•The Bay Area•
Places to Rest Your Head
- Pillar Point RV in Half Moon Bay, Ca is a great RV park! Right on the ocean you have the option to have a full or partial ocean view. Full hookups, cable and options for 28 day stays. We loved being able to walk out of door and take walks on the beach, down to the harbor or our favorite restaurant in the area, Sam’s Chowder House
- Cameron’s Pub and Campground in Half Moon Bay, Ca is a trip! There are more crazy things hanging on the walls than all the TGIFridays combined (or at least it looks that way). They have a designated ‘doggie cantina’ where you can dine with your dog, a double decker bus where you can enjoy a smoke if you fancy and a huge out door area equipped with a volleyball court, horseshoes, hammocks, a basketball hoop and tetherball! There camping area is new and still in the building stage (as of 2012) so they do not have full hook up sites or 50 amp service. They are also only a 10 min walt to the beach and you pass through a beautiful nature preserve. They do have an attached B&B (bed and beverage they call it) and reasonable monthly rates. As far as the food, it’s your typical good greasy bar food.
- A great inexpensive hotel in the bay area is The Marina Inn. It’s rooms overlook either the bay or a golf course and it’s walking distance to a great restaurant, Horatio’s. Plus, you get warm cookies and milk at night. Book through their website for deals where you can get a free bottle of wine.
- We only found one RV park to stay at when J.O. was working in Palo Alto and it was HORRIBLE. The Bayshore RV and Apartments. If the morning traffic wasn’t so heavy, we would have for sure lived somewhere outside the city. This place was off of 101 and Moffett Blvd and it was basically a parking lot. The management was horrible, it was expensive and just plain out gross. Stay in a hotel or go the extra mile and find a better place
- Traveling further East you may find yourself in Vacaville, Ca. Here we stayed at the Vineyard Rv Park. It was really cute. Had a wine theme to it, with each street named a type of wine. There was a pool and a dog park, and it was close to a great outlet mall! Full hookups, 30 & 50 amp, banquet room and a small store.
- Further North is Lakeport, CA on Clear Lake. This is the largest, natural, fresh water lake in California. We enjoyed staying at the State Park on Clear Lake. There were great trails, a nice swimming beach and three different campground areas. All spots came with a fire ring and an onsite storage locker for food and such.
Places to Go, Things to do
We love the Bay Area because there is so much to do!
- Farmer’s markets are everywhere and they are wonderful. We try to buy local and fresh every week, so finding a good market is always at the top of of priorities when we move somewhere new. They are a great way to spend a weekend morning to discover what’s in season and try new food. Some of our favorites in the Bay Area include the following:
- The Ferry Building in downtown San Francisco. There are wonderful artists as well as a plethora of produce and other tasty vendors. They are open Tuesdays, Thursdays and Saturdays.
- Downtown Mountain View in the Caltrain Station is fabulous. We went to this market every Sunday for 4 months. They were rated the #1 farmer’s market in the bay area and I know why. 9-1 every Sunday, rain or shine. If you have a chance to go, do it.
- There are two different farmer’s markets in Half Moon Bay and they are great in their own ways. The Coastside Farmer’s Market is on Saturdays at the Shoreline Station and they have more artists and speciality items. The newest market is held right in the harbor on Sundays. I really enjoy this market because they have more produce, flowers and plus when you’re done you can walk down the pier to see if any fisherman are selling their catch.
- While in Half Moon Bay, make sure you check out the famous Maverick’s beach
- We love Pier 39 in Downtown San Francisco where we can watch the seals and walk around.
- The Walt Disney Museum in San Francisco is worth a trip!
- Taking a drive to Cities such as Big Sur, Santa Cruz, Napa and up to the see the Redwoods should be no brainers. You’re in the area, take the drive. Between scenery, culture and artistry, you’ll be happy you did.
- We are huge rock climbers and Norther California is a wonderful place for it! One of our favorite parks in the Bay Area to go to was Castle Rock. Even if you’re not a climber, they have wonderful trails and the drive to get there is beautiful. Get there early, as parking fills up fast! If you’ve never gone climbing before and want to try it or be active on a rainy day, visit Planet Granite. They have three locations in the bay area and are awesome.
- Finding a great restaurant in the Bay Area is not hard. In Mountain View we would frequent the Tide House Brewery. For Pizza we would go to Pizza My Heart. Horatio’s up by Oakland, Fidler’s Green is a great pub by the Fisherman’s Warf. You have to try an In-n-Out burger (animal style) while in CA (Jim’s not a fan, but I am!). Sam’s Chowder House in Half Moon Bay is a big favorite too! They have such great views, $1 oyster night every Tuesday, a flour less chowder and a beet salad that it our of this world. Don’t even get me started on their desserts! YUM. Also for a great pizza, try out Silver Star for a fresh juicy burger in Half Moon Bay or Mezzaluna for a good Italian joint.
- Taking a drive up or down Hwy 1, you will find amazing views and wonderful small towns. If you like oysters, stop in at the Hog Oyster Company on the shores of Tomales Bay (45 miles North of San Fran). They harvest the oysters there, so they are super fresh. You can bring in your own beverage if you wish and the have BBQs set up if you wish to cook your tasty treats! They also give free lessons on shucking them.
This area is with out a doubt, one of our favorite parts of the world. It’s God’s playground.
Places to Rest Your Head
- Pine Grove, Ca is a wonderful small town near Jackson, CA in the Sierra Foothills. We stayed at the Gold Country Campground Resort. It was lovely. Nestled in the woods with large sites. Full Hook Ups, 30 & 50 amp services, traditional camping areas, rental cabins, walking trails, a swimming pool, banquet hall, laundry and a small store. Great monthly rates if needed!
- Angel’s Camp, CA is another great town in Gold Country. Angel’s Camp RV & Camping did not provide a lot of shaded spots, but the great pool, laundry, store and emu (yes there was an emu on site) made up for it! Full hook ups, 30 & 50 amp
- Sutter Creek, Ca is also a great town with lots of charm. When my parents came to visit, they stayed at the Grey Gables Bed and Breakfast and it was lovely. They had a fireplace in their room and opted for the wine and cheese tray to be added before dinner. The hostess was also very nice.
- Tahoe, Ca. Ahhhhh, Tahoe. We love it here. We have had the best luck staying at the Tahoe Valley Campground. Believe it or not, all the other campgrounds in the area don’t allow dogs. This camp ground is on the South side and a 5 min drive down to the Lake, the casinos on the Nevada side and Heavenly Park. Full Hook Ups, 30 & 50 amps. Another wonderful place to Camp or rent a cabin is the Zephyr Cove Resort. It is on the Nevada side and the cabins are walking distance to the beach. There is a restaurant on site as well as a marina. The campgrounds also looked very nice, with pull through spots, full hook ups and both 30 & 50 amp service. Plus, they are dog friendly! Even the Super 8 Motel is Tahoe is nice. It’s really cheap, but a great place to stay if you plan on going there and not spending much time in the hotel room.
- Down closer to Yosemite you can stay at The Pines Resort in Bass Lake, CA. This is the same resort where the movie The Great Outdoors was filmed. In fact, that was the main reason we stayed here, J.O. is a major fan! It’s great! Like it’s own little community. They do not have any camping sites, but numerous cabins and hotel rooms. There are wood burning fireplaces in all the cabins as well as a full kitchen, a loft and a deck looking out onto the Lake. They have boats to rent in the summer and a pool and hot tub. Two restaurants are on site, a grocery store, two bars and a huge banquet hall. Oh, and pets are welcome (but they don’t let you bring them for free, be prepared for a outrageously high fee).
- Between Shaver Lake and Huntington Lake is the Tamarack Lodge. This place was wonderful as we came across them during the slow season. We were racing to beat an incoming snow storm and they were the only place open! They have quaint mini suits. Each suit has a full kitchen and a wood burning fire place. A family run business that fit the bill!
- Down closer to Fresno, you can stay in the outside city of Kingsburg. This Swedish, agricultural town is a great alternative to staying in Fresno. We hung our hats at the Club Royal Oak Campground . We really enjoyed our stay there. Settled on the King’s River, they have a boat launch and sandy beaches. The entire campground is in a gated community and surrounded on the back side by an orchard. They have a banquet hall, a full work out facility, laundry, a dog park, and a volley ball court. Monthly rates are very reasonable in the off season, but sky rocket in the summer if you want a river view site. They also had many pull though sites. 30 & 50 amp, full hook ups as well as traditional camping.
- In Jamestown, Ca we stayed one night at the America’s Best Inn & Suits and will never again. The only good thing about them, was that they allowed dogs and worked in a pinch, but that’s all. Needless to say, I felt like I had to be soaked in bleach after. The town, however, is great. I assume there are better options.
Places to Go, Things to Do
- Where to start? There are so many national parks, visit each one if you can! Calaveras Big Trees, Sierra State Park, Yosemite, Sequoia & King’s Canyon National Park are all a drive away. Check their websites and look to see if they have any deals going on. Multiple times during the year they will offer free passes! You will be in awe. Words can not describe these parks, you have to go! Bring a camera, pack a lunch, fill your water bottle and wear a good pair of walking shoes. If you’re a rock climber, bring your gear.
- Try panning for gold. It sounds silly, I know. When J.O. bought his first pan to go prospecting with, I was thinking, “really?”. But it’s actually a good time and believe it or not, relaxing. You are in gold country! It’s a great way to get outside and you never know, you might strike it rich!
- Tahoe offers outdoor fun year round. If you ski, snow board or snowshoe you’ll love winter’s there. Although the snow is always a little sticky due to the warmer temps, you can’t beat the views at Heavenly Mountain. The price and crowds are going to be high at Heavenly for that reason, so if you want to stay away from that, but still get in some GREAT skiing, head to Squaw Valley or if your on the other side, Sierra. Even if you don’t ski, take the gondola up to the summit at Heavenly Park for the views or various activities depending on the time of year! The summer’s there offer hiking, biking, trolly tours around the lake and lots of outdoor fun. We enjoyed playing mini golf over at the Magic Carpet.
Check out more of our favorite TAHOE spots by clicking HERE. The Nevada side has big casinos if you want to try your luck! Plus, it’s a lot of fun just walking through the casinos or stopping in a watching a show! Stop over to Camp Richardson for a nice beach to relax on and a great restaurant right on the lake. They are open weekends in the Winter too! Walking around the Heavenly Village is also lovely. They have great shops and restaurants open year round. It’s beautiful and clean. It’s, well, Heavenly. You can read about one of our many weekend trips to Tahoe, HERE.
- Down closer to King’s Canyon is the Sierra Endangered Cat Haven. The tour takes about an hour and you can get up close to the big cats. It’s pretty cool.
- We never found a decent farmer’s market in this region, but I think that because they weren’t needed. There are fruit and produce stands on the sides of the road everywhere!
- Murphy’s, Ca is a quaint, romantic, wine town that we would visit a lot when up near Jackson, CA. There are many wineries that have a store front in the town, so you can taste many wines from the area and not have to drive around! There is a restaurant there called, Firewood and I have yet to have as good of a taco. So fresh.
- Susan’s Place in Sutter Creek, CA is a great restaurant.
- Our favorite place to eat was a true family run Italian place in Pine Grove called Giannini’s. Amazing. Three courses. Fresh from the garden produce and hand made pasta. Plus, they made a killer martini according to J.O.
- Our friends own Hooligan’s Pub in Jamestown, CA so if you’re there, you have to go! They have Guinness on tap, so it was an instant love for me!
- Down by Fresno we would frequent Three Finger Jacks at the Ridge Creek Golf Course. The golf course is open to the public, so J.O. would often hit a bucket of balls after we had lunch. Their prices we right on the money. Midwest prices kept us coming back!
- For Indoor climbing in the Fresno Area we would go to MetalMark. They had some really challenging bouldering problems and a great staff
- For getting around, if you can get there by BART or CALTRAIN, I recommend it. The train is a great economical way to see the area. From the bay to the sierra’s the train can get you there.
Places to Rest Your Head
- Big Bear, CA is known as the Tahoe of Southern California. A 2 hour drive from LA will get you to this wonderful city that sits just under 7000 foot elevation. While here, we stayed for a month at Pine Tree RV. It’s a very small resort, consisting of only 22 spots. You will want to call ahead for sure. They are all full hookup, and while they offer 50amp service, it seemed that the 30amps worked better. They do not have any pull through sites, but are all full hookups and include cable. There is a bath house and a laundry facility on site. You can also walk to the lake.
- There are a ton of hotels and cabin resorts to stay at in Big Bear, but I recommend renting a personal home. You’ll save money on food, have more space and be able to fully relax away from everyone. We ended up renting our lake home through Big Bear Lakefront Homes, but there are many property management companies in the area you can go with. Read about our time spent in the lake home here.
- Whenever we are in the LA area, we are fortunate enough to stay with friends. But the possibilities for hotels are endless and there are many campgrounds where you can be on the ocean. Up be Santa Barbara, one that we have heard numerous great things about it Jalama Beach. It is run by the country and is on the beach. I hear they have traditional camping as well as full hook ups. I hope someday we can take a trip and try it out!
- One place I would not recommend staying is Shady Elms RV in Lancaster. Unless you need a place IN Lancaster, CA, don’t go there. It’s poorly managed, run down and just kind of icky.
- Big Bear offers many of the same outdoor activities as Tahoe. Winter sports when there is snow (YES! Snow in Southern California!) and water sports in the summer. They also have trails for hiking, biking and rock climbing. They have zip line adventures, golf resorts and are only a short drive to LA and Palm Springs. Also only a 3.5 hour drive to Vegas! The San Bernardino National Forest also butts up to this wonderful town. A great spot for a burger and a beer is the Trolls of Big Bear in the Village Shopping center.
- They have a great farmers market on Tuesdays for 8:30-1 starting in April and continuing through October. Not only do they have your normal produce stands but a small flea market as well. Many local artists sell there.
- Big Bear Mountain Brewery is a small brewery that serves lunch and dinner up by Metcalf Bay. They offer a sampler of their six different brews for a great price and I must say, each one is very good! Watch out though, many are over 7% in alcohol! You can also buy a growler of your favorite brew to take home if you choose.
- Looking for some live music and a cold beer while enjoying the lake? Head over to Bs Backyard BBQ. They have a restaurant in one building and then a bar, game room and deck in another building right on the lake. They have live music on the deck every Saturday in the summer from 3-6 and the band is outstanding! Get there early though if you want a table to sit at, as there are under 10 of them and they fill up fast! There is also a beach with tables and a tiki bar. You can bring your dog and let them play in the water while you relax!
- Lake Arrowhead, CA is a small lake town that sits at 5500 ft. It is close to Big Bear and roughly a two hour drive East of LA. They have a cute downtown “village” area that sits on the lake. Many nice designer shops and fun restaurants. There is even an adventure park with mini golf and other small carnival rides!
- There is a great zoo where all the animals are native to the Big Bear area and have been rescued. Moonridge Zoo is the name. Read about our adventure there, here.
- Looking for some good bouldering or top rope climbing in the Big Bear Area? Climb up to Castle Rock or head East out of town for 10 min on 18 and you will see a large graffitied boulder, great for bouldering. Read about our Castle Rock trip here.
- If you are down in the LA area, there are SO many things to do. Hollywood, Santa Monica, Venice, Disneyland, Universal Studios, The Griffith Park and Observatory, numerous museums. The list goes on and on. But I warn you. Rent a small car. Parking is horrid wherever you go and we discovered that driving an F350 is not LA friendly. Also, if you want to not be in traffic for over 2 hours, than always leave by 2:30 or after 7pm. Trust me.
- Santa Monica is a beautiful city on the ocean with a high end shopping (3rd street promenade), a pier full of carnival rides and vendors, great restaurants and the glorious beach. I highly suggest renting a cruiser bike or rollerblades on the beach and taking a ride down the boardwalk. You’ll cruise to Venice (about 3 miles) where you can have lunch or party the night away. The canals in Venice are also lovely to ride through. Then walk through the vendors on the street for some great people watching and to see the famous muscle beach. You can read more about our time spent in this great area by clicking, here
- The Griffith Observatory is a great iconic place to visit day or night. It is a planetarium, so by going at night you can observe through their telescopes. However, going during the day is just as fun! They have wonderful shows to attend and many different things to observe. It is also a great place to look over the entire city of LA. You can even get a shot of the famous Hollywood sign! the park has various trails to hike and places to enjoy a picnic, but don’t hang out in the park at night.
- In Lancaster, CA we always enjoy grabbing an ice cold beer at Schooner’s Patio Grill and breakfast at Scramblers.