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Best Holiday Escapes Near East Bay

East Bay holiday shopping is in full swing and crowds of people are descending upon shopping havens such as Oakland's Jack London Square, Newark's Newpark Mall and the Great Mall in Milpitas. While the holiday season is often considered the best time of the year, it sometimes can be a little overwhelming in a region that has over seven million residents and many more visiting simply for the pleasure of finding the perfect gift. Luckily for East Bay residents, there are a number of great holiday travel destinations, all within a two- or three-hour drive. The following are just a few of the best holiday escapes for East Bay residents.
Auberge du Soleil

Auberge du Soleil
180 Rutherford Hill Road
Rutherford, CA 94574
(707) 963-1211

In between the better-known communities of Yountville and St. Helena along Highway 29 within the California Wine Country lies a very small town with a population of less than 200. With most visitors traveling through the region on their way to Calistoga, Rutherford can be a location that is often ignored. But this little community has a fabulous luxury hideaway that features a world-class spa and a Michelin-starred restaurant. It's very expensive, but the best room prices can be found in December, with the exception of Christmas and New Year's Eve.

Cottage At Muir Beach

The Cottage at Muir Beach
130 Sunset Way
Muir Beach, CA 94965
(415) 272-2842

Less than an hour drive from Oakland, this little hideaway off Highway 1 in Marin County is perched above Muir Beach with spectacular ocean views. This is an excellent holiday getaway in a tiny beach community with a population barely above 300. Each of the cottages features two bedrooms, a loft, den, full kitchen, woodstove, wireless internet and TV. The cottage is already booked the days leading up to New Year's Eve but has openings throughout January and February.

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Sutter Creek Inn

Sutter Creek Inn
75 Main St.
Sutter Creek, CA 95685
(209) 267-5606

The town of Sutter Creek lies in the heart of the historic California Gold Country. Although the population is approximately 2,500, there are a number of outstanding B&B inns, all within a short distance of each other. Sutter Creek Inn is noted for not only having 17 wonderfully furnished rooms and cottages, it is also the very first B&B to operate in California. Prices are very affordable, even during the holiday season, and each morning, guests are greeted with a delectable table d'hote breakfast. Holiday rates are in effect through New Year's Eve.

Timber Cover Inn

Timber Cove Inn
21780 California Highway 1
Jenner, CA 95450
(707) 847-3231

Further north from Timber Cove, along the extraordinary beauty of the Sonoma Coast, lies Timber Cove with a population of under 200. If holiday travelers weary of East Bay shopping crowds are looking to get away from it all, this is a perfect choice. The easiest way to get to Timber Cove is by traveling across the San Rafael Bridge to Highway 101 via Petaluma and then to Highway 1, via Bodega Bay. The rooms at Timber Cove offer either forest or ocean views and there is an excellent on-site restaurant with more sweeping views of the California coastline and outstanding cuisine despite its surprisingly moderate prices. For wine lovers, the hotel's lounge features wine flights, enabling guests to sample some of the finest wines from the California Wine Country.

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Ventana Inn

Ventana Inn & Spa
48123 Highway 1
Big Sur, CA 93920
(831) 667-2331

Although the trip to Big Sur is almost a three-hour drive from East Bay, this excursion along California's rugged coast is well worth the time. Nestled within the small community where the massive Santa Lucia Mountains cascade towards the Pacific Ocean, there is a good reason why this location is called Big Sur, otherwise known as "Big South." There is arguably no better view of the California coastline than from the Ventana Inn, a luxurious property that has been described as among the 10 Most Romantic Hotels and among the Top 20 U.S. Hideaways. Each room at the Ventana Inn is surrounded in elegance, with some suites featuring oversized hot tubs. The Restaurant at Ventana offers an assortment of dishes, including fresh seafood caught in local waters of the neighboring Monterey Bay.

Randy Yagi is a freelance writer covering all things San Francisco. His work can be found on

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