Mendocino Photo Diary

Mendocino Photo DiaryOnce a year, Mike and I take a week-long trip without the kids. Yep, I said without! It’s a time for us to focus on each other and we truly cherish this time alone to connect. I should mention that this trip wouldn’t even possible without the loving help of some pretty amazing grandparents! This year we decided to spend our week on the Northern Coast of California in Mendocino and Bodega Bay. We’ve been to both areas before, and you can read about Bodega Bay here. If you haven’t been to Mendocino, I highly recommend visiting. This part of California feels less traveled, rural, and holds the most beautiful views of the Pacific Ocean. Not to mention the Redwoods literally took my breath away. They are gargantuan! While many visit just to relax on the beach there is much to do in this area for the adventurous at heart. Kayaking, hiking, wine tasting, and great dinning.

Mendocino Photo DiaryHard to beat the Littler River Inn’s location. Great food, service, golfing, and offers some pet friendly rooms. Mendocino Photo Diary

Mendocino Photo DiaryEven if you aren’t lodging here, stop at the Little River Inn Bar/Restaurant to enjoy this famous view over a glass of wine! Great food & service, we loved the fish and chips.Mendocino Photo DiarySeafood is plentiful and so fresh. Mendocino Photo Diary

Mendocino Photo DiaryHiking the Redwoods. Mendocino Photo Diary

Mendocino Photo DiaryHiking the Hendy Woods State Park. The Hermut Hut Trail leads hikers to one of Hendy Hermit’s famous huts. The man lived in the park for over a decade. Pretty amazing. Learn more here.Mendocino Photo DiaryAnderson Valley has many fantastic wineries and is well known for producing outstanding Pinot Noir. Other favorite wineries not pictured were Handley Cellars, and Baxter. Fantastic wines!Mendocino Photo Diary

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Mendocino Photo DiaryMost of the wineries are pet friendly. Our pup, Louis was very popular amongst the tasting crowd. Mendocino Photo Diary

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Strolling_the_vineyard

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Mendocino Photo DiaryWe dug the rustic and unpretentious tasting space at Phillips Hill. Mendocino Photo Diary

Mendocino Photo DiaryMendocino art is everywhere. Mendocino Photo Diary

Mendocino Photo DiaryOn your drive to or from Mendocino, stop at the World Famous Hamburger Ranch & Bar-b-que in Cloverdale. Owners Bob and Joanne Krucker know what they are doing when it comes to BBQ. Everything is cooked slow and low for the most mouthwatering brisket, ribs, chicken and more!Mendocino Photo Diary

Bodega Bay – A Little Slice of Heaven

Happy Friday! Just a few more hours to the weekend, whoop whoop. A perfect time to get you in relaxation mode, and share last weeks spring break shenanigans in beautiful Bodega Bay. It’s been awhile since I’ve done a travel post, but I always enjoy putting them together. When traveling, I find that some of the best suggestions come from bloggers who have very personal and honest experiences, which I love. So here we go!

We decided to keep our spring break vacation close to home. Bodega Bay is located an hour north of the Golden Gate Bridge, off HWY 1, so it literally feels like a hop, skip, and a jump away. Perfect travel time for two antsy toddlers. Living in San Francisco for the past eight years, Mike and I have traveled California’s northern coastline frequently. We’ve explored small towns like Valley Ford, Jenner, Albion, Little River, Mendocino, and Bodega Bay. It’s during these travels, that we have truly fallen in love with the beauty and sense of peace that the northern coast brings. It really is a little slice of heaven.

Touching_the_sky { Just a girl in her happy place. }

A_huggung_JLodging-We used VRBO and rented a home that was located just past the town of Bodega Bay. The views (pictured above) were some of the best we’ve ever experienced. Fields of wildflowers beamed of yellow before the blue rippling ocean. Each night, we would sit on the patio and watch the sunset. It was magical. For quick getaways we have stayed at Bodega Harbor Inn and the Bodega Coast Inn & Suites, both have great views, are clean, but simple. I’m dying to stay at Bodega Bay Lodge, definitely more upscale. Note – Yes, Audrey really does have a roll of toilet paper taped to her arm. She informed me that it’s her battery, and web shooter that helps her fly to space. Her imagination is wild, and I hope it never changes!

Kite_store

Kite_flying

Flying_kiteKid Spots –The beach offers endless fun, but your kids will love visiting Second Wind and Candy and Kites. Two charming stores stocked full of toys, beach gear, candy, and kites. Bodega Bay is perfect for flying kites, since there is usually a slight breeze. Audrey and Jack chose a shark kite that they loved!

Spud_sign

Crab_sandoEatsSpud Point Crab Co. is a must! The crab sandwich’s are out of this world. My mom and I went for lunch two days in a row. They are that good and only $13 a sandwich. Everything on the menu is delicious, but the clam chowder and crab sandwich are two of my favorites. For fish and chips, The Boat House is the place. Also, The Sandpiper Restaurant comes highly recommended from locals, but we haven’t actually tried it yet.

Mom-Audrey

Audrey_looking_ocean

Audrey_hat

AudreyWhile the guys fished and golfed, we played at Schoolhouse Beach. Here for info on other beaches. Just like her parents, Audrey is happiest when she is near the ocean. I loved capturing her in these moments of pure joy.

Wine

Wine_2Vacation means that Mike will be bringing some of our favorites from the wine bunker. A personal favorite from the selection was the 2004 Clos des Papes which was full-bodied, rich, and lovely.

OystersFishermans Cove is directly next door to Spud Point and is a fantastic spot for oysters on the half shell. Their fish tacos are also popular, but you can’t go wrong with anything on the menu. Or, if like us, you want the views and comfort of your beach rental, grab fresh oysters to shuck at home. Available at The Tides Fish Market.

Crab_pot

CrabTo Do -There are plenty of great hikes and kayaking spots in Bodega. But if golf is your game, throw in your clubs because The Links at Bodega Harbour is a great course with ocean views. Following a day of golf, the guys decided to go deep-sea fishing for salmon. Did I mention these boys got to play play play! Unfortunately, after eight hours on the boat not a single fish was caught, but the crab pots were pulling up full. They brought home 18 crab to feast on! Nothing better than fresh sweet dungeness crab!

Jack_naked { Enjoying the view on the last day of vacation! }

Family_picWishing I was in these fields, gazing out at the Pacific Ocean. But, it is Friday! The start of the weekend, which makes everyone happy. Hope you all have a fun-filled, relaxing few days! Don’t forget to think of Bodega Bay for your next adventure. It won’t disappoint!

Danville Farmers Market

Produce

One of my favorite ways to spend a weekend morning, is casually strolling through a local farmer’s market, admiring the carefully stacked piles of colorful fruits and vegetables. Talking with the local farmers, sampling the fruits of their labor, taking the time to smell and touch my chosen goods, it’s all a beautiful experience. Sharing this passion with my children is important to our family. I want them to appreciate where food comes from, and know they are blessed to have such an abundance available. I love that my children, 2 and 4 years old, already enjoy being in the kitchen together as a family. Truth, I’m sure many of you can relate – I could do without the gargantuan mess that my little sous chef’s have become very skilled at creating, but it’s all part of sharing the tradition of family cooking (or so I tell myself). This past weekend we ventured to the east bay, deciding to explore the adorable town of Danville and its Farmers Market offerings.

Strawberries

{Homemade strawberry shortcake anyone? Yes, please!}

Broccoli

{Romanesco broccoli}

Strikingly beautiful with its vibrant green. Also called broccoflower, because it visually resembles cauliflower, but the texture is more crunchy, and the flavor milder. These will be so bright and cheery in my Easter tablescape.

Jam

 {Local jam’s and preserve’s}

Flowers

{Happy Flowers}

Canolonis

 {Cannoli’s}

We couldn’t leave without a trio of these Italian pastry sweets. The light and crispy shell filled with slightly sweet creamy goodness made for one delicious cannoli. The Danville Farmers Market (located in the Lunardi’s shopping center off Railroad and Prospect) had everything from fresh fish, spiced almonds, raw milk, chicken pot pies, honey, to freshly baked bread so you won’t be disappointed.

b.patisserie love

Cafe_shot

If you are a local, hopefully you have visited what I believe to be the best pastry cafe in all of San Francisco – b.patisserie. If you haven’t visited, GET UP, RUN, and GO NOW, it’s that good. For anyone visiting the city by the bay, I highly recommend adding b.patisserie to your list of places to visit. Located on California and Divisadero, it’s away from the popular tourist spots, but only a 5-10 minute cab ride away. The pastry kitchen is popular and often has a line out the door, but it moves fast, and is well worth the wait.

B_pastry

With so many sweet and savory delicious choices it’s hard to decide. The staff is just as lovely as the pastries offered, and will gladly help first time visitors decide what to indulge in. Believe me, you will want to try one of each! Take a peek at the menu here to get your mouth watering! Favorites in our house are the chocolate banana croissant (pictured above) and the plain kouign amann (a sweet, buttery, fluffy cloud of goodness). Coffee by Four Barrel makes this “anytime of the day” outing perfectly complete.

Jack_eating

Jack shares the same refined sweet tooth as mom, so we often make trips after dropping Audrey at school. The look on his face when taking that first bite, is pure love, and he actually moans “mmmmmm”. One morning, while walking back from b.pattisserie, we decided to savor our goods before going home. When I took a moment from moaning with Jack (which makes him giggle) over my croissant, I realized we were nestled under this charming doorway. A heart drawn above us, a bit ironic..sharing the sweetest thing with my little love.

Capitola: Part 2

 

Venetians

If you caught my Capitola beach style post back in August, then you know I promised to share more about this darling town. You may be thinking, summer is over lady and I’m in “Back to School” mode (thank god), but lodging books fast in this quaint town, so if you are tinkering with the idea of a trip to Capitola next year, read on my friends! Our family books lodging the winter before our summer getaway.

Lodging

We always go for a week or two so renting a beach house is ideal.There are many great options on VRBO, but we have typically stayed at the below two rentals. Both lovely.

Rose_Cottage

1. The past few years we have stayed at this little gem called the Rose Cottage. It’s charming and cozy sleeping six. It’s around the corner from the main street, and maybe a 3 minute walk to the beach. The backyard is a lovely garden, with patio seating, and a BBQ just off to the side.

2. For decades my in-laws stayed at this Capitola House (not pictured). It’s a great option when you have a large group. It sleeps 10 which can be hard to find in vacation homes. This is just around the corner from the Rose Cottage, so it’s equally as close to the beach.

Kids-Venetians

Other options I’ve heard to be good – The Capitola Venetian Hotel (which are the brightly colored buildings above) is a historic mediterranean hotel that is literally steps from the sand. All rooms come with a full kitchen, so you could stay for a long period of time. Lastly, if you wanted to go without the kids for a quick romantic getaway, check out the Capitola Hotel which is in the heart of the village.

What to Do

Audrey_water

The city offers many cool events. (Here to see the calendar). We’ve been in town for the Art and Wine Festival, the Begonia Festival, and the Wharf to Wharf Race. All super fun, so do check out the calendar. But, of course the beach is always endless fun!

Coming_up_ramp

We’ve rented paddle boards, kayaks, or a fishing boat for further adventure. In the above pic we just got off from a fishing trip. You can rent the fishing boats directly off the wharf. Kayaks and paddle board rentals can be found by the public restroom area just off the beach.

Helicopter

Plane

Dragon_Ride

Wahoo, the Santa Cruz Boardwalk which is a 10 minute drive from Capitola is loads of laughs. Audrey turned 4 this year, and the joy I felt watching her giggle and scream on all the rides was priceless.

Golf

Well, I’m a terrible golfer but hope to remedy that soon. That being said, our family and friends generally golf either Seascape in Aptos, or Spring Hills in Watsonville.

Shopping

I love puttering through all the shops in Capitola but my favorites are Sweet Asylum, Zen Island and the Village Mouse. I’ve found one of a kind jewelry, dresses, and gifts at each of these boutiques. If you need a Macy’s, Target, or larger department store, then the Capitola Mall located off 41st street is only 5 minutes away.

Where to Grub

Breakfast

Wharf House is located at the end of the pier and serves up a fantastic breakfast. It offers traditional breakfast with yummy pancakes, but also seafood inspired omelets and egg benedict. Gayles Bakery is a short drive to Bay Ave, but it’s worth it. The baked goods are scrumptious, and if celebrating a birthday or special holiday it’s a great place to call in a cake or dessert. We love Mr. Toots for a cup of coffee and a morning stroll to watch the surfers.

Lunch

Pizza My Heart – truth be told we either pack a lunch to the beach or grab a slice of pizza. You’ve likely heard of Pizza My Heart, because it’s a chain restaurant now. But, you probably didn’t know it was founded in Capitola in 1981. During the summer months the line can be CRAZY but it moves quickly. Tip – Call in an entire pie for the family from the beach, and you can bypass the line.

Happy Hour

Zelda’s is the best place to grab a cocktail. There is an outside patio directly on the beach. The happy hour Mai Tai’s are fantastic. We don’t love the food at Zelda’s, so if you want an appetizer and a cocktail, we recommend Margaritaville, which is just a few doors over.

Dinner

 Shadowbrook

Cable_Car

We love to bbq and cook at our beach rental, but also enjoy a night off. Shadowbrook Restaurant is by far our favorite spot to dine. Located along the river, you may walk or take a cable car through the garden to reach the entrance. The place is family friendly, but if you can get away without the munchkins for a night, it’s really romantic. Mike and I have been going for years, fantastic food, and the memories dance through my head every time we visit here. This would also be a great spot for groups. Stockton Bridge Grille is another good option. Spectacular views of the water and the seafood is always super fresh. Both locations are walking distance from any of the hotels or beach houses in the main village. If you are craving Mexican cuisine, Taqueria Agave and El Toro Bravo serve up some of the best!

J_eating_Ice_cream

No trip is complete without a visit to the Village Grille and Creamery – 48 flavors of locally made ice cream! This year my husband took my kids at 10am in the morning for their first ice cream cone…big kid himself. Needless to say, I had to take my mom pants off and chill out that they were eating chocolate ice cream for a post breakfast snack. Of course, Jack proceeded to request ice cream for breakfast the next few days, and looked at his eggs with disgust. Can you blame him?

Family_Bridge

We truly love this place, and while I focused on the summer, it’s less traveled and still beautiful for a mini vaca in the winter months. In the words of Huell Howser, thank you for letting me share a little piece of California gold with you all. Happy travels!