I recently returned from a ten day drive up the California coast with my friend Annie. Highlights included Big Sur, Napa and Sonoma, and San Francisco. This post is a photo diary spanning the entire trip.
I recently returned from a ten day drive up the California coast with my friend Annie. Highlights included Big Sur, Napa and Sonoma, and San Francisco. This post is a photo diary of the San Francisco portion.
I had been to San Francisco over ten years ago on a family vacation, but all I remembered was a blur of hilly streets and cable cars. This time, I ditched the tourist filled trolleys and set out to explore the city on foot. With the oldest ChinaTown in the US and a bustling Little Italy (known as North Beach) there was truly an ethnic buffet to choose from. As I strolled through the shops in China Town, I heard a voice calling out “free tea tasting.” It piqued my interest and I stepped inside the doorway of Ital Tea Leaf, a Chinese tea shop. The owner, known affectionately as Uncle Gee spent over an hour giving us a free sampling of the different teas in his shop and the uses for them all. By the end, I had resolutely decided to add more tea to my life. We then ambled on to the Little Italy section where pizza shops and gelato abounded. After a fabulous meal, one that definitely echoed tastes of Italy, we kept walking.
The next morning before we left to start our long drive back to LA, we headed to Golden Gate Park for a glimpse at the famous bridge and to catch the end of the Bay to Breakers race, a 12 mile boozy walk complete with neon, wacky costumes, and occasion nudity.
I recently returned from a ten day drive up the California coast with my friend Annie. Highlights included Big Sur, Napa and Sonoma, and San Francisco. This post is a photo diary of the Napa and Sonoma portion.
After speaking with a few California locals and doing my research, I decided to stay in Sonoma during the wine country portion of my trip. While Napa is the more popular choice, I could not have been happier with my decision. Sonoma is a tiny town (known to the locals as Slow-Noma) with a central historic town square. By staying on the square you are walking distance to all of the best restaurants, the local indie movie theater, and the free-standing wine tasting rooms. After driving over eight hours from LA through Big Sur to Sonoma, it was nice to step out of the car for a while.
We rented bikes and luckily many of the top wineries were located in a 13 mile loop that featured a rare car sighting with a breathtaking view of the grape fields. Each winery has a tasting fee, typically ranging from $10-$20 per person for a basic tasting. Tastings usually include about 5-7 wines with a detailed description of the flavor and notes. We started the day early and luckily on a week day, so we had many of the wineries to ourselves. A true standout was Scribe Winery, a $15 tasting that included outdoor seating, a personal wine master, unparalleled views, and two rope swings. As I wandered around the fields with the warm sun shining overhead and a few tastings under my belt, it was easy to see why this area is such a tourist hot spot.
We spent our last day driving through Napa and visiting some key wineries, but the quiet and tranquillity in Sonoma had already captured my heart.
I recently returned from a ten day drive up the California coast with my friend Annie. Highlights included Big Sur, Napa and Sonoma, and San Francisco. This post is a photo diary of the Big Sur portion.
I had heard so many stories about Big Sur, that my expectations were pretty high on the drive up Highway One from LA. However, as I rounded that first bend and the open cliffs dropped in deference to the vast ocean I definitely lost my breath for a moment. Big Sur is not your typical state park. For one thing, it is predominantly located around a highway, on an arrow-like mission along the rugged coast. There are a few points where you can actually turn into the wilderness, park your car, and hike the trails, but the most photographed views are those from the side of the road. There are a few designated Vista Points along the way where you can pull over and admire the view, however more often than not you will see people pulling over anywhere along the stretch of highway, racing to capture the view that stretches endlessly before you.
I spent two nights in Big Sur at the Big Sur River Inn, an adorable cabin style bungalow I highly recommend. I went hiking in the Andrew Molera State Park and found an isolated beach just waiting for me. Another highlight was definitely the views from Nepenthe, a local watering hole with panoramic views of the Ocean from every seat. Each night I fell asleep to the peaceful sounds of nature and each day brought a new sense of calm that I had only dreamed of back in New York City.
As I drove off that scenic highway and onto more populated roads, I couldn’t help but miss the silence.
After my last post I’m sure it will seem like I am a self-hating New Yorker. Definitely not the case. I absolutely love the fact that I have the opportunity to live in one of the best cities in the world. Case in point, where else would you find such a beautiful, simple reminder like this? A few years ago, some magical holiday elf decided to continue the spirit, even after the Christmas trees had all been abandoned. I will never know who created this special moment, but I will never forget the way it lifted my spirits that day.
I absolutely love living in New York City most of the year, but there is one major reason I am dying to become bi-coastal. THE COLD. Now that Spring has arrived it’s easy to forget about the biting cold, the mountain of snow, and the constantly running nose. So this is one of my many reminders to incentivize myself to find a cute little beach hut for those never too far off, long winter months.
One of my favorite memories each summer is spending quiet days on the beach in Fire Island. Accessible only by Ferry and with a strict no-car policy, there is no place that forcers busy New Yorkers to slow down more than Fire Island. Bikes are the preferred mode of transportation and the local grocer will make you a custom sandwich to nourish you after a long day in the sun. As the sun sets each night, and the boats lining the dock bob slowly in their beds, you can practically feel the stress melting away.