Travel Guide: Northern California
We are back!
Much to our dismay, the Northern California adventure had to come to an end at some point and we are longingly missing the sunshine and bright yellow VW convertible we got to tool around in all week. The trip was too beautiful not to document and share here, as I've put together a sort of guide if it's an area you're planning to visit.
My producer husband is, not surprisingly very good at planning a vacation. Traveling to the west coast for work on a regular basis gave him a leg up on interesting places to stay and things to see. This was my first time in California, and I honestly was not ready to come home. Each place we went felt more special than the last, an endless supply of hidden gems.
We managed to fit a lot in. I'm actually looking back now, surprised that we managed to hit all of the places that we did. Neither of us is particularly good at sitting still for very long, however we did a pretty good job of it at Boon (I could have stayed there a month, easily). The trip really began in Big Sur, well actually it started at In-N-Out Burger, followed by driving down to Big Sur. Driving along Highway 1 in a top down convertible is about as romantic as it gets. October temps were perfect, a little bit chilly with lots of sunshine pretty much all day long. We stopped at lookout points along the way, all around Big Sur, stopping in Monterey, up to Jenner and Goat Rock.
Below, you'll find a little travel guide to our trip.
Pfeiffer Beach, Big Sur
A place to take a minute, or ten, or an entire day... Pfeiffer Beach was the first place we stopped for any length of time before arriving at Treebones. It was recommended as one of the "go here-not there" places in Big Sur, and I was happy we took the advice. The late afternoon light was making the beach look extra dreamy, as we wandered around as the tide went out.
Treebones Resort | Big Sur
Our first night was spent in Big Sur for the ultimate glamping experience at Treebones.
You'll find yurts with porches alongside the hill, with paths winding and connecting them from the main lodge. It's perfect for someone like me who wasn't particularly interested in sleeping in a tent the first night of our honeymoon, but wanted to something a little different. The yurts have their own individual sinks and the bathrooms are communal at the lodge. Truly, my kind of camping. You can go elsewhere for dinner, but don't bother. The Wild Coast Restaurant & Sushi Bar was super delicious and had a cozy vibe.
a Treehouse in Petaluma
This treehouse in Petaluma was straight out of a fairytale.
Nestled in a huge tree with more than enough room for two, the property itself is beautiful and tucked away from the town. The couple who owns it were really lovely and welcoming, it does feel rather personal staying in a treehouse in someone's yard after all and I think feeling welcome is super important for the stay. The bed is lofted above a charming sitting area, giving me a total throwback to girl scout camp when I was a kid sleeping in a bunk, although this was definitely cozier.
Perhaps the most exhilarating and simultaneously dumbest thing I've ever done happened after we explored the paths at Point Reyes.
The above polaroid flew out of Robert's hand, down the mountain and past the guard rail while he was trying to put them in my bag. I decided right then, it was too dangerous for him to try to grab it, but me? Of course not. Fast forward 30 seconds and I was covered in dirt and shaking, deciding that maybe I'm too old for that kind of recklessness. Jury is still out on that one, but regardless we now have a pretty great story to accompany one of my favorite pictures Robert took.
The light house was closed the particular day we went, but there's plenty to walk around and see, and the drive in is fun. South Beach, one of the foggy turn offs along the way to the light house was my favorite stop.
Boon Hotel + Spa
I'm so ready to go back to Boon.
This place made my heart sing as soon as we got on the property. Hidden in Guerneville, this little 14 room hotel has a perfectly retro vibe with things like continental breakfast delivered to your door each morning and an honor bar. Robert certainly had the most fun with that part, making cocktails for a handful of guests we made friends with. By the time we arrived here, I was ready to take it easy.
Guerneville is a cute woodsy town in the Russian River area, an easy drive from Russian River Brewery if you're looking for a good place for beer (highly recommended for the beer flight, especially the funky sours). Bikes are available and probably the best way to explore the area. The main street of town is close by and just down the road is the Armstrong Redwoods.
-Boon Eat + Drink
Armstrong Redwoods State Natural Reserve
A piece of advice...skip Muir.
If you're itching to get up close and personal with some redwoods, skip the bustle of Muir Woods and come here. We were marveling at how quiet the trails were and, to be honest, the lack of tourists and tour busses. There's a calm and crispness to the air that'll make you wish you could bottle it up and take it home with you. We would've had no idea this place existed had it not been half a mile down the road from Boon.
There is no possible way to get through even a small chunk of the Napa/Sonoma/Yountville wine scene quickly. We stayed in a super cute Airbnb right in Sonoma, close to lots of wineries but a bit of a drive for those located in Yountville and Napa proper.
Given the locations and vastness of it all, you're left to pick and choose what wineries seem most interesting, and ones that you can fit in with however long your stay is. Luckily, I had the insiders suggestions from my lovely friend whose family owns Jessup Cellars, the winery that kicked off our tasting and had some of our absolute favorite wine the whole trip. The vibe varies from formal to more casual, and with that in mind Scribe really won our hearts with the unexpected flavors, picnic tables, gorgeous views and super casual atmosphere. The snacks were also on point.
My mom got us interested in the wine from Stags' Leap recently, so we made an effort to squeeze in our very last tasting and tour there. I'm so glad we did. The history nerd in me was transfixed by the story behind the property and how its still being honored today. With tasting and tours by appointment only, that one takes a bit more planning but is undoubtedly worth it. Walking around the grounds, seeing things like palm trees, planted from seeds from the Canary Islands in the early 1900's, apple trees from about the same time (still growing apples you don't see anymore today)... it all just makes it feel like a magical place.