Hit the Road

It’s road trip time, and we’re exploring Winters, Paso Robles, LA, the Orange County Coast, and Amador County.

I love road trips. And California has great highways to carry you from the East Bay north to Winters, south to Paso Robles, LA, and the Orange County Coast, and east to Amador County.

That’s where we headed this month, for good eating and peace and quiet in Winters; Cabernet, Pinot Noir, and wine festivals in Paso, an outdoors paradise; for Casa Del Mar, the Santa Monica Pier, and vintage gems and cocktails in LA; the surf, sand, funkiness, and Laguna Beach on the OC Coast; and a few historic firsts, a little Gold Rush lore, and the wines, natch, from Sutter Creek in Amador County.

I can vouch for Paso, one of my favorite road trip destinations for its hot-cold weather, rolling hills, bounty of beautiful vineyards, big time and mom-and-pop wineries, and fine dining with meals rivaling those in our East Bay restaurants. There’s a decided Western flair and a certain unhurriedness there that speaks to me, makes me want to linger, and draws me back. It’s been awhile, though, since I’ve been, and Paso’s reputation as a wine-lover’s paradise has exploded, so I may be in for a big surprise the next time and find even more to compel return visits.

Amador County is a lovely place, too, not to mention an easy drive from the East Bay, and I can’t say enough about the charms I encountered in the small town of Sutter Creek, definitely worth revisiting. It beckons with art galleries, a lively dining scene, boutique shopping, good brews and fine wines, and a gorgeous setting.

As a traveler, I like a good mix of outdoor adventure and urban scenery, a blend of haute and homey. Exotic and exciting are great, but so are familiar and serene, depending. A road trip gives you the freedom to respond immediately to what moves you, whether it’s stopping at a roadside market for luscious produce, going into a museum for a cultural experience, or stumbling upon a festival and eating food you’ve never tried. You can while away an afternoon in a dive bar shooting pool or spend big bucks for a facial, mud bath, and massage at a fancy resort. In between you just might unearth some history from a forgotten corner of a town.

California is waiting for you. Where is the open road taking you?