Day Trips from San Francisco

Greetings from India! We’re wrapping up our last few days here before we travel to Paris. I have to admit: I’m feeling a bit burnt out. This month has been crazy! Between traveling for work and to India and France, I’ll have spent just ten days at home. I’m looking forward to a quieter spring, but that doesn’t mean we won’t travel! I just want to take advantage of the great spots that are only a few hours drive from San Francisco for a day trip or a quick overnight. It blows my mind to think about all of the varying geographies and climates that are within a car ride from the Bay Area. Here’s what’s on my radar for our upcoming weekends.

San Francisco Day Trips
Castello di Amorosa Winery in Napa | via

Wine Country: In the two years we’ve lived in San Francisco we’ve been to Napa Valley just once. Embarrassing. We love Yountville for its culinary destinations like Bouchon Bakery, Ad Hoc, and Redd, but I would like to check out Sonoma, too. At only an hour and 15 minute drive away, wine country is a great way for us to spend a Saturday. Perhaps we’ll even take our dog and hit up the numerous dog-friendly wineries like Blackbird Vineyards or Paraduxx!

San Francisco Day Trips
El Capitan in Yosemite National Park | via

Yosemite: The national park is only three hours from San Francisco! It’s possible to see many of the Yosemite’s landmarks, like El Capitan, Bridalveil Falls, and Half Dome within a day trip. With the National Park centennial this year, I want to go before the summer tourist crush though.

The Mendocino Coast | via
The Mendocino Coast | via

The Mendocino Coast: The New York Times’ 36 Hours feature sold me on checking out the towns in Mendocino. The county is 3 1/2 hours north of San Francisco so it’s probably better suited to a weekend trip. A cabin among the redwoods or along the beach sounds like the perfect getaway.

Lake Tahoe | via
Lake Tahoe | via

Lake Tahoe: Tahoe is another place I’m embarrassed to admit we haven’t visited since moving here. I’m thinking this destination lends itself to a long weekend, too, perhaps for my birthday. Or maybe we should wait until the summer so we can really enjoy the lake!

Interested in other destinations within striking distance of San Francisco? Check out my previous trips to Carmel-by-the-Sea and Santa Cruz-to-Big Sur-to-Malibu!

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Bon Weekend: 20 March 2016

The Pink Palace, Jaipur | via
The Pink Palace, Jaipur | via

Today’s the day: we set off for our two week trip, hitting two continents during that time! We’ll be spending a little over a week in India, undertaking the Golden Triangle Tour of Delhi, Agra, and Jaipur. I’m looking forward to what should be some plum rest and relaxation in the famously posh hotels of Delhi and picking up some beautiful textiles.

Since this is a family trip, I’m sure it will be hectic, which is why we added a three day stop in Paris on the way back. We opted to rent an apartment through Airbnb for a more local experience this time around – ours is tucked away in a beautiful courtyard and across the street from an award-winning bakery. Parfait! We’ll be revisiting some of our favorite spots and also hitting up places we ran out of time to visit on our last trip like the Rodin Museum.

As always, follow along  on Instagram as I plan to be very active with my camera during the next two weeks!

Bon week-end,

LJ

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Sedona Weekend

Sedona Weekend

Last month, we spent a long weekend in Arizona. We spent most of the weekend in Sedona, but since we flew into Phoenix and spent the first night there, we delayed the 2 hour drive north in favor of checking out the city. Here’s the quick hits of what we did,  saw, and ate during our weekend in Sedona.

Sedona Weekend

Do:

  • Airport Loop Trail: This is probably the best trail for a leisurely hike while highlighting the most notable rock formations in Sedona: Bell Rock, Courthouse Butte, Coffee Pot Rock, and the Cockscombe. It’s also one of the best spots for viewing the sunrise or sunset – you’ll find a small parking lot on your left about halfway up to the trailhead to access Overlook Point for the best views.
  • Chapel of the Holy Cross: As an architecture buff, I appreciated the beauty of this Roman Catholic church literally built into the buttes.
  • Palatki Heritage Site: A World Heritage Site that offers a glimpse into the world of cliff-dwelling Native Americans. What’s left behind are a series of rooms (known as the Honanki Ruin) as well as numerous petroglyphs and pictographs left by many tribes.
  • ATV Tour: Mixed review here – an ATV tour is by far the most preferable way to access the Palatki Heritage Site, but the trails were decimated after this winter so it was not a particularly enjoyable experience. We recommend renting a two- or four-seat buggy vs. a traditional ATV.
  • Stargazing: Sedona benefits from minimal light pollution, thus allowing for exceptional stargazing. We made good use of the SkyView app every night!

Sedona Weekend

Eat: 

  • Elote Cafe: Elevated Mexican. Highlights included the elote, smoked pork cheeks, and flourless chocolate cake.
  • Wildflower Bread Company: A local chain, not too dissimilar from Panera!
  • Tortas de Fuego: Delicious hole-in-the-wall Mexican restaurant that is perfect for refueling after a long hike!
  • Schoolhouse Restaurant: Modern American, great for a nicer dinner.
  • Red Rock Cafe: A classic diner experience with a Southwestern twist.
  • Oak Creek Espresso: Essential for post-sunrise hiking.

Sedona Weekend

Sleep: We had an incredibly relaxing stay at the Sedona Rouge Hotel and Spa. Our suite was large and comfortable and I thoroughly enjoyed the turn-down service that is often missing these days!

Sedona Weekend

Other Sedona tips:

  • Plan the timing of your trip thoughtfully. Sedona gets very hot, so October to April is an ideal time to visit and still enjoy being outdoors. We visited at the end of February and enjoyed temperatures in the mid-80s during the peak of the afternoon temperatures.
  • Pack warm clothes. Even though Sedona is warm during the day, it’s in the desert so the evenings get cold, quickly!
  • Be prepared to get dirty. Given the red color of the rocks, if you’re hiking, it’s inevitable that you’ll be coated in a thin veil of auburn dust by the end.
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Planning a Trip to India: Part I

via
via

I’m excited to start a series of posts about planning our trip to India, which could also be titled: When a Travel Agent Saves You >$1,000. Today, I’m going to share about booking (last minute) flights and obtaining a visa (you can read about my first failed attempt here). Later posts will include what to pack and recaps full of photographs, reviews, and post-trip tips.

Our trip to India was my first attempt at navigating the ITA Matrix because I had extremely specific wants for our flights: a specific airline alliance, a specific stopover, and even a specific airplane (finally flying on the Dreamliner!). I’m not going to write a tutorial about using the ITA Matrix, but if you want to learn, I referenced this post from The Points Guy. (My favorite tip/routing code being “/ minconnect” for finding lengthy stopovers in a particular city!)

Once I had our itinerary identified, however, I was stuck. Without a travel agent, our tickets would cost $600 more to book directly with United. Fortunately, my parents have a long-standing relationship with a travel agent (Koch Travel Inc. in New Jersey, if you’re interested!) who helped me book at the lower rate.

Airfare and travel dates in-hand, we applied for our visas. Originally, I was under the impression that we had to go through CKGS, which looks to be a total nightmare based on most reviews. The best option is actually to apply online for an e-Tourist visa, which is a quicker process that results in a printable visa to carry with you.  The process took about 20 minutes and the hardest part was remembering all of the countries we’ve been to in the last 10 years!

There are some limitations with the eTV. Entry is restricted to select airports (but the major airports in India are on the list such as Delhi and Mumbai) and it can only be used for a maximum 30 days. For most tourists, this is a great option. You must apply for the eTV at least four days in advance of your arrival, which is great for taking advantage of last minute travel deals, too.

Now it’s time to finalize our itinerary and finish rounding out my capsule wardrobe for the trip!

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