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Whale Watching in California
Each winter California welcomes the return of its official marine mammal, the gray whale, and many California State parks and beaches offer programs and locations for viewing the migrating whales.
Many California destinations celebrate with special festivals.
• Cabrillo National Monument Whale-Watch Weekend (January) at the end of Point Loma in San Diego.
• Birch Aquarium's Whale Adventures (December - March) on the La Jolla shoreline.
• West Marin's Whales, Wildlife and Wildflowers Festival (January - April) on Point Reyes National Seashore.
• Ventura Harbor Village Annual Whale Celebration (February - March) at Ventura, with Channel Islands National Park or "America's Galapagos" just 14 miles offshore.
• Cabrillo Marine Aquarium's Whale Celebration (February) at Cabrillo Beach in San Pedro.
• Santa Cruz Migration Festival, Natural Bridges State Park (February) along the Central Coast of California.
• Oxnard's Celebration of the Whales/ Whale Watching Excursions (January - March) includes whale-watching excursions to the Channel Islands National Park.
• And annual festivals at Dana Point (one of Southern California’s largest seafaring celebrations); Mendocino; Fort Bragg; and Santa Barbara.
SONOMA COUNTRY: WINE, SPA AND COASTAL DESTINATION
Sonoma Country offers the perfect blend of sophistication and country-style relaxation. Cosmopolitan centers of commerce and culture, quaint wine-country towns and acres of vineyards that produce world-famous wines combined with mild winters and sunny summers make Sonoma Country a perfect getaway any time of the year. SONOMA HOTELS
Famous sea villages hug California's Pacific Coast and offer incredible views, whale watching, fresh seafood and seaside wine tasting. History abounds with stories about Russian fur trappers in Fort Ross, and in more modern times Bodega and Bodega Bay became known around the world as the setting for Alfred Hitchcock’s “The Birds.. CALIFORNIA HOTELS
Rugged headlands, secluded coves and winding roads are some of the features that make up the “wild coast". Nature buffs will enjoy canoeing or kayaking.
The Sonoma Coast offers some of the best surfing north of Santa Cruz. State beaches are popular with families for picnicking, building sand castles, flying kites, or simply splashing in the waves.
Bodega Bay is a favorite stopover for California grey whales during their annual 12,000 mile migration between Mexico and the Arctic.
Picturesque Goat Rock Beach is where the Russian River meets the sea and where sea lions and seals gather to harvest steelhead and salmon trying to swim upstream.
The Russian River is a favorite summertime spot where lounging on the beach or drifting along on a flotilla of rafts gives visitors a chance to soak up the Sonoma Country sun. A haven for outdoor adventures where visitors can camp, hike, swim, canoe, kayak or fish at secluded spots along the river’s shore.
From luxurious to historic and cozy inns, the wide variety of accommodations provides a base from which to explore the 19th century-style storefronts, art galleries, boutiques, wineries, redwood-thatched village, Quonset hut theater, cafes, pubs, clubs, summer concerts and annual events.
The Russian River resort towns are defined by the meandering river, majestic redwood trees and an eclectic mix of people who celebrate diversity. The towns are full of history, and local color abounds with unique festivals all year round.
Cloverdale, Sonoma County’s northern-most town, features the largest public park on the Russian River, a charming downtown with antique shops and multicultural events on the Plaza.
For an Old West feel, Geyserville is made up of buildings dating from the 1800’s. European ambiance abounds in the charming town of Healdsburg. Windsor is a hot spot for dining and shopping in Sonoma Country. Santa Rosa’s central location blends relaxed urban appeal and dozens of nearby wineries.
Sonoma Valley, cradled between two mountain ranges, offers charming and historic opportunities along the way. Founded in 1835, the town of Sonoma is the site of California’s oldest plaza. Stroll around the town square, visit the historic mission and enjoy chic boutiques, restaurants, art galleries and artisan food products including breads, cheeses and olive oils.
The villages of Glen Ellen and Kenwood are home to award-winning wineries, eclectic shops and the famous Jack London State Park.
The Victorian riverfront town of Petaluma has one of the best-preserved Historic Downtown districts in the United States. The town of Cotati is home to La Plaza Park, one of the only hexagonally designed town plazas in America. Luxurious accommodations and two championship 18-hole golf courses combine with theater and musical performances in Rohnert Park. The sophisticated country charm of Sebastopol invites visitors to explore music and arts.
From tranquil to thrilling, Sonoma Country offers a plethora of entertainment options. From performing and cultural arts, museums and Charles M. Schulz’ Peanuts to an African Safari and a raceway.
Sonoma Country’s location has made it one of the world’s most perfect places for making award-winning wines. From unique tasting rooms and tours, to the gardens, grounds, private art collections and gift shops, each winery is an experience in and of itself.
Conveniently located just 35 miles north of San Francisco, Sonoma Country boasts over 200 of the world's most award-winning wineries, 58 miles of scenic coastline, pristine beaches, the mystical Russian River, majestic redwoods, 21 challenging golf courses, a thrilling road course and drag strip, outstanding theaters, fascinating museums, shopping, botanical gardens, galleries, diverse festivals, farm markets and over 700 incredible eateries.
Convenient freeway access via US 101 links Sonoma Country’s southern getaway of Petaluma with the San Francisco Bay Area. SAN FRANCISCO HOTELS
Scenic highways link the Sonoma Valley at the eastern gateway, while the northernmost gateway of Cloverdale provides easy freeway access to central Sonoma Country and points south.
To the west, Sea Ranch serves as the northern gateway via panoramic Highway 1 while Valley Ford and Jenner serve as western gateways. Bodega Bay’s strategic location serves as the gateway to the Sonoma Coast State Beach to the north, a 16-mile stretch of rugged, undeveloped coastline with state parks and frequent beach access areas.
PHOTO: Rugged Sonoma Coast - Photo courtesy Robert Janover, Sonoma County
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