The California coast has long exerted a powerful pull for visitors in the summertime: When the weather heats up, locals and travelers alike start to dream of mornings riding Pacific waves, afternoons of lazy beachcombing, and evenings cooled by ocean breezes.
Let's be honest: what traveler among us has never dreamed of working with National Geographic? Exploring the great outdoors, discovering new species, photographing plant- and animal-life up-close… there's something inherently adventurous and cool about this company that's been "inspiring people to care about the planet since 1888."
So, you finally come out to California for your sun-filled, beach-tastic vacation, and what happens? It decides to rain. It's nothing personal: the Northern California weather can be indecisive, with warm snaps in the winter and rain storms pretty much any time. The good news is, the rain isn't always here to stay. And the better news is, even when it's cats and dogs outside, there are still plenty of ways to experience everything that makes Northern California special.
Crashing waves, sand between your toes, the smell of the salty ocean air… who can resist the temptations of a coastal getaway every once in a while? Here in Northern California, our wild and windswept beaches offer easy escapes from the San Francisco Bay Area, even if you're short on time.
Winter in Northern California means cool, bright days and crisp, chilly evenings. It also means always having a great excuse to duck into someplace cozy for a pick-me-up. From fire-lit bars, to brick-oven-warmed bakeries, to restaurants chock-full of cozy ambiance, we asked the staff at our seven Norcal hostels for their favorite local spots to warm up. Read on for their picks, and get ready to settle in for the winter.
Every winter and spring, approximately 18,000 Pacific gray whales embark on an annual migration from their summer feeding grounds in the Arctic Bering and Chukchi Seas to warm birthing lagoons off the coast of Baja California. During the epic 10,000+ mile round-trip journey -- one of the longest in the animal kingdom -- gray whales hug the coastline, offering a rare opportunity for land-dwellers to catch a glimpse of these enigmatic creatures.