At the beginning of August, we flew to California for a kid-free vacation! We flew to LA and dropped the girls (and Jack) off at Eric’s parents house, and we drove up the coast visiting our favorite spots. After living in California for eight years, the state is very near and dear to my heart — there is REALLY nothing like California. We had SO much fun visiting our old stomping grounds, taking a break as “mom and dad”, and seeing some of our closest friends. I’m going to do a quick photo recap of our trip for you today!
We drove up the coast and first stopped in Paso Robles for a quick wine tasting and then continued onto Carmel Valley. We made Carmel Valley our home base for three nights and it was such a special time! After years of going wine tasting in Napa and Sonoma in our early 20s, we discovered Carmel Valley in our last two years in the Bay Area. It’s a more laid-back, low-key wine tasting experience centered around a small village that is super kid and dog friendly. The wines are fantastic and it’s just a really charming and cute town!
Some good spots for wine tasting in Carmel Valley: Boekenoogen, Cowgirl, Parsonage, Scratch, The Wine House
Some food spots in Carmel Valley: Corkscrew Cafe, Trailside (casual), Kathy’s Little Kitchen (casual)
We drove into Carmel-by-the-Sea but didn’t spend much time there minus a quick lunch, because it was super busy from a car show! We also spent a morning at Refuge in Carmel which was a silent spa experience with hot tubs, cold pools, saunas, and steam rooms. It was SOO relaxing and refreshing! Highly recommend.
Day trip to Big Sur
One morning, we drove from Carmel Valley to Big Sur. Big Sur is one of my all-time favorite places in the entire world and a place that’s very near and dear to my heart. We drove down the coast and stopped at a few of our favorite lookout points and beaches, as well as grabbed food and drinks along the way. We ended our time in Big Sur at Pfeffer Beach, where we got engaged, and I took a glorious sun-soaked nap in the sand. It was wonderful.
A few favorite Big Sur spots: Big Sur Bakery (pastries/coffee, brunch, or dinner), McWay Falls, Partington Cove Trail, Bixby Bridge, Pfeiffer Beach (this is where we got engaged!), Nepenthe for coffee/a drink overlooking the ocean, Big Sur Taphouse for local beer and chill vibes, Big Sur Inn (for to-go breakfast or lunch and to sit in the creek!)
San Francisco / Berkeley
The main reason for our California trip was my best friend Aimee’s wedding! Not only did we get to celebrate her and Tom, but I was able to see some close friends of mine that I haven’t seen in 2+ years! SO fun and special. In between all the friend time and wedding festivities, we managed to explore SF a little and also explore! The wedding was an absolute blast and it was so fun getting dressed up and being fancy with my friends!
I am not even going to try to compile all of the wonderful food spots in San Francisco, but here’s a few spots we went to when we were in town: Burma Superstar (delish Burmese food), The Mill (coffee + toast), The Page (favorite dive bar), Souvla (Greek fast casual food), Toronado (dive bar with great beer options), Arlequin Wine Bar (for wine on their cute back patio), Plow (best breakfast ever!), Wise Sons (bagels). We also drove up to Sutro Tower for a view of the city, and I got to wander through Alamo Square Park to see the Painted Ladies and reminisce on our time in SF. <3
On our drive back to LA, we stopped in Pismo Beach for a quick lunch and then spent one night in Santa Barbara. I actually haven’t spent a lot of time there, and it was SO beautiful and pretty! We stayed right next to the beach and basically spent all of our time walking back and forth admiring the ocean, the sunset, and just being so grateful for this special trip!