North Cali Trip
Updated: Oct 30, 2020
The Prestwoods spent a week in Sonama and San Francisco, California, and we had a blast!
We went in late September, and the weather was perfect! It did get a little hot during the day, but nothing us south Alabamians couldn't handle. The nights were nice and crisp - the perfect little tease into fall.
We flew into San Francisco, rented an SUV and went straight to Sonoma. Sonoma was definitely our favorite out of the two cities. It was an adorable little town, just a bit bigger than Fairhope, but it had all of the quaintness, plus more wine. We were told it was a smaller, cheaper version of Napa, and I have to guess that it's true. We did not venture to Napa. Nothing was completely outrageous. Prices were comparable to most of the restaurants in Fairhope.
We spent Sunday-Wednesday visiting tasting rooms, wineries, eating, and enjoying a gorgeous house close to everything. I will link our recommendations below! It was very relaxing and slow-paced - much more my style. There was also a market/concert/mini-festival at the square while we were there. I'm not sure what it was called, but I think it only happens during the warmer months.
We left for San Francisco Wednesday, but made a couple of pit stops in Sausalito and Muir Woods on the way.
At this point I was deep into a cold and was not worth much. As soon as we got to the hotel/condo, I went straight to bed. Smith sweetly scoured the area for some soup and brought me some delicious ramen. I stayed in bed and ate while the rest of the crew went to dinner.
The next day (Thursday), I wasn't feeling great, but managed to get out of bed so we could explore San Francisco. We rode the cable car its entire route from Market Street to Fisherman's Wharf. We walked all along the water and made a few stops along the way. Next up was the night tour at Alcatraz. By then, it was starting to cool off. The ferry ride to the island wasn't too bad, but as soon as the sun went down, boy it got chilly! The tour was great - very organized and informative. It was a little crowded for my liking. I was hoping for something kind of on the creepy side, but there were people running around everywhere. So, it definitely seemed touristy, but I'm glad we went. On our way back to the condo, we stopped by for some more ramen take-out. It was even more delicious than the first time, ha!
I finally got a good nights' sleep, and that made all the difference in the world! The bed in Sonoma was too firm for me, so I had not gotten a solid sleep in since we got to California. But this Friday, I finally felt good! We had to check out of the condo early, so we had them hold our luggage while we explored. The condo was in downtown, near Nob Hill and Chinatown. Great location for tourist activities, but crowded. So we headed west to see the Painted Ladies then walked around Hayes and Valencia Streets. We had some great food, drinks, and chocolate! (List of stops below.) It felt more of a "locals" area. These are the types of places we like more than the tourist spots.
We decided to stay near the airport since we had early flights. So we hitched an Uber down that way, ended up at the wrong hotel, then hitched another to the correct one. The joys of travel! :-) But the trip ended with us having some really good pizza delivered to the hotel where we all piled in one room together and reflected on the past few days. This was the 2nd annual Prestwood Family vacay, and of course we're already planning the next!
Recs & places we went:
Sigh - A great little champagne tasting room.
Westwood - A tasting room in downtown Sonoma and my favorite wine of the trip.
Little Vineyards - Gerry from Westwood recommended this place, and it was great! Owned by the Little family, it has so much character, and our hosts, Lucas and Sawyer (the dog), were awesome!
The Depot - A great Italian restaurant with a back patio that is the perfect setting.
The Girl and the Fig - This was my favorite dinner in Sonoma. Everything was fresh and unique.
Sunflower Caffe - Our favorite breakfast! The food was so fresh and delicious. I recommend the California sandwich and the coconut chia seed pudding.
Sonoma's Best - A little store/coffee shop/deli spot that was within walking distance to our house.
Overlook Hike - A gentle hike up a hill with great views of Sonoma. We hiked up the trail to the top, then took a detour through the very pretty cemetery on our way back down.
Pure Luxury Tours - A driver will come pick you up where you're staying and drive you through your tour. Definitely worth the money! We did the Sonoma Valley Experience tour. We visited Kunde, Ledson, and VJB on this tour. Kunde was my favorite.
Day trip to Sausalito & Muir Woods: We walked around Sausalito, checked out a few cute shops, and had lunch at Copita. After lunch, we went on a walk through Muir Woods (redwood trees). Make sure to book your reservation for Muir Woods parking!
Cable Car - It's $7 per ride. You can pay cash as you get on the cable car or buy your ticket in advance. It was a nice way to see San Francisco. The line to get on at the beginning was a little long, but worth the wait. Keep in mind that if you try to get on on one of the stops along the route, it may be full.
The Buena Vista Restaurant - I was getting better, but still a little ill when we stopped here for brunch, so I wasn't able to fully enjoy the experience. But what I did taste was delicious, and the whole crew loved it. It's located right at the end of the cable car line, close to Fisherman's Wharf & Ghirardelli.
Alcatraz Night Tour - The tour itself was great - the audio tour was excellent. Bring a good jacket and don't come hungry. They do have food and drinks available for purchase on the boat, but not good options and it gets crowded. WEAR. COMFORTABLE. SHOES.
.The Ferry Building Marketplace - This was a really neat place. It's kind of a boring trek from Fisherman's Wharf, especially if it's a hot day, but it is walkable. It had a lot of neat little restaurants and shops indoors.
Amami Ramen - Best ramen I've ever had! It's a tiny restaurant with a few bar seats, so I'd get it to-go. What I really loved is that it didn't have a huge, overwhelming menu, but still a good amount of options.
Valencia Street & Hayes St - Just a nice area with cool shops, bars, & restaurants. We definitely
preferred this part of town over downtown San Francisco.
Dandelion Chocolate - We stopped at the cafe on Valencia St, but I believe they have a factory as well. Extremely decadent! The hot chocolate was wonderful, but very rich. They have chocolate samples out and marshmallow cubes to add to your cocoa.
Honey Honey Cafe & Crepery - All the crepes you could imagine! We got a sweet one and a savory to split. Everything was fantastic.