Our friends and family (who make up the majority of people following our blog) know that Northern California holds a special place in our hearts. Fourteen years ago we were married on a cliff overlooking the Pacific Ocean in Carmel-By-The Sea in a beautiful setting at Ribera Beach. We then spent an amazing honeymoon touring Northern California including San Francisco, Napa Valley, Monterey, and Big Sur. On our tenth wedding anniversary we went back to the very same spot where we were married and renewed our vows.
So of course we planned to visit the area again (especially Carmel and Big Sur), we decided to skip San Francisco this time and visit wineries in the Russian River Valley of Sonoma County instead of Napa. Last time we were in Napa we felt it had become a bit too busy and commercialized for our taste.
Sonoma/Russian River Valley
We had not yet visited this part of California wine country and it did not disappoint. As many of you may or may not know, Napa Valley and the city of Sonoma have become very commercialized. We liked it when Napa was not as busy and when the wineries were smaller. We heard that the Russian River Valley would remind us of the way Napa used to be. Well....it was even better than that!! Small family owned farm style wineries were abundant. The views from some of these wineries were breathtaking. We had a great time driving the countryside and tasting some spectacular vino!!!! Also if you get the chance to eat at Willi's wine bar it was exceptional; tapas and wine pairing at it's best, a little pricey but well worth it.
slideshow of various pics from our time in wine country
Monterey Bay Area
Tim chose this area to hunker down for a week while Renee went home to get her friends and family fix. Tim enjoyed visiting all of the small seaside towns, running in the woods and walking the dogs on the beaches. What a Romantic he is...who knew?
Renee was busy from the time her feet hit the ground in sunny Tampa, FL, and if you know her she loves being social; and of course had a blast visiting with everyone. She even squeezed in her annual girls trip - a weekend at beautiful Indian Rocks Beach with her best friends Dena and Linda. Boy is she spoiled, what a life... (I know ya'll might not believe it but Tim writes the blog, this is Renee speaking, I do the pictures and review the content, he loves picking on me... HA)
Carmel-By-The-Sea and Big Sur
It never gets old coming to this area of the country and not just because we got married here. 90% of the car commercials you see driving on a rugged coastline are filmed here. Driving Hwy 1 from Monterey to San Simeon is one of the best drives in the U.S, this drive should be only everyone's bucket list! Carmel is a sweet seaside village. Strolling through the small village with all of the shops, restaurants and galleries transports you to another time. If you are looking for a little romance this is the place. Big Sur is a camper's paradise, true camping in the woods with lots of hiking and nature.
Paso Robles and Cambria
We literally picked Paso Robles while looking at the Atlas (yes we sometimes use the paper atlas)!! We had reservations for Christmas in San Diego and decided this would be a good stop before heading down the coast. We were pleasantly surprised to find Paso Robles had a cute little downtown and rolling hills with more wineries and vineyards, over 260 of them! Renee was beside herself excited because we were close to Cambria/San Simeon, she is obsessed with the elephant seals that call 6 miles of this coastline home during different parts of the year. These magnificent creatures can weigh up to 5,000lbs. We were in the area during mating season which means the males are competing for territory and for mating rights (you may sometimes witness something similar at your local watering hole). Renee got some incredible photos and videos of the seals.
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