Featured getaway: San Francisco, California
San Francisco was largely defined by the Gold Rush of 1849, but continues to be reinvented every few years. Innovation and entrepreneurship are synonymous with the city and its neighbour, Silicon Valley. The area is most famous for technology, witnessing the dot-com craze and crash, Web 2.0 mania, and the rise of social networking and the smartphone. But San Francisco is still a great place to enjoy all manner of unplugged activities. Walk along the uninterrupted waterfront, through the renovated, foodie-adored Ferry Building, across the iconic Golden Gate Bridge, up the quad-busting inclines to Nob Hill or past the windmills of Golden Gate Park Park. Mind-expanding cultural attractions exist alongside invigorating outdoor activities. Gaze at the work of Jackson Pollock at the San Francisco Museum of Modern Art in the morning and then head to Muir Woods to peer up at gigantic redwoods in the afternoon. From the hippie haunts of Haight-Ashbury to the colourful Victorian architecture of the predominantly gay Castro District, from Japantown to Chinatown, San Francisco is all about neighbourhoods. Each has a distinct look and vibe. You could easily spend a day in each or hop on a streetcar to sample a few.
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If you're into wine-tasting, a weekend in Santa Rosa is sure to be satisfying. But this region of magnificent redwoods, rolling hills and ocean vistas has a great mix of other pastimes as well. Located right in the centre of the Sonoma County wine region, Santa Rosa is home to several world-class vineyards with rich histories and beautiful surroundings. In June and July the Matanzas Creek Winery offers visitors a chance to enjoy its aromatic fields of lavender, but its Estate Gardens and spectacular scenery attract tourists all year round. If golf is your passion, grab your clubs and spend a relaxing afternoon at Fountaingrove or one of the other popular courses. Young and old alike will delight in the Charles M. Schulz Museum, which chronicles the evolution and history of Snoopy and the "Peanuts" gang. With wine or without, a trip to Santa Rosa is one you'll never forget.
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