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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

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

CIBO – Sausalito, Calif.

17 Aug

You have got to go here…CIBO – Sausalito, Calif.

After many trips to the bay area I finally made my way over to Sausalito…what a beautiful little town.  It was quaint and the view of San Francisco was amazing!  Unfortunately I only had time to grab lunch, but boy did I find a great little spot – CIBO.  Not only is crossing the Golden Gate Bridge worth it to see Sausalito, it is worth it to eat at CIBO.

I did no research before heading into Sausalito for food, but when I drove by CIBO (located at 1201 Bridgeway) it was packed inside and outside…so I stopped.  The first things I noticed when I entered were the relaxing outdoor seating area and the fresh baked goods that welcomed you at the front door!

The menu had so many options…it was hard to choose!  After mulling it over I finally decided on a winter salad (yeah for beets and goat cheese), a ham and cheese panini, a homemade sugar cookie, and fresh brewed ice tea!  The taste of the the winter salad was magnificent…the flavors blended so well together.  What I liked most is that there was no heavy feeling when I was done and I didn’t feel bad indulging in the mouth watering cookie!

There is nothing better than enjoying fresh food while relaxing in the California sunshine!  Don’t rush through lunch, take your time…there is ample seating inside and out so maybe try both.  The decor inside is modern and clean and if you sit outside you can see the water!  We chose to sit outside and get some Vitamin D while we ate and of course looking at all the dogs that were hanging out was a fun treat too!

CIBO is in walking distance of the town center where there are shops and historical sites to see so be sure and investigate.

My suggestions: bring change as the most convienent parking is metered…make sure you watch your time.  Also, if you like coffee they serve Blue Bottle Coffee…it is probably the best Cafe Au Lait I have had short of being in New Orleans…try it!

Happy Eating,

Crystal

Golden Gate Fortune Cookie Company – San Francisco, Calif.

12 Aug

You have got to go here…Golden Gate Fortune Cookie Company, San Francisco, Calif.

Have you ever wondered where fortune cookies are made?  Well fret no more…the secret location has been discovered – the Golden Gate Fortune Cookie Company in San Francisco.  Now I know that this is probably not the only place they make them, but I am sure it is one of the coolest!

The Golden Gate Fortune Cookie Company is located in Ross Alley, which is bordered by Jackson St. to the north, Washington St. to the south, Stockton St. to the west and Grant St. to the east.  Pick up a touristy map in San Francisco and you will be able to find it!  You can get to it by foot, cable car or bus depending on where you are staying.

Once  you locate this treasure, be prepared to step back in time.  The fortune cookies are made by hand, there is no cash register – just a bucket to put money in, there is no website, no facebook page…just fresh fortune cookies!

When you enter, you will see the ladies making cookies…get close, see how it is done!

So from what I can gather, the machine above pours the dough in the flattner (highly technical terms here 🙂 ), then when it is almost cooked, but still pliable, it is taken out, formed and the fortune is put in.  I could have watched this process all the day.  The lady was so quick…she didn’t even have to look at what she was doing – it was almost like performance art!

Oh and by the way…they give you free samples!!!  The taste is amazing, I can not explain how good a fresh fortune cookie tastes.  You will always roll your eyes at a packaged one after that!

Spend as much time as you want taking in the sights and amazing smells.  I was so fascinated by the production that goes on in such a tiny little shop!

OK, so one last thing before you go…MUST BUY COOKIES!  They are so cheap and most importantly delicious.  We bought a bag of 10 for $2.00!  I ate them a week later and they were still just as tasty.  They make great souvenirs to bring home, providing you don’t eat them all.

My suggestions, go early in the day as it can get crowded inside – it is very small! Take cash (small bills) as they do not take cards and ask for a 50 cent donation to take a picture (you can take as many as you want for the one donation).

On a personal note, I love that this place is removed from all the modern conveniences we are so used to.  It is almost relaxing to me to visit a somewhere that still upholds traditions and does things the way they have always been done.  If it isn’t broke, don’t fix it is for sure the motto of the Golden Gate Fortune Cookie Company!

Happy Fortune Reading,

Crystal

The Yoda Statue – San Francisco, Calif.

1 Aug

You have got to go here…The Yoda Statue, San Francisco, Calif.!

This entry is for all the Star Wars lovers and any one who wants to see something really really cool!  I have to admit that I am not a fan of Star Wars (I know kill me now right?), I don’t hate them – they just aren’t for me. When my husband (HUGE Star Wars fan) proposed the idea of visiting the Yoda Statue I decided to humor him, but I ended up discovering something very neat!

First you have to know that Lucas Film Ltd. (where the statue is) is located in the Presidio, a former army post that is now a National Park.  This place is amazing in its own right.  There are museums, trails, restaurants, camping, and historic sites in the park…just to name a few, so when you are done looking at the statue make sure you spend the day exploring this wonderous open space.

Ok back to the reason we are here:)  The Yoda Statue is located at 1 Letterman Drive in the Presidio.  Google it, it is on the map.  There is parking right in front of the building, but it is private – keeping driving a few blocks down  and there will be a public pay lot on the right and left.  Once you park there is a very accessible walkway to the statue.  You can’t miss it…just look for the other tourists – believe me there will be some!

I have to admit that the statue was pretty darn cool.  No matter what you think, Star Wars is a huge part of American and pop culture and it was neat to be a part of it.  Take tons of pictures, they will make great memories!  In addition to the statue there is also something you will want to do especially if you are a Star Wars fan.  My suggestion is that you visit the statue during the week as if you do you can visit the lobby (and trust me, you WILL want to do this) of Lucas Film Ltd., which is located directly behind the statue.  It was awe-inspiring to see all of the memorabilia – my favorite was the MTV Movie award. Make sure to look at everything as you just might discover a treasure!  We were allowed to take pictures but were asked not to touch anything.  I ask you to respect this rule as not to mess it up for future fans who will come to pay homage.  Don’t be embarrassed to take lots of pictures as there are plenty of other people doing it too! 🙂 Check out my slide show below of the lobby!

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After you are done getting your geek on, walk around the other buildings as there are some great statues that depict pioneers in the history of film.

Happy May the Force be With You,

Crystal