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Muir Woods – Mill Valley, Calif.

12 Jan

You have got to go here…Muir Woods – Mill Valley, Calif.

Do you think this view is worth $7.00?

Beautiful!

I do, and I promise you  will too!

Now you may be asking yourself…where can I find such a beautiful sight? The Muir Woods of course!  Located less than an hour north from San Francisco is this majestic National Park full of redwood trees.

Welcome!

Before we go any further I have two big tips for you!!!  1. Go early – I mean it.  The parking is FREE and close parking is limited so unless you want to take a shuttle or park off-site I recommend you go right when the park opens. 2. Bring a sweater. Even on the sunniest of days the park is primarily shaded so you will want something to keep you warm.

OK, now that we got that covered let’s have some fun.  The entrance fee for the park is $7.00 for ages 16 and older and 15 and under are FREE!

When you enter pick up a map as there are several trails that you can take.  If you want to challenge yourself there are options for you, but a nice family stroll can also be achieved.  We decided on the loop around the park and started in the canyon and then took the hillside on the way back to change up the scenery – I highly recommend this!

One of my favorite parts of the walk is entering the Cathedral Grove.  The park asks that you remain quiet when entering so that you can become one with nature and just enjoy being amongst its beauty.

Really take the time to enjoy what you are seeing around you as you never know what cool things you will discover!

You can even be silly in nature!

Another thing I love about this park is that it is good for the whole family, so don’t be afraid to invite the whole crew for an awesome day out!

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OH and don’t forget the best souvenir ever – a smashed penny! DSCN8685

So what will you see other than trees might you ask?  Well first off they are some of the most beautiful and awe-inspiring trees that you will ever see, but there is also a lot of history about the park to be learned (No, I am not going to tell you about it – you must discover it on your own!).

Happy Woodsing,

Crystal

P.S. Are you hungry?  Well, I have some options for you!  You can eat at the cafe in the park or take a lovely drive north on Highway 1 and stop in Stinson Beach, a quaint little town with a lot of character. I recommend eating at The Lunch Box.  They have fresh sandwiches/salads/treats and you can take it over (or they will actually deliver it to you) to the park right across the street for a picnic!

Lunchbox

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Methuselah – Woodside, Calif.

1 Feb

You have got to go here…Methuselah – Woodside, Calif.

Are you in awe of gigantic trees?  I know the answer is yes, because who isn’t? Well, I have just the place for you and it is only 30 minutes south of San Francisco!

Yes, you read that right…this tree is over 1800 years old and it is massively beautiful!

My husband and I had been driving on scenic route 35 from Half Moon Bay through the Redwood Region when out of the corner of my eye I saw the sign above.  We were in no rush and our whole goal of the day was exploring, so we stopped.  We had no idea we would lay eyes on something so wonderous!

Nestled among what felt like an enchanted forest, there is a small trail leading to the tree – the stairs down to the base of the trunk can be a tad steep, but it is well worth it!

From the top the tree looks huge, but it wasn’t until I started walking to the base that I realized just how big it really was!  I know I always tell you this…but take your time.  Nature is AWESOME, so make sure you relish in every nook and cranny it has to offer.  In this case there is beauty at every angle of this tree!

This is just a quick stop, but if you prepare a lunch it would be a fantastic place to stop and have a picnic.  Bring a sweater and blanket as even though it was summertime when we went, it was freezing!

Now, there isn’t an address for this tree, so the best directions I can give you are it is on scenic route 35 about a quarter-mile south of Skeggs Point.  Along the route there are tons and tons of trails, so if you want to spend the day hiking, there will be plenty of options!

Happy Treeing,

Crystal

Potter School – Bodega, Calif.

15 Nov

You have got to go here…Potter School – Bodega, Calif.

Drum roll please…the mystery location is revealed:  It is the school from Alfred Hitchcock’s “The Birds”.

While a lot of the movie was filmed in Bodega Bay (stop in at the visitors center and you can get a map of where the film locations are around the town), the school (which is now a private home) is located in the adjacent city of Bodega.

When we turned down the road to go to the school I started to feel creepy and for sure was on the look out for birds…lol.  You can’t miss this landmark.  There is ample parking on the street so that you can stop and take pictures (or re-enact running from the birds like I did), but please remember that this is a private home.

OK, so for the really creepy part…there were tons of swallows just flying around the house and there were hundreds of nests under the eaves…it is like they knew the history of the property!

My husband and I had tons of fun walking around the building, marveling at its architecture and thinking about the power house actors and director who stood here before us.

While this is not an all day trip as there isn’t much else to do other than visit a few stores and pick up a snack at the general store, it is for sure worth a stop if you are in the San Francisco or Sonoma area.  If you are a movie buff it truly is some place you have got to go, BUT watch out for the birds!

Happy Bird Watching,

Crystal

Mystery Location

2 Nov

You have got to go here…???

This is one of the coolest places I discovered this year and you have to see it, BUT do you know what it is and where it is?

Leave your guesses in the comment section and next week I will give you more information about it!

Hint – it is very famous and very creepy:)

Happy Guessing,

Crystal

Citizen Cake – San Francisco, Calif.

18 Oct


You have got to go here…Citizen Cake – San Francisco, Calif.

OK, so a small tidbit about me…I LOVE sweets!  If you do as well, Citizen Cake will be your new favorite place!  It is located at 2125 Fillmore St. in the Pacific Heights neighborhood of San Francisco – side note…FABULOUS shopping here too!

Ever since I saw Chef Elizabeth Falkner on Top Chef Just Desserts, I knew that one day I had to experience her sweet creations…I was lucky enough to achieve that goal!

Citizen Cake is not only a dessert establishment, but a restaurant as well.  Fair warning, I did not eat savory food…I went straight for the good stuff!

Giddy with excitement I entered the dessert mecca…look at the view:

Every thing was beautiful and there was much to choose from…meringues, cookies, candy, mousse, cupcakes, pie…OH MY!  It was hard to decide, but we finally selected a lemon meringue tart and sea salted caramels – and milk of course!

It was like heaven, the desserts were fresh and tasty.  The meringue was light and fluffy and the lemon custard not to sweet and not to lemony – it was a gorgeous shade of yellow!  The caramels…OMG (excuse the slang), but really…they were creamy and the salt chaser completed the perfect taste.  I really wish I could have reviewed more of the goodies, but that is going to be your job!

In addition to the wonderful desserts, the ambiance is cool.  It is chic, upscale and romantic.  The decor is whimsical…it wasn’t only a meal, but an experience too!




I was really sad to leave, as places like this make me happy!  My suggestion is to go with a group so you can try several different things and go hungry!  This is a must stop in San Francisco and I can’t wait to go back…

On a side note, the staff was great…they were really nice and helped answer all our sweet questions.

Happy Desserting,

Crystal

Pie Ranch – Pescadero, Calif.

7 Sep


You have got to go here…Pie Ranch – Pescadero, Calif.

Do you love fresh organic pie?  If you do, then Pie Ranch is your place!

As I was driving from Santa Cruz to Half Moon Bay I begun to see signs…PIE…PIE…PIE and finally STOP FOR PIE.  I usually always do what I am told so I stopped – truth be told…I love pie and fresh pie at that!

Pie Ranch is located about 35 miles north of Santa Cruz and 17 miles south of Half Moon Bay on Hwy 1 outside the town of Pescadero.  It is nestled between miles of beautiful green fields and amazing ocean views.  Be aware that Pie Ranch can be hard to find as the quaint barn that holds all the of the pie goodness can be missed so be on the look out.

I was so excited when I exited the car I practically ran to the door…OK OK that may be a bit of an exaggeration, but I was giddy.  Finding little places off the beaten path is a true love of mine (hence the blog) and this place already seemed like a gem – and boy was it.  When I entered the barn I was surprised that the first thing I saw was not pie, but organic produce and products.  I learned that Pie Ranch is actually a working farm (the land is in the shape of a pie) too!  The really cool thing about them is that they are sustainable and educate local  youth and the community on farm-based programs.


 

Alright, I am sure you want to know about the pie right?  After taking my time to look at all of the wonderful delights I finally made it to the pie.  They sell small tartlets and whole pies.  My husband and I chose to have a strawberry (they have different flavors depending on the season) tartlet and it was delicious.  I know that I have mentioned freshness several times, but I can’t stress this enough.  The fruit wasn’t saturated with a sugary sauce and the crust was light and flaky.  There is seating inside but we decided to grab a cup of water (FREE!) and head outside to a bale of hay and eat our pie in the countryside!

My suggestions:  Now that you know about this place, plan ahead!  Pack a picnic lunch, have a pie eating contest with friends and enjoy the day.  If you want you can volunteer or take a tour of the farm as well!

Pie Ranch is another reason why you should always keep your eyes open as there are treasures all around us!

Happy Pieing!

Crystal

Mission San Juan Bautista – San Juan Bautista, Calif.

22 Aug

You have got to go here…Mission San Juan Bautista!

Growing up in California the Mission system was a big part of my life.  I learned about them as a part of our rich California history and visited the local Missions a lot.  This summer while on a trip to Northern California I vowed to visit any Mission I past so that I could work towards my goal of visiting them all!

Out of the six I visited in a week, I stumbled on to one I really fell in love with – Mission San Juan Bautista!

Mission San Juan Bautista is located 47 miles south of San Jose, Calif. It is conveniently located right off the 101 freeway.  There are navigational signs too, so it was easy to find!

As we drove to the Mission I was absolutely ready to find an amazing sight, but we actually discovered a super cute and historic town too – more on that later!

The Mission is open everyday from 9:30 a.m. to 4:30 p.m. and there is a donation of $4.00 for entrance to the grounds and church…this small price is well worth it.  The first thing I noticed when I entered the grounds is that they are smaller than some of the other missions that I visited, but I was surprised by how much more beautiful their relics were.


There are lots of things to see inside the small museum and outside in the gardens. Hidden gems everywhere so take your time to look and explore…then head over to the amazing church!

One thing I always like to do when I visit the church of a Mission is to sit in the pew and relish in all the beauty and history around me.  They are always awe-inspiring to me and love seeing how each one of they are unique and magnificent in their own way.

Again, this is not one of the biggest Missions in the system inside, but the grounds outside are huge and there are lots to see – also a great place to bring a picnic lunch for your family.  Some of my favorites where the statue of Father Serra, the view of part of the original El Camino Real, and the neighboring San Juan Bautista State Historic Park – which is also worth a visit ( I mean only if you like really cool historic buildings!)

OK so after you have explored all that head a few blocks down to the historic town of San Juan Bautista.  Unfortunately I did not have that much time to explore the town (cute shops and packed restaurants/bars), so I will leave that up to you…but I will get you excited by leaving you with a few teaser pictures of what I did see!

Mission San Juan Bautista is exactly why I love to travel and explore.  I went expecting just to see one thing and in the end discovered so much more!

On a side note, there is ample parking so no need to worry!  Also, you could spend all day here so if you plan on doing so pack a lunch as there are ample parks and open spaces to enjoy the day…you many even meet some new friends!

Happy Missioning,

Crystal