If you live in the western United States and have tickets to this year’s Big Game in Santa Clara, California why not consider driving and turning it into an opportunity to take in some of California’s most spectacular sites?
Even if you don’t have tickets to the game and you’re looking for an excuse to see new scenery, there are plenty of once-in-a-lifetime destinations worthy of a day’s drive. Here are some suggestions for every major route to the Bay Area:
From the South:
The 101 to the iconic Pacific Coast Highway not only presents some of the most spectacular views in the country, it also serves up one of our most jaw dropping man made sites: Hearst Castle, Built on a hilltop in San Simeon by news baron William Randolph Hearst, the castle remains a modern marvel of engineering and architectural design.
Located halfway between Los Angeles and San Francisco, the ornate modern day castle features immense indoor and outdoor swimming pools, lush gardens, a private movie theater and remnants of Hearst’s private zoo. The estate harkens back to a time when Hearst would host Hollywood legends like Charlie Chaplin and Mary Pickford for weekend parties.
From the East:
If you’re taking Interstate 80 from Nevada or Utah, it’s worth a detour to Yosemite National Park, the site of the legendary “Half Dome” granite rock rising 4,700 feet above the forest floor. This hiker’s paradise was the subject of some of photographer Ansell Adams’ most famous pictures.
It’s also just a short drive from Mammoth Mountain, one of California’s best ski resorts. However, if snow is in the forecast, this is a trip which should only be considered with one of Mazda’s AWD vehicles (or make sure to pack heavy duty snow chains, which often are required for entrance to the park in the winter.)
From the North:
If you’re headed down from Oregon or Washington, the 101 will be your preferred route and will bring you a short drive from the famed Napa Valley, America’s premier wine growing region.
Spend an afternoon of wine tasting at some of the world’s most famous vineyards. Golf is also plentiful in Napa, but try and time your drive down into San Francisco at Sunset and drive across the Golden Gate Bridge just as the sun is disappearing over the Pacific.
The winter sunset casts a distinctly different glow over the San Francisco skyline than in the summer months. It remains one of the best places in the West to watch day slip into night, so have a camera at the ready as the trip across can be quick when traffic is light.
This route rarely has snow issues, so if the forecast is for sun, consider it a “top down” MX-5 moment.