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SUMMER IN PROVENCE, ALASKA OR THE SOUTH PACIFIC SOUNDS WONDERFUL, but our own backyard offers an unforgettable vacation experience — from our Gold Rush towns to picturesque vineyards, to crystal-clear Lake Tahoe, to awe-inspiring Yosemite.

The Sierra and its foothills has rebounded from the recession with a more refined food, wine, craft beer, art and music scene—often on a par with better-known regions. We have nationally ranked restaurants; authentic farm-to-fork dining, “best of class” wines, local craft beers and world-renowned musicians and artists—all in a spectacular setting.

“It takes no effort to reach for the stars. They’re right here,” wrote Heather Donahue when she “ditched her L.A. life to be a country girl” in Nevada County. “And there’s always parking,” she added lightheartedly in a column for Yahoo Shine. “Do you know how nice that is?”

Our region’s beauty is unsurpassed. Lake Tahoe offers azure waters for swimming, kayaking, canoeing and paddle boarding, from Sand Harbor to Meeks Bay. Hope Valley is ideal for fishing, hiking or bicycling—or just unwinding in a hammock at Sorensen’s Resort The South Yuba River has top-ranked swimming holes. Yosemite’s Half Dome is world famous.

At Lake Tahoe, Homewood Mountain Resort offers a “Farm to Peak” dinner. The mountaintop dining experience includes a chairlift ride with a glass of bubbly, a five-course dinner of seasonal cuisine paired with wine, and breathtaking views.

Northstar California offers a “Farm to Tahoe” dinner, where guests ride a gondola to the Zephyr Lodge for a locally sourced, multi-course meal. Sierra Starr Vineyards offers a winemaker dinner with Music in the Mountains.

Entertainment abounds in our region. It includes the 44th Lake Tahoe Concours d’Elegance, now on the West Shore; the 60th Strawberry Music Festival, now at the Nevada County Fairgrounds; and Joan Baez performing in Grass Valley, thanks to The Center for the Arts.

We hope you’ll go on a road trip this summer to explore all that our region has to offer. Our summer issue, companion website at SierraCulture.com, and our new mobile friendly website will help guide you.

The Tahoe National Forest, extending from the foothills to across the Sierra, offers outdoor recreation galore: hiking, biking, trail running, horseback riding, fishing, camping and more. Our region also includes the Tahoe Rim Trail, portions of the Pacific Crest Trail and the Auburn State Recreation Area.

Our farm-to-table dining scene isn’t contrived—it’s been a way of life going back to the days of the Donner Fruit Trail in Chicago Park, Machado Orchards in Auburn and the fruit packing houses in Newcastle in the early 1900s.

In August, Nevada City hosts a farm-to-table banquet on Commercial Street, with strings of terrazzo lights crisscrossing overhead, straw bales, fresh summer flowers and a fresh, local feast.

(Photo: Olof Carmel)

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