So you’re going to Northern California, but you only have a few days to do it? Sounds familiar. Mr. Grassroofs and I were visiting family and thus were dividing our time between visiting with them and being tourists (with some hope for simple down time thrown in the mix too).
We recommend staying in Sacramento. It is a lovely town in it’s own right, but has the added benefit of being about an hour and a half from ALL the THINGS! I won’t write about Tahoe and other adventures farther inland, but Sacramento is a great place to stay if you have an interest in exploring those too.
Here is the two day itinerary we recommend:
Day 1: Napa
– Begin your day with a drive through the rolling hills of the Napa Valley, pop some folk music into you rental car stereo and cruise through the lovely country side.
– Stop at a vineyard and have a tasting and tour. We liked William Hill Estates. But you will surely have success at most of the vineyards in the area.
– Perhaps your first tasting location will give you a half-off coupon for another tasting room (William Hill did!). In which case, you should go to the second tasting room. This is some of the best wine in the country, so take full advantage of it!
– Stop by The Farmstead restaurant for appetizers and drinks. Be sure to try the local bourbon, Hooker’s House. Mr. Grassroofs claims it is the best ever. If they have the cheesecake that comes in a mason jar, then you MUST get it. Next to my mom’s this is probably the best cheesecake I’ve ever had.
– Enjoy some more driving through the country- it is exquisite, after all. Make your way toward downtown Napa.
– Eat some more snacks at Oxbow Public Market. Enjoy the weird juxtaposition of bustling energy and relaxed appreciation of the world. Try Ritual Coffee and top everything off with an ice cream from Three Twins.
Day 2: San Francisco
– Begin your day at the Sutro Baths at Land’s End. Enjoy the murkiness and pen the next great mystery novel. You can do it! Take lots of photos and hike around on some of the trails to enjoy the view of the Golden Gate Bridge. Take water and maybe a snack, because there are only two restaurants near-by and they both tend to be overpriced, one is even cash only.
– Grab an Über or a cab across town to the Ferry Terminal. Eat your way through the building (using our handy dandy eating guide), drink coffee, celebrate local artistry and enjoy even more views of bridges, this time the Bay Bridge.
– Take a cable car from the Ferry Terminal to the end of the line and walk off some of your delicious foody fullness before making your way to Ghirardelli Square for a look at some old-fangled chocolate making machinery. Share (or don’t share) an ice cream sundae, revel in the soda shoppe environment, maybe get serenaded.
– Walk through the pier area. As you walk off all that sugar, take the time to appreciate all the trick skaters and people painted as gold statues. The National Park Service’s boat restoration exhibit is worth a glance.
– If you get hungry again, we recommend Scoma’s for a bowl of clam chowder and a setting that convinces you that you are actually on a boat.
– Driving? This would be a perfect time to drive across the Golden Gate Bridge into Sausalito and mill around. We loved the Barrel House, which had sodas made in-house and infused with things like rosemary for a pleasant surprise.
And that’s it. We know there are several thousand more wonderful things to do in either town. But if you do these things, we think you’ll have a perfect time and will feel very satisfied with your visit. Are you an avid Bay Area Aficionado? What would you add to or remove from this list?