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Travelblog Gone with the Wine

Travelblog and lifestyleblog. Life under the Californian sun - Gone with the Wine. Trips, food and wine from all over the world. Solo and family adventures.

Filtering by Tag: Point Reyes National Seashore

10 Pictures that Will Inspire You to Visit San Francisco

Paula Gaston

San Francisco is much more than just city life. Close by, in San Francisco Bay Area, there are many beautiful beaches, parks and trails. The giant red woods are amazing and the sun set over the ocean wont leave anyone cold. If you don't believe me, juts see for yourself!


The Golden Gate Bridge is the mark of San Francisco and its most famous sight. If you want to see it from somewhere else than from the city, you hike up the hills on the opposite side of the bridge and enjoy some fresh ocean breeze. 



The world's biggest China Town outside of China is colorful and full of life. It's a great place to just walk around, eat or stop in the many little stores they have. 



In the middle of the city there is a huge park called Golden Gate Park. It hides inside so many beautiful places but one of the most beautiful one is the Japanese Tea Garden. It is definitely at its best during spring with the cherry blossoms. 



In the 18th century the Sutro Baths used to be sort of a spa and its remains are right next to the famous Cliff House restaurant. It used to be the world's biggest indoor swimming facility but none of the buildings exist anymore. The pools now get filled by the ocean's crashing waves and there are great hiking trails in the area. Sutro Baths is part of the Golden Gate Recreational Area so it is protected and part of the national parks.  



One of the most beautiful places in the San Francisco Bay Area is for sure the Filoli Gardens. It is great all year round but especially gorgeous during the spring time. If you get bored of the flowers, you can also visit the mansion which was used in the Dynasty TV show. 



A little bit north from San Francisco lies the Point Reyes National Seashore. They have excellent beaches, forests and great hiking trails. One of the most visited places at Point Reyes is its old lighthouse. 



This well known ship wreck at the Point Reyes National Seashore is hidden behind a restaurant building, so most times you will be the only one visiting it. Unfortunately, some time ago someone set it on fire, so I am not sure how much is left of it anymore. 



In San Francisco and close by it, you can find many beaches where you can go horse back riding. This picture is from Drake's Beach. 



Muir Woods National Monument is north of the city of San Francisco. The rare coastal red woods grow on this protected area. After a twisty mountain road you will forget city life by walking into a whole different world. The oldest tree in Muir Woods is over 1200 years old.



Nothing is better than sun sets in California. And you will have plenty of places in San Francisco to see them. The city is surrounded by water, which makes it a special place to watch the sun go down on summer evenings. 


Everyone should experience San Francisco once in a lifetime!

The Most Popular Instagram Pictures of 2017

Paula Gaston

All these pictures are from my Instagram account. You can follow me @paulagaston


The year 2017 is ending soon which means people are summing up the highlights of their travel year in different posts. My summary is Instagram related, as I wanted to see which pictures on my account were the most popular ones. And here they are:




Morning swim at Clarion Hotel Helsinki's rooftop

Swimming after sauna and sauna after the swimming. The rooftop in January was cold, but at least the sauna made me warm again. This picture is from Helsinki, Finland, where I participated in the Nordic Travel Fair. A morning swim at sun rise really wakes you up!

It was also nice to visit my home country Finland!





Visit to the Instagram Headquarters in Silicon Valley

I was invited to the Facebook/Instagram Headquarters, and of course I went. We had lunch, toured around the campus and drove from one building to another by shuttle bus. I also saw Mark Zuckenberg. Since it is Instagram, there is of course some photo spots where we took some pictures. 

You can read more about life in Silicon Valley from here. 






At Alcatraz Island in San Francisco

In March we visited Alcatraz Island in San Francisco. The weather was nice and we had a lot of fun. The tickets to Alcatraz are sold out months before, so if you are planning to visit, make sure you book early.








Memories from lovely Stockholm

This post was inspired by a sad tragedy; a terror attack at Stockholm. Despite this, my own memories from this beautiful city are only positive and fun, and I hope to visit Sweden soon again. 







California road trip - Joshua Tree National Park

Joshua Trees Park is in the Mojave Desert in Southern California. We spent a day in Joshua Tree National Park and saw some rare plants and animals.








Tightrope walker at Joshua Tree National Park

Both hikers and climbers love Joshua Tree National Park, and we saw multiple groups on the rocks. I bet this group was the most photographed, since they were doing tightrope walking. 







Pregnant blogger

This year has been different and very special to us. In the summer months we had to take a step back and relax since as you can see, my tummy got huge. This is at the end of my pregnancy in our yard in California. The whole time, I was feeling well, even though I wasn't able to travel as much as I did with my first pregnancy.

Read about travelling pregnant.






Point Reyes lighthouse in California

Point Reyes lighthouse is on California coast in the Point Reyes National Seashore. You can visit inside the lighthouse if you first descend 300 steps down. Just remember, you also have to use the same steps to get up. We have been there many times, and you can read about it here. I would recommend this place to anyone who loves outdoors.




A new family member

In August, during the American Solar Eclipse, our family grew with a little baby daughter. Now there is four of us conquering the world. Passports and papers are already ready for some future travels. New adventures are awaiting! 









Tarantulas in California's Golden Hills

In October you might see some tarantulas crawling around the California hills. They come out to find a mating partner. With this picture, I wanted to remind people about the post from last year when I went to hike to see some tarantulas. I was surprised to see that it was the most popular picture in October.







Lake Tahoe - The pride of California and Nevada

Beautiful Lake Tahoe is located in Northern California, on the border of Nevada and California. It is a popular skiing destination, but in summer time people can swim, hike and camp. The picture is from my post about Lake Tahoe.







December is not over yet so a picture will be added to this gallery later. Maybe it is the main picture of this post; the City Hall of San Francisco which was lit up in blue and white to honor Finland's centennial. (Photo credit: Paivi Hakala). Go check out my Instagram account @paulagaston, and like the picture from December that you think is the best!

National Lighthouse Day

Paula Gaston

All these pictures are from my Instagram account. You can follow me @paulagaston

Did you know, that there is a day dedicated to lighthouses? Here in the US, National Lighthouse Day is celebrated on August 7th. Since I have always lived on the coast in Finland and here in California, I am used to seeing and visiting lighthouses on my trips.

Point Reyes National Seashore is pretty close to where we live, so we have visited there multiple times. The lighthouse was first opened in 1870 and it served for 105 years. Now it is one of the most visited places in this national park. You can visit inside the lighthouse, but not before you walk down the 308 stairs to it. Next to the lighthouse there is a little museum. It is absolutely worth it to go down to the lighthouse, but just remember that you also must climb the stairs back up. If you are lucky, you might see some whales or sea lions from the lighthouse. 


These two lighthouses above, we visited on our road trip up the Northern California coast. The one on the left, Point Cabrillo Light Station, is still in use, and is located in Point Cabrillo Light Station State Historic Park on the Pacific Coast Highway. Inside the lighthouse they have a little museum and a gift shop. The lighthouse on the right is on the same road and has been seen in many movies. Point Arena Lighthouse is also open for visitors but you have to purchase a ticket to get on the tour.  


Cape Disappointment Lighthouse was opened in 1856 and it is located in Washington state. The lighthouse is in a state park with some beautiful views and hiking trails around it. I think I still have some stories from this particular trip to be written. On the right is the Point Bonita Lighthouse in the Marin Headlands. It is a great destination if you are visiting San Francisco, but you should check the opening hours before going. It can only be accessed through a tunnel which is only open for certain hours.


In May I visited San Diego, California and of course stopped at some lighthouses as well. At Cabrillo National Monument (left) one can visit Old Point Loma Lighthouse. One can visit the lighthouse inside and even climb up to the light tower. The picture on the right is from the New Point Loma Lighthouse which is not open to visitors. The lighthouse was featured in the Top Gun movie.

I'm sure we will visit many other lighthouses in the future, since we love to drive on the California coast. I hope that next summer we can visit some lighthouses on our trip to Finland as well, and maybe even stay the night at one of them!

The Best of California's Pacific Coast Highway

Paula Gaston

All these pictures are from my Instagram account. You can follow me @paulagaston

So many travellers have a dream to drive down the California Pacific Coast Highway or State Route 1. Many drive only a part of it, but you can also do a longer version. While living in California, we drove parts of PCH from time to time, and I have written articles about each place we visited. Now it is time to wrap them all up into one post which tells you everything you need to know about California Pacific Coast Highway.

Most of my travels in Southern California happened when I didn't have a blog yet. But in recent years, we have driven the northern parts a few times, so here is some information about them. I added the San Francisco Bay Area as a separate section since so many people stay here for a few days. Once I get down to Southern California again, I will add more articles on the list. And please, post some questions and wishes about what I should cover!


Many people start their drive on Pacific Coast Highway from San Francisco or they end their trip there. Don't under estimate the north parts of PCH though. There is still plenty to see if you drive up north from San Francisco. Enjoy the redwood forests, national parks or Glass Beach in Fort Bragg. State Route 1 merges into 101 in Leggett, but if you continue your drive it will follow the coastline soon again, and you can drive all the way up to the Oregon border. The views are great! Along the way is the Avenue of GiantsRedwood National Park, and right after the city of Eureka, a place that was disturbed by many tsunamis, Crescent city.

Glass beach in Fort Bragg

Glass beach in Fort Bragg

Drive Thru Tree in Leggett.

Drive Thru Tree in Leggett.


For a visit to the San Francisco Bay Area you want to reserve multiple days. Like any big city, there is plenty to see. There are of course the most known sights that everyone should see, but there are also many other places worth a visit. Because San Francisco is located right by the bay, you can hike along the coastline with amazing views, or rent bicycles and ride along the Golden Gate Bridge to the Marin Headlands. All this is part of the national park system, Golden Gate National Recreation Area

Golden Gate Bridge

Golden Gate Bridge

Sunset in Sutro Baths

Sunset in Sutro Baths


Many start their drive on Pacific Coast Highway from San Francisco. Even though you will be able to drive all the way to Los Angeles in one day, I recommend reserving at least one or two nights on the way. There are vista points and other stops all along the road, and so many things to see or do from nature activities to historic sites. Route 1 merges with I-5 in Dana Point in Orange County. 

Morro Rock

Morro Rock

Inside pool area in Hearst Castle

Inside pool area in Hearst Castle

Have you driven Pacific Coast Highway? How was your experience?

Lovely Point Reyes in California

Paula Gaston

We had planned to travel to Mendocino in California for Memorial Day weekend. We were hoping to stay a couple nights on the coast and visit some beaches. By the time we were ready to make the reservations, there was nothing left for accomodation. Nothing! So I guess other people had the same plan and they were smart enough to book their rooms on time.

Eventually we decided to make a day trip to Point Reyes, about 30 miles north of San Francisco. The area is so signifigant that it is part of the national parks system, and called Point Reyes National Seashore. The nature there is protected which is good. There are so many great hiking trails in this area as well as beaches and beautiful views. And the park is pretty big so you should plan ahead what you want to see because you can't see it all in one day.


We arrived at Point Reyes in the middle of the park from the east. Our first stop was at Point Reyes Station village where we got some deli sandwiches for our cooler. Point Reyes Station is a nice little village where you can stroll around or sit down for a glass of wine if you can ever find parking. There is also a visitor center in town. A little blue house that looks like a play house. You can forget the indoor restrooms or free maps, they will not offer either even though the lady working there was very friendly. I suggest stopping at the national parks visitor center instead, it is right outside the town. You can check out the exhibit or bookstore, get some tips from the rangers and buy some souvenirs. It is also so much easier to go around with a proper map since there is no cell service in the park. There are also multiple hiking and riding trails leaving from the visitor center parking lot.

The most popular sight in Point Reyes is the lighthouse built in 1870. To visit the lighthouse you will have to climb 300 steps down so consider your daily workout done if you decide to do this. Once you are down to the lighthouse, you will see the beautiful Pacific Ocean and view of the coastline. With a little luck, you might see some whales passing by or some sea lions resting on the beach near by. The lighthouse is partly open so you can escape high winds if you need to, and then it is time to climb those 300 steps back up. Every once and in a while you might have to stop to catch your breath and you will also pass people who have stopped to do the same. A visit to the lighthouse is worth it though.

Point Reyes hylkeet pieni.jpg

Last time we were at Point Reyes we drove past this area and hiked to the end of park. Tomales Point is located between the ocean and Tomales Bay. The views on this hike are spectacular and you might see some Tule elk on your way. At some point they were thought to be extirpated but the species recovered and can be found in a few places in California. We also saw many birds and many beaches down below the hiking trail. Some were not accessible, and some can trap you at high tide. But they certainly looked beautiful. We didn't go down to the beaches because we wanted to reach the end point of the Tomales hike.

On that trip we also stopped at San Augustine to get something to eat. We bought some sandwiches from Inverness Market deli and walked to the tables behind the building. That was when I noticed something I had always seen in pictures. A famous Point Reyes ship wreck right by the waterline of Tomales Bay. Of course it is not the only ship wreck or sunken ship on these waters but it must be the most photgraphed one. I'm glad we saw it because in February I learned that it had been vandalized and burned. I'm not quite sure if the remains of the ship are still there or if they got moved somewhere. So sad!

On our visit to Point Reyes we decided to spend some time at the beach. After stopping at the visitor center we drove up to Drakes Bay and to Limantour Beach. The beach line there seems to be never ending and despite the waves some people where swimming. We on the other hand settled for playing in the sand and searching for clam shelves. Our little girl had so much fun.

There are still many places in Point Reyes that we haven't seen so we will be returning back someday. There are multiple little towns in the area where you can find services, motels and three visitor centers for the National Parks system. If you get tired of city life in San Francisco, just hop in your car and drive north thru the redwood forest to Point Reyes. This is a drive you will never forget!