After our recent article Cheese travel: tips from a cheesemonger made everyone at Lonely Planet hungry, we asked guidebook author and California cheese fanatic John Vlahides to share his tips and put together four special trips for cheese lovers visiting Northern California. With these itineraries, you can visit local cheese makers, dairies, cheese shops, and restaurants where the chefs really know their curd. If you need some time to digest, take in some other recommended area highlights, from elephant seals to towering redwood forests, and maybe a few wineries and breweries to help wash down the cheese.
Download any of our four free custom cheese trips as PDFs via the links below: California Cheese - Pt Reyes
You have to know where you’re going to find Pescadero, an old farming village 3 miles east of Hwy 1 (via Pescadero Creek Rd) tucked between mountainous parks and forest preserves. It’s a good spot to browse antiques and curio stores, but the best reason to come is to eat... Download California Cheese Trip #1 - Pescadero area
When the 1906 earthquake struck San Francisco and leveled the city, Point Reyes Peninsula moved a whopping 20ft northwestward in one short minute. There’s a broken fence to prove it, along the Earthquake Trail near the Bear Valley Visitor Center at Point Reyes National Seashore. It’s hard to imagine that the lazy Olema Creek, which separates the peninsula from the mainland, sits atop such a massive rift zone... Download California Cheese Trip #2 - Pt Reyes & Petaluma area
Before the advent of wine country, Sebastopol was apple country. The main road into town, Gravenstein Hwy, is named for the sublime local heirloom variety, and though grapes are the new cash cow, the twisted trunks of old apple trees line many stretches of the road around town. As you approach Sebastopol from the south, pop into Mom’s Apple Pie for a slice of the classic American treat, made right with a tender, flaky crust. From August to November, Mom’s uses Gravensteins in its pies; other times of years, it’s Granny Smiths... Download California Cheese Trip #3 - Sebastopol & Tomales
The north coast's most progressive town, patchouli-dipped Arcata initially looks like a quaint little town built around a pretty central square, but scratch the surface and find a bastion of alternative lifestyles and liberal politics that lean so far left, the Green Party is considered moderate. In April 2003, the City Council not only voted to condemn the USA Patriot Act, but outlawed voluntary compliance with it. If you like to argue politics, you’re gonna love it here... Download California Cheese Trip #4 - Arcata
For more themed itineraries and road trips to suit all tastes and seasons across the varied terrains of the Golden State, check out Lonely Planet's California Trips.