Wednesday, April 11, 2018

Beautiful Things to See and Fun Things To Do in the San Francisco Bay Area and Napa Valley...

Today I thought I'd take a little departure from the usual home posts, and share some pictures from our road trip down to Northern California (from Seattle) last week. I wanted to share some beautiful things we saw, as well as suggest some fun things to do in the San Francisco Bay area in case you have a chance to visit. (The gorgeous gate pictured above belongs to the Stone House in the historic district of Sonoma.)

I grew up in Walnut Creek, California, which is about 30 minutes from San Francisco, and 40 minutes from Napa Valley. Walnut Creek is near and dear to my heart, and the backdrop to so many childhood memories. I'm not the only one who has grown up... Walnut Creek now has amazing shopping and lots of great restaurants. If you're in the area, you'll want to check out the huge Anthropologie (this location also features Terrain).

We decided to stay in Napa on this trip because it was going to be a little warmer there than on the coast - and we are sun-starved at home in Seattle this time of year.

So many of the plants here remind me of France, like these olive trees.

The wisteria was already blooming...

Sonoma is a beautiful place to visit, and if you enjoy history - it's home to the northernmost mission and several old buildings, including an old hotel with these great doors.

Cacti in front of the mission. (A welcome change of scenery... You don't see this in Seattle! ;)

More of the historic area...

And I loved seeing lavender in bloom here. It made me excited to add more lavender plants at our house.

The first couple of days we were there it was sunny. We soaked up every minute!

We had dinner one night at the Oxbow Public Market in Napa. It's fun because everyone could choose what they wanted to eat. My husband and I had gourmet tacos, and our boys had pizza.

We can't go to the Bay Area without visiting the beach and boardwalk at Santa Cruz. This is the beach we'd go to when I was growing up - it's so much fun to take our boys back. The boardwalk is old school - it feels like the Beach Boys should still be playing here!

Our three boys had a blast on the log ride. It was our youngest's first time... Can you spot him in the middle? He's taking cover between his big brothers. ;)

Natural Bridges State Beach is a great place to explore and enjoy the beauty of the ocean...

And don't forget the city by the bay... San Francisco. Or as locals simply call it, "The city."

We managed to get seats (well sort of - we were out in the bleachers) for the second game of the Giants opening series. It was a sold-out stadium as they played our Seattle Mariners! 

For tradition's sake, I wore a Giants hat, and my boys wore Mariners hats. We were a house divided, but not for long. We ate dinner and shared a post-game banana split at Fentons in Oakland...

Just put the fact that bikini season is right around the corner out of your mind. Fentons is no joke. (This is another place I grew up going with my family.) When we arrived at about 8:00 pm on a Wednesday, the place was packed, but we only had to wait 15 minutes for a table. They sort of just squeeze you in. There were multiple tables celebrating birthdays, and the whole restaurant would join in singing. If you're in the area, you have to try it!

Back in the valley, we were blessed to get to visit the most beautiful farm we've ever seen.

Our boys held Babydoll Southdown lambs and Nigerian Dwarf goats, and laughed as the tiniest goats and sheep would hop on the backs of the enormous Kunekune pigs.

We did the whole drive back home in one day. We hit traffic in Portland, so it took us about 13 hours from Napa to our house, which is a little north of Seattle.

Okay that was long! If you've made it this far, I guess you can relate to how we felt after being in the car for 13 hours. ;)

Thank you so much for reading along about our little family adventure.

Now I'd love to know... Have you been to the San Francisco Bay area? Napa valley? 
What are your favorite places to go and things to do?



  1. Great post! You covered so much as only a local yokel can. I was born and raised in Sonoma. After high school, I moved to the city and lived there for a year, working at Bank of America on Powell and Market Street where the cable cars turn around. Sonoma was a great place to grow up back then because it was so small and rural. Today people no longer know each other like they did back then. My favorite winery in California is the Buena Vista Winery in Sonoma. It's the first winery in California and has limestone caves that you can tour and taste in.

    1. Thank you! And what a beautiful area you grew up in. I love that it still has a semi-rural feel in some areas of Sonoma. Thanks for sharing... I enjoyed reading a little of your home-town story! ;)

  2. That was such a fun post for all of us from the Bay Area. I also was born in Califoria and have lived in Alameda and Oakland (not far from the temple) and we went to Fenton's too! Fenton's is the best! I took my kids to Santa Cruz and good ole Great America theme park (I don't know if it still exists). All those travel spots you mentioned I love and been to. So much fun.

    1. Oh you made my day! Yes, I remember Great America - and I do think it's still around. The Demon and the Grizzly for the win. :) Piedmont, Oakland is a neat area. Thanks for sharing!


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