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Autumn Is for Quitters: The Indian Summer Travel Guide
Edited by Jenna Scatena | Photo: As credited | October 4, 2013
The calendar may say October, but the air is warm, Karl the Fog is M.I.A., and it’s the Bay Area’s best month to be outdoors. Here, 30 fall trips with summer weather.
Sailing—by tax bracket
Bay winds are at a pleasant 15 knots (versus summer’s face-numbing 27). Don’t have your own clipper? Charter a skippered 41-foot Tartan with Berkeley’s OCSC Sailing School ($3,100 for 3 nights and 6 people, ocscsailing.com).
$ Blue-Collar—Angel Island: Pick up a mooring at Ayala Cove (415-435-5390) on Friday night when the ferry day-trippers are long gone—you’ll feel like you’ve found a budget version of a private island paradise. After a relaxing night onboard, jump-start the morning before the crowds arrive with a hike to the 788-foot Mount Livermore summit, then refuel by the shore with a hot dog and a Lagunitas at Angel Island Café (angelisland.com/cafe/index.php).
$$ White-Collar—Petaluma: While driving to Petaluma is definitely quicker, sailing through the Petaluma wetlands feels as romantic and remote as a cruise on the Amazon (Ok, almost). a raised drawbridge welcomes you to the Turning Basin dock, your watery doorway to a historic downtown where newcomers offer farm-fresh menus: Social Club (socialclubrestaurant.com) has a new beer garden, and the late-night Speakeasy (speakeasypetaluma.com) specializes in tapas.
$$$ Gold-Collar—Sausalito: Sunset is best celebrated from the Presidio Yacht Club (presidioyachtclub.org). The next morning, after a porchside brunch at Cavallo Point (cavallopoint.com), navigate Sausalito’s Richardson Bay and dock at Clipper Yacht Harbor just in time for cocktail-hour negronis, followed by Oysters Alcatraz (topped with smoked pork belly) at the new Barrel House Tavern (barrelhousetavern.com). Then slip into Trident’s (thetridentsausalito.com) complimentary boat dock before settling down to dinner. Christine Ciarmello
Solvang—wine, dude ranch style
Base yourself at Alisal Guest Ranch (from $1,695 for all-inclusive double occupancy, alisal.com) on October 25–27 for a wine immersion weekend with a crew of Santa Rita’s top vintners. The first annual Wine Ghetto Weekend is luring the cultish Bordeaux-and-Rhône-style warehouse wineries from neighboring Lompoc’s Wine Ghetto to take up residence for the weekend. Mornings start with good ol’ country-style flapjacks and mimosas, while idle time can be passed exploring the 10,500-acre grounds by horseback. Celebrated resident chef and barbecue pit master Pascal Gode dishes up saucy slow-cooked ribs in the warm evenings. Jenna Scatena
Dana Point high—society surfing
Think of this as the high-maintenance brah’s guide to Socal surfing: The St. Regis Monarch Beach resort (from $395, stregismb.com) gives guests the royal treatment with its new surf butlers, a squad of expert surfers trained in cpr, lifeguarding, and good service. As if checking the ocean’s temperature and the surf conditions before you hit the water, giving you pro tips on technique, and hand-selecting your wetsuit and surfboard weren’t enough, the beach butlers will also hunt down the ideal shady spot of beach and supply you with sunscreen, your favorite magazines, a chilled towel, and even, should you need it, liquid confidence in the form of a margarita. Jennie Nunn
Calistoga—a 50-room suntopia
Calistoga has long had doily-clad B&Bs and mega-resorts, but there has been little middle ground. Until now, with the new Sunburst (from $175, thesunburstcalistoga.com)—a cheap(ish)and cheerful motel that just opened. Featuring a mineral pool, bright orange and green accents, and a clean but vibrant decor, it’s the kind of place where you could lug the whole family or bring a weekend posse. There’s no restaurant, but equally affordable fare can be found on the lounge menu at Solage, a luxe resort just a quick bike ride away. There, choose from great cocktails and sophisticated snacks, all served on the patio. Take note: Sunburst is offering 20 percent off all rooms until the end of the year. Sara Deseran
Port Costa—southern fare alfresco
This one-block town across the Carquinez Strait from Benicia is only 30 miles east of San Francisco, yet it feels like a slice of the French Quarter with its old-school southern charm. At the Bull Valley Roadhouse (bullvalleyroadhouse.com), a surprising new comfort-food restaurant beneath a canopy of walnut trees, comrades formerly of The Slanted Door fashion pre-Prohibition cocktails and lavish spreads of buttermilk-fried chicken with summer squash gratin. The spookily charming Burlington Hotel (from $65, thehotelburlington.com) next door gives you a reason to stick around—waking up to homemade cornbread slathered in caramelly red Midsummer Wildflower honey, courtesy of Bull Valley owner (and local beekeeper) Earl Flewellen. Christina Karem
Los Alamos—a picnic walkabout
The numbers add up: three wine-tasting rooms and three notable new restaurants, all within a sunny half mile. Now the dusty stagecoach town of Los Alamos is as good a stop for gourmet fare as it is for fuel. Start at Café Quackenbush (generalstoreca.com) for cranberry scones, then saunter over to the toy-blue Global Gardens (globalgardensonline.com) for local olive oils (with the option to circle back for pumpkin–olive oil ice cream). Swing through the saloon doors at Casa Dumetz (casadumetzwines.com) for Sonja’s Suds sparkling syrah rosé. Bell street Farm (bellstreetfarm.com) serves an epic farmhouse comfort dish: chicken pot pie with roasted delicata squash. And you can wash it down with a local draft beer at the funky 1880 Union Hotel’s saloon (unionhotelvictmansion.com). Just stopping for gas? At least pick up a fig and prosciutto flatbread to go at Full of Life Flatbread (fulloflifefoods.com), an old favorite that’s been drawing crowds for 10 years. Christine Ciarmello