Travel Diaries : CALIFORNIA

Big Sur

In March of 2018, we decided we needed a break, some time just the two of us to get away! We looked at the calendar & checked with Kyle’s work schedule and found a week in May that we had no shoots, nothing pressing, and could easily get away for a week of vacation! MARK. THE. CALENDAR.

We researched some different places in the US and decided on California! We had never gone on vacation to California, even though we had been through a few times in the past – most of the time we were working! We knew we wanted to see a few different places, and also wanted to relax – so our plan was to pick 3 destinations and spend a few days at each of them! We rented a car and road tripped from place to place!

It was AWESOME! The weather wasn’t as warm as we were expecting, but that’s okay! We had some amazing experiences & made some really good memories – and as us Codys do on vacation – ate a LOT of really delicious food.

Here’s the Details : 

Flights : We flew Alaska Airlines – OUR FAVORITE AIRLINE OF ALL TIME. We had some miles banked, so our tickets were cheap & flew First Class on the way down for just a few extra miles! Super fun!

Rental Car : We always rent our cars through Costco Travel! After an amazing experience when we went to Ireland, we forever will sing the praises of Costco Travel! Their rental car prices cannot be beat & their vacation packages are also incredible! We booked a standard sedan, but when we checked in – they asked us if we wanted to upgrade. The prices of upgrades are always less expensive if you do them at the counter, at least in our experience! So – Kyle got to drive a Dodge Challenger all week long…And I just hid in the passenger seat whenever he started the car, LOL.

Stop #1 : Calistoga, Napa Valley

Hotel : Calistoga Motor Lodge & Spa | http://www.calistogamotorlodgeandspa.com

We found this place online and liked the idea of staying somewhere in Napa that seemed to be a little less busy. Calistoga is a town in the North end of Napa Valley and we loved it! This place was really fun! It was like they took an old motel & completely updated it while keeping the retro vibes and vintage touches! We had fun, but since the weather was so chilly – we didn’t spend time by the pool or in the spa, and that was one of the things I was looking forward to.

Resturant Recommendations :

Ad Hoc in Yountville, CA : https://www.thomaskeller.com/adhoc

This will forever be one of my sweetest memories with Kyle. We had nothing planned, except hotel reservations – and one dinner reservation. For THIS restaurant.

If you are ever in Napa Valley – you NEED to make this a stop. Thomas Keller is probably most famous for “The French Laundry”, but this. THIS feels like coming home. Portions are served family style, and there is a new menu each night. Everyone eats the same 4 courses – and there are special dishes that you can add, called supplements.

On the way back to our hotel, I cried. It was perfect. The waiter was kind, the food was AMAZING, and the whole night felt like a deep breath. The kind where you finally realize that you don’t have to keep rushing – but that it’s okay to be 100% present.

We are already dreaming about going back. And this photo is going in a frame on my nightstand to remind me once again, that time spent around the table with people I love is the very BEST thing I can do with my life.

Sam’s Social Club in Calistoga, CAhttps://samssocialclub.com

Our first dinner in Cali was at Sam’s Social Club. It felt exactly like vacation. The decor is beautiful and feels tropical, the food was AMAZING, and we loved our experience! Kyle ordered a rib eye that made me so jealous & I ordered a whole roasted cauliflower steak. OMG. I am not a vegetarian, but if all non-meat meals tasted like this cauliflower, I would get on board! SO good.

 

Stop #2 : Monterey, CA

Hotel : Monterey Plaza Hotel & Spa | Website

Whenever we check into a hotel, we ask if there are any upgrades avaliable. Sometimes, the answers will surprise you! We were able to upgrade to an oceanview suite with a balcony…Make that 3 balconies. It was INCREDIBLE. Every morning we opened all the windows & drapes to look out onto the bay. We saw otters, sea lions, and even a pod of dolphins one morning! We spent a lot of time relaxing in Monterey. Reading books on the balconies. Drinking coffee in our pajamas. We loved this experience and it was perfect location in Monterey in order to

17 Mile Drive | https://www.pebblebeach.com/17-mile-drive/

We LOVED this! The 17 Mile Drive is one of the most beautiful pieces of landscape in the country. It is a gated community that costs $10ish to get in, but if you stop at one of the resorts for a meal, they will apply the fee toward the cost of your meal! We did this drive 2 times and loved looking at all of the scenery! We even stopped one night, brought a blanket, and watched the sunset on the beach. It was easily one of my favorite moments from the trip!

Drive to Big Sur : 

This was the actual REASON why we chose Monterey. We wanted to drive to Big Sur & see all of the beautiful sights along the coast. SO gorgeous, and we pulled off multiple times to sightsee and also walk down to the ocean! We met some friends and were given a restaurant recommendation to Napenthe. So glad we took their advice. We shared a cheeseboard and had the most incredible view.

Sunset at The Inn at Spanish Hill | Website

At sunset every night, there is a bagpiper that walks the golf course at The Inn at Spanish Hill. We were told about this and didn’t want to miss it. We sat outside by the fireplaces and had some appetizers at sunset before our dinner reservation and watched him play. It was really fun, and super memorable!

Restaurant Recommendation : 

Roy’s at Pebble Beach | Website

We wanted to celebrate our anniversary one night while we were in California & had heard about this restaurant. It was SO fancy, but so delicious. Our waitress was honestly one of the kindest people we had ever been served by & made our night great with perfect recommendations, complimentary appetizers, and excellent service. We don’t know how we got so lucky on our whole trip to be sat at what seemed like the best seats at every restaurant, but we got a table in the corner surrounded by windows and we watched the sunset while we ate dinner. Also – the Key Lime Pie? BEST EVER.

Stop #3 : Santa Barbara, CA

Hotel : The Inn on Summer Hill | https://www.innonsummerhill.com

We really loved The Inn on Summer Hill! They serve breakfast daily, and you can get it delivered to your room. *Secret Secret* there is nothing I love more on vacation to have breakfast in bed. It is my VERY FAVORITE thing. The people were really nice & we had a beautiful view of the ocean from our room!

We were only in Santa Barbara for about 36 Hours – so our time here was short & I wish we could have had more of it! We got in late Friday night & our flight was early Sunday AM. But our first night, we went and bought a cheap blanket from HomeGoods & spent the evening on the beach watching the sunset together. Easily one of my favorite memories.

One thing that I have loved to do when we have been on trips, is to book a photo shoot with a local photographer to get some updated photos! If you have time on your vacation, I HIGHLY recommend it! It has allowed us to get some photos in really beautiful areas that are completely different than the scenery around our home! We booked a photo shoot with Daniel Cruz & I had been following his work for years! We spent the entire afternoon & evening with him + his wife, Sarina. We took photos, explored Santa Barbara, got some cold brew, finished shooting on the beach at sunset, and then met up with some of their friends for dinner at an AMAZING Mexican Restaurant! It was the perfect way to spend our last day on vacation! Meeting new friends and having a fun adventure!

Restaurant Recommendation : 

Los Agaves – Milapas | https://losagaves.squarespace.com/

THE BEST Mexican food I have ever eaten. Safe to say I have craved the Pollo Asado ever since we have returned home & am thinking that I need to find a way to one day fly back to Santa Barbara and eat there. Also – we went here with our photographers & a couple that they had grown up with. It was so fun to meet them & for all of us to share a meal together. It is WILD to me how food brings people together, even people we had never met. We were introduced to them at the counter when we were ordering, and by the end of the night, over bowls of chips and salsa – we left as friends. Maybe good Mexican food is magic? Either way, we loved everything about this place.

RECAP :

One of the reasons we chose California was because we know that there are so many beautiful places to visit in our own country that we’ve never been to! By using our airline miles, the flights were basically free & we just paid for the car, lodging, and meals! It was a fun adventure – and we know there are so many other Cali destinations that we have left to visit, so I’m sure in the years to come, we’ll be able to check a few more places off our travel bucket list! Kyle’s never been to Disneyland, so I KNOW we’ll have to go there sometime! And we have friends who live in Cali – so a trip to visit them is on the list of things we want to do!

Here are our photos from the trip – that we took on our camera! The pics here go from the very last day at the beginning to the very first day at the end! Secret secret – the photos uploaded backwards….and I just wasn’t going to fuss about it!

Now – onto the images!!!!

 

 

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