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What to do on a Rainy Hostel Day, No Matter Where You're Staying

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.

Warm Up Your Winter at Our Staff's Favorite Hideaways

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.

Witness the gray whale migration in Northern California

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.

Walk Among Giants: 7 places to see the majestic California redwoods

There are giants in California. They jut out of soil dampened by fog rolling in from the Pacific and reach greater heights than any other living thing on the planet. They are the coast redwoods: the world’s tallest trees. Many of them grow to be over 200 feet tall and the tallest soar to over 350 feet -- higher than a 30 story skyscraper.

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