Sonoma County is a mecca for three different types of fanatics--foodies, winos, and bike fiends. I was lucky enough to grow up in this beautiful part of California's Wine Country and I'm forever indebted to it for instilling in me a love of cuisine, grapes and bicycles. Many Backroads guests on our Wine Country trips find themselves with a day or two to spare in my native land, and I (of course) think that I know how to spend it best. Allow me to share what I would do if I had a few days--and a few dollars--in Sonoma County.
It’s often said that one of the best ways to explore a city is with your nose. Fortunately, Paris is no exception, as the city is burgeoning with intoxicating aromas wafting from bakeries, bistros and bars. From sweet to savory, creamy to crunchy, no matter what neighborhood you find yourself in, there’s a plethora of places to eat in Paris. And the best part is that many of the city’s tastiest meals are small, simple and inexpensive.
Bend lies in the shadow of the Cascade Mountain Range and sits on the edge of the Deschutes River. She's quaint. She has a huge food scene, roasts amazing coffee, brews delicious beer, hosts live music on the river every week, and offers incredible hiking, biking and fly fishing within inches of her city center.
I grew up smack-dab in between Los Angeles and Santa Barbara… That gorgeous drive up the 101 freeway never gets old--thousands of acres of California's farms ultimately give way to majestic mountains and the Pacific Ocean. Between the years of family trips to Santa Barbara and the years of driving through the Santa Ynez Mountains on my way to and from college, I came to master the 24-hour "must do's" in Santa Barbara County. Whether you are extending your stay before or after any of the Southern California Backroads trips or just planning a California road trip, I highly recommend exploring the history, beauty and tranquility Santa Barbara County has to offer. Here are some of my local favorites.
Taking in one of the greatest wonders of the world can really work up an appetite. Eat up these tips on where to dine in the lost city of the Incas--or enjoy a few favorites down below in the town of Aguas Calientes.
Montalcino, famous for its spectacular Brunello wine, is a lovely hilltop town we visit on many of our Tuscany Biking trips. The medieval town dates back to the beginning of the 10th century, famous mainly for its tanneries and as a stop for pilgrims on their way to Rome along the Via Francigena. Nowadays Montalcino is a popular tourist destination, with people coming from all over the world to taste its wines: authentic Brunello wine cannot be produced anywhere but within its city limits.
Take a deep breath in. That's the literal definition of 'inspire.' And it's what The Banff Centre does best. Their mandate is 'Inspiring Creativity' and they do it like nobody else on the planet. I promise you this: If you venture off Banff Avenue for a short walk up Tunnel Mountain, you'll find yourself in the most inspiring place on earth.
In Vietnam, coffee culture is as deep and rich as just about anything else. On old brick sidewalks and in old colonial shops adorned with art deco tiles, old men sit on small stools in the morning and afternoon. They sip little cups of iced-coffee rocket fuel, or as they would say, cafe sua da (or ca phe sua da), while playing checkers and cards.
Panadería La Uníon in Tolhuin, Tierra del Fuego. A magical oasis in the midst of a vast, windswept, sparsely populated landscape. Part tourist center. Part museum. Part bakery. Part zoo. Panadería La Uníon is quirky, to say the least, and the constant stream of hungry travelers who frequent this establishment is a testament not only to its notoriety as the premiere bakery in Patagonia, but also to its prime location between the tourist destinations of El Calafate and Ushuaia, a barren stretch of road with limited options for dining.
Welcome to one of the most fabulous cities on the planet and one with darn good food. San Francisco is a wonderland of exceptional restaurants and artisanal foodie delights. Good thing most of our California trips begin or end around this beloved city–a perfect excuse to stay a few days and explore!