Let’s be honest: even with the excessively hyped #hellastorm (remember that?), our California winter this year has been mild compared to the Polar Vortex hitting the rest of the country.
But even Californians need a break from the dull, dreary days of winter with a weekend away or a local fun-day – whether indoors or outdoors. Without much real snow this year to be had on the mountains, what are Bay Area folks to do? You’d be surprised at the options…
For those long rainy days:
For me, there’s nothing better on a rainy day than to spend it at home, curled up with a blanket and warm beverage, watching a movie. But for multiple rainy days? It’s time to head to some local museums, which are thankfully in abundance in the Bay Area. Personal favorites of mine are the Legion of Honor and the de Young, but this exhaustive list might give you some new ideas.
There’s a reason John Steinbeck wrote so much about Monterey (and his hometown of Salinas). In my humble opinion, the “Circle of Enchantment” – from Morro Bay to Monterey – actually is better to visit in the winter. Why? Fewer tourists = fewer people out enjoying the days of nice weather.
Tourism never stops in the Bay Area. Just ask owners of those San Francisco sweatshirt shops who make a brisk business in the winter for all those people who assume sunny California never gets chilly. But, even without houseguests, there are plenty of tourist destinations that I still visit in the Bay Area. Why? Because as a local I never really bothered to check them out!
One of the best things about winters in the Bay Area is being able to travel and see plenty of things beyond the Bay Area without having to a) worry about snowy roads, b) worry about freezing cold temperatures, c) deal with icy conditions, and d) all of the above.
A few quick trips include going over to Sutter Creek and Gold Country for some history, wine, and a charming stay in a B&B (2 hours, 20 minutes from SF) or the Mendocino / Fort Bragg area for hikes, hot springs, and nature (3 hours, 5 minutes). Those wanting to head further south could check out Cambria, home to Hearst Castle, elephant seals, and some wineries (3 hours, 46 minutes); the Danish charm of Solvang (4 hours, 37 minutes); or Ojai (5 hours, 54 minutes) a “haven for artists, musicians, and health enthusiasts.” Those wishing for a bit more of an adventurous weekend with even some snow could consider the classic National Park choices of Yosemite (3 hours, 32 minutes), Mt. Lassen (3 hours, 57 minutes), or Joshua Tree (7 hours, 44 minutes).
Now, kiss those winter blues goodbye and get going!