In The ‘Hood: Sonoma Raceway Edition

  

Sonoma Raceway is unlike anywhere else on the NASCAR Sprint Cup schedule, a 12-turn, 1.99-mile road course smack in the middle of the beautiful and enchanting Northern California countryside .

When the NASCAR circus hits town, on-track activities always end early on Saturday so drivers and WAGS can partake of the myriad recreational opportunities in the Bay Area.

Given that the track is ground zero for wine country, wine tours are hugely popular.

"Touring a vineyard is really neat, because I like walls and rocks and ponds and lakes and growing the grapes and the hillsides," said NASCAR team owner and FOX Sports/SPEED analyst Michael Waltrip. "€œI really enjoy the aesthetics of nature and how they get wine from the grapes and they blend that into the countryside. It makes it a fun tour for me."

Waltrip clearly enjoys the annual journey to Northern California. "€œIt’€™s a great place to come and culture yourself, whether it’€™s with the grapes growing on a tree or after they’€™ve fermented and you have them in a bottle,"€ he said. "Both of those are fun and fine."

Some other popular attractions to see in the Bay Area include:

GOLDEN GATE BRIDGE -€” One of the most amazing sites you’ll ever see, the Golden Gate Bridge links San Francisco and Marin County. Bridge tours are available through Oct. 6 and The Golden Gate Bridge Photo Experience is open year-round.

ALCATRAZ ISLAND -€” An eye-opening, must-see stop in the Bay Area is Alcatraz Isalnd, home to the notorious federal penitentiary, which is now a National Historic Landmark. Walking through Alcatraz is flat eerie, a journey that will make the hair on the back of your neck stand up.

COIT TOWER – Lillie Hitchcock Coit, who died in 1929, was a wealthy socialite and by all accounts one of the most eccentric personalities in the history of a city known for them. Coit Tower is a monument erected by the city to honor firefighters. It was built with money donated by Coit, who loved firefighters.

THE EXPLORATORIUM – Nothing cooler than learning about science and nature in an interactive setting that challenges the mind and the limits of knowledge. There are 600 exhibits, one-fourth of them new, so there’s something for everyone.

AT&T PARK -€” If you enjoy baseball, then AT&T Park is a must-see. Home to the San Francisco Giants, this is one of the most fan-friendly ballparks in the country. In fact, you can even get there via ferry on the water, which is a great way to go.