This year is a year of road trips when it comes to
travel for our family.
We started off our road trip in Point Reyes, a charming small town that's famous for its oysters. One of the things that makes this town so special is the fact that everything is completely waterfront. In fact, the cottage we rented was more than just waterfront - it was suspended over the bay itself. This was by far one of our favorite rentals ever, since we could hear the water crashing up against the cottage all through the night, the perfect backdrop for when we went to sleep. The views, as you can imagine, were insanely beautiful - as were the sunsets.
Do: Rent kayaks and paddle around the bay. The water is normally very glassy and calm, perfect for those just learning and experts alike.
See: The sunset. Go to Nick's Cove, a small, charming hotel that's also (surprise surprise) waterfront, and ask to sit outside at their restaurant. It'll be much colder, but the waiters offer thick, comfy blankets. Order clam chowder, watch the sunset, and snuggle up in the blankets - this was one of our favorite memories from our road trip.
Go: Check out the larger town nearby. It's still tiny by most everyone's standards, but it's a bit bigger than Point Reyes itself. Walk around, browse the cute little shops, and (most importantly) go to Cowgirl Creamery and get one of their pastries, which are honestly better than the cheese.
Eat: The Marshall Store. No matter who you ask in Point Reyes, this is the place they'll recommend to you - and for good reason. The Marshall Store is famous for its superb oysters, usually freshly caught that day.
Mendocino, if I'm being honest, was my favorite place we went this trip. I didn't expect to fall in love with it as much as I did, but it's hard not to once you've been there. We stayed in a cabin nestled in the cliffs, hanging just above the ocean. This was about half an hour's drive from the town of Mendocino, which worked perfectly for us since we only ended up visiting the town once. But that's not to say visiting Mendocino itself isn't worth it - the town is incredibly charming, like something out of a fairytale. One of the highlights of the trip was walking around the town. Another highlight - the beach. The beach we were staying by was spectacular (Tuesday, our puppy, loved it too). And don't forget the breathtaking drive we took around the towering redwood forests, which offer beautiful hikes, too.
Do: Walk around one of the many beaches. We spent an entire day there, running around on the sand, building forts and dams, and climbing great boulders. The water was much too cold to swim in - and much too choppy and dangerous - but that didn't stop us from having the time of our lives, dashing around with hot cocoa in hand.
See: The redwood forests. Magnificently tall, these forests are definitely a must-see. Drive through them or hike them - whichever you prefer - but definitely don't skip over this once-in-a-lifetime sight.
Go: Take a walk around the town of Mendocino. We spent a whole day there, admiring the charming cottages, sitting on the cliffs and watching the waves crash up against land, and browsing the many small shops.
(I know, bad us for not taking more pictures of Napa Valley, but we were so awestruck by the views that we didn't want to waste any memories)
Napa Valley has been on our bucket list for who-knows-how-long. So when the opportunity go there arose, we were beyond thrilled. Napa Valley is every bit as good as the hype says - beautiful, rolling fields of grape vines; the most amazing restaurants you've ever been to; charming resorts everyone has dreamed of. If you're looking to visit California (or are lucky enough to already live here), Napa Valley is a must.
See: The fields of grape vines. Obviously, being a kid and having a younger brother, our family didn't go to wineries, but that didn't stop us from driving around the fields of grape vines and gawking at the beauty.
Go: Napa Valley is teeming with the best towns, from Healdsburg to Calistoga. We went to St. Helena, Napa (the town), Healdsburg, Calistoga, and Yountville. Our two favorites would be Healdsburg and Yountville, both must-go towns. Walk around the towns and admire the charming houses and shops, as well as stop for a quick bite in one of the thousand amazing restaurants.
Eat: Everywhere. I'm serious - every single restaurant we went to had the best food we'd ever eaten. No matter where you eat in Napa Valley, you can't really go wrong.
Stay: We actually stayed in Sonoma, about half an hour's drive from Napa Valley, but still part of the overall Wine Country area. We stayed at Solage Calistoga, a five-star resort that we'd highly recommend. Solage was one of the highlights of our entire Winter Break trip - with a beautiful property, stunning rooms, and a tantalizingly good restaurant, Solage is definitely one of our favorite resorts, ever.
At this point, we've stayed in San Francisco countless times, so we were looking for a bit of a change this time around. We finally decided on Stinson Beach, a small, lazy, surfer town that reminded us of a place near Santa Barbara called Carpinteria. Stinson Beach has such an ideal location, only about an hour from San Francisco. This way, we could still get our San Fran fix in while enjoying the luxuries of a small beach town. Our rental was right on the beach, so we spent most of our time playing in the sand or watching the sunsets. In fact, most of the pictures shown above were taken on New Year's Eve, when everyone was out enjoying the most spectacular sunset I've seen.
Do: Take a walk along the beach, any time of the day. There's one main, picturesque beach that stretches for miles that we spent hours at.
See: The sunset. What else?
Go: San Francisco. That was one of the biggest pluses of staying at Stinson - the convenient location.
Eat: Surfer's Grill. Located right smack-dab on the beach, we walked over here often to pick up food so we could eat on the beach.
Psst... keep an eye out for our upcoming The Best Family Road Trip Ever: Southern California post.
A little bit about us...
We're a family of four (a daughter, a son, and their mother and father.... oh, and a six-month old Standard Poodle puppy). But we all share one thing in common: our love of travel and adventure!
Hotel of the Month
Solage Calistoga: the image of perfection. We stayed here recently on our trip to Napa Valley and couldn't have been more amazed at this stunning resort. The rooms, each one an individual cottage, were immaculate and private. The property itself contained multiple pools and other amenities, all of which were designed beautifully. One of our favorite parts had to be the Michelin-star restaurant, which served some of the best food we'd ever eaten. Solage Calistoga was the perfect fit for our family (and dog!), and we are eager to stay there again.