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Wine & Dine in Northern California

22nd May 2019

California’s culinary scene serves up some of the most diverse and boundary-pushing plates in the world.

The state grows and harvests the majority of the fresh produce sold in the United States, and California’s fruit and vegetables are considered some of the best anywhere. All across the Golden State you can find celebrations of food and drink, cooking, and culinary creation, from the biggest cities to the smallest farming communities.

The San Francisco Bay Area is famous for its global cuisines, and from delicious Chinatown to the Mexican-infused Mission district, you can find just about every kind of dish, either as a scrumptious street feast or a high-end fine-dining experience. Meanwhile, in Napa Valley and Sonoma County, you can mix-and-match world-famous wines with locally grown foods to enjoy a whole new taste of the wine regions.


Vineyard, Sonoma County
Vineyard, Sonoma County

The state capitol, Sacramento, is also the birthplace of the modern farm-to-fork movement in the US, and the city prides itself on its access to fresh-grown, local and organic produce, with 40 farmers’ markets, often operating five or six days a week in summer, helping to support primary producers directly.

The easiest way to get a true taste of California is to hit the open road and explore, stopping in towns like Gilroy, Mendocino, and Fairfield, which have week-long, family-friendly festivals full of cooking and activities celebrate ingredients like garlic, crab, and tomato (respectively).


Celebrated Californian ingredients
Celebrated Californian ingredients

Below is a suggested self-drive itinerary to explore the best of Northern California over 7 days.

Day 1: San Francisco

Head into the city centre. A suggested stay is at the inspired fusion of old-world elegance and contemporary glamour, the newly redesigned Clift Hotel, in the heart of San Francisco’s Union Square, takes modern luxury to another level. 

Suggested overnight stay: Clift Hotel

Day 2: San Francisco

San Francisco justly ranks as one of the greatest cities in the world. Ride its classic cable cars, explore the beautiful waterfront, and gaze in wonder at the iconic golden gate bridge – the ‘City by the Bay’ truly has it all, including trend-defining cuisine ranging from Michelin-starred dining to outrageous food trucks.

Suggested overnight stay: Clift Hotel

Day 3: San Franciso to Sonoma County

An easy hour’s drive from San Francisco, the journey through Sonoma County begins in Petaluma. Take time to appreciate this nook-and-cranny wine region as you explore the towns of Sebastopol, Santa Rosa and Guerneville, Healdsburg and Sonoma County. It’s all about slowing down, mingling with winemakers and locals.

Suggested overnight stay: Fairmont Sonoma Mission Inn

Day 4: Sonoma County

After a blissful evening at the Fairmont Sonoma Mission Inn, spend the day uncovering more of the highlights of California Wine Country. 

Suggested overnight stay: Fairmont Sonoma Mission Inn

Day 5: Sonoma County to Napa Valley

Just a half-hour drive from Sonoma County brings you to the The Westin Verasa Napa, which offers guests a resort-like setting on the Napa River and Michelin-starred dining in the onsite restaurant.

Suggested overnight stay: The Westin Verasa Napa


Lobby, The Westin Verasa Napa
Lobby, The Westin Verasa Napa

Day 6: Napa Valley

Napa Valley is a land of grand estates, expansive tasting rooms and quaint towns. A connoisseur’s paradise, visit cellar doors, taste local wines or perhaps enjoy a fine dining experience on the Napa Valley Wine Train.

Suggested overnight stay: The Westin Verasa Napa

Day 7: Napa Valley to San Franciso

With a drive time back to the airport of well under two hours, make the most of your final morning in California wine country.

If this itinerary appeals to you, book a Northern California self-drive escape includes 6 nights accommodation and 7 days car hire.^ Prices start from $2515* for 6 nights.

Talk to your Travel Associates advisor about planning a self-drive itinerary through beautiful California.