[UPDATE: This story was originally published on January 2.]
The glitz and glam of the holidays are officially in the rear-view mirror, despite the sore reminder of our still-aching heads.
But, just because you aren't unwrapping mounds of presents or stuffing your face with sugar cookies and Champagne, doesn't mean the jubilant times have to halt.
Nope, if "travel more" was a resolution planted on your New Year's list, then listen up. We've scoured the Bay (and beyond) for five easy-to-plan weekend getaways that are sure to fill that sad, post-season iCal. From the dreamy, rustic-luxe and wildlife mecca of Point Reyes to good ol' North Lake Tahoe, here are some wintry adventures that will make 2013 the best year yet — and we're only a few days in. Click through for the savvy sojourns and see why you need to fill up that gas tank and book it out of the Bay, stat!
Point Reyes National Seashore
Distance From S.F.: 37 miles; 1 hour, 9 minutes by car.
Why Go: Just a hop and a skip from the city, you’ll find a diverse ecological range of wildlife, sweeping views, and charismatic pit stops, you’ll feel as if you wandered into a foreign land of aquatic proportions. The postcard-perfect scenery is breathtaking to say the least — rare muddy marshes, tantalizing, color-soaked horizons, crashing, rocky waves, tasty oyster farms, an awe- inspiring lighthouse — with plenty of quaint fisherman-style towns along the way. It’s the ideal little day trip for adventurous types with a keen appreciation for Northern California nature.
Once you’ve done the whole Into The Wild thing, we recommend driving up the other side of Tomales Bay to Marshall (about 30 minutes) for a stay at Nick’s Cove — a charming cottage retreat and restaurant perched on the water. Here, you can enjoy the luxe-rustic interior of the rooms, swing by the boathouse (you can bring food and drink out there!), or chow down at the esteemed restaurant (you can’t go wrong with the Dungeness Crab mac and cheese). One of the great things about heading to this special seashore reserve is that regardless of how many times you pay Point Reyes and the surrounding areas a visit, you’re guaranteed to experience something new.
Plan Your Visit: Exploring Point Reyes Seashore definitely can’t be done in one day, and honestly, it’s a bit overwhelming with so many sights to see. We recommend planning out your seaside itinerary by going to the official website and checking out which parks and towns strike your fancy. If you are intending on making a night of it, definitely book resos at Nick’s Cove and Cottages. So dreamy!
Photos (From Left, Clockwise): Via Point Reyes National Seashore; Point Reyes National Seashore; Nick's Cove and Cottages, Nick's Cove and Cottages
Distance From S.F.: 146 miles, 2 hours and 33 minutes by car.
Why Go: You may have noticed, but if there’s one getaway option that gets us overly giddy, it’s Big Sur. What can we say about this majestic, oceanside town that hasn’t already been boasted about? The rocky, mountain-meets-ocean wilderness, the hip, modern hotels, luxe spas, notable restaurants, and unique flora and fauna — it’s no wonder this place tops our local retreat hit list. There are tons of hikes to go on, so whether you choose a jaunt through Julia Pfeiffer State Park in the Redwood-laden forest, or take a loop around the breathtaking beaches, there’s never a shortage of outdoor opportunities.
But once you’ve finished getting your fitness on, stopping by Nepenthe, a favorite for its incredible views and tasty libations is a must. There’s even an adorable store attached that will leave you ogling out-of-the-world Big Sur paraphernalia. If you’re looking for a chic place to crash, The Post Ranch Inn is spectacularly wow-worthy, but for a cheaper price tag, Glen Oaks is a stellar option, too. Its modern decor acts as the perfect lodge-like juxtaposition in the wooded surroundings. What are you waiting for? Book it to Big Sur, stat!
Photos: Via Post Ranch Inn; Big Sur Official Website; Glen Oaks; Nepenthe
North Lake Tahoe
Distance From S.F.: 196 miles, 3 hours and 11 minutes by car.
Why Go: Okay, let’s be real — when the words “winter getaway” are mentioned, it’s tough not to conjure up images of North Lake Tahoe’s whimsical, white slopes and fiery lodges. Renting a cabin or checking in at one of the many luxe lodges — dwelling here for a weekend is magical on so many levels. Whether you opt to hit the Squaw Valley or Northstar ski runs or just post up snow-bunny style with a hot cocoa in hand, a trip to North Lake Tahoe is the epitome of a cold-weather wonderland.
After you get your skiing or snowboarding on, be sure to mosey on over to one of the cool bars and restaurants, where many of the resort spots serve up gourmet, culinary delights. How fitting is a toasty cocktail after hours on the slopes? But, don’t stress if a high-end dining experience isn’t your thing, there are plenty of mom and pop joints to refuel, too! Lace up those boarding boots and hit the road!
Plan Your Visit: Unsure of where to venture in North Lake Tahoe? Check out Go Tahoe North, which houses all the info you need to explore the variety of cities and multitude of ski resorts, dining, and lodging options.
Distance From S.F.: 118 miles, 1 hour and 57 minutes by car.
Why Go: Located along the scenic Highway 1, a short drive from the city — Monterey is much-desired getaway locale for the seascape-loving visitor. Not only does it house one of the most esteemed aquariums in the world (seriously, a must-see!), but you’ll find a host of renowned golf courses, restaurants, and fascinating literary and musical background (it is home to California’s first library and newspaper!). Plus, destinations such as Cannery Row and Fisherman’s Wharf allow for a time spent shopping and savoring sights, all while brushing up on the wealth of history the town has to offer.
With all the trekking around, you’re bound to work up an appetite. Try the ambient, supposedly haunted Restaurant 1833. It’s a refreshing restaurant respite away from all the touristy seafood joints, plus it has a fireplace, so chilly winter nights were practically made for this spot. Also, it’s just a short drive from Big Sur, so it’s definitely possible to hit two birds with one stone.
Distance From S.F.: 211 miles, 4 hours by car.
Why Go: Looking for another ski-friendly destination with intense natural mystery and intrigue? Then hightailing it to Yosemite is right up your alley. The powerful, rugged backdrop is paramount and unlike any other destination we’ve come across in California. However, you don’t necessarily have to “rough it” to take advantage of the sprawling, scenic mass that is Yosemite. There are plenty of luxe lodges, like The Ahwahnee and Tenaya Lodge, which offer chic rooms and gourmet bites and drinks for the weekend warrior looking for a glamorous, winter retreat.
But, don’t get us wrong — it’s Yosemite, so there are incredible, awe-inspiring moments to be captured, and not fitting in a hike or two would be a shame. And yes, while it happens to be a popular summer spot, there are wonderful things to do and see in the winter. And with ski spots like Badger Pass, you’ll get a quaint, snow sport feel without the fuss and lines that come with larger resorts.
Photos: Via The Ahwahnee; Tenaya Lodge