July 22, 2014

Travel Tuesday: San Francisco Bay Area

Writing this post is going to make us both a little nostalgic, as we spent our last spring break of college touring the West Coast. For a week, we stayed in the Bay Area visiting one of our best friends and SF native, Christina, and Katie spent a few days networking with UNC's School of Journalism and Mass Communication.

Yes, we Southern girls fell in love with this city - the culture, the food, the style, and of the course, the scenery. SF is a thriving, lively place that has just about anything you could want in a travel destination. There are so many hidden gems and charming spots in and around the city - which makes it fun for two travel enthusiasts to explore! Thankfully, Christina - our travel guide - steered us clear from the tourist traps and showed us some of her favorite places off the beaten path.

This is by no means an all-inclusive list of "the best of San Francisco," however here are our picks that we found unique, delicious or beautiful during our week. We are already counting down the days until we can make our next trip back, for we just can't get enough of SF's vibrant culture, incredible views and blissful countryside retreats!

The City:

Oysters by the bay
For brunch. Bottomless mimosas are standard for weekend brunch in San Francisco. The three of us headed to Mission Rock Resort for just that, and Katie and I shared these oysters that just melted in our mouths. With a beautiful deck view of the bay, you can't get much better than adding champagne and fresh seafood to the mix.

For a fancy dinner. Sushi. In. San. Fransisco. All I can say is that my favorite meal of the trip was Elephant Sushi in Russian Hill. The tiny restaurant looks like a scene out of a movie, buzzing with people coming in and out. The wait is worth it, for the sushi combinations on the menu are to die for.

Drinks at Tonga Room
For our favorite food, Mexican. Stop in at Nick's Crispy Taco's for happy hour deals on margaritas and delicious tacos, of course!

For exploring
. Visit Crissy Field. Take your camera and snap gorgeous shots underneath the Golden Gate bridge, and make sure you get sand between your toes.

For treating yourself. Order a Mai Tai at Tonga Room and Hurricane Bar set in the Fairmont Hotel, and you'll feel like you're in Hawaii with its festive decor, live entertainment and yes, a rain storm.

For touring. Whatever you do, make sure you take a cable car to get around the city. Stop at Alamo Square at night for visual treat of the famous pastel Victorian homes illuminated by the downtown skyscrapers. Drive a little way out of the city and you'll find Sausalito - a picturesque community with amazing waterfront and panoramic views. We recommend ordering a pitcher of Bar Bocce's sangria to share and spend a whole afternoon out by the water.

Wine Country:

Nickel & Nickel Winery, Napa Valley
For sipping. This is what you come to Napa and Sonoma for - wine tasting galore! Out of all the wineries, Nickel & Nickel Winery was the most breathtaking. Tulips line the white fence in the spring, and in the summer, there are sunflowers. Just gorgeous. Also, thinking about tasting their Cabernet again makes my mouth water. And the horses, windmill, and beautifully decorated home were just icing on the cake.

For savoring. The Fremont Diner. Order up the classic tomato soup + broccoli rabe grilled cheese - your taste buds will thank you, I promise! This little side-of-the-road hot spot reminded me of the South, and they even served up some of our favorites like ham biscuits and shrimp + grits. With pies and canned jams stocking the shelves, you could just as easily mark this diner pure Southern bliss. It's a perfect stop if you're on your way into Sonoma and need a bite to eat before wine tasting.

The Fremont Diner
For fresh eats and wine on tap. Farmstead at Long Meadow Ranch. Order the kale salad with chile pequin, lemon dressing and toasted parmesan, and the meatballs with caramelized vegetables and tomato marmalede. A generous glass of Chardonnay (on tap mind you!) tops off the atmosphere of this farm-to-table restaurant, and you feel like you've escaped to somewhere completely new. It makes for a perfect end to a day of winery hopping.

For staying. To really find a peaceful escape while you're in Wine Country, stay at the Villagio in Napa Valley. You'll be welcomed by a mimosa bar, spa, and huge white bath robes. But the best part in my book - brunch the next morning. R+R at its finest.

Sonoma Valley

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