When you hear the word ‘vacation’ you imagine a relaxing getaway with lazy days and a good book. This trip was anything but relaxing – in the best way possible. We saw, conquered, hiked, created, played and tried more new things in a span of 5 days than I probably had in the past month.
The day after the Maker Faire we immediately headed into San Francisco for some fun, hipster-inspired adventures. This was our second time into the city, so we knew we wanted to stay in the Mission, close to parks, shopping and friends. We found the cutest little Airbnb apartment. One tip though, look early for bookings. We waited maybe a little too late (3 weeks out) and although there are tons of options, most places were reserved by then.
When people ask about my favorite thing about the city, I have to say the FOOD! It is so amazing to me that most restaurants we saw as we wandered were small, independent and wildly original in some way. We had New York style pizza (ironic, I know. Tapping into the hipster spirit) at Arinell’s, European sausage at Rosamunde and taco samplers at Tacolicious. Most of the time, we just wandered the streets and went someplace that looked good from the window. The experience of discovery has fueled me to venture and try to do the same here at home.
Now, we couldn’t try all that and pass up dessert now could we? My favorite stop on Valencia was Dandelion chocolate. They made all their chocolate in the cafe and we watched and enjoyed the warm aroma of fresh chocolate. Heavenly. Even though it wasn’t terribly hot outside, I settled in on a frozen hot chocolate. Frankly, I am unsure if I will be able to enjoy one from Second Cup again.
We skipped all the touristy attractions this time ’round. So been there done that. We also lucked out by having a friend nearby to show us all the cool insider attractions that made the days action-packed. We learned how to slackline in Dolores Park (I took three steps by the end!), discovered hidden art galleries in the back of bookshops (and even stumbled upon a clown-show), went rock-climbing at Misson Cliffs, made mozzarella cheese from scratch, painted the night sky with lights (in the most ironic fashion, of course), dominated the course at Urban Putt, and put our roller disco groove on at Church of 8 Wheels. I can’t even say all of that in one breath and yet we did it all in 3 days.
San Francisco had such an electric, unique, open minded energy that just makes you fall in love with it just a little bit.
We couldn’t stop there though, we had a strict schedule to keep! We departed SF after those few days and headed south to Santa Cruz. Another amazing thing about California…transit! We navigated our way around multiple cities without renting a car. Super plus plus.
Santa Cruz is a quintessential beach town with all the local charms and attitudes of taking it easy. It was a nice change of pace, taking time to enjoy custom bagels at Bagelry, bubble tea (“Do you have a Boba-fettish?”) and outstanding vegan milkshakes at Gratitude.
The beach was beautiful (though the wind made things chilly) and we were lucky enough to have spotted groups of dolphins splashing nearby and then even luckier to have seen a whale! Our friends who hosted us said we were good luck charms for that. Later that evening we went to watch the sea lions on the dock and saw some otters floating by.
Beyond the beach we also managed to get some hiking in the redwoods on the University of California Santa Cruz campus. It was such a unique trail…all the trees are massive. We also spotted a rare species…a wishing tree. Students at UCSC wrote down their wishes, hopes and dreams and added them to the tree in hopes they may come true. Rory had fun reading them.
All good things must come to an end, this was an amazing experience to explore, wonder, and meet new people. It was nice to come home to my own bed, though. I slept for days.