Blue Lakes - Upper Lake - Nice - Lucerne - Kono Tayee
Paradise Valley - Glenhaven - Clearlake Oaks - Spring Valley
HIGHWAY 20, one of California's designated routes of statewide significance, begins its eastward journey in Fort Bragg on the Pacific Coast and ends in Truckee, Nevada. Along the way it joins Interstate 101 at Willits in Mendocino County and moves south to just north of Ukiah where it leaves the freeway and heads east toward Lake County.
Just beyond the county line, Hwy 20 wanders past Blue Lakes - two spring-fed bodies of water lying peaceful and quiet between two mountains. Majestic Bay, Laurel, Pepperwood and Fir trees grow luxuriously along the lakes' edges, providing shade from the warm summer sun. Here and there a fisherman seeks the company of bass, trout, catfish and blue gill. Children laugh happily and launch themselves from piers and floats into the cold, blue water. A boat drifts serenely by. Amid this tranquil scene are three marvelous escapes where you can rent a cabin or a space for your RV or a room, and join in the fun and relaxation.
There's an excellent motel/resort right on the highway offering an event center with two meeting rooms, a dining room, a commercial kitchen, and a dance floor. Outside there's seating overlooking the lake, a gazebo, a large deck and a private beach. Two other resorts offer the visitor a choice of cottages, motel rooms and RV spaces. Both have a clubhouse where you can enjoy a variety of indoor activities and complete waterfront facilities for fishing, swimming and boating.
Reluctantly, the road pulls itself from this idyllic place and meanders on through the canyon, past a farmhouse here and there, an open space, some walnut orchards, across a bridge, and into the small rural community of ...
If one turns to the left at Main Street, he/she will find it lined with a gaggle of shops where historic old buildings have come face-to-face with new enterprising owners who have their wallets out, their sleeves rolled up and their eyes fixed firmly on the future.
Just beyond the stores, on the right hand side of the street is an old barn, and just beyond that a late 1800s vintage hotel. These two survivors of Upper Lake's earliest years owe their rebirth to the vision and sizable investment of time, energy and money of three modern-day entrepreneurs. First, the barn. It was Shelden Steinberg, a man with an interesting and unusual occupation, who was really out in front of the back-to-the-future movement in Upper Lake. Steinberg bought the Old Red Barn, dismantled it (patiently numbering each board as it was removed) and then put it all back together again. The result is an attractive reminder of the past in place of an abandoned and forlorn relic. Steinberg uses the barn to house his antique plumbing fiixtue restoration enterprise.
The Tallman Hotel, built in the late 1800s, had become the Riffe Hotel at some point in the intervening years. Eventually, it outlived its usefulness and fell into disrepair. For years it stood, time-worn and ignored, an eyesore to passersby. Then, as Steinberg had with the Old Red Barn, Lynne and Bernard Butcher (transplanted San Franciscans, now living in Buckingham) acquired the hotel and set about its total restoration, board by board, until it too became an asset rather than a detriment to its surroundings. They have reopened it under its original name. And, inobtrusively in back, have added additional units in much the same way that Little River Inn on the Mendocino Coast added modern rooms alongside the old sea captain's home they resurrected as one of California's better-known hostelries. Here, the rooms are heated with steam generated from wells Butcher had drilled on property adjacent to the hotel.
Between the Tallman Hotel and the Old Red Barn, the Butchers have built the Blue Wing Saloon & Café in a style that fits perfectly with its two historic neighbors. Together, the three buildings, Steinberg, and the Butchers, have provided the catalyst for a whole new beginning in Upper Lake.
Today, both the history of Upper Lake and its future are interesting and exciting and worth a visit. Check it out. You're sure to see changes each time you happen by. As Highway 20 again heads east, it passes the County Park where picnic tables and barbecues are shaded from the sun and there is opportunity for a family to spend some pent-up energy, grab a bite to eat, and relax. A few more miles down the road, the Pomo Tribe of California Coastal Indians operates ...
ROBINSON RESORT & CASINO
Their 48-room hotel/casino, complete with a restaurant, sports bar, and conference center is open and offers a complete menu of slots, Black Jack and high stakes Bingo.
Just before Nice, one may take a little side-road adventure to Rodman Park on the Nice-Lucerne cutoff where Middle Creek empties into Clear Lake. This is a great place for fishing, hiking, picnicking and bird watching. Then, back to the highway and on down the road to ...
World Mark operates one of the more recent examples of their far-flung string of timeshare vacation facilities. This, alongside a number of smaller, more intimate vacation spots where couples and families can find plenty of relaxation and/or plenty to do, as their preference dictates.
Just beyond Nice, at the corner of Bartlett Springs Road, Tulip Hill Winery has opened a new winery and tasting room in what was a bottling plant operated by Perrier some years ago. At Tulip Hill you can sample (and purchase) an excellent selection of both red and white wines. Tours of the property are available and there's a gift shop, too. And now Highway 20 arrives at ...
Without question, Ceago Vinegarden is the most exciting thing to happen in Lake County in many years. Part winery, part school for the advancement of Biodynamic(r) farming, this creation of Jim Fetzer, one of the offspring of the Fetzer Wines family of Mendocino County, is the catalyst which is returning Lake County to its one-time position as California's leading wine producing region. You owe it to yourself to stop here. A tasting room, gift shop, and seasonal cafe are open for business and you'll find you can easily spend a couple of enjoyable hours here. Tours are available by appointment. Still in the planning stage are overnight accommodations.
The visitor will find abundant wildlife living along the shores of the lake in the rich natural habitat that originally attracted Fetzer to the area. A variety of organic crops and livestock are raised on the 270-acre property which fronts Highway 20 on both sides for more than a mile. A 330-foot-long pier - the longest on the lake - with a 120-foot floating dock, a double boat lift and a 20x20 swim platform are completed and ready for use by those wishing to visit by boat. The estate grows grapes, olives and walnuts, as well as kiwi, lavender and oleander, too.
Another few miles brings Hwy 20 - and you - to Lucerne where there are two excellent county parks with public restrooms, children's playgrounds, and picnic facilities. Plenty of trees and lawn and lakeside ambiance ensure a welcome respite for the weary traveler. Be sure to stop at the Lake County Visitor Center for information about lodging, activites and events, and a nice gift shop that features Lake County merchandise.
There's lots going on in and around Lucerne these days, in part a result of the vision of the Lake County Board of Supervisors. Local government has embarked on an aggressive marketing program and is implementing a bold new plan for the creation of an extensive waterfront park along the Lucerne lakeshore. Land acquisition is underway for a one-mile-long waterfront promenade in Lucerne, offering public access to Clear Lake and a number of new enterprises, are springing up.
GLENHAVEN, CLEARLAKE OAKS
is home to a number of older resorts which have found new life under new ownership. The changes have a whole new clientele frequenting the friendly shores of Clear Lake. Lake Point Lodge, Sea Breeze Resort and Lake Place Resort led the way, and were joined more recently by Blue Fish Cove. These have now been joined by Indian Beach Resort and 20 Oaks Resort as savvy entrepreneurs seek to rekindle the glory days of family vacationing on Clear Lake.
While the County's redevelopment efforts are centered in Lucerne, they are influencing traffic patterns and affecting property values along the entire length of this important east-west route through Lake County.
Ceago Del Lago and Tulip Hill wineries on Highway 20 between Nice and Lucerne have had the anticipated effect on tourism generally and wine tasting specifically. And they have been joined by Shannon Ridge Winery offering another wine-tasting opportunity in Clearlake Oaks, as well as Brassfield Estate, which offers by-appointment tours and tasting and is located in High Valley just up and over the hill from Clearlake Oaks.
HOME MARKET ALSO GROWING
No less than six residential developments aimed at the second-home buyer are to be found along the stretch of Highway 20 that begins at its eastern entry into Lake County and continues to an area roughly half way between Glenhaven and Lucerne. Beginning with Spring Valley (954 parcels located in a remote rural setting) and driving west, one first encounters Heritage Valley and Orchard Shores (two affordable manufactured home subdivisions), then Clearlake Oaks Keys (a collection of channels providing 860 waterfront lots with modestly priced homes). Paradise Cove (a very upscale gated community with both waterfront and non-waterfront properties) and Kono Tayee (a mid- to upper-end neighborhood with a mix of waterfront and non-waterfront homes plus some spectacular view properties on the hillside across the highway) are to be found between Lucerne and Glenhaven.
The Greater Clearlake Oaks area is less than two hours from Sacramento. Access, via Interstate 5 to Williams and thence on Highway 20, is easy and direct. From Santa Rosa and the Greater Bay Area, the most direct route is via Hwy 29 through the Napa Valley. From Mendocino and Humboldt counties, Interstate 101 and Hwy 20 from Ukiah provide an excellent route.
A new marina, and a number of excellent privately owned resorts, provide free access to Clear Lake. Nearby points of interest include Sulphur Bank Mercury Mine (now inactive); and Rattlesnake Island (the largest of Clear Lake's islands and once the site of a Native American village).
WHERE TO SHOP
On Main Street in Upper Lake you are invited to shop a selection of unusual gifts at A Bit of Class, with Love, from Maine to Spain. Open from 10 am to 4 pm, Thursday thru Monday, An eclectic collection sure to intrigue and delight. 275-0105
WHERE TO EAT
The Blue Wing Saloon and Cafe on Main Street in Upper Lake offers "comfort food with a California twist." Open daily for lunch and dinner (11 am - 10 pm), they do not take reservations. They do, however, have a great selection of beer and wine with which to quench your thirst while you wait for a table. The Blue Wing is a celebration of life with heavy emphasis on laughter and good fellowship. 275-2233
There's a full-service deli and an in-house fresh bakery, plus a full line of groceries at North Shore Sentry Market, at the intersection of Hwy 29 with the Lucerne Cutoff (just north of Nice). What a great place for a quick sandwich, some fruit and chips, and something to satisfy your "sweet tooth"! Also, your favorite soft drinks and adult beverages.
Once one of the most popular eateries on Clear Lake, The Harbor Bar & Grill on the outskirts of Nice had fallen on hard times. Now, though restauranteur Kenny Su has come to the rescue of the venerable old eatery. Completely refurbished, The Harbor is open for lunch and dinner every day and offers American and Asian cuisine, specializing in Chinese, Vietnamese, Singapore and Malaysian food. Kenny says, "Come by car or boat, and dine in or take out." 274-1637
You can also get a quick "picnic lunch" at Lake View Super Market, a full-service grocery, in Lucerne. Great deli delights, fresh fruit, and a full selection of chips, beverages and dessert snacks available for your selection. 274-5573
Happy Garden Bar & Restaurant adjacent to Lake Point Lodge in Clearlake Oaks offers a selection of Chinese and Thai food for both lunch and dinner. They also cater for parties and a private banquet room is available. To make arrangements, call 998-0398
WHERE TO STAY
The Narrows Lodge and Resort on Blue Lakes has RV sites, campsites, cabins and motel rooms, with some kitchenettes. They offer a delicatessen, excellent waterfront facilities and motor boat and patio boat rentals. Overnight guests and those paying for day use are invited to swim, picnic, and fish. Groups are welcome. 275-2718
Pine Acres Resort on Blue Lakes has RV spaces, cabins (some with kitchens), motel rooms and other facilities, including a clubhouse, a sandy beach, a swimming area, a general store, bait and tackle shop, and a fishing dock. Day use is available for a fee. Groups welcome. They rent kayaks, row boats, and paddle boats, call 275-2811
The Lodge at Blue Lakes has upscale rooms featuring hardwood floors, ceramic tile baths, pedestal sinks and colorful paint treatments. Some rooms include jacuzzi tubs and others offer kitchenettes. The deluxe jacuzzi suite features a romantic canopy bed, a fireplace, double shower heads and a whirlpool tub for two. Many rooms overlook beautiful Upper Blue Lake. Adjoining rooms have access to both the lake and the mountains. All rooms include heat/air or ceiling fans, telephones, computer ports and satellite TV, 275-2181
Super 8 Motel on Highway 20 in Upper Lake is a modern motel with 34 rooms, featuring in-room coffee, free Continental breakfast, pool and spa, and mini-suites with jacuzzi. Also, parking spaces for large vehicles with electrical outlets, 275-0888
The Tallman Hotel is billed as a "romantic naturalist retreat," by its owner Lynne Butcher. With the help of an interior decorator, Butcher has searched for, found and placed a stunning array of period furniture pieces and accessories to recreate the 1800s feel of this impressive bow to the hotel's historic past. There are many places, notably along Highway 49 in California's Gold Country, where you can spend a night in an old hotel. But a stay at the Tallman is more. Here, you're offered a step back in time, 275-2244
The Lakeview Inn in Lucerne is located right across the street from Clear Lake and Alpine Park where there's a children's playground and a boat ramp. Restaurants and shops are nearby and its just a few minutes to Ceago Vinegarden, Tulip Hill Winery and Robinson Rancheria Resort & Casino. For reservations, call 274-5515
A wonderful vacation rental is to be found in the heart of downtown Lucerne (across from Lakeview Market) called the Keystone Lake House. The inlaid hardwood floors and the custom cabinetry alone are reason enough to stay here. But the kitchen facilities, the four remarkable bedrooms (each with its own bath), the views of Clear Lake and the complete waterfront facilities are equal to anything you've experienced on Clear Lake or anywhere else. For more information or to schedule your stay, go to www.herreraproperties.com
20 Oaks Resort in Clearlake Oaks offers fully furnished units with kitchens, plus RV pads. There's plenty of room for you to park your bass boat, too! Facilities for picnicking, barbecuing, horseshoes and volleyball add to the fun, 888 662-4379
Blue Fish Cove Resort on the lake in Clearlake Oaks. Clean, comfortable cottages and waterfront facilities. They also offer a selection of vacation rentals for those planning longer stays, 998-1769
Lake Point Lodge is a quality 40-unit motel in Clearlake Oaks with a swimming pool and spa for your relaxation and enjoyment. Call 800 900-4350
You might also consider a vacation rental. For information about homes available throughout Lake County, call Lake Vacation Rentals, 866 587-LAKE