Born and raised in California, children know that there is only one thing to do when the March wind blows away the last moments of winter. Get out of the door. Spring road trips are one of the traditions of this part of the world.

I think the restlessness lies in California’s DNA. Unless you are Native American, you or your ancestors came from somewhere. So when the grass turns green here, it always turns green elsewhere.

With my misguided youth, we were always ready to go. I climbed a mountain to see the snow. Go down the San Joaquin Valley to Yosemite. Sit on the beach in Stinson. Sometimes I go there. I remember one spring Saturday afternoon. “Hey,” my friend said. “I heard that Santa Claus has a great burger.” This was California. One of us always had a car.

Over the years, our taste has become more sophisticated. One day, my later adventure companion, Sailor Girl, and I flew to see spring in Paris. Another spring we sailed from San Francisco to Australia. It was autumn there, and we anchored in Hawaii and Samoa on the way. Samoa! It certainly defeated Santa Claus.

Then a virus broke out. We had to stay home. With the restrictions relaxed, we tried a small adventure: Marin, the Sonoma coast, and once mostly to Los Angeles.

The heart of all these road trips is discovery. And gradually, I think, I discovered the abundance of regional cuisine, all within the range of a short road trip.

I’m not talking about California cuisine, the home of food pureists. Chez Panisse is too sophisticated for our tastes. I dropped some shirts at the Glen Park Laundry but couldn’t get into the French Laundry in Napa Valley. We skip fast food and keep an eye out for something local, and perhaps something different. We are ordinary Californians: Is the sand fresh today?

But ordinary food in this part of the world is quite extraordinary.

We made several spring trips, but none within 3 hours of San Francisco.

We started heading north and had dinner at sunset at the wonderfully named River’s End restaurant in Jenner. It is one of the rare places where food matches the scenery.

For lunch, we usually try Bodega Bay’s Lucas Wharf. Here, sailor girls always vote for crab sandwiches. There are always a few sea lions outside the window, climbing the dock, arguing and barking.

Quarrel and bark always remind us of the city. That is why we leave. It may be a short trip across the Golden Gate, through the Ross Valley, and then over Whites Hill to West Marine.

Pass Olema, Pass Point Reyes Station, head north on winding highway 1, and pass where the railroad whistle once stopped, Bivalves, Millerton, and Marconi. We always stop by the Marshall store to find a way to eat outside with the wind facing our face. Oysters are a specialty here, but there are also fish stews and other delicious foods.

Tony’s Seafood Restaurant is just around the corner. This was a famous local hangout run by a family of Croatian fishermen. They are said to have settled in Tomales Bay as the country reminded them of their homes in the Adriatic Sea. I don’t know about that, but the town of Marshall reminds me of a small coastal location in California that I remembered as a kid. There is a cow ranch, a fishing boat, and a roadside restaurant where the tourist was a Santa Rosa man.

Tony has been upgraded and featured in the Michelin Guide. The food is delicious locally. Words are out. Reservations are required most days.

We also headed south looking for something a little different. Monterey has always been my favorite, but this time I skipped Carmel and the shores beyond. We spent time watching the waves rush near Point Lobos.

Road trips have to be practical, so we’ve tried several restaurants, all with artichokes in the menu. Castroville, a not-so-distant agricultural town, claims to be the capital of the world’s artichokes, so when you think about it, there’s another small area of ​​surprise.

Carmel has all kinds of food, including French, Italian, Mexican, and Hoggs Breath Inn on San Carlos Street, once owned by Clint Eastwood. An American location with steaks, Salinas Valley greens, squids, fish tacos and beef sliders. One specialty is Dirty Harry Burger.

People travel around the world in search of famous regional dishes from Europe and Asia. But to our liking, try our own daily dishes such as Sonoma coastal crabs, marine cheese and butter, Tomales bay oysters, Monterey Bay fish tacos, and Castroville artichokes as an appetizer. I did. Sourdough bread was also very good.

Not a bad discovery for a spring road trip.

Karl Norte’s column runs on Sunday. Email: cnolte@sfchronicle.com