Northern California Travel Guide
My family and I take an annual trip to Napa Valley at the beginning of every summer. The valley is a gorgeous place to be in early summer and San Francisco is also such a fun city to explore.
NAPA VALLEY COFFEE ROASTING COMPANY
I spotted this coffee shop on the way to dinner as we had just arrived in town. It's in downtown Napa and it has the cutest little storefront. The next morning my brother and I ventured down to find it and grab some coffee. The coffee turned out to be pretty good and the coffee shop was very cute on the inside, too!
We spent the entire day touring through the valley and visiting wineries. This part obviously isn't the most interesting for me because I can't do any tastings but taking in the scenery and the beauty of the wineries is still so worth it. One of my favorite wineries to visit is V. Sattui Winery in Saint Helena. My family visited this winery the past two years and this year we attended the Food & Wine Pairing. The class is led by the chef of the winery who is also a Sattui by blood. He was extremely educated in all things food and wine and it was a great experience overall.
I spotted this truck the few times we drove by on the highway and was dying to take photos of/with it. The employees of the winery weren't too keen on the idea of people being anywhere close to it but we were able to get this shot later in the afternoon while on our way back to the hotel :)
If you want to be able to walk through the vineyards and see the actual growing, the two best wineries for that would be Bennett Lane Winery and Cakebread Cellars. Bennett Lane is a fun one because it's very small and they let you walk all around the vineyard. Cakebread leads tours through the vineyard and will show you the entire process from vine to bottle.
Culinary Institute of America
We ate dinner at the Culinary Institute one evening where the students cook, serve, and prepare the food. The restaurant has a very cool set up with an open air kitchen in the middle of the restaurant where you can watch the students prepare your food. During the day you can also walk around the school and visit the chocolate shop, the gift shop, and the art gallery. We didn't plan accordingly but there are some cooking classes available if you're interested.
It's always a treat to visit a Bouchon Bakery! I love their coffee and pretty much everything in their pastry case. The choice is always so tough when going to Bouchon. While in California I tried the Oh Oh pastry and in New York I went for a mocha and a breakfast sandwich. So good!
Castello di Amorosa
We took a guided tour of the castle and the most impressive part was definitely the underground tunnels and caves. The caves hold the wine made at the castle and some wine from V. Sattui Winery as well. It was amazing feeling the temperature drop as you move lower in elevation and it preserves the wine at that temperature perfectly. The castle has so much history within it and it's a great experience for the whole family.
San Francisco Area
Pier 39/Fisherman’s Wharf
One of my favorite places to visit in San Francisco! Fisherman's Wharf is a very lively and fun place to visit in the bay area. It's very touristy so if that's not your thing you may not like it. My favorite part is watching the sea lions play on their docks. They're like little humans and its funny to see how they interact with each other! Alcatraz tours leave from the pier so you can make a day out of it!
I LOVED getting to see the beach on the west coast. I've visited California a few times and this was only the second time I got to see the water. It was a chilly day and the water was cold so swimming wouldn't have been a good option but the views are amazing. There was a little hiking trail right beside the beach so my brother and I hiked a little ways up. Had we known there was hiking, we would have worn the right shoes but we were both in flip flops so we went halfway and turned around. The views from halfway were even amazing so I would have loved to go all the way!
Sausalito is another great place to spend some time in the bay area. San Francisco can be very busy and a little stressful to get around so the outskirts of the city are a good place to hang out. Sausalito has great restaurant options, yummy ice cream shops, and a little shopping. You can even get a ferry ride to Sausalito!