Food & Wine, Travel & Leisure

Discover the day tripper in you

Did you know there are thousands of free views in the city of San Francisco, and driving a car isn’t the best way to take advantage of the region’s stunning natural beauty? Discover the day tripper in you, and follow us from Sonoma County to San Francisco.

Take advantage of the city’s hill venues and their vistas. Photo by Courtney Paige

With Sonoma County’s SMART train on the brink of passenger service, a day trip to the city without getting in your car will soon be a reality. Granted this day trip has multiple legs but isn’t life all about the journey? And who doesn’t like a good set of legs?

Curious to see if a roundtrip venture from Sonoma County to San Francisco could be accomplished in one day without getting in a car, I felt compelled to try. One snag though, the train’s passenger service has been delayed until summer. So, I enlisted an adventurous travel companion and simply drove to the ferry determined not to let logistics get in the way.

The Larkspur Ferry is a capsule in time. Float to the city I say. Photo by Courtney Paige

Weekend parking is free at the Larkspur Ferry, so we convinced ourselves that perk will make up for the lack of train service. Another benefit Larkspur Ferry offers is the Clipper card – big savings! After jetting across the bay in a quick 35-minute boat ride, we fawn over majestic Coit Tower as the ferry floats into port.

View of Coit Tower as we float towards the dock at Embarcadero’s Ferry Building. Photo by Courtney Paige

Moments later, we disembarked at San Francisco’s famous Embarcadero ferry building and hit the city of San Francisco on foot with a general idea of our plans but no major commitments. 

Check out the video to get a more intimate visual on our day trip.

The key to navigating the city is to equip yourself with good walking shoes, wear layers and plan the day in little spurts. For this day trip, we incorporated intervals of floating, walking, eating, drinking and viewing.

We settled on massages at Hotel Vitale Spa, a hop, skip and a jump away from the Embarcadero. It’s literally across the street from the ferry building. Even though this hotel caters to tourists, it’s a secret spot for locals who get chilled to the bone with the city’s moist cold weather.

Hotel Vitale Rooftop Voyeur Outdoor Bath – Exquisite! Photo by Courtney Paige

The concierge at Hotel Vitale mentioned a bottomless champagne brunch at La Fusion located on the quaint European alley, Belden Place. An option one can’t refuse. This alley is a treasure trove of quint awning covered restaurants with cozy outdoor heaters.

Brunch at La Fusion Cafe is the quickest way to satisfy your bistro fix. Amazing Eggs Benedict. Photo by Courtney Paige

Next, we hopped the trolley for a mere $2 and moseyed over to Museum of Modern Art on 3rd Street. 

San Francisco Muni Trolley – Public Transpo at its finest! Photo by Courtney Paige

MOMA is celebrating their one-year multi-million dollar renovation at the end of April with a fancy soiree.

San Francisco’s Museum of Modern Art live rooftop deck. Located in SOMA.

As much as we loved the rooftop massages and outdoor rose petal hot baths at the Vitale Spa, the piece de resistance was the Conservatory of Flowers.

Golden Gate Park’s Conservatory Flowers – Photo by Courtney Paige

Located just a few miles west of downtown, at the pinnacle of Golden Gate Park’s panhandle, the Conservatory of Flowers links Haight-Ashbury and the 2.5-mile long city park. With public transportation as our new best friend, we rolled with the flow and stepped off the Muni into a world where time stands still. An ample amount of time to stop and smell the flowers. The Conservatory of Flowers is the perfect place to warm up & snuggle up on a cold foggy day. Inside, the atmosphere is surprisingly tropical – a sheer contrast to the cool gray city’s urban mecca.

Inspiration is everywhere, so get moving! The world is waiting.

~ Courtney Paige

Food & Wine, Travel & Leisure

Cultured burbs

Sonoma County is a quaint sleepy community with seemingly more vineyards than people. At first glance, things may appear a tad western here, but given a closer look, Sonoma County lights up the senses.

Nine incorporated cities sprinkle the county and each has an incredibly charming square or downtown. Except for Santa Rosa. For decades, Santa Rosa has lacked in comparison to its quaint neighbor towns, until now.

With the new controversial downtown square complete, the rightful county seat just may have a chance to shine. After all, there’s more to Santa Rosa than the Old Courthouse Square. So giddy-up! Here’s some inspiration for local day tripping.

Set a goal of three wineries max. St. FrancisLandmark, and Chateau St. Jean are the most convenient and stunning local wineries. All are located in Sonoma Valley on Hwy 12 east. Check with the California Welcome Center in Railroad Square – they offer locals buy-one-get-one-free tasting at select wineries.

St.Francis Winery – Photo by Courtney Paige

 

St. Francis Winery Courtyard – Photo by Courtney Paige

 

Landmark Winery – Photo by Courtney Paige

 

Landmark Winery Courtyard – Photo by Courtney Paige

 

Chateau St. Jean Winery – Photo by Courtney Paige

 

Chateau St. Jean Winery Cabana – Photo by Courtney Paige

 

Plan in advance and reserve a massage between 4:30 pm and 6:30 pm at Me Spa. A luxurious day spa located in Santa Rosa’s Montgomery Village. Their zero-gravity chairs are divine. The perfect way to wipe away worries…if only for a moment.

Darling Gifts at Me Spa – Photo by Courtney Paige

Make reservations at Monti’s for 7:30 pm – giving ample time to refresh from the spa and wander around the darling outdoor shopping village. Keeping with a serene atmosphere, Monti’s offers tranquil outdoor dining. Small plates with fantastic wine pairings are the usual.  Alas, Monti’s is located just steps away from Me Spa.

Monti’s at Montgomery Village – Photo by Courtney Paige

Santa Rosa’s new Old Courthouse Square is merely a moment away and is currently celebrating a renaissance revival. The new square is rapidly creating an eclectic hustle and bustle. With over 40 sycamore trees, bundles of redwoods and embedded benches dolloped around the square, it’s the perfect place for stargazing.

La Rosa on the Square – Photo by Courtney Paige

Let your hair down with one last stop at La Rosa’s esoteric upstairs bar for a nightcap. The rare brick mission style outdoor porch and dining area never disappoint. All bartenders are consistent with each well-crafted cocktail. The margarita menu is my favorite. It’s no wonder they call La Rosa bartenders mixologists. DJs spin urban beats that make you want to get up and shake off your dinner…and the extra wine you consumed throughout the day.

La Rosa on Fourth – Great Happy Hour – Photo by Courtney Paige

Savor a county seat experience right here in urban-farm central. It’s right here in our own backyard. New restaurants and bars with outdoor seating and live music are popping up like little gems all over town.

Cheers ~

Savor Life and Enjoy!

by Courtney Paige