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California Vacation

We decided to spend months planning and saving to do another California vacation. This time we wanted to go to a place that we’ve always talked about, Napa Valley! However, we didn’t want to just spend 2 weeks drinking wine (as fun as that would be), we wanted to take advantage of other things in California – so we spend a few days in beautiful San Francisco as well.

Not a reader? Click here for a quick video. Be sure to come back to this post to get some tips and tricks on our vacation.

We stayed at the Hilton in Downtown San Francisco, this is the view right out side the lobby.

On this blog, I’ll lay out our exact vacation to Cali, including our planned out route with some tips and tricks that could save you time, money and will make this trip even more perfect than you can imagine.

Since Cali is so big and there’s so much to do I broke down our daily plan and if we reserved/booked in advance I put that in the spreadsheet (below) so we can budget out the vacation. Of course we improvised a lot of our time there and didn’t reserve every event we did but laying out how much it would cost us gave a good idea of how much we’ll be spending. You don’t want to show up on vacation and have no money by day three, right…

The hotels and flights are really cheap because I used a lot of my hotel/flight rewards. By the way, if you’re not enrolled in a rewards program, what are you doing?!

We landed in Oakland, since it was a little cheaper than took an Uber to San Francisco which is just one bridge over. The next couple days are going to be busy, so we went straight to the hotel to get some rest.

We started the morning by grabbing a free breakfast at the hotel, trust me you’ll want to save money – if it’s free, eat it. Then we’re off to grab our car rental. Now if you’re vacationing to Michigan during the winter, grab a Toyota Corolla but if you’re in California and it’s 70 degrees all day, do what we did and grab a convertible mustang!

We wanted to take this bad boy on the road so we started to make our 20 mile (40min) ride to The Golden Gate Bridge. If you’re coming from Downtown San Fran, take the long way and check out The Conservation of Flowers. We didn’t even plan on this but it was beautiful and worth stopping by.

Our next stop, The Golden Gate Bridge (GGB)! It was tough to pick the perfect spot since we’ve heard recommendations but the first spot we went to we View Vista Point, though it was packed with other tourists like ourselves, the view was absolutely breathtaking. You can even see Alcatraz from the view…

After taking a few dozen great pics, we made our way down to the curved road below this look out point to a little hidden gem, Fort Baker. It’s right below View Vista Point but no one seemed to go there. We couldn’t believe how beautiful the GGB view was from there. Yes, we definitely took EVEN more pictures from here!

As hard as it was to leave this spot, we needed to keep going. Next stop was Sausalito. You may have heard of this place, it’s like a little private (tourist destination) marina town that has beautiful views and great food. We were excited to have the top down on the Mustang and scope this place out.

After we parked the car (just find the first spot), we wanted to walk around this town which is sprinkled with cool unique shops and sunny views.

Before we left we grabbed lunch at Barrel House Tavern, which had some really great food and unique drinks. Be sure to make a reservation before you go and ask for waterfront view, it’s epic.

Photo courtesy of Barrel House Tavern’s website

We saw so many beautiful things on day one (technically day two), so we headed back to the hotel but on the way, we had to stop at the Full House Houses! It’s close to Downtown SF so if you have time and your geeks like us, you need to check it out!

Type in Full House House on your GPS and it’ll show up 😉

Side Note: There’s obviously a lot of things to do in SF but be sure to check out Groupon, we found a lot of great deals on some of the places we went to, One of the nights we went to an underground Comedy Club that was actually really fun and super cheap.

The next day was full of adventure (and walking)! We booked the “early bird” special in advance (sells out quick) with Alcatraz Cruises. The early bird is the way to go, it’s not busy and it gave us more “alone time” on the island before the large crowds came in.

The Alcatraz Cruise is a short ride from Pier 39 to the island but there’s nothing but great views on the way. They even serve food and drinks for an additional cost.

They have a few different packages but once you arrive on the island, the cruise comes about every hour to pick up visitors. So you can stay as long as you want and there’s so much to see you won’t be board…

Once you get back to the pier, there’s so much to do. Restaurants, coffee shops and yes, the famous seals you always hear about. Spend some time walking around, it’s a lot of fun.

Side Note: Before you leave SF, be sure to have dinner at Flor d’Italia. One of the best Italian places I’ve been to with some unbelievable food and an experience that makes you feel like you’re overseas (pictured below)…

The very next day was our last unfortunately, so on Sunday we decided to end our 4 day San Francisco adventures by taking the convertible on a one last ride. There’s some great stops along the coast so we drove south on US1 from downtown SF then all the way down to Half Moon Beach. After some fun on the beach we cut back east then made our way back up north checking out the views from the other side of the city.

Now it’s time to finish our vacation at a dream destination, Napa Valley! Click here to see the rest of our trip!

One Comment

  1. […] an entire year in Napa but if you didn’t know, this is Part Two of our trip to California. Click Here for Part One if you haven’t seen it – we visited San Francisco before this part of the […]

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