The trip starts in San Francisco. Head over the Golden Gate bridge to get a spectacular view of the Marin headlands. Continue along Hwy 1. As you descend to the coast, the road hugs the the hills and affords a spectacular view of the Pacific.
Continue to Point Reyes Station. Cowgirl Creamery is headquartered here, and they run a small cantina. Stop for some of their spectacular Clabbered Cottage Cheese and Red Hawk cheese. There are a couple small bakeries lining the main strip in the town; stop in to grab some scones to accompany your Cowgirl goodies.
North of Point Reyes, Hwy 1 mostly follows the shoreline.This is a classic road tripping road; roll down the windows, open up the sunroof, and enjoy the sea air and the tree crown tunnels.
Stop for lunch in Fort Bragg, home to North Coast Brewing. Here they run a small tap room where they pair local food with some of the best ales in the country.
Take local roads once Hwy 1 heads inland. This area is known as the Lost Coast. The roadways are narrow and mountain hugging, a perfect transition from the cruising nature of Hwy 1. Continue till you reach Ferndale.
Ferndale is a classic victorian California town with numerous cafes and small shops. Spend the night in Ferndale.
From Ferndale head through the California Coastal Range. You ll take Hwy 36 as it snakes adjacent to torrid creeks through the valleys of the range. The road descends into the Central Valley of California.
Head south on Hwy 99 passing through small towns till you see the the road heading to Vina. Vina s the home of New Clairvaux Vineyards. The vineyard is run by a community of extremely friendly and welcoming Trappist monks, but it was originally founded by Leland Stanford. The buildings that Stanford built for his winery remain along with an ancient Spanish monastery shipped to California by William Randolph Hearst.
Nearby is Chico, home to Sierra Nevada Brewery. Their tap room is now copper-clad, and a marvel. In their tap room they pour a selection of beers only available on-site in addition to their well known ales. Grab a hamburger made with beef from the local teaching farm as you sip of the their velvety brews.
After heading up to Paradise (yes, it s the name of the town). From Paradise head south to Oroville, with largest earth dam in the US. The drive across the top of the dam provides views of the valley that are unrivaled.
From Oroville head south-west through the flatlands of the California central valley. Here you ll pass through the rice patties and corn fields that the valley is so well known for.
En-route back to the San Francisco have dinner at Buckhorn Steakhouse in Winters. At Buckhorn they perfectly age their locally raised beef, and serve it simple and unadorned to allow the best of the meat to come through.
The perfect two day road-trip is through a section of California not always thought along the lines of Napa, San Francisco, or Los Angeles, but manages to deliver a California that is all the more beautiful for its position in the shadows.