Sonoma

Happy Tuesday to all you lovely readers. For anyone heading back to work, yay for a short week! And yay to all the people who worked the holiday and made some nice holiday pay!

This post is the final installment of our San Francisco trip recap! We started off by taking the train from Kansas City to San Francisco, explored the city for the first couple of days, then took some time to hike and drive down the coast to catch a soccer game.

Next up, we headed to Sonoma for a couple of days of wine tasting and relaxation. We debated a lot between Sonoma and Napa. Both areas are well-known for wine and lots of fun little local restaurants. We ultimately picked Sonoma because we read that it is a little more laid back, and slightly more affordable than Napa. And by the time we had packed all that excitement into our 3 days in San Francisco, we were ready for some laid back time. I hit up Holly Franklin from Holly Would If She Could since I knew she was from the area, and she came back at me with a bulleted list of places to try. We went to several of her suggested places and I am so glad we did! They were all amazing.

The drive started by passing over the Golden Gate bridge for the first time, which was pretty cool. Next time we’re in the area I plan on biking over to Sausalito. There were so many options of things to do, and this was one I think would have been really fun!

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(Side note: we were using a rental and I was pleased to find out that to pay the toll incurred on the bridge, Turo has a feature where the owner can simply request a payment after the fact. Super convenient since they run plates to charge tolls, there’s no pay in person option).

The first afternoon in Sonoma, we wandered around the plaza, which is sort of the centerpiece of town and super adorable. There are tons of shops, restaurants, and tasting rooms. Our first stop was Sonoma Cheese Factory (a Holly suggestion). Oh. Em. Gee. If you love cheese and wine, this place is worth a stop! They also sell coffee, gelato, gourmet chocolates, and have a grill with sandwiches and such. There are free cheese samples as well, which were all sorts of different flavors. I tried a lavender cheese and surprisingly, didn’t hate it!

As we kept wandering, we were getting hungry. We dipped in and out of the alcoves around the plaza, and happened upon a tiny little place called Hare & Hatter. They have a delightful sausage and cheese sample platter that includes two glasses of wine, which was a perfect afternoon snack. The owner said they have a local person who makes the sausages, and they came with some fun dips as well.

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We stopped for a tasting at the Black Knight Vineyards tasting room, where we learned a lot about wine making, then went on to check into our AirBNB.

Our AirBNB was absolutely perfect. It was basically a mother in law suite, and we booked before it had any reviews, but it luckily had received lots of glowing praise before we got there. It was quiet and relaxing, and very private for being attached to someone’s house. We even had our own little private deck.

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Next we headed out for some real dinner! We were craving pizza, so we decided to check out Pizza Capri Ristorante because it had great Google reviews. It did not disappoint. We actually tried the seafood pizza, and it was way better than I expected (Keaton picked it, I was a little wary of seafood pizza).

We capped the night off with some ice cream at Sweet Scoops Ice Cream and a walk around the plaza and park. This ice cream shop was BOMB and pretty much the only place beside dinner restaurants open after 6 pm, so it was very quiet and peaceful.

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The next day was our actual second wedding anniversary! Pretty exciting! We wanted to spend it one of our favorite ways: outside enjoying the beauty of nature and exploring! What better way to do that than to check out the famous redwoods?

Muir Woods National Monument is about an hour drive from Sonoma. The drive is gorgeous, filled with wineries, California countryside, and lots of sunshine since you’re north of the San Francisco fog. We wanted to get their early because everything I read said parking lots fill up fast, and they weren’t lying. We got there at 8 am, and when we left around 11:30 people were parking probably a mile or further away. There is also a shuttle option from Sausalito if you don’t want to mess with traffic.

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I don’t really know what to say about the forest except wow. The trees are so majestic and beautiful, and I am so happy and thankful that someone decades ago had the foresight to take steps to protect the beauty this earth has to offer. The park has trails for all hiking, and a lot of paved paths, so if you are in the area you must go. It’s something you really have to experience in person, pictures just can’t do it justice.

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That evening we took another stroll around the Sonoma plaza, and debated where to eat. We had several recommendations, and our first choice was actually closed on Mondays, so we ended up at El Dorado Kitchen. And the food was fabulous! I had paella for the first time, and Keaton had carbonara. It was all amazing and the restaurant is gorgeous! We capped off the night with some dessert from Whole Foods, Finding Dory, and the Traminette dessert wine we got on our Missouri camping trip. Seriously a perfect night.

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The next day was our wine tasting day, and I thought what better way to start wine tasting than with sparkling wine? I was thinking nice and light, like a breakfast wine 🙂 . We actually drove over to Napa to start at Domaine Carneros, and it was amazing! The view is breathtaking, and the tableside sparkling wine service was the bomb. It does cost a pretty penny, but I think the experience alone was worth every bit! You could also just enjoy a glass while overlooking the views to save on the cost of the tasting. Their cheaper sparkling wines (did you know they can’t call it “champagne” since it’s not from Champagne?) are also very reasonable by the bottle.

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Next we headed back towards town to visit Buena Vista Winery which is the oldest winery in Sonoma. There is a neat little maze out front, and lots of fun history. I will say we didn’t have the best experience here. It was quite obvious the bartender categorized us as “young” and didn’t offer much interaction or chit chat about the wines like he did with other customers. Super disappointing, but the wine was high quality.

Next we headed to lunch at The Girl and the Fig. If you read anything about Sonoma dining, this restaurant will come up. It’s very apparent why: it is very thoughtfully done, the menu is elevated but not intimidating, and everything from the food to the service was just done well. We tried a cheese board (a must) and some sandwiches, and every bite was delicious!

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After this we ended up going to a Peets to just relax and play cards. We pretty much just hung out the rest of the evening, and grabbed some snacks from Whole Foods to cook at our AirBNB. We thoroughly enjoyed our down time in Sonoma, which is nice to have on a busy vacation!

The next morning we grabbed some coffee and breakfast from Barking Dog Roasters which was about 2 minutes from our place, packed up and headed south again towards the airport.

Overall, this trip was jam-packed and absolutely amazing! We felt like we saw a lot of San Francisco, and hit up almost every spot we had planned on seeing. Truly, you could stay in this area for weeks and still have things to do, so I am thankful we got so much in in the week we were there.

I hope you all enjoy this final installment, and I hope you enjoyed the rest of the trip recap! Comment below if you have questions about our trip, or suggestions for our next time in California.

❤ Alex

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