Hearing the gasps escape the mouth of a Backroads guest as they lay eyes on the iconic summit of Half Dome or the impossibly beautiful Yosemite Falls for the first time never gets old. Although I’ve been visiting and leading trips in Yosemite for many years now, I recently had a “first time” experience that allowed me to see this majestic place with fresh eyes. Just by chance, I had the opportunity to bike the Tioga Pass road to the high country with no traffic. Surrounded by conifers and glowing granite mountains and without a single worry, I realized how fortunate I am to be a part of the Yosemite experience with so many Backroads guests.
There’s something about San Francisco. Something that sets it apart from other major world cities. Is it the natural setting surrounded by indigo Pacific waters? Or the way the hills display the shining city like diamond on their hand? The parade of Victorian pastel houses paired with a riot of street art? The homegrown food scene with its year-round access to fresh local produce and pioneering chefs.
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.
Drawing on more than 37 years of experience riding in our own backyard, we’ve created a range of Wine Country itineraries, all designed to ensure you fully enjoy your time here. This California Wine Country Bike Tour, created by an expert who’s lived in the area for years, avoids most of the traffic while weaving together the best scenery and a selection of acclaimed vineyards. Whether you opt to challenge yourself with an epic hill or simply cruise to the next winery, our routes are all about choice.
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.
I grew up in San Francisco and moved to Marin County (a stone’s throw over the Golden Gate Bridge) decades ago when I got married. Surrounded by so much natural beauty for so long, I’ve come to take the trees, the coast and the open spaces for granted. It wasn’t until I started traveling more that I realized how special this place is and how blessed I am to call it home.