In spring of 2014 we took a road trip across Northern California, following the route mapped out in this set.
The BlackHawk museum is pretty much the museum equivalent of a "hole in the wall", tucked away in a (to be fair, very pretty) mall in Danville, California. However, if you do find it... well, to quote a kid walking around with their dad "why is the museum not packed with people? This place is amazing!".
The Berkeley Rose Garden is a love little amphitheater of fragrances that is in bloom from spring to late summer, peaking in May. If you're in Berkeley for a day: it's free! Go visit it an enjoy it for a few - unless it's been overrun by horse tails...
You're doing the tourist thing in Northern California, so just fork over the $120 and take the Napa Valley Wine train. You're in Napa, for pete's sake, what were you going to do, "just walk around"? This is what you came here for.
This city is dead. No one lives here, despite the 500,000 population claim. This city is dead. No one lives here.
You can go from Sacramento to Fresno the boring interstate way, or you can seek out highway 49, and experience what is the best drive we've ever been on. If you're doing a Northern California road trip, you owe it to yourself to explore this amazing stretch of asphalt.
Located near Angels Camp, California, the Moaning Cavern is a huge solutional cave, (one of the largest in the US), with its first champer measuring 100 feet across and 165 feet deep. It's an impressive cavern to visit, and I strongly recommend you seek it out.
The Fresno Zoo is definitely a worthwhile trip if you're in the neighbourhood. It's not the biggest, but that means you can actually spend a day and cover everything instead of needing multiple days. And it's the best value for money zoo we've ever been to. You should go. Seriously.
Tucked away on the west side of Fresno is what is called an "underground garden", but don't be fooled. This is the life's work of a migrant worker, who dug out a massive 10 acre structure of traditional rooms, connecting corridors and open citrus-housing rooms.
Tucked away in the middle of nowhere, an hour outside of Fresno, the Clarks own a large orchard. And as collectors of Japanese art their collection became large enough to make it worth erecting a centre for art. Next to their house. Which is a Japanese manor complete with meticulous Japanese garden. It's... very special. If you're ever at the Minneapolis Institute of Art, and looking at the Japanese art: most of that was donated by the Clarks.
We drove from the Clark Center on to Monterey, via the PInnacles National Park, taking "airport road" which took is past the east side of the Pinnacles.
The Monterey area is known for its "17 Mile drive", a stretch of road the circles the peninsula with stunning views, expensive houses, and loud marine wildlife.
If you're in Monterey, you need to do two things. 1: take 17-mile drive. 2: go to the aquarium. This is number two.
Stanford is, of course, a university. But it's also a collection of art, significant architecture, and lovely views.
The Winchester Mystery House is quite phenomenal. Not in the least the fact that they seem to run a very tight ship; tours every 10 minutes, $40 for a combined ticket, a good 20 people in each group. That's about $2500 an hour, every day. Gold mine. Also worth having a walk-through.