October 27, 2016

San Francisco Guide

We're more then half way through with the week friends! I hope you've enjoyed reading about our time in California the past few days. It's been fun recapping all of our adventures! By the time we reached San Francisco, we had already done so much in such a short amount of time that I was ready for more go with the flow type days then going off our itinerary like we had while on the coast and in wine country. San Francisco represented the last leg of our trip, but we still had so much we wanted to see and do but we decided right that we would do as much or as little as we felt up, 

Where we stayed:

Omni Hotel -  We really enjoyed our stay and it was located only a short walk from Union Square which was perfect. The room we stayed in was spacious and the bed so comfortable! All of the employees were also really warm and welcoming and helped us anytime we needed anything.

What to do:

Lombard Street - whether you drive down it or just go and see it I think it's a must, at least once, while in San Francisco. On our last day we mentioned to our UBER driver that we had yet to see Lombard Street and he went out of his way (free of charge for us) and not only took us by it but drove us down it. It is in fact very crooked haha.

See The Painted Ladies - Across from Alamo Square you can see the houses and the one they filmed Full House in back in the day. There was a bunch on construction, and tourist when we went but it was still fun seeing them in person and checking it off our list of things to see.

Explore Ferry Building Marketplace - Ferry Building Marketplace is located on the Embarcadero and has weekly farmers markets and a bunch of merchants inside you can get food or drinks from. When we were there the farmers market was going on and we enjoyed strolling past all the stands and seeing all the fresh flowers and yummy seafood.

Kirby Cove Swing - We didn't have time to go but I recommend this semi-hidden gem to everyone because I've heard nothing but great things! Basically it's a beach that has a wooden swing towards the end of it that has some of the best views of the Golden Gate Bridge. Plus, a swing on the beach sounds so cool!

Drive over the Golden Gate Bridge - There's just something about actually being ON the bridge then when you only enjoy it from a far. The massive size of it alone is breathtaking. And when the fog has settled down, you can see for miles and miles.

Hike Lands End Trail - We had planned to do this but decided to go to Muir Woods instead. If you decide to check out Lands End Trail, make sure you visit the Sutro Baths!

Shop on Union Street which is dotted with beautiful architecture and tons of cute boutiques. You could easily spend half a day on this street alone just exploring.

Where to eat:

Plow - We went here for breakfast and it was tasty! They don't take reservations and are on the smaller size so if you don't want to wait then I recommend arriving early. We arrived about an hour after they opened and still had to wait about 30 minutes but it was well worth it.

Mr. Holmes Bakehouse - This place was not only the talk of the town but literally recommend by everyone I know who has been to San Francisco. We almost didn't go but I'm SO glad we did! They are known for their cruffins which we got, along with a box full of doughnuts and pastries to eat back at the hotel. We did have to wait in line for about an hour but there was a couple in front of us that had two cute dogs that kept us entertained. Once inside, your in and out really quick. The only tough part is figuring out what all your going to get.

Sweet Maple - Had we not gone to Plow we would have gone here. I like that they have a wide variety of options to choose from and are in a great location.

Tartine Bakery - Wide variety of items and baked goods for an afternoon pick-me-up.

Waterbar - I had read mix reviews about this place but we went for dinner on our last night and can say only great things about our experience. They are a bit on the pricier side but once you get past that you'll see how awesome everything else is. We sat right next to one of the floor-to-ceiling fish aquariums and enjoyed the amazing views since they are right by the water. If you go, make sure you order the Parmesan Fries!

Mamacita - We wanted to have Mexican food at least once on our trip and Mamacita was one of the top choices from a search I did for best Mexican food in the area.

The Tipsy Pig - We had time to spare one night before our dinner reservations and we went here for drinks. We loved the atmosphere and there was no wait when we arrived so it was a win. Order the Strawberry Fields, one of their house favorites, and you won't regret it.

Bi-Rite Creamery - If you need something to fix your sweet tooth this is the place to go.

October 25, 2016

California Wine Country

After a really quick, less than 24 hour trip visiting Monterey, Carmel and Pacific Grove, Will and I made our way towards Napa bright and early on Tuesday. The drive wasn’t bad at all and the scenery was really nice! We drove past lots of farms, roadside stands selling fruits and veggies and the closer we got, the more wineries we started to see.
Our first to-do was to pick up lunch from Soda Canyon Store which had a deli, gift items, groceries, an espresso bar and more to take with us to Clos Du Val for a picnic. After eating we had time to spare so we walked through the vineyards and did a little exploring before heading to Charles Krug in St. Helena for a barrel tasting. Getting to taste wine directly from the barrel and learning how barrel aging influences the wines aromas, flavors and texture was really interesting! There was no one else in our group so Will and I were able to take our time sipping and asking questions.  

After leaving Charles Krug, we were getting pretty tired from our busy day but decided to make one last stop by Silver Oak before heading to our Airbnb and calling it a day. I will say that if we had had additional time and weren’t so tired we would have loved the chance to go by Inglenook which I hear is amazingggg!

The next morning I was torn between going to Bouchon Bakery to get monkey bread (my mouth is watering just thinking about it), or going to Model Bakery and my sweet hubs was up for the idea of going to BOTH! When on vacation, calories don’t count friends! After our morning fix, we headed to Hall Winery for an educational tasting learning how to properly swirl, smell and taste wine.

After a few hours at Hall, we decided to switch things up and do some window shopping in Napa since the weather was so beautiful, before heading to Gundlach Bundschu for another tasting. The people at Gundlach are so friendly, the tasting room inviting and the property spacious and fun to explore! That night we went to Bistro Don Giovanni and decided to lay low (hence we watched every episode of Stranger Things) since we had another big day the next morning...aka what I had been looking forward to for days! Breakfast at The Fremont Diner!!

October 24, 2016

Northern California Road Trip

You guyssss! The trip Will and I took to California in September was amazing! We spent a full week road tripping through Northern California, enjoyed the gorgeous weather, made more memories then I can remember and reminisced on our first year of marriage. It was everything we needed in a vacation; think relaxation with a few spontaneous adventures thrown in. Over the last few weeks, we've had fun going through all of our photos and videos which I'll share throughout the week!

Planning a trip to California was a lot of fun, but it did get to be a bit stressful at times mainly because there were so many places I wanted to go, but given we only had one week, we had to be realistic with the number of places we tried to fit into visiting each day. One thing that was a no-brainier for us though was making sure we got together with two of our best friends who live in the San Jose area so we decided to use the first two days of our trip doing just that. What better way to start an adventure then with friends right?
It was a Saturday when we flew out to California, landing in San Francisco and making the short drive to Palo Alto where we met our friends Alyssa and Watt for lunch at the most adorable place called Tootsie's. I highly recommend the ricotta pancakes if you ever go. After catching up and enjoying a delicious lunch, we were back on the road heading towards the San Jose area where our friends live. We spent the rest of the weekend walking around Santana Row, explored their neighborhood, and spent as much time outside as we could. One thing I LOVE about California is the lack of humidity in the air...a win-win for my hair!

Monday morning we woke bright and early and made our way towards Monterey. We walked around Fisherman's Wharf, had lunch at The Wharf Marketplace, checked out Cannery Row, bought a piece of local artwork, and drove by Del Monte Beach. We had less then 24 hours in the area or we would have gone to the Monterey Bay Aquarium which was recommended by a number of people.
After a few hours in Monterey, our next destination was a quick stop through Pacific Grove in Monterey County then to my favorite part of the area..CARMEL! Words can't describe how beautiful Carmel-by-the-Sea is. You've got the perfectly manicured houses, the picturesque beaches, the adorable shops, and the whole city is walkable. A few fun facts to throw out...there are no street addresses, no chain restaurants and every residential home has a name.
Because our trip to California was to celebrate our first year of marriage, we thought it would be fun, and memorable to get anniversary photos done. We knew we wanted a beach setting and after some research on best places to take photos along with finding a photographer, Carmel was by far the most breathtaking. Deciding on a photographer was really easy because I had a certain vision for what I was looking for and Ryan Chard Smith was just the person for the job. Not only is he amazing at what he does, he is hilarious, laid-back and one of the kindest individuals we met on our trip. Because we were new to the area, I decided that Ryan would be better at settling on where we took our photos and thank goodness because he took us to an area that was nestled within a neighborhood that didn't see nearly as much foot traffic that the rest of Carmel Beach did which was ideal for our shoot! Y'all, it really was perfect...
If you ever want to go to the area of Carmel Beach that we got our photos taken, follow HWY 1 south just past Carmel. You'll come to a traffic light at Rio Road and about .9 miles from there you'll turn right onto Ribera Road. Follow Ribera until you get to the very end. Park along the side of the road and you'll see a stairway that leads down to the beach. You won't regret it if you ever go!

Other places I recommend checking out while in Carmel are Dametra Cafe for dinner, Tuck Box and La Bicyclette for breakfast and if you want to do some shopping, The Barnyard and The Courtyards are popular.
Even though we didn't get to spend much time in Pacific Grove, we did go to Red House Cafe on Tuesday morning before making the drive to Napa. And the areas that we drove around in PG looked so adorable. If and when we head back to Northern California, we will make sure to devote a few days to Monterey, Carmel, and Pacific Grove!

Do you have any other recommendations in the area? If you've ever been, what were your favorite things that you did or saw? I would love to add them to our list! Come back tomorrow to read (and see photos) from our time in wine country and Muir Woods!

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