On clear nights when the moon is new, astrophotography enthusiasts and keen Instagrammers flock to HI Pigeon Point Lighthouse to capture otherworldly images of an expansive sky flooded with stars. In winter months, the stargazers are treated to views of Orion in all his glory in the west, the Gemini twins Castor and Pollux right above him, the Big Dipper in the constellation Ursa Major pointing to Polaris the North Star, the Little Dipper in Ursa Minor, plus a host of unnamed stars twinkling many light years away.
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.