Sept. 4). Less than two miles up the street, the permanent collection at the new Broad museum checks off all the modern-master boxes: Warhol, Basquiat, Koons, and more. From June 11 to October 2, see Cindy Sherman’s eerie takes on femininity—which cast her as aging beauty queens and renaissance dames. Through the fall, get tickets for minute-long visits to Yayoi Kusama’s Infinity Mirrored Room, a claustrophobic chamber of mirrors and flickering LEDs.

Hit the deck in Tomales Bay
Tomales Bay’s Inverness Yacht Club welcomes sailors from as far away as New England for the 110 Class National Championships (Aug. 1–5), the biggest competition dedicated to the narrow two-person racing sailboats. You’ll find the best views of the races from Heart’s Desire Beach, Shell Beach, or the patio of Tony’s Seafood Restaurant, where barbecued oysters and beer fuel regatta festivities. For those dying to pull an Admiral Nimitz (the club’s former commodore), the 104-year-old organization offers one-on-one adult sailing classes. For those with more casual ambitions, nearby Blue Waters Kayaking offers bioluminescence, full-moon, and oyster kayak tours.

YOLO in Yosemite
Given the ample precipitation that came down this winter, you can bet the Tuolumne River’s Carlon Falls will be surging throughout the summer. Often too treacherous for springtime swimming, the 35-foot cascade calms in August and September, allowing for less-perilous dips. The fern-flanked trail to the falls begins in Stanislaus National Forest, which means you can avoid the Yosemite Valley mobs by entering from Groveland. Just a three-minute drive from the Carlon Falls trailhead, near the park’s North Gate, Rush Creek Lodge (from $295 per night) debuts this month with hillside villas, a saltwater pool, and guided recreation for the wilderness challenged.

Stargaze in Anza-Borrego Desert
Each night, near Anza-Borrego Desert State Park, the town of Borrego Springs dims its lights to bask in the glory of the galaxies. The community worked with—cool-band-name alert—the International Dark-Sky Association to virtually eliminate all light pollution, thereby boosting the illumination beaming from the cosmos. During a stargazing tour with Borrego Night Sky Tours ($59), astronomer Dennis Mammana trains a powerful 14-inch-diameter Dobsonian telescope on important planetary events: A full “strawberry” moon, named for the coinciding strawberry-growing season, will rise on June 19; on August 27, Venus and Jupiter will be quite cozy at dusk in the western sky.

Originally published in the June issue of San Francisco

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