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Driving through northern CA - what to see, where to stay?

Driving through northern CA - what to see, where to stay?

Mar 13th, 2009, 01:30 PM
Original Poster
Join Date: Jan 2007
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Driving through northern CA - what to see, where to stay?

Our family of 4 (mom, dad and two kids - 14 & 12) will be driving north from SF to the trees of mystery in Klamath then turning right and heading back down CA to the gold country and on to Lake Tahoe. The route is kinda like a boot ;-). We are planning to make stops at Fort Bragg or Mendocino, The Trees of Mystery in Klamath, Dunsmuir or Burney, the Gold Country (Downieville) and then finishing up in Lake Tahoe. It's been years since I headed north so I know a lot has changed. What are some points not to be missed and some suggestions for nicer places to stay? Any help would be greatly appreciated.
gradeschoolmom is offline  
Mar 13th, 2009, 01:46 PM
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In Mendocino/Fort Bragg area, please spend time in the Mendocino Botanical Gardens - Fantastic and even your kids will enjoy it. Also they might enjoy Glass Beach in Fort Bragg. It's fun to collect fragments of all different colors of colored glass there. A very unique place to stay in that area is just north of Fort Bragg at Howard Creek Ranch. They have a variety of accomodations that can house families and a few are just yards from the beach. www.howardcreekranch.com
Friends have even rented horses to ride along that long quiet stretch of beach.

As a kid, my biggest disappointment was Trees of Mystery. Maybe it had something to do with all those signs for miles along the highway showing Paul Bunyan and Babe the Ox. What was I expecting?

I'd recommend going to the Avenue of the Giants. We love the myriad of walking/hiking trails. There are so many people on the highway, but just walk 50 yards onto a trail and you see very few people. We like Miranda Gardens Resort for a place to stay. None of these places are upscale, but are clean, comfortable, and have the atmosphere of the environment.

If you want to head just over the border into Oregon, Oregon Caves is a great spot. Our kids loved the charm of the old lodge as well as the tour of the caves.

Not too familiar with Dunsmuir or Burney. Loved Burney Falls as a kid, and we camped there.
You'll enjoy Gold Country, especially the Downieville area and above.
elnap29 is offline  
Mar 13th, 2009, 04:06 PM
Join Date: Dec 2004
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You should definately make a point to see Avenue Of The Giants. It's truly an amazing place. Also a fun stop right before there is the one log house the web site is
www.one-loghouse.com and next door is one of the biggest redwood trees. I can't remember the exact name of that place but you can walk from the parking lot of the log house to it.
I agree another great stop for the kids would be glass beach. Just google it for information and directions. If you can also stop in Trinidad they have a cute lighthouse and would make a great picture stop. The lighthouse is on many calendars.
mmouse52 is offline  
Mar 13th, 2009, 04:24 PM
Join Date: Mar 2009
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Lake Tahoe - South shore has an Embassy Suites and indoor pool
with a great breakfast buffet included for everyone. From there you can drive all around the lake which is beautiful and
ask the concerige where to stop like Emerald Bay. We have stayed here every year for the last 10 years with 2 children and now they are grown and return on their own.
scenicwalker is offline  
Mar 13th, 2009, 05:39 PM
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Actually, the northern part of California hasn't changed all that much. Hwy 101 has been improved and Redding has grown considerably but the rest is pretty much the same as I remember it from thirty years ago.

For years, we drove by Trees of Mystery and never stopped, thinking it a corny tourist trap. Then, one year we drove by with some kids and decided to go in. The kids loved the place and I discovered an excellent small Native American museum there. The museum is free so not everyone has to pay the admission charge if they don't want to.

If you are doing this in summer, your kids may enjoy some of the great swimming holes along the Smith, Trinity, McCloud and Pitt Rivers. Or hiking the awesome trails in Castle Crags State Park or Lassen National Park. They may also enjoy a visit to Plumas-Eureka State Park and the old mining town of Johnsville. Then, there's the Lakes Basin region near Graeagle. Well, anyway there's lots to see and plenty of things to do.
Supercilious is offline  
Mar 13th, 2009, 06:56 PM
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A ton of great ideas in such a short period of time. Thank you!
gradeschoolmom is offline  
Mar 14th, 2009, 08:42 AM
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elnap: "It's fun to collect fragments of all different colors of colored glass there." That may be true -- but it is also very much illegal . . . . .

gradeschoolmom: You have received lots of great info. As mentioned above - not much has changed except Mendocino is busier. The whole you'll be traveling through is wonderful.

Burney falls is a "must" -- along w/ many other musts, of course. Dunsmuir has some motels - but I think you'd have a better choice in Mt Shasta city.

For your stopover in Mendocino/Ft Bragg - I'd either stay in Ft Bragg -- Mendocino tends to be very pricey -- or here http://www.littleriverinn.com/ Little River Inn has rooms from cheap in the historic bldg to expensive in the Cottage. But the Bayside rooms are a terrific bargain especially for families since some have 2 queen sized beds, large baths, coffee makers/microwaves, a dining table and rocking chairs on the veranda w/ unobstructed views of the bay/ocean.
janisj is offline  
Mar 14th, 2009, 10:41 PM
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Yikes! We haven't been to Glass Beach in years, so janisj, I stand corrected. Evidently Glass Beach has now been made a State Park - thus the rule about not taking bits of glass. (We have only a tiny Tic-Tac container of little pieces, but I guess I'll bring them back next trip!) But check this website for a cool photo of what the beach is like. http://www.theshroyers.com/mendo/glass.shtml
and this one that tells the history: http://www.gomendo.com/showrecord.asp?id=56
elnap29 is offline  
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