New England is literally buried in snow. Ice rain is pelting the Rockies. Even parts of the South that normally don’t get hit with the worst of winter are experiencing below freezing temperatures.

Which has everyone itching to take a vacation.

Sure, Hawaii and the Caribbean sound nice this time of year, and if you picture yourself poolside with a Pina Colada, well then get your bags packed and go. But if you still want to experience some seasonal weather without having to trudge through two feet of snow, we have the perfect solution…. Northern California.

From the wine country of Sonoma and Napa to the heart of Silicon Valley itself, Palo Alto, there are tons of beautiful, relaxing places you can escape to for a weekend (or longer) , still experience winter and leave that nasty wind chill behind.

Sonoma – like something ripped straight out of a romantic comedy, Sonoma’s small town feel and picturesque town square make for the perfect escape. You’ll feel like you stepped back in time as you browse the shops on Spain Street. And of course, with dozens of wineries mere minutes away, you can sit back with a glass of red, relax and let the scenery sweep over you.

In terms of where to stay, there are many, many beautiful hotels in Sonoma and the surrounding areas, but there’s just something about the Sonoma Hotel right on town square… the 130+-year-old property is a walk back in time, and the perfect cap to your small town getaway weekend.

Gay Friendly Hotels in Sonoma

Napa Valley – The crown jewel of wine country, if wine tasting and strolling through vineyards sounds like a good idea this time of year, there is no where else you should be. The rolling hills, the incredible views, the delicious food — AND ALL THAT WINE.

For the feel of a luxury resort with a cozy country cottage appeal, check out Meadowood, which boasts more than 15 different types of rooms, restaurants, a pool, a spa and pretty much anything you could possibly want on your much-deserved getaway.  Or check into the Westin Napa where amenities include a heated saltwater pool, spa treatments, fitness studio and fine, French cuisine at LaToque Restaurant.

Gay Friendly Hotels in Napa

Palo Alto - Just a 35 mile drive from beautiful san Francisco (where we also recommend you spend a day if you can), the heart of Silicon Valley, Palo Alto, may also provide for a welcome escape. The incubator for Google, Facebook, Paypal and more, plus current home to Stanford, Tesla and Skype to name just a few, evidence shows your IQ goes up ten points when you set foot inside city limits.

OK, we made that last part up, but as Palo Alto has grown into home for some of the finest minds in the country, everything around it has really kicked into high gear. Fine restaurants, great shopping, a beautiful downtown. Check into the Four Seasons Hotel Silicon Valley at East Palo Alto where poolside dining, private cabanas and a lap pool will make you forget winter even exists. Or for a more boutique vibe, head over to the Garden Court Hotel, named the Best Hotel in Palo Alto for 15 consecutive years.

Pack your bags, ditch the snow gear and experience winter California style.

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