Going North – touring California (and beyond) when you study ESL abroad at EC San Francisco

Hi all,

Yesterday, I told you a bit about driving south on CA Highway 1 if you want to visit Los Angeles while you are here studying ESL abroad at EC San Francisco

Typical Northern California lagoon and hillsides (photo by Patricia A. Leslie, artist / author)
Typical Northern California lagoon and hillsides (photo by Patricia A. Leslie, artist / author)
A beach on the way North from San Francisco (photo by Patricia A Leslie, artist / author)
A beach on the way North from San Francisco (photo by Patricia A Leslie, artist / author)

.  Since I gave you an idea about the joys of Hwy 1 southbound, it’s only fair to give you an idea about the northward journey as well.

Drive across the famous Golden Gate Bridge, on U.S. Highway 101.  You can’t see it, but California Highway 1 is there as well.  When you get to the cute Marin County town of Mill Valley, you turn off the big highway, and begin to follow CA 1.  After you cross the shoulder of Mount Tamalpais (Mt. Tam), you begin winding along cliffs high above the ocean, heading for the popular beach town of Stinson Beach.  From there on, it’s typical Northern California coastal landscapes all day  –  rolling hills, unexpected forests, dairy cows, lagoons, small rivers crossed by small bridges, and the ever-present Pacific Ocean on your left.  Highway 1 is only two lanes in most places (one in each direction), so this is about the journey, not the destination.  In fact, going north on 1, there really is no destination  –  there’s just the road and the beauty that is California.  There aren’t many towns, and none of them are large.  However, there are lots of places to eat, and lodging ranging from inexpensive older motels to luxurious inns serving gourmet food.  Mendocino is a popular romantic destination, and a nice town for strolling the main street and window shopping.

If you go far enough, past the town of Fort Bragg, Highway 1 leaves the ocean, climbs into the mountains, and ends at U.S. 101, just at the southern end of the great Redwoods.  If you have the time (another 3 days), you can follow 101 all the way to the tip of Washington State.  If you get tired of the dryness of California in the summer and fall, go north into the moist green forests of the coast.  You won’t regret it.

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