For someone who’s never been to California, the city of Santa Cruz is most likely what they imagine. Endless sunshine, miles of sandy coastline, surfers, hippies, old VW vans, legal weed, grungies and skateboard/street punks. More than any other Bay Area city or exurb, Santa Cruz embodies that classic California vibe – something like chilled-out surfer or stoned-out hippie – but mostly a contented attitude that comes when living within biking distance of the ocean is all that matters. It’s a beach town first, college town second, with blue-collar roots and hippie/yoga aspirations, the kind of place Cheech and Chong might retire to, or Jeff Spicoli would flunk out of if he ever got in.
If you’re looking to spend a weekend exploring Sonoma wine country, consider making Healdsburg your base of operations. It’s easy to get to (minus any traffic woes) just off Hwy 101 about 10 miles north of Santa Rosa, so just enough removed from the small city sprawl, car dealerships and office parks of that area. Yet it still has all the conveniences and amenities you might need, and enough small town charm to make it feel like a proper country getaway from the city.
The biggest reason of all: it’s located at the intersection of three wine regions – the Russian River AVA, Dry Creek AVA and Alexander Valley AVA.
According to Yelp, there are 555 donut-serving establishments in the city and east bay. And while an unknown number are cafes, coffeeshops and Chinese cafeterias, it’s obvious the Bay Area is not lacking in sugary fried dough substances. Some are good, some suspect, but generally we do a passable donut product here (not like the sad state of our bagels and pizza*). I thought it was pretty much like that, until I came across a thing so rare I was unaware it actually existed until sinking my teeth into its still warm, perfectly textured (not too dense, not too fluffy), generously iced dough, and was transported to a land of rainbows and unicorns and dancing Homers. And I’m not even a big donut fan. Continue reading Holy O’s!
Every foodie worth their bamboo roasted sea salt knows that for three-star Michelin-rated dining in the Bay Area, there’s The French Laundry and The Restaurant at Meadowood in Napa Valley. They probably know about our six two-stars, including Coi, Benu and Saison, and even the 34 one-stars. Continue reading Michelin no-stars are still pretty good
Personally, I prefer Thanksgiving at home, where all I have to do is cook and eat, or just eat, lazing around in my old socks and watching movies on Netflix. The idea of getting dressed up and going to a nice restaurant for dinner seems like a lot of work, plus I tend to feel bad for the poor stiffs who have to work that day. Continue reading Where to go for Thanksgiving dinner in the Bay Area
Sausalito is such a lovely town. Bike across the Golden Gate Bridge or take a ferry from San Francisco, stroll along its waterfront, check out the shops, have lunch at Scoma’s or grab a burger and fries at Hamburgers, maybe an ice cream at Lappert’s or a drink at No Name bar, and you’ve had yourself a pretty darn good day. But venture off the well-traveled tourist path of downtown, and you’ll find some of the best of what Sausalito, and Marin County, has to offer. Continue reading 8 reasons to get reaquainted with Sausalito (hint: it’s all about the food)
You may not need a reason to enjoy all the incredible nature at our disposal, but if you do, here’s a gentle nudge: on June 9, a number of national parks in the state are free for Get Outdoors Day, including our own Muir Woods just a short jaunt north of the city in Mill Valley. The 554-acre park has one of the last old growth Coast Redwood stands left in the state, nay, the world, and a 1.5-mile trail to enjoy it. The $7 fee is waived for Saturday, and you can even park and ride the Muir Woods shuttle, which also picks up/drops off at the Golden Gate Transit bus stop and Sausalito ferry if you choose total car freedom. Continue reading Procrastinator’s guide to the weekend (June 9-10)