Travel Thoughts By Kim

By Kim Pritt, Contributor Posted 15 May 2021 at 3:00 pm

Muir Woods National Monument, 12 miles north of San Francisco, is a dense forest of massive old growth coastal redwoods.

Let’s go on an adventure together….to Napa Valley and Muir Woods, California!

We visited San Francisco last time, so let’s stay in that area of the west coast. Today, I’ll take you to Muir Woods, Sausalito, Napa Valley, and Sonoma. I spent two wonderful, sunny California days touring these four locations. Getting to visit Napa Valley was the main reason I decided to extend my time in the San Francisco area – the whole week there was amazing, but I especially enjoyed the two days I spent on these tours.

I used Gray Line and chose two full day tours – the first took me to Muir Woods and Sausalito and the next day focused on Napa Valley and Sonoma. Both tours were awesome! So relaxing and so much natural beauty to enjoy along the ride and at each stop. And, it is always a pleasure to sit back and let someone else do the driving and provide interesting information along the way.

Muir Woods is designated a National Monument. It is 12 miles north of San Francisco and covers 554 acres with 240 acres of old growth coastal redwood forest. We were dropped off and told we had a couple hours to walk the trails and enjoy the park. And, I did just that. Due to its proximity to the Pacific Ocean, dense woods, and streams, it tends to always feel damp and cool within the park, which was welcome on that hot, sunny day California day. It was very difficult to get any really good photos of the trees because they are so tall, but I did the best I could and got some really nice shots along the trails as I walked and sat on benches along the way and just gazed in awe at the massive trees and God’s splendor. It really was incredible.

Sausalito, California – a quaint harbor town directly across the bay from San Francisco.

After we left Muir Woods, we were dropped off at Sausalito – a lovely little harbor town located directly across the bay from San Francisco and loaded with high end shops and restaurants. I wasn’t really interested in shopping – I much preferred to spend my time sitting on a bench overlooking the harbor and watch the boats and birds! I wandered around the town a bit and was so happy for the breeze off the bay and the beautiful scenery.

The next day was spent in Napa Valley and Sonoma. WOW! What a treat to gaze upon the beautiful country views throughout these valleys. Of course, it was a wine tasting tour, but even if you don’t partake in the wine, these tours are so interesting, relaxing, and full of spectacular sights – rolling hills, farm land, and vineyards as far as the eye could see.

Sutter Homes Winery is famous for their White Zinfandel wine and interesting story with stunning gardens and Victorian Inn.

We stopped at two small family owned estate wineries: Nicholson Ranch in Sonoma and Madonna Estates in Napa Valley. Both were stunning wineries and the hosts were amazing with their stories and information. And the wine was pretty spectacular, too. Nicholson Ranch is known for its Pinot Noir and, I must say, it was really quite good.

After the morning stops, we drove to Yountville for lunch. Yountville is a wonderfully quaint little town. We had a couple hours to spend having lunch on our own and enjoying the town. I chose to eat at a very nice restaurant called Pacific Blues and then strolled the streets to explore and get some photos. I found a bakery that is part of one of the four Michelin Star restaurants located in the small town. They had an assortment of goodies that made me melt just looking at them in the showcase. I bought an assortment of French Macarons to take back to my hotel for later in the evening – WOW – they really hit the spot after a long day of touring.

Nicholson Ranch Estate Winery seen from the road. One of many beautiful landscapes, farm lands, and vineyards in the Napa Valley and Sonoma areas near San Francisco, CA.

After lunch, we stopped at the Sutter Homes Winery – I had hoped we’d stick with smaller, family owned estate wineries, but this large, internationally known winery was pretty amazing. They have gorgeous gardens and an impressive Victorian Inn that I had a field day photographing. But, it was their cool story that I was most intrigued by. They started out as a small family run farm vineyard. The current family used all their savings (their last $20,000) to purchase the vineyard and winery from the original owners. They were so broke as they worked to get started that they didn’t even have enough money to pay to have the name legally changed – so they just left it as Sutter Home. Then, they “accidentally” developed the first ever White Zinfandel wine – they were working on a red zinfandel and it came out looking more like a rose’ and had a very unique taste. They decided to market it and America fell in love with it. It made them millionaires literally overnight. They served us tastings of a higher end version of that White Zinfandel that they only sell at the winery and some other signature wines that are not sold commercially and they were all excellent.

On the way back to the hotel, we drove by several beautiful wineries, including the Robert Mondavi Winery and other well-known brands. I also saw several pastures with a type of cow I’ve never seen before – Belted Galloway Cattle – a.k.a Oreo Cows. They originate from the west side of southern Scotland and are mostly black with a large white “belt” around their middle section. So, lots of cool things to see and do in and around that area of California.

Visit my blog for all the photos from this gorgeous area of our amazing country: 

Muir Woods / Sausalito:
Napa Valley / Sonoma:

Happy Adventuring!