San Fran/Napa/Sonoma Travel Recap

Okay, so I know that running a half marathon isn’t everyone’s idea of a vacation.  But when I saw that there was a race that ran from Napa, CA to Sonoma, CA, I had to do it, right?

The Napa to Sonoma Half is a very popular race, and it sells out quickly every year.  Although, it had already sold out, you could enter a lottery to get a spot.  I entered, and I actually got in!  So Chad, you wanna go to Napa?

We decided to celebrate our June anniversary with a July trip to San Francisco, Napa, and Sonoma.  Our flights, hotels, and rental car were covered by my frequent travel points, so we focused on sightseeing and eating everything in sight.  Here is a rundown of our trip and everything we tried and loved.

We flew in to San Francisco on a Thursday afternoon, just in time to check into our hotel and grab some dinner.  Traffic in San Francisco is a little crazy, so we wanted to stay close to our hotel for dinner.  We found the prefect little spot in Honor.  They had a large local beer selection, and we shared some of their small plates, including their mac and cheese, and of course, their Brussels.

I woke up early on Friday morning and got in a workout at the Emeryville Orangetheory to start my day.  When I got back to the hotel and got cleaned up, it was time to explore San Fran.

We started by exploring Pier 39, stopping in some of the little shops, and enjoying the perfect weather.  We walked until we hit Ghiradelli Square, where we picked up some souvenirs.  (Pro tip: They hand out TONS of free chocolate!)  In the same area, we found the cutest Mexican fusion restaurant, Pico, and we sat outside to eat, with a view of the ocean.

Next, we decided to walk around some more, which wound up being my second workout of the day.  San Francisco is HILLY!  (And that is a severe understatement.)  But the neighborhoods are beautiful, and we saw the famous Lombard Street on our walk.  After walking for a bit (with several picture-taking breaks), we decided to hop on a trolley and take it to Chinatown.  We walked around for a bit, taking in all of the culture in the area, and our walk took us straight into downtown.

We spent a short time in downtown, and decided to return later in our trip.  But first, we stopped in at the Museum of Ice Cream to get a sweet treat.  We didn’t take a tour, but the store was cute, and the ice cream was delicious.

Now it was time to get in the car and make the drive to Napa.  Like I mentioned, traffic is a little rough, so it took almost 2 hours to get from San Francisco to our hotel in Napa.  We checked in, freshened up, and immediately headed to downtown Napa to explore and eat.

Our first stop was at Napkins, in downtown Napa, for a drink and some fresh guacamole.  We used this time to check out our Yelp app to decide our next steps.  We decided to head over to the Oxbow Public Market for the rest of the evening.

Oxbow Public Market is a collective of several local restaurants, breweries, bakeries, and shops.  It was the perfect way to kick off our time in Napa.  We found a brewery that we loved, ate some incredible pizza, picked up some cupcakes, and made one more stop at that brewery before heading back to our hotel.

On Saturday, I made a visit to the Orangetheory in Vallejo for a light sweat sesh.  (This was the day before the half marathon, so I didn’t do anything too crazy.)  I got back to the hotel and got cleaned up so we could start our day.

Since this was the day before my race, we needed to drive to Sonoma to pick up my race packet and explore the expo.  After we got the goods, we decided to walk around Sonoma for a bit.  We absolutely fell in love with their downtown.  So many cute shops and boutiques, lots of wine tastings (which I did not partake in the day before my race…), and the flowers everywhere are so vibrant.  We both agreed that we could have spent so much more time in Sonoma.

We were craving a healthy lunch and found Picazo to be just perfect.  The garden entrance and funky set up house the most delicious fresh eats.  My vegetable sandwich was incredible!

After lunch, we drove to Yountville, which is home to some of the more upscale wineries, stores, and restaurants in the region.  But I was on a mission: Bouchon Bakery.  We walked around their downtown for a bit, but I got in the line for my baked goods.  The line moves pretty quick, and it’s well worth the wait.  (And the $40 I spent on bakery items.)

We drove back to our hotel to get cleaned up for a pre-race dinner and an early bedtime.  My favorite dinner on the night before a long run is Thai food.  And we lucked out by finding Mango on Main in downtown Napa.  The restaurant was beautiful, everything was fresh and delicious, and the staff was so friendly.  After this fantastic experience, it was time to put on pajamas and watch reruns of The Office in our hotel room.

On Sunday morning, Chad drove me to the start of the race and hung out in downtown Sonoma while I did a quick jog through the vineyards of Napa and Sonoma.  Seriously, this was one of the most incredible experiences of my life.  The scenery was stunning, the spectators were friendly, and I PRed my half marathon time.  This race took the phrase “runners high” to the next level, and when I finished, I was ready to celebrate!

After I finished, I got my medal, my comemerative wine glass, and my celebratory glass of wine (at 9:00 in the morning…), and we went back to our hotel so I could be less disgusting for our day.

Not surprisingly, I was starving, so we stopped at Southside Café for brunch.  This was our favorite meal of our entire trip.  We found a spot on their patio, and we enjoyed some of the most delicious food.  The highlight for us was the Grilled Strawberry Toast!

With full bellies, it was time to explore the wineries.  We started at Madonna in Napa.  The sommelier was very knowledgable and accommodating.  He taught us so much and let us sample more than the tasting menu suggested.  He even let us have a private toast on their ivy-covered patio.

After Madonna, we went to the very popular Domaine Carneros winery, which specializes in sparkling wines.  Hello bubbles!  The grounds of this winery are breathtaking!  We found a table with an exceptional view, and we enjoyed the time together in their picturesque setting.

Most of the wineries are very spread out, so Uber or a private driver are your only options to get between them.  However, Cuvaison is right across the street from Carneros, so we walked right over.  The best thing about this winery is their stunning views!  The tasting room is situated on a hill, so you look out over much of the vineyards.  They also offer wine by the glass, which is very rare in Napa, but at this point was much appreciated.

After a couple of glasses of rosé, we were ready to head into downtown Napa for the remainder of our evening.  We stopped in at a couple of wineries in search of a snack, but we ultimately decided it was time for dinner instead.  We found delicious Mexican food at Gran Electrica!  After a long day, it was as time to head back to our hotel.

On Monday, we slept in and packed up to make the drive back to San Francisco.  We stopped at Sunshine Smoothie on our way out of town to grab me some much-needed green juice and a protein smoothie.

We took a different route back to SF and drove straight through the fog across the Golden Gate Bridge.  I couldn’t think of anything more perfectly San Fran.  We drove straight to our hotel to drop our bags and park our car.  My rewards points afforded us a night at the Downtown Ritz Carlton, which was such a fun experience for the couple that prefers to stay at the most convenient Bonvoy property.  (The hotel had more surprises in store for us, but more to come on that.)

After checking in, we set out on foot to explore downtown San Francisco.  We could not get over the perfect weather and wanted to soak up as much as possible.  Lunch was at Tacolicious, which has been on my list for a long time.  And rightfully so!  The sweetest servers and tastiest tacos!

The afternoon was sweet with shopping, hand holding, and exploring.  We found our way back to the piers, and we found a spot on the patio at Marketbar.  From there, you can watch the water on one side, and watch the world walk by on the other.  It was so enjoyable that we decided to stay there for dinner.  (They had arancini on their menu, so that sealed the deal.)  After dinner, we explored the nearby public market, picked up some final souvenirs (including a loaf of fresh sourdough), and then we went back to our hotel.

When we got back to our room, the team at the Ritz had left an anniversary celebration surprise for us: rose petals on the bed, chocolate-covered strawberries, music, champagne, and a handwritten note.  It was such a perfect ending to our anniversary trip!

On Tuesday morning, I walked to the Financial District to get in one last Orangetheory vacation workout.  After my workout, it was time to pack up and get to the airport and get home to our baby.

We had such a wonderful time on our trip and have been talking about all of the things we want to do next time we visit.  Because there will definitely be a next time!

If you’ve been to any of these places, let me know your suggestions in the comments so we can add them to our list!



Molly B.





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