California

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Discover San Francisco secret gardens, rooftop parks and open spaces

Discover San Francisco secret gardens, rooftop parks and open spaces

POPOS may sound like a funny name for something you’d munch on during happy hour, but that is so wrong. POPOS stands for “Privately Owned Public Open Spaces,” a.k.a. San Francisco secret gardens, urban parks, and city open spaces. Whether you as a traveler call them POPOS, secret gardens, or rooftop parks, they are ideal respites and secluded open spaces when wandering and touring cities for anyone who just needs to rest weary feet or simply take in the surroundings or do a little people-watching – for free, and often in a really pleasant venue.

What to do in Fresno on a Highway 99 road trip in California

What to do in Fresno on a Highway 99 road trip in California

Located along Highway 99 in the Central Valley, Fresno doesn’t immediately grab you as a place worth spending much more than a night. But appearances can be deceiving. There are quite a few historical, cultural and culinary gems waiting to be explored in California’s fifth-largest city. Read on to know what to do in Fresno.

Forestiere Underground Gardens: Fresno stop for curious travelers

Forestiere Underground Gardens: Fresno stop for curious travelers

The Underground Gardens tourist destination offers an intriguing tale for all ages that is well worth a stop. The Underground Gardens is what it sounds like: A weaving labyrinth of caverns, rooms and passages all dug underground and filled with fruit trees, vines and plants in spaces that open to the sky. This oddity was built – or shall we say, dug – by Italian immigrant Baldassare Forestiere for about 38 years starting in 1906.

Rose Hill Cemetery at Black Diamond Mines Regional Preserve

Rose Hill Cemetery at Black Diamond Mines Regional Preserve

The San Francisco Bay Area hills are spotted with numerous parks where one can hike or picnic, often with great views of the rolling countryside or even the ocean. Black Diamond Mines Regional Preserve east of San Francisco has another secret worth a traveler’s exploration: the Rose Hill Cemetery dating back to the Gold Rush.

The gold panning world championships – not just about panning for gold

The gold panning world championships – not just about panning for gold

Since HI Travel Tales is based in California’s so-called Gold Country, we naively thought that this was the center of the panning for gold world. You know, Sierra Nevada gold rush, gold discovery at Sutter’s Mill, gold miners, ‘49ers, and all that jazz. Boy did we learn a thing or two, like gold panning is a world-wide pursuit and there is even a world championships each year.

Historic Gold Rush town Michigan Bluff off beaten path

Historic Gold Rush town Michigan Bluff off beaten path

Situated at about the halfway point of the Western States 100-Mile Endurance Run, Michigan Bluff is a California Gold Rush town so tiny nobody even bothers to count how many people live there. Could be about 20. Give or take. An old mining hamlet that once teemed with thousands of gold-seeking pioneers, this is what they call in true Old West cowboy slang a “one-horse town.” No, there’s not much there, but that’s what makes it charming and worth a stop for a hike or a walk when in the Sierra Nevada Gold Country.

North Table Mountain Ecological Reserve – Wildflowers and waterfalls

North Table Mountain Ecological Reserve – Wildflowers and waterfalls

Table Mountain reserve boasts one of the most spectacular waterfalls in California and an amazing display of California wildflowers in the spring, yet the North Table Mountain Ecological Reserve (just “Table Mountain” reserve to locals) is surprisingly unknown. If you want blankets of colorful wildflowers, including periodic super blooms, Table Mountain delivers.

Table Mountain California full of wildflowers and waterfalls

Table Mountain California full of wildflowers and waterfalls

Located in the foothills of the northern Sierra Nevada, just 7 miles north of Oroville (approximately one hour drive north of Sacramento), the 3,315-acre Table Mountain preserve looks rather non-descript from afar. From Oroville, you can see the dark basalt (volcanic) cliffs and a hint of a flat plateau above, but little more. But get closer and you will experience spectacular wildflowers and amazing waterfalls.

Pacific Grove Museum: Area natural history comes alive

Pacific Grove Museum: Area natural history comes alive

The Pacific Grove Museum is a little place with a huge heart that invites visitors – adults and kids alike – to not just look but to touch, hear, play and feel. Dang amazing really for a museum that opened in 1883 and still, in part, exists in one of its original historic buildings on a side street in Pacific Grove.

Sierra foothills wildflowers hike: Fields of California wildflowers

Sierra foothills wildflowers hike: Fields of California wildflowers

With springtime comes the search for California wildflower walks to enjoy the multicolored beauty of sometimes fleeting blooms. Sierra foothills wildflowers are everywhere as are relatively easy hikes to view them – you just have to know where since you often can’t see the blooms from a road. This short hike showcases some amazing wildflowers such as lupine and poppies.

UC Davis Arboretum: free award-winning gardens

UC Davis Arboretum: free award-winning gardens

Alongside the roar of Interstate 80 connecting the San Francisco Bay Area to Lake Tahoe is an award-winning botanical garden that beckons plant-lovers, gardeners or anyone looking for a relaxing park setting – the UC Davis Arboretum. The park-like arboretum itself beckons with winding paths, benches and plant collections with different themes.

Allez French restaurant delight near Placerville California

Allez French restaurant delight near Placerville California

We could not have imagined what French culinary delight we were about to experience as we walked to the front door of Allez! Located just a few minutes from Placerville in the California Gold Country not far from Sacramento, Allez French restaurant is an intimate bistro owned and operated by Christian and Jennifer Masse. Christian is as French as they come — and Allez’s chef. It had just enough “quaint” to offer a casual European bistro feel.

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