Healdsburg City Guide

Beautiful California Sunset over Healdsburg

Beautiful California Sunset over Healdsburg

Alex and I moved to Healdsburg, California about 4 months ago from the Bay Area and this so far has been one of our best decisions we have made since we returned to California.  Healdsburg is a great little wine country town located in the north of Sonoma County and it has everything we could want.  We thought that since this is a major town people visit when they come to wine country that we should highlight some of our favorite places and things to do.

 

We are by no means experts but hey we like wine and food and that is what this town is all about!

 

Vines of Alexander Valley at bud break

Vines of Alexander Valley at bud break

Wine Tasting:

The big draw of Healdsburg is that it is located between Dry Creek Valley, Alexander Valley and the Russian River Valley, which are three HUGE wine growing regions and because of this we have amazing wine and wineries located just minutes away.  We live in Healdsburg and we are always walking downtown where there are over 40 tasting rooms there and of course there are hundreds throughout the valleys.  That’s a lot of options but here are our favorites which we always seem to revisit:

 

Williamson:

 Williamson Wines

We may be partial to Williamson since all of our friends work there but they make fantastic wine and their wine tasting experience is amazing.  They are located just off the main plaza in Healdsburg on Matheson Street and our a family owned winery.  Dawn and Bill along with their son Sam, all fantastically friendly Aussies, have created their tasting room to be a fun environment to celebrate great wine and food.  The staff is awesome (which is why we are all friends….) and they are such a fun group.  Their tasting is also fantastic.  Williamson is all about pairing phenomenal wines with equally amazing food and you really get to experience this when you head to their tasting room.  Every tasting involves a cheese pairing and its not just a slice of cheddar either.  I am talking about Irish cheddar with truffle salt paired with their Passion Pinot Noir or a slice of mango ginger stilton paired with the Chantilly Chardonnay.  It is fantastic, visit Williamson you will not regret it.  Did I mention that the tasting is always free????

Delicious Pinot pairing at Williamson

Delicious pairing at Williamson

 

Toad Hollow:

 

There are toads everywhere at Toad Hallow!

There are toads everywhere at Toad Hallow!

Toad Hollow is delightfully fun tasting room just north of the plaza on Healdsburg Avenue.  They have an amazing tasting list where you get all the wines on it for $8, or free if you buy a bottle over $8.  They start you off with their awesome champagne actually made in France called Amplexus and then continue down the list.  They have an awesome rose which Alex and I are fans of and then a great red blend called Erik the Red.  If you are lucky they will pull out the Viking horns while you are there.

 

Cartograph:

 

Photo courtesy of cartographwines.com

Photo courtesy of cartographwines.com

Cartograph called our name as soon as we walked in and saw all the maps and references to longitude and latitude, as travelers we are suckers for maps (you should see our house), and it helped that Cartograph has awesome wine.  They currently have a Gewurztraminer on tap that is out of this world.  It is light and fresh and not sweet and at all.  It is a perfect wine for a lovely warm summer afternoon.  I am wishing I had a glass right now!  Cartograph also offers wine by the ½ liter so you can sit and enjoy your afternoon.

 

Chateau Diana:

 

Chateau Diana is located off Dry Creek Road in the famous Dry Creek Valley and they have a great selection of wines.  They have this amazing white wine called Fleur de Lys on their 1221 label which is 67% sauvignon blanc and 33% semillon; it is our go to white wine right now.  Chateau Diana is also famous for their Zombie Zin and they always have zombie themed parties going on.  Although Chateau Diana is a larger winery and you can find their wines across the country it is worth visiting their tasting room because some of their wines they only sell there including the 1221 label.  Also if you are a sweet wine fan they have a whole tasting list for sweet wine including a pink moscato.

 

Longboard:

 

Lounging out front at Longboard

Lounging out front at Longboard

Longboard is the perfect tasting room to have at the end of our street, one because the wines are great but two because it surf themed.  The tasting room is full of vintage surf boards and they always have surf videos playing as well.  They also are connected with the famous surf competition/spot Mavericks and one of their best cabs is called Mavericks after this.  Also every year they have a Mavericks party where surfers come out and the wine flows, but of course it was last Saturday and we missed it :(  Besides the Mavericks Cabernet Sauvignon they also make awesome Syrahs and one of the best Carignanes I have had in awhile.

 

Sbragia:

 

The view of Dry Creek Valley from Sbragia

The view of Dry Creek Valley from Sbragia.  Photo courtesy of Sbragia.com

Sbragia is located off of Dry Creek Road right before Lake Sonoma and is known for its stunning views.  While the tastings are on the expensive side it is totally worth it to bring a picnic up and buy a bottle.  You cannot beat the views of the valley from here and for me thats why it makes it onto the list.

 

Bergamot Alley:

 

My go to place for awesome old world sparkling!

My go to place for awesome old world sparkling!

Bergamot Alley is a bit different from the other wineries we have listed as it is a wine bar and not a winery.  Bergamot also does not serve any California wines, only Old World wines.  It is a great place to spend the evening especially if you are looking for some different wines and they always have fun events going on.  During summer on Tuesdays after Music in the Plaza they always have live music and on Mondays they play movies.  We saw “Caddy Shack” the other night and it was great, everyone was quoting the lines and it was just a great atmosphere.   Also Bergamot is open until 1am on the weekends and their record collection is enviable.

 

Ferrari Carano and Soda Rock Winery:

 

The Gardens at Ferrari Carano

The Gardens at Ferrari Carano

While these two wineries are not actually related, the list would not be complete without the wineries where we work.  Ferrari Carano is located in Dry Creek Valley and it looks like an Italian Villa and has some great Italian wines as well.  Alex’s favorite is the Siena which reminds us of all the amazing table wine you can get in Italy.  Soda Rock Winery is located in Alexander Valley and we specialize in Bordeaux varietals.  My personal favorites are the Cab Franc and the Petit Verdot which sadly we are almost always out of.  Soda Rock also looks like the Alamo and we have a Barn on property that is original and dates back to 1869.  Of course I ended up working somewhere historical….

 

This is what I do at Soda Rock; put on weddings

This is what I do at Soda Rock; put on weddings

 

Beer:

While we may be in Wine Country we are by no means lacking in awesome craft beers.  If you are driving to Healdsburg via San Francisco definitely consider a stop at Lagunitas in Petaluma (they have an awesome beer garden) or Russian River Brewing Company in Santa Rosa (Especially if Pliny the Elder is on tap).  However in town we have our own local brewery and its awesome, perhaps you have heard of Bear Republic or maybe its most famous beer Racer 5?  Yup they brew it in town and they have a brewery/brew pub which is open every day.  Not only do they always have Racer 5 on tap but they also have a ton of seasonal and special beers on tap.  Alex’s favorite was the Apex but unfortunately it won’t be back on tap until next MAY!  It is always worth a stop though even without Apex on tap.  They always have at least 10 beers on tap that they brew so you will find something you love and if you can’t decide you can always get a sampler.  They also have awesome garlic fries!  Bear Republic is located just off the plaza and is set back behind Dry Creek Kitchen at the intersection of Plaza St. and Healdsburg Ave.  If you head here now they also have a lovely beer garden outside.

 

Bear Republic not only has awesome beers but they also have fantastic garlic fries

Bear Republic not only has awesome beers but they also have fantastic garlic fries and gigantic burgers

 

Where to Eat:

Healdsburg has a wealth of places to eat and to be honest they are all good.  We do have our favorites though and since this is our guide you will now find out which ones we love.

 

Lunch:

Oakville Grocery:

Love this grocery store, pick up a sandwich and a bottle of wine and sit outside by the fire

Love this grocery store, pick up a sandwich and a bottle of wine and sit outside by the fire

Oakville Grocery is more of an upscale deli with a small selection of fresh fruit and veggies and a lot of wine.  They have awesome (if slightly expensive) sandwiches and salads.  They also have pizza as well.  Alex has had their sausage pizza which was great.  It helps that the sausage was homemade too.  My personal favorite sandwich is the chicken Gruyere with melted cheese, caramelized red onions and fig jam.  Hello, so good.  Oakville Grocery is also located conveniently next to Williamsons on Matheson St.

 

Taqueria El Sombrero:

Photo courtesy of SF Gate

Photo courtesy of SF Gate

When Alex and I are feeling Mexican this is where we go.  It is a small taqueria and has all of our mexican favorites.  I particularly love the Torta with chicken, guacamole and sour cream.  Alex loves their carnitas and lengua (tongue) tacos.  They also have gigantic breakfast burritos.  These things could feed a family of four.  Taqueria El Sombrero is located on Center St.  just south of Oakville Grocery.

 

The Wurst:

The Wurst is open late and it is always tempting just to stop by...

The Wurst is open late and it is always tempting just to stop by…

The Wurst is a perfect spot if you want something equally delicious and bad for you (but in a good way).  They specialize in sausages and have all kinds.  You can choose your sausage and condiments if you like or you can get one of their combos.  The Greenbay Brat is a mouthful with caramelized onions, Liar’s Dice BBQ sauce, bacon, cheddar, and butter pickles.  They also have burgers and salads….  The burgers are fantastic but we have no experience with the salads and they have great local beers on tap if you are all wined out.  The Wurst is located on Matheson St. across the plaza from Williamson and has a great outdoor patio for enjoying the day.

If you are feeling burgers The Wurst does not disappoint, this Smash Burger was about the best I have had

If you are feeling burgers The Wurst does not disappoint, this Smash Burger was about the best I have had

 

Big Johns:

Big John's Market

Big Johns is the perfect grocery store if you are looking for picnic supplies.  They have an awesome selection of cheeses and great bread from Costeaux Bakery.  They also have an awesome deli and salad bar.  Did I mention their olive bar?  This grocery is perfect for picking up all things local just on the touch expensive side if you feel like shopping here for your everyday items.

 

Dinner: 

Baci:

 

You are looking at probably the best gnocchi al bolognese outside of Italy.  Did I mention that the sauce has short ribs in it!

You are looking at probably the best gnocchi al bolognese outside of Italy. Did I mention that the sauce has short ribs in it!

Baci is freaking amazing.  Alex has been writing a post about how much we love Baci and it will be up soon but suffice to say we are a bit of Italian food snobs and we LOVE Baci; it has the best Italian food in town, end of story.

 

Willi’s:

Oysters at Willi's

Oysters at Willi’s

Willi’s is all about small plates; delicious, delicious small plates.  They have a great raw bar that Alex is in love with and they have phenomenal fish tacos.  They also have a daily ceviche, may have converted me to like sauteed spinach, and have the best chorizo and melted cheese dip served with fritos!  Cheese dip and fritos!  Nothing else needs to be said.  (They have a phenomenal wine list too)

 

Dry Creek Kitchen:

dry-creek-kitchen-logo

Dry Creek Kitchen is one of the best restaurants in town and also probably one of the most expensive.  Alex and I have only been once; we went for his birthday dinner and we went all out.  I am talking appetizers, our main dishes and of course dessert and 2 bottles of wine.  We had this amazing bottle of ORANGE sauvignon blanc, suggested to us by the sommelier, which you may have seen on our Instagram a few months ago.  It is one of the best “white” wines I have ever had.  We also brought a bottle of Cabernet from 1990; it was a gift from a family friend of Alex for his birthday.  The appetizers we had were amazing, the smoked trout pasta, gnocchi with goat cheese and the scallops with black truffle butter were some of the best appetizers I have had in awhile.  For our main dish I had the halibut with a squid ink crust and Alex had the Char Grilled New York Steak.   This was one of the best meals I have ever had.  If you are looking for an experience head here.

 

Zin:

Photo courtesy of Trip Advisor

Photo courtesy of Trip Advisor

Zin is amazing.  I will admit however that I come here for the Mexican Beer Battered Green Beans.  All of their food is fantastic (especially their gumbo) but the green beans take the cake.  They come with a sauce that changes seasonally and right now they come with a mango salsa.  Their main menu also changes seasonally and specializes in local ingredients.

 

Cafe Lucia:

Cafe Lucia has some of the best Sea Bass I have ever had, especially when they have the whole fish on special

Cafe Lucia has some of the best Sea Bass I have ever had, especially when they have the whole fish on special

Cafe Lucia is our favorite Portuguese restaurant in town, well it is the only the Portuguese restaurant in town, but we still love it.  We have taken almost all of our friends and family who have come to visit here and it hasn’t disappointed.  They have a great wine list with some amazing Vinho Verde from Portugal and they also don’t charge corkage if you bring a local wine.  The appetizers at Cafe Lucia are to die for; Alex loves the whole grilled sardines and I love the scallops crusted in chorizo (Are you noticing a scallop theme?).  My absolute favorite main dish here is the whole roasted sea bass and Alex has had some amazing main dishes including the traditional Bacalhau no Forno which is a casserole of salt cod, potatoes, and olives.  Cafe Lucia is one of the friendliest restaurants in town and the fact that I can end every meal with a wonderful glass of port is a win in my book.

 

And this is their chocolate dessert plate; mousse, mint chip ice cream and souffle!  Paired with a port and I am the happiest person in the world!

And this is their chocolate dessert plate; mousse, mint chip ice cream and souffle! Paired with a port and I am the happiest person in the world!

 

Bravas:

The back patio at Bravas is the perfect place to spend the afternoon

The back patio at Bravas is the perfect place to spend the afternoon

Bravas is the sister restaurant of Willi’s and specializes in Spanish tapas.  Alex and I stopped in here for a few appetizers and some sangria and then we saw the menu….  We ended up staying for quite awhile.  We started out with some delicious, crisp Alberino white wine and some Pan Tomate.  Pan Tomate is so simple but so good, there is something so delicious about toasted bread with tomatoes rubbed on it.  We then had a goat cheese crostini with truffle honey and a reduced sherry sauce.  These two dishes alone sold me on Bravas and then we kept eating and ordering more drinks.  We finally finished off the meal with some cava sangria and toast covered in nutella with orange zest and vanilla sea salt.  These may not be the most traditional Spanish tapas you have ever had but man are they delicious.

 

Pan Tomate

Pan Tomate

This goat cheese crostini is like crack, we have to order it every time

This goat cheese crostini is like crack, we have to order it every time

 

To Do:  (Besides Wine Tasting)  There are other things to do in Healdsburg besides wine tasting and eating, although these are perfectly acceptable things to do when you are on vacation or just enjoying your weekend.  If you find yourself food and wined out however here are some of our favorite other activities.

 

“Hiking” Armstrong Woods:

 

Alex in the Redwoods next to Parson Jones one of the oldest trees in Armstrong Woods

Alex in the Redwoods next to Parson Jones one of the oldest trees in Armstrong Woods

Hiking is a bit too strong of a word to use for this walk through the woods but it is a great two hour walk through the redwoods.  If you do not feel like heading up farther north, Armstrong Woods is a great way to get in your redwood kick.  The trees are giant and there are a lot fun photo opportunities to goof off in the trees.  It is also a nice place to escape some of the summer heat.

 

Floating down the River:

The Russian River

The Russian River

Floating down the Russian River is one of the most popular activities here on the weekends even with the water level fairly low.  There are still great places where you can lounge and float down the river just don’t forget to bring some cold bottles of white wine with you!

 

Tuesdays in the Plaza:

Tuesdays in the Plaza is a great summer tradition in Healdsburg.  Basically every Tuesday the plaza in downtown Healdsburg turns into a festival, there is live music, fantastic food stands (aka The Wurst) and you can bring your own food, beer and wine into the Plaza to enjoy all the music.  I am pretty sure the entire town comes out for music in the Plaza and space is coveted.  People even stake out their spots as early as 11am!  It is totally worth it to come by even if you end up with a spot with less than ideal views.

 

Lake Sonoma:

Lake Sonoma is a great spot for boating, fishing and you can actually kayak all the way to the ocean

Lake Sonoma is a great spot for boating, fishing and you can actually kayak all the way to the ocean

Lake Sonoma is located just outside of town, only about 10 minutes north of Ferrari Carano, and is a perfect place to spend an afternoon.  Lake Sonoma is a great spot to rent a boat or even some canoes or kayaks.  You can even kayak all the way to the Pacific Ocean from the Lake.

 

Hiking Mt. Saint Helena:

This was one of the first views we had as we climbed the mountain.  The first 1/2 hour was in the trees and then we reached the fire trail and were greeted with this view

This was one of the first views we had as we climbed the mountain. The first 1/2 hour was in the trees and then we reached the fire trail and were greeted with this view

Hiking Mt. Saint Helena is not for the faint of heart if you read our most recent post about it but it is so worth it.  Where Armstrong Woods is all about relaxing and enjoying the giant redwoods Mt. Saint Helena is all about conquering the mountain.  However the reward is stunning views of Napa, Sonoma and even the Pacific Ocean.  Mt. Saint Helena is the perfect outdoor activity to burn off all those scallops in truffle butter that you have been eating :)

 

Healdsburg is such a perfect town to experience Northern California Wine Country.  It is not nearly as crowded as Napa or even Sonoma and abounds in options of places to eat and drink.  It is also easily accessible from San Francisco (we are only an hour and a half away!) and we are only 45 minutes away from the coast.  Also we are here!  This is such a perfect town and these are just a few of our favorite places and I didn’t even mention SpoonBar which makes some of the best cocktails I have ever had!  Come visit us and explore our awesome town!

 

SpoonBar Pisco Sour, just one of their many delightfully fun cocktails

SpoonBar Pisco Sour, just one of their many delightfully fun cocktails

The Versatile Blogger Award….Again!

versatile-blogger-award-moonshine-and-sunligh-L-AKU8QV

We are so happy to be nominated for the Versatile Blogger Award again! Thank you to Travelling Buzz for the nomination!  We are so incredibly honored to have received another blogging award.  Maria at Travelling Buzz is a 22 year old Bulgarian who takes some pretty amazing photos of Bulgaria.  We definitely will be making a stop in Bulgaria after looking at all of her gorgeous photos!

We have decided that since we were already nominated we would give 7 more facts about us but keep our same nominees.  To see who we have nominated take a look here.

 

Now 7 more facts about Ashley and Alex:

 

1.  Ashley majored in Classical Archaeology aka Greek and Roman archaeology, which job-wise is pretty limiting but did lead to her moving to Rome.  Her favorite Roman emperor is Hadrian in case you were wondering.

Bust of Hadrian from the Capitoline Museum in Rome, Italy

Bust of Hadrian from the Capitoline Museum in Rome, Italy

Alex is a communication major only because his school did not have separate writing program.  His final thesis was writing a full length screenplay and this film experience is one of the reasons we hope to make a documentary when we head out for our Round the World trip.

2.  Alex absolutely loves Shakespeare; his dad asked him to read 5 Shakespeare tragedies in the 8th grade to see if he really wanted a paintball gun, not only did he get his paintball gun but he also now loves randomly quoting Shakespeare, which I never get.  “Nothing becomes of nothing” – apparently…

While Ashley may know nothing of Shakespeare she has an odd fascination with the English monarchs and has probably read every known historical fiction book about Queen Elizabeth and she she has seen every episode of The Tudors too.

3.  Alex originally wanted to become a herpetologist  which is a person who studies reptiles and amphibians.  Basically he wanted to be Steve Irwin and spent his childhood catching lizards.

Alex playing with the iguana at the beach bar in Rawaii

Alex playing with the iguana at the beach bar in Rawaii

Ashley originally went to college to study marine biology and then they told her she had to take chemistry, not her strongest suite.  She ended up going to Crete for the summer and thus ended up with an archaeology degree.

4.  Alex’s dream destination is Japan; all he wants to do is eat puffer fish and drink sake.  There is a reason I don’t let him go for sushi alone.

Ashley’s dream destination is Machu Picchu.  She has wanted to go since she was little and was given a mini archaeology kit from the Imaginarium, thank you Mom and Dad.

5.  We both love to collect books.  Ashley has an old collection of Nancy Drew books from her aunt; they are wonderfully old with pages falling out and moldy covers, and Alex has an impressive collection of leather bound Louis L’Amore books from his grandfather.

6.  We are absolute Disneyland fanatics.  A summer without Disneyland is a summer wasted.  We buy new ears whenever we are there; it is tradition.

Ya we are super cool

Ya we are super cool

7.  Alex recently gave me a record player and since then we have become avid record collectors, our favorite bar in Healdsburg even does all their music based off records.  Gotta love going old school!  My favorite record old record is Ella Fitzgerald and my favorite modern record is Ryan Adams (best concert ever!) and Alex’s favorite album is Bob Dylan’s “Blood on the Tracks”.

 

So there we have it, you guys got to know a little bit more about us!  Thank you Maria for nominating us and don’t forget to check out our nominees and learn a little bit more about us!

-Alex and Ashley

Our Favorite Summer Destinations

The Arches in Oregon from our Pacific Northwest Road trip

The Arches in Oregon from our Pacific Northwest Road trip

Summer is almost half way over, can you believe it?!  We certainly can’t.  This summer has felt more like summer than the past ones for Alex and I and so in honor of summer and how wonderful it is, we thought we would put together a list of our favorite summer destinations from our past articles.  That way when the cold starts again and we are dreaming of summer we can always come back to this post and think of all of our great summer trips!

 

The Cinque Terre

The Rock at Monterossa, one of the 5 towns in that make up the Cinque Terre

The Rock at Monterossa, one of the 5 towns in that make up the Cinque Terre

The Cinque Terre is 5 small cities located along the Italian Riviera and are some of my favorite Italian beaches.  They are characterized by bright houses built into the cliffside and the bright aquamarine Mediterranean Sea.  The Cinque Terre is a perfect summer destination for relaxing along the beach, hiking the 5 cities and overindulging in Trofie al Pesto, one of the best dishes in the region.

 

Crete

This is Matala on the south coast of Crete.  The rock is covered with manmade caves from the neolithic period and in the 1960s they were completely overrun by hippies

This is Matala on the south coast of Crete. The rock is covered with manmade caves from the neolithic period and in the 1960s they were completely overrun by hippies

Crete is possibly my favorite place in the entire world and this is a perfect place for a summer trip whether you are interested in relaxing by the sea, hiking, eating amazing food or exploring Crete’s fascinating history.  You can explore the ruins of Phaistos and Knossos which date back to 2000BCE or you can hike the Samarian Gorge and after go for a swim in the Mediterranean.  Crete has it all and the people are so fantastically friendly.  Crete will always be one of my top destinations regardless.

 

Paris

The Sacre Coure dominates the skyline of Montmartre in Paris

The Sacre Coure dominates the skyline of Montmartre in Paris

While Paris in the Springtime may have been made famous thanks to Ella Fitzgerald, Paris is a city you can visit at any time of the year.  Summer can be busy but it is worth it to just wander the city.  Think long afternoons in the park by the Eiffel Tower, taking a long coffee break at an outdoor cafe, dining in the late evening while the sun sets at 10pm and then having a Kir Royale or listening to live music in a bar.  Paris is meant for the summer.  Soak up the sun, eat glace, visit Versailles, and live the Parisian life.

 

Rawaii

Absolutely love the longtail boats all over the islands of Thailand.  So glad we were able to hitch a ride on one of these bad boys to Coral Island

Absolutely love the longtail boats all over the islands of Thailand. So glad we were able to hitch a ride on one of these bad boys to Coral Island

I think we can safely say that our absolutely favorite place in Thailand was Rawaii.  Rawaii was everything we wanted out of Thailand.  We rented a beach house, we drank beers all day at the Paradise Beach Bar, we rented a longboat and visited nearby Coral Island.  It was essentially paradise and I could stay there forever, or at least all summer long, drinking mai tais on the beach.

 

Sedona

Bell Rock Sedona

Bell Rock Sedona

Summer in Arizona can be hot but that doesn’t mean you should stay away especially if you plan on visiting Sedona.  Sedona is the heart of red rock country in Arizona and it is well worth a trip to see these beautiful mountains.  I would highly suggest taking a sunset jeep ride through the red rocks, it was so exhilarating!

 

Brussels

The medieval Grand Place n the heart of Brussels

The medieval Grand Place n the heart of Brussels

 

Our summer weekend trip to Brussels was perfect.  It was full of exploring the quaint cultural center of Brussels, discovering pubs and eating frittes and waffles!  Brussels is a little different than your typical summer beach retreat but Brussels has everything you want out of a European city.  Plus any excuse to drink rare Belgian beers is A OK with me!  And make sure to overindulge in the waffles and beer, after all bikini season is only a few months :)

 

Thessaloniki

The Harbor in Thessaloniki

The Harbor in Thessaloniki

Thessaloniki is our absolute favorite city to escape to.  Whenever Rome would get overwhelming we would pop over to Thessaloniki to chill out.  There is not a ton in the way of sightseeing, you can see the sites in a day really but it is a great city to explore the small streets, visit the markets, spend all day out at the harbor drinking frapes and then head out for a late dinner and some even later nightlife.  When you finally make it back to your hostel make sure it is Little Big House for one of the best hostel experiences Alex and I have had.

 

Disneyland

A summer without at least one Disneyland trip is a summer wasted

A summer without at least one Disneyland trip is a summer wasted

What can we say?  We are suckers for Disneyland and a summer is not complete without at least one trip to Disneyland, although I always try to go early June before school is out of late August/early September once school is back in.  However, if someone asked me to go tomorrow, I totally would.  Every time Alex and I go we always get new Mickey ears as well, it has become somewhat of a tradition. And a trip to Disneyland is also not complete without a Dole pineapple whip and watching the fireworks; there are no better fireworks in the world.

 

Rome

The sprawling city of Rome

The sprawling city of Rome

We just recently published an article all about Rome in summer and all the awesome things that Rome has going on in the summer but all I really have to say is GELATO at any time of the day! If that isn’t enough to make you want to visit Rome I don’t know what is.  Sure they have the Pantheon and the Vatican, and maybe their neighborhoods are full of charm, and the pizza and pasta is to die for, and they perform operas in old Roman bath complexes; but we all know the real reason to visit Rome in the summer, it is Gelato and it always will be.


What are some of your favorite summer destinations?  

A Glimpse of Mt. Saint Helena

The other day Alex and I had our first weekend off together in a long time and we had been feeling lazy…and broke.  So we decided to do something free and active.  We decided to climb Mt. Saint Helena, and it was a wonderful/crazy idea.  I actually have never climbed a mountain besides Vesuvius, and honestly it is not that hard considering most tours (and mine) drive you more than 75% of the way up, so while I was the one who suggested climbing the mountain I was more than wary of what I had gotten us into.  Mt. Saint Helena is the tallest mountain in Sonoma County and the hike is 5 miles up 2,000ft and of course you always have to go back down.  Alex and I did it however and it only took us 4 1/2 hours!  I am amazed that I was able to climb the mountain and it was utterly exhilarating to have accomplished this. Here are some photos from our awesome adventure!

This was one of the first views we had as we climbed the mountain.  The first 1/2 hour was in the trees and then we reached the fire trail and were greeted with this view

This was one of the first views we had as we climbed the mountain. The first 1/2 hour was in the trees and then we reached the fire trail and were greeted with this view

Then we realized there would not be any shade for the next 4 hours..... BRING LOTS OF WATER!

Then we realized there would not be any shade for the next 4 hours….. BRING LOTS OF WATER!

Still so far to go!  The summit looked close but this was about an hour away from the top

Still so far to go! The summit looked close but this was about an hour away from the top

After 2 hours we reached the summit and this was our first view after a the steepest part of the trail.  We decided to take the fork to the southern summit too which was much closer than the northern summit.

After 2 1/2 hours we reached the summit and this was our first view after a the steepest part of the trail. We decided to take the fork to the southern summit too which was much closer than the northern summit.

Then we turned the corner and were greeted with the view of Napa Valley, Calistoga and Alexander Valley

Then we turned the corner and were greeted with the view of Napa Valley, Calistoga and Alexander Valley

We then spent about 20 minutes searching for the picnic benches.  Don’t fret they are behind the cell towers and to get there you just need to take the second trail on the right.  There will be 3 benches with a map of the vista.

We made it!

We made it!

On a clear day you can see Mt. Diablo in the East Bay, Lake Berryessa in Napa and sometimes the Sierras

On a clear day you can see Mt. Diablo in the East Bay, Lake Berryessa in Napa and sometimes the Sierras

Look at that view!  So excited to be on a mountain!

Look at that view! So excited to be on a mountain!

Mt. Saint Helena is located on Highway 29 in Calistoga, CA.  To reach Louis Robert Stevenson Park simply follow Highway 29 up the mountain until you see a sign on the right side of the road and a parking lot on the left; pull in either to the right or the left as they both count as parking lots.  The trail head is on the right hand side.  The beginning is fairly simple with a few switchbacks as you head up the mountain and then you will reach the Louis Robert Stevenson memorial.  Once you reach this point which should take about 20 minutes take the eroded/barely there trail off to your right.  Don’t take the scary trail up to the cave, this will not take you to the top of the mountain.  The trail on your right will connect to a fire road, turn left and head straight on till morning or at least to the top of the mountain.  It is a great hike just know if you go in the summer make sure to bring plenty of water.  We brought about 2 1/2 liters of water and really I wish it had been more.  Also it is great to bring lunch because there are picnic benches at the summit where you can relax and enjoy the view before heading back down the mountain.

View of the valley

View of the valley

If you find yourself in Sonoma County and you have found that you have been wine tasting too much in Healdsburg and need a break than definitely head to Mt. Saint Helena, also the famous Chateau Montelena (the winery from the movie “Bottle Shock”) is at the bottom of the mountain.

Happy 4th of July!

Hello Everyone,

We just quickly wanted to wish our American readers a Happy 4th of July!  We hope that you are celebrating with a BBQ and fireworks!  We may be at work all day today but we will be celebrating mentally.  I hope the fireworks over town are visible tonight :)

Happy 4th of July

 

-Ashley and Alex