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Romance finds a home in this idyllic coastal land, where ocean fog rolls in to blanket hushed redwood forests. Along more than 100 miles of coast, artists set up easels to paint scenes of pounding surf, picturesque headlands, and whitewashed cottages in towns like Mendocino or Eureka. A new generation of farmers and winemakers focus their energy on preserving the land as well as producing amazing food and wine—be sure to try every hyper-local specialty. And keep an eye out for supersized regulars: From December through May, about 20,000 gray whales travel the coast on their annual migration.

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An ocean shore

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