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Want to Get Away? Consider a Vacation Home


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Photos: Tahoe (iStock/cassiohabib), Napa (iStock/KarenWibbs), Monterey (iStock/ivanastar)

By Ellen Anderson, Pacific Union Senior Vice President/Regional Executive, Contra Costa County

Northern California offers no shortage of stellar places to own a second home. Here are just a few.

Summer is in full swing, and with it, many people's thoughts inevitably turn to vacations. In fact, summer vacations may inspire Bay Area residents to consider buying a second home elsewhere in Northern California

Below is a quick rundown of just a few of Pacific Union's top spots for buying a vacation home in Northern California. And while all of these destinations are perfect for the summer season, they offer plenty of options to entertain any time of the year.

Wine Country/Russian River

East Bay residents who want all the perks that come with a vacation home but do not want to sit in a car for hours need look no further than the Wine Country, just about 50 miles to the north.

Sonoma Valley has long been a popular destination for Bay Area second-home buyers – particularly the city of Sonoma itself. Sonoma Plaza, the city's heart, is flanked by dozens of splendid restaurants, wine bars, and boutique shops and is within walking distance from many of Sonoma's charming homes.

In Napa County, both St. Helena and Calistoga continue to draw Bay Area residents seeking rest and relaxation not far from home. With populations of about 5,000 to 6,000, these two communities both offer walkable, charming downtowns that features local merchants and dining establishments. Calistoga offers the added benefit of its well-known spas and hot springs.

While technically still a part of the Wine Country, Sonoma County's Russian River region doesn't always feel like it. Sure, there are plenty of vineyards and wineries to choose from, but the Russian River's scenery ranges from towering redwood trees to the rugged, breathtaking Sonoma County coast in just a few miles. The most well-known and popular place to buy a second home is the small community of Guerneville, a funky, laid-back town that sits adjacent to the river itself.

Monterey Peninsula

If picture-perfect scenery and outdoor adventure is more your style, consider a vacation home on the Monterey Peninsula, about 120 miles south of the East Bay.

Monterey is the region's largest and most populated community and offers many historic sites to explore. Formerly primarily a fishing community, Monterey's historic Cannery Row reflects its past. And while normally heavily trafficked with tourists, Cannery Row offers fine views of Monterey Bay and a world-class aquarium. Locals are more likely to frequent Alvarado Street in downtown Monterey, which is lined with restaurants, taverns, and shops.

Neighboring Pacific Grove is more upscale and offers million-dollar views of Monterey Bay Homes here range from quaint and cozy bungalows to newer, expansive properties.

Carmel-by-the-Sea is the region's most affluent community and arguably its most scenic. Designed in the style of a European village, this city of less than 4,000 operates at a relaxed pace and is easily traversed on foot. Beside dozens of local shops and fine restaurants, Carmel-by-the-Sea offers a pristine strip of white sandy beach that's ideal for picnicking on a sunny day, as well as easy access to visually stunning Point Lobos State Reserve, a very popular spot for hiking.

Lake Tahoe

No short list of Northern California vacation-home hot spots would be complete without the inclusion of the Lake Tahoe region, about 175 miles to the east. While best-known for its top-notch skiing and snowboarding and famed winter resorts, summer in Lake Tahoe is no slouch, either. Popular outdoor activities include boating, paddle boarding, hiking, mountain biking, lounging on the beach, or taking an admittedly chilly dip.

Whether you are actively looking for a vacation home or are just in need of a vacation, enjoy the rest of your summer!

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