California State Capitol (Credit, Randy Yagi)

The Martin Luther King Jr. holiday is just around the corner and plenty of events are scheduled around the Bay Area, including the celebrated Freedom Train to San Francisco. But if you are thinking getting away from the Bay Area for a three-day weekend, now is the time to really start planning. One of the great benefits of living in the Bay Area is not only the wealth of activities locally, but also the collection of exciting destinations within close proximity. Here are just five of the best Martin Luther King Day getaways near the Bay Area. 

Pebble Beach (Credit, Randy Yagi)

Monterey-Carmel
www.seemonterey.com

There are plenty of things to do over the Martin Luther King weekend in the beautiful Monterey-Carmel area. A good place to start is a visit to the historic Cannery Row, where visitors will discover a collection of interesting shops, upscale restaurants and hotels and attractions like the Monterey Bay Aquarium, voted the world’s best aquarium by Trip Advisor. Also not to be missed on a visit to the Monterey Peninsula is a trip along 17 Mile Drive featuring some of the world’s most spectacular views, including the breathtaking Pebble Beach. Recommended places to stay include the Monterey Plaza Hotel on Cannery Row and the Mission Ranch Hotel and Restaurant in Carmel.

Calistoga Inn (Credit, Randy Yagi)

Napa Valley
www.napavalley.com

There’s never a bad time to visit the gorgeous Napa Valley, even during the rainy season. Most of the acclaimed wineries are open year round and many special events will be held over the Martin Luther King holiday, particularly the Winter in the Wineries Passport. For just $50, a passport holder is entitled to complimentary wine tasting at 14 participating wineries and hotel discounts and not just over the holiday weekend. Among the wineries including in the passport are Castello di Amorosa, Sterling Vineyards and Chateau Montelena, the landmark winery that helped make the Napa Valley one of the world’s greatest wine-producing regions when its chardonnay won the Judgement of Paris wine competition in 1976. Passport holders are also entitled to lodging discounts of up to 20 percent from places like the Calistoga Inn, Calistoga Hot Springs and the Mount View Hotel and Spa.

Related: Bay Area Ski and Snow Guide

Pinecrest Lake
www.pinecrestlakeca.com

For those who want to enjoy winter sports over the Martin Luther King weekend, Dodge Ridge Ski is the closet ski area from the Bay Area. Although not nearly as popular as other Northern California ski areas like Northstar, Squaw Valley and Heavenly Valley, Dodge Ridge has 67 ski runs over 862 acres, with a maximum elevation of 8,200 feet and sections for all abilities. Ski, snowboard and other equipment rentals may be purchased on site and ski programs and private lessons are also available. The best and closest place for lodging is Pinecrest Lake Resort, offering motel rooms, cabins and townhouses, along with a restaurant and bar.

Bogle Vineyards (Credit, Randy Yagi)

Sacramento
www.cityofsacramento.org

A great way to celebrate the Martin Luther King holiday for Bay Area travelers is a visit to the state capital. Over the holiday weekend, there will be plenty of things to do, such as a visit to the California State Capitol Museum, a visit to Old Town or even a side trip for wine tasting at Bogle Vineyards, winner of multiple Best Value awards from Wine Spectator. On Martin Luther King Jr. Day, the 34th annual Capitol March for the Dream event will be held to celebrate the legacy of Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. One of the best places to stay and just minutes from the State Capitol and all of Monday’s activities is the Sheraton Grand Sacramento.

Related: Best Places To Rent Outdoor Gear In The Bay Area

Santa Cruz Beach Boardwalk (Credit, Randy Yagi)

Santa Cruz
www.santacruzca.org

Santa Cruz has long been a favorite destination for visitors from the Bay Area even during the rainy season. For more than 100 years, the top attraction has been the admission-free Santa Cruz Beach Boardwalk and thousands of visitors are expected to visit over the long Martin Luther King weekend. But Bay Area travelers know that the “World’s Best Seaside Amusement Park” isn’t the only attraction in Santa Cruz. On Saturday, the Santa Cruz Winegrowers Association will sponsor its very popular Passport Days featuring the area’s best wineries, such as Bonny Doon Vineyard, Bargetto Winery and Alfaro Family Vineyards and Winery, named the Best Local Winery for the past three years. Another great event worth a visit is the 8th annual Santa Cruz Chocolate Festival at the Coconut Grove, Santa Cruz Beach Boardwalk. For upscale lodgings, a good choice is Hotel Paradox, just minutes away from Santa Cruz Beach and downtown Santa Cruz.

Randy Yagi is a freelance writer covering all things San Francisco. In 2012, he was awarded a Media Fellowship from Stanford University. His work can be found on Examiner.com Examiner.com.
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