Author’s Note: These are my top five(ish).
Mendocino/Sonoma Coastline – Quick fact: It seems counter intuitive to pack warm clothes when going to the beach but, I assure you, northern California’s coast doesn’t care about your intuition. Whatever the temperature is in the valley, it is guaranteed to be 20 degrees cooler on the coast. Several parks and campsites provide day and weekend getaways for the outdoor enthusiast or mariner. Cliff side paths offer lookouts over sheer drop-offs and sprawling views of the Pacific Ocean.
College tends to bring stress levels up to dizzying heights and the solution: take a drive. The numerous easy-winding roads and small towns that inhabit the coast are worth the gas money.
Farmstead/Ike’s Place – I am often asked, “What makes PUC so special?” I’ve heard this question so many times, I can pretty much tell when it’s coming. Without realizing it, I just awkwardly blurt out the word “food”, interrupting the individual midway through their question. For me, it’s hard to think of a time when food isn’t the first thing that comes to mind, but I digress. Given the chance, I normally recover and elaborate my original involuntary yap about why I have stayed at PUC.
Although the area is home to so many quality eateries, I’m lucky (you’re lucky) to have narrowed it down to two. Farmstead is housed in a revamped barn and features a farm-to-table menu with food foraged locally and cooked in a southern style method. (i.e. wood burn grilling and smoking) If you’re looking for something more casual, Ike’s Place has you covered. After perfecting the art of sandwich making in San Francisco, Ike’s spread its delicious footprint to the neighboring Sonoma Valley. Ike’s bread is freshly baked and packaged with their “Dirty Secret Sauce” which has me drooling as I write this at 6:22 a.m.
AT&T Park – The spring time has a polarizing effect on me. On one hand, spring means baseball season, and on the other, crippling allergies. Even if it feels like I’m breathing through a straw, baseball always tips the scale in favor of spring. AT&T Park happens to be the home of my beloved Giants but even if you’re a casual fan it’s a place you should consider visiting. Ranked as one of the better ballparks in the league, AT&T offers land and cityscape views of the San Francisco Bay and surrounding metropolis. Prepare to have your attention fought over as what happens in the water, at times, will rival what’s happening in the stadium. Also, garlic fries.
Fox Theater – I had not heard of this venue nearly my entire college lifetime, which was strange since I was road tripping to a show nearly once a week. After nearly four decades in disrepair, Fox Theater, which resides in downtown Oakland, was restored in 2009. Its interior is a medley of the Art Deco Period mixed with Middle Eastern grandeur. This combination of ill-fitted architecture presents a unique and charming home to several concerts throughout the year and remains a favorite venue of mine.
Each year may see new adaptation to my list. I’ve spent seven years in this area but I’m constantly discovering new places within reach. Yours will undoubtedly differ from mine but that’s what is great about this territory – there is something for everyone.