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Clear Lake, California
Courtesy of County of Lake

Clear Lake

Clear Lake
Explore a burgeoning wine scene and cool off with a summery splash in the lake

Take a deep breath the next time you’re in Northern California’s Lake County. That’s some of the cleanest air in the nation, according to the American Lung Association. And you’ll find it just a couple of hours north of San Francisco. You’ll also find more than 100 miles of shoreline ringing this watersports mecca—the largest natural freshwater lake wholly within California. This is the land of bass fishing, and it’s a great place to try your hand at nabbing one of the lake’s legendary big boys.

'This is the land of bass fishing and it’s a great place to try your hand at nabbing one of the lake’s legendary big boys.'

Boat marinas abound, many offering water craft hires of every sort, including man powered kayaks, as well as fishing gear. On land, explore a burgeoning wine region where Mediterranean microclimates and soil rich in volcanic ash produce impressive Cabernets and Sauvignon Blancs. Come nightfall, that clear air makes for some remarkable star watching, especially from campsites in Clear Lake State Park. On the third Saturday of the month, you can get an even closer look at Taylor Observatory on the lake’s western side in Kelseyville.

The four campsites located in Clear Lake State Park offer wonderful views, swimming (Lower Bayview), and walking and cycling (Cole Creek), but be aware that none offers electrical or water hook-ups.

For a less rustic experience, consider the historic Tallman Hotel in central Upper Lake, 27 miles to the north. Established in the 19th century by settlers Rufus and Mary Tallman, the hotel served travellers on Clear Lake’s stagecoach routes for decades. In 2006, a meticulous period restoration was completed. Today the 17-room boutique hotel is well into its second life as a host to travellers, but this time around, guests are able to indulge in geo-thermally heated bath-tubs and king-sized beds with luxurious linens. Visit the Blue Wing Saloon next door for local wines and weekly concerts, and call in at The Upper Lake Mercantile, where local artists and craftspeople sell their wares.

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Tai Power Seeff

Northern California

Discover the North Coast

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9
December
Average (°C)
Dec - Feb
12°
High
5°
Low
Mar - May
14°
High
6°
Low
June - Aug
16°
High
10°
Low
Sept - Nov
17°
High
7°
Low

Romance finds a home in this idyllic coastal region, where ocean fog rolls in from the ocean to blanket hushed redwood forests and whales spout offshore. Along the coast, artists set up their easels to paint scenes of crashing surf and whitewashed cottages wrapped in rose filled gardens.

Each year, December through May, look to the sea to witness roughly 15,000 gray whales swimming south for the summer.

It is also a place where a new generation of farmers and wine makers focus on preserving the land as well as producing amazing food and wine. Favourite escapes include the romantic hamlet of Mendocino, about three hours’ drive up the coast from San Francisco and Eureka, a former logging town two hours’ further north, and the gateway to the breath-taking Redwoods National and State Parks.

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Clear Lake, the largest natural freshwater lake within California, is the oldest lake in North America and possibly the world.
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Spotlight: Mendocino

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Slip away to some of the state’s most peaceful vineyards

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The Humboldt County Fair began in 1896 and is the oldest running county fair in California.
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Courtesy of Skunk Train

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Ride a historic train through soaring coastal redwoods

Originally built in 1885 to transport redwood logs from the rugged countryside to the coast, the...

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Nature and culture merge in an art fuelled Victorian seaport

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