Lake County, California

by Wendy VanHatten

We all look for different things when we travel. Relaxation, unwinding, and some pampering? Cruising on a lake? Maybe tasting award-winning wines is on your list. Or, looking out the window at some olive trees while trying scrumptious oils made from the olives on those trees.

Maybe you don’t want to plan out too much…just get away and have a great time! If any of these seem like an ideal way to spend a week end or longer…head to Lake County in northern California.

First, think about where you want to stay. The Tallman Hotel in Upper Lake is definitely high on my list. Completely restored, its wide verandas and welcoming garden beckon you to take a deep breath, grab a glass of something refreshing, and relax. If that doesn’t do it, wait until you see your room. All 17 guest rooms have custom-designed furnishings and amenities to please. Some include fully restored period and antique bathroom plumbing fixtures, some have private patios with Japanese Ofuro soaking tubs, and some are spacious suites. We opted for a room with the soaking tub…and we were rejuvenated as we lounged in the tub. What a way to start or end your day!

If you’re into history, talk to the owners. Bernie and Lynne purchased the hotel, which was originally built in the 1870s. Not only had it sat vacant for over 40 years, but it survived at least one fire, different owners, and was in serious disrepair. It’s not that way now.

The charm of the Old West architecture combined with the comforts you’d find in many upscale hotels makes this hotel unique and a destination spot.  Want dinner or drinks? Head next door to the Blue Wing Saloon with its casual California fare, signature cocktails, craft beers, wine, and entertainment.

If you’re ready to explore the area, grab a map of the wineries and decide where to go first. Boatique Winery combines the owners’ two passions…high-quality wines and rare, antique boats.  Set at 2266 feet, amidst alpine and oak forests, and in the shadow of Mt. Konocti, you’ll gaze out over 47 acres of rolling vineyards. In this Red Hills Appellation, Malbec, Petite Sirah, Cab, Petite Verdot, and Sauvignon Blanc thrive. Ahhh…great tastes.

Chacewater Winery and Olive Mill is another place you don’t want to miss. Family owned, they produce award-winning wines and olive oils. Listen to their story, taste the wines, learn about different olive oils, and soak up the sun on their property and you’ll never want to leave.

If spending a day on the lake is what you’re looking for, you can hire a guide or rent a boat. Our guide showed us around the lake, pointing out dozens of different birds as we neared the shore. Apparently, birders from all over the world come here at different times of the year just to see the birds. Since the lake is large in area, with plenty of shoreline and grassy areas to nest, it is on a flight path for many different types of birds.

With darker than dark skies and not much light pollution, head out at night to gaze at the stars. They seem so close. Better yet, head back to your Japanese soaking tub, relax, and look up into the dark night sky. A perfect ending to a perfect day.

With so much more to explore in Lake County, you can start all over again the next day…especially around Upper Lake and Kelseyville. And, it’s only a little over two hours from here.

The best part…you feel like you’ve entered a magical place and time. Put it on your list to visit. You’ll be glad you did. And, you’ll probably be making plans to return.

If You Go: Check out the calendar of events for summer and fall. Then, take a short road trip and have fun!