For world-class food with postcard-perfect views, it’s tough to beat California.
From the farm-fresh kitchens of the North Coast to waterfront restaurants in Big Sur to rooftop lounges in Los Angeles, California offers a feast for all of your senses. Follow these tips to experience the state from north to south.
North Coast and Mendocino
With its hyper-local foods from land and sea — plus award-winning beer and wine — California’s North Coast creates culinary magic in a variety of alluring settings. Restaurants in Mendocino, in particular, excel at serving seafood with oceanfront views. Salmon, albacore, rock cod, Dungeness crab and abalone are just some of the delicacies you’ll enjoy.
With the Pacific Ocean and San Diego Bay at its doorstep, San Diego defines waterfront dining. On the Embarcadero, try Sally’s Seafood on the Water or The Fish Market. Island Prime maximizes the view with floor-to-ceiling windows and an over-the-water patio.
Surfers and stand-up paddleboarders head into the water near the Scripps Pier in San Diego. Views of surfers carving waves add to the appeal of waterfront dining.
Celebrate Sacramento’s designation as the nation’s farm-to-table capital by dining at one of the city’s many local, sustainable restaurants (often with a river view) or by strolling one of its picturesque farmers markets.
Napa Valley and Sonoma
Take in the lush landscape, award-winning food and world-class wines of Napa Valley and Sonoma County at restaurants such as Thomas Keller’s Michelin-starred concept, The French Laundry, its more moderately priced neighbor, Bouchon Bistro, or quaint Café La Haye.
Big Sur claims stunning mountain and ocean views. Make the most of them over a burger ladled with creamy, tomato-based “ambrosia” sauce at Nepenthe, where a huge deck overlooks the Pacific Ocean. Or, head to eclectic Big Sur Roadhouse, surrounded by redwoods, to dine on Cajun-influenced dishes.
Enjoy a relaxed lunch or dinner with views of the spectacular Big Sur coastline at the family-owned Nepenthe Restaurant on Highway One.
In San Francisco, it’s almost impossible not to eat well in beautiful surroundings. The celebrated Slanted Door tempts with waterfront views, Zuni Café offers a window to bustling Market Street and Atelier Crenn is worth a visit for its Michelin stars and minimalist décor.
Dine amid the High Sierra mountains while taking in views of Lake Tahoe or Yosemite Valley. Erna’s Elderberry House is an ideal spot just outside Yosemite National Park.
Amid historic downtown architecture, discover local coffee roasters and bakeries. For dinner, savor fresh seafood and sunset views at Johnny’s Harborside or Crow’s Nest.
The Santa Cruz Breakwater Light marks the entrance to the city’s small-craft harbor. Dine on Italian food at Aldo’s Harbor Restaurant and watch sailboats and powerboats enter and leave the harbor.
To sample the sultry fabulousness of Los Angeles, ride the elevator to the top of the Mondrian Hotel in West Hollywood, where you can sip cocktails around the pool at Skybar. Or, savor a sip and a snack atop The Roof on Wilshire.
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