Monday, June 6, 2011

Destination Monday #5

(The Gold Links will lead you to fun/informative websites!)

...Northern California!

(I assume you know where that is without a photo)

Now, I used to live in Pleasanton, California ( ~40 miles East of San Francisco), and my Dad's family lives in San Jose, California, but we don't necessarily have a specific "town" you should's more of you should just visit the area because there's a lot to see and do! For example, while you're on the coast, you definitely need to check out Jamba Juice, and In-N-Out Burger, because we have neither here in the midwest.

The drive from San Jose to Pleasanton is really cool - lots of hills and pretty views. Plus, if you go to Pleasanton (which is like an awesome combination of Parkville and Agrestic from Weeds), you can go to the best Chinese restaurant ever! I'm not even kidding. Order the Lemon Chicken, Pork Fried Rice, and Sizzling Rice Soup (yes, it really sizzles). You will not be disappointed.

Yes. This is me outside of said Chinese Restaurant.
It is that good. My parents took me here when I was
just a couple of days old. A few years later it became
my favorite restaurant, and it has held that status for 23 years.

Next time we go to California, Stephen wants to go to Alameda, CA to visit the abandoned naval base to play with the Mythbusters. Legitimately, though, I was checking through the wikipedia page and it seems like a really cool place. Something like 9% of all the homes there are Victorian homes, and the whole city is on an island.

Of course you can also hit up Sacramento - home of the California State Railroad Museum (and my birthplace). And if you're over 21 years of age, you'd be silly not to visit wine country - I mean, you're in California - do it.

I would be remiss if I didn't tell you to go to Monterey to visit the beach and the Monterey Bay Aquarium (and not just because my cousin there). The beach is beautiful, and the aquarium is really, really fun (petting manta rays, anyone?)

My cousin Leslie at work at The Monterey Bay Aquarium!
 She's so lucky!!

Photograph 2009: Monterey Bay, California

Of course, if you're in Northern California with time and money to spare (or you're using our blog to plan a future trip), you can't forget San Francisco. You should definitely go see the Golden Gate BridgeFisherman's Wharf, and Alcatraz (I mean, come on, Al Capone was there!).

One of my favorite things about California is the WEATHER. It's so perfect for camping...especially at Lake Tahoe. Seriously. It's beautiful. There is nothing like camping in California - the weather is warm during the days and cool at night - none of the hot, sticky, muggy camping we get here in Missouri, which is miserable. I refuse to camp outside here anymore. If you like camping, you definitely need to put Lake Tahoe on your list.

Another great camping spot is the Redwood National Park. But even if you don't like camping, you should at least visit the park. You can make a day trip and hike and/or drive through the forest. These trees are enormous. You have no idea. Another Rao Family favorite is Big Basin State Park - another great place to see HUGE trees. It's close to San Jose, and you can bike ride from the park to ocean (bonus!) - although you probably won't want to ride back up to camp - it's quite the hike!

California is seriously full of great parks and outdoorsy-type places, Yosemite National Park being one of them - it's gorgeous. According to my dad it's "one of the most beautiful places on earth." (And he's been to a lot of visually-fantastic places, mind you!)

Photograph 2007 (?) Monterey Bay

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