Bay Area Exploring: The Presidio

I was long overdue for an explore day around the Bay Area, and for this edition, I headed out to the Presidio neighborhood of San Francisco. We parked right around Sacramento and Laurel Streets and were confronted with the most stunning houses I have ever seen. Ever. Period.

If you’re a fan of the HGTV show House Hunters, then you’ll understand when I say that I could have spent all day long in this neighborhood, attempting to peek inside the windows. Home goals right here.

SFO –> ABQ

New Mexico has been high on our bucket list for a while now, and I’m so happy that we were able to make it happen this summer. In just one long weekend, we were able to explore Albuquerque, Santa Fe, and Taos, and discovered so many gems along the way. Keep reading to find out what we did and where we ate each day.

Day 1: As soon as we hopped in our rental car at the Albuquerque airport, we headed straight for the Tent Rocks National Monument. It was about an hour drive from the airport, but I promise it’s worth the trek. The formations were absolutely stunning—no photos could do it justice. Next time around, I’ll prepare a bit better with an extra water bottle and hiking boots (some of the rocks are pretty hard to climb!).

From there, we drove another hour to our hotel in Santa Fe, the Don Gaspar Inn. The people who run it are super nice and accommodating, plus it’s a short 15 minute walk to the central plaza. After freshening up (it felt so good to shower after that hike in the blazing heat), we walked all around the plaza before our dinner reservation. We visited the San Miguel Mission, which is the oldest known church in the country!!, and the Cathedral Basilica of St. Francis of Assisi. Because it was still 85 degrees at 7 PM and our legs were tired from all of the walking we had done, we dipped into The Dragon Room for guacamole and margaritas before our dinner reservation at La Plazuela. I’d highly recommend both spots!

Day 2: Our second day kicked off bright and early as we made our way to Abiquiu for a tour of Georgia O’Keeffe’s home. This may very well have been my favorite moment of the trip—her house was seriously breathtaking and had Will and I second guessing every single item in our own house. I wasn’t able to take photos (I managed to just sneak the one of her studio room), but trust me when I tell you that her pantry organization was next level.

We learned on the tour that Georgia O’Keeffe was really inspired by Plaza Blanca, and that it was a short drive from her house, so we headed there before making our way to Taos. It was crazy hot outside, hence why I changed into a loose crop top, so we just admired it from the parking look out spot. Definitely still worth it!

Next, we made our way to Taos. On the way, we stopped at the 7th highest bridge in the country, the Rio Grande Gorge Bridge. We didn’t just drive across it though, but parked and walked too. Well, we attempted walking but quickly headed back to the car because one word: heights.

The weather in Taos was spotty, one minute the sun would be shining and the next it was pouring rain. We did our best to not let it get in the way of our day though because we only had a few hours in town. We grabbed a quick bite at Guadalajara Grill and oh my goodness, the shrimp tacos were out.of.this.world. I’d say it was the best meal we had in all of New Mexico. After lunch, we walked all around the Taos Pueblo, meeting the people who live and work there, selling their beautiful handmade goods. We spent about two hours at the Pueblo, which left just enough time to pop into a couple cute shops in the plaza: Chocolate & Cashmere and Common Thread. We wrapped up the day trip with dinner at the very quaint Love Apple.

As we made our way back to Santa Fe, I got a patch of strong cell reception (warning: the cell service is super spotty everywhere) and looked up fun night activities. Across the board, Meow Wolf was the most mentioned and without even knowing much about it, we navigated straight there. Turns out, people are traveling to Santa Fe from all over just for this “exhibit,” if you can even call it that. We learned that the creator of Game of Thrones funded the production of it and partnered with tons of artists to bring it to life. It’s pretty difficult to explain, but it’s sort of a cross between an escape room and an interactive art exhibit. If you’re in town, I’d highly recommend checking it out to see what all the buzz is about.

Day 3: Our last full day was filled with a lot of shopping and eating in Santa Fe. We started the morning with breakfast at Café Pasquals, a place that had come highly regarded to us and had a wait even at 9 AM. From there, we decided we hadn’t had enough of Georgia O’Keeffe’s art and went to her museum. While I’m happy we saw it and love the souvenirs I bought from the gift shop, it was a pretty small museum with a surprisingly few number of pieces.

The rest of the afternoon was spent shopping. We actually didn’t really buy anything on this trip—we usually buy a few home decor pieces when on vacation and even packed an extra duffle bag in preparation for this trip, but alas, we came home nearly empty-handed. Even though we didn’t score on an original Navajo blanket, we still loved walking through the plaza and admiring all of the art and jewelry. In case you only have time for one shop, don’t miss Shiprock whatever you do.

Once we had circled the plaza a couple times, we made our way over to Canyon Road. We popped in and out of a few art galleries and cute shops before getting drinks at The Teahouse. We ended our last night in Santa Fe with yet another round of drinks at Fire & Hops, followed by a deliciously authentic dinner at The Shed.

Day 4: With only a few hours to play with before our flight home, we grabbed breakfast at Modern General. I was in loooove with the decor here, and the green chile shortcakes for that matter, but the service was pretty poor. Be prepared to wait 30 minutes for your food if you go. We then decided to drive the hour to Albuquerque to be closer to the airport for our afternoon flight. Our last stop of the trip was Los Poblanos Inn, which was so so gorgeous. It reminded me of something straight out of Fixer Upper, which is basically the key to my heart. After stocking up on lavender skin care products, we sadly had to say goodbye to New Mexico.

While I wish we could have stayed longer, this was a good introduction to New Mexico and I know we’ll be back. After all, we’ll need to make up for our lack of shopping success eventually.

A Mid-Summer Toast

I can’t believe it’s already the fourth of July! This Summer seems to be flying by, and I’m doing my best to savor every second of it.

My boyfriend and I have an upcoming trip to New Mexico to look forward to, but I’m planning to sit down this weekend and book some other getaways. There’s just something about getting a trip on the books that makes it feel like Summer is never-ending. And in that very spirit, I thought I’d share some links to past travel blog posts to give you some inspiration to do the same.

Hope you have a wonderful holiday, and happy traveling!

New York City

Seattle

The Bay Area

Big Sur

Israel

Wine Country

Mexico

Texas

Thailand

Bay Area Exploring: Marin Headlands

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Every weekend, I try to explore at least one place I’ve never been before. Of course, some weekends that means just trying the new lunch spot that opened up down the street. But when I have more time, you’ll undoubtedly find me about an hour’s drive from home, camera in hand and taking it all in.

The other weekend, my boyfriend and I had one of those freer weekends so we hopped in the car and headed out to Marin. It was such a gorgeous day, so we decided to stop by the Marin Headlands like we’ve done in the past. This time, however, we noticed people were hiking down the mountain and decided to follow suit. We did not regret our decision when we landed on a gorgeous beach–what I learned is called Kirby Cove–with a tree swing and all. See what I mean below!

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How incredible is this tree swing? Despite the difficulty in getting on and off (it’s a lot higher off the ground than it seems), it was absolutely magical.

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From now on, any time we head out to the Marin Headlands, we’ll be sure to make Kirby Cove a must-do on the list as well.

Favorite Oakland Spots

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Having officially lived in Oakland for three years now (wow, can’t believe how fast time has flown!), I feel like a roundup of my favorite spots is definitely past due. Below, I’ve outlined some of my top restaurants, shops, and sites, and you can also follow me on Instagram to see more of my whereabouts on any given day.

Hope you enjoy, and maybe I’ll even see you around town!

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I love just about every single shop in Temescal Alley, but Esqueleto may very well be my favorite.

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Boot and Shoe Service is, simply put, the best. Go there for a boozy breakfast or for a boisterous dinner. They don’t take reservations, so I’d recommend getting there on the earlier side for dinner to beat the crowd.

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Like I said, I have a thing with Temescal Alley, especially Crimson Horticultural Rarities. It’s pretty much a known fact that if I enter this shop, I leave with a new plant friend.

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There’s nothing like Jack London Square on a beautiful sunny day. There are so many yummy restaurants to try–Forge, Bocanova, and Haven being my favorites–and the views just can’t be beat.

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When Will and I moved to Oakland three years ago, we knew immediately where we wanted to live: Rockridge. Not only is it super conveniently located to public transportation, but it’s also the most charming and quaint neighborhood I’ve ever laid my eyes on. Walk up and down College Avenue for the full experience, and don’t be shy about stopping into every little boutique you pass.

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Did I mention how much I love Temescal Alley? This book shop is a gem.

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You can grab a cup of Blue Bottle coffee pretty much anywhere in the Bay Area, but the one on Broadway is definitely the prettiest. Trust.

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Oh, Lake Merritt. I feel like I could write a lengthy poem about you. Not only is the lake itself stunning, but there are also tons of shops surrounding it that are equally as wonderful.

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Last but definitely not least, head to Trouble Coffee for Instagram gold. You can thank me later.

Tricks of the Trade: Packing

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If you’ve followed my blog for some time, then you know I’ve written a packing tutorial before. But since that was more than two years ago, it felt like the right time for an update!

Whenever I am leaving town–whether for a weekend getaway or a two-week excursion–I always follow the same 4 steps. They’ve never once failed me, and I hope you find them as helpful as I do.

  1. Go shopping: In your closet, that is. Kick off your packing process by looking through your clothes and pulling out what catches your eye.

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2. Lay it all out: Once you’ve selected your favorite items from your closet, go ahead and lay them down on your bed. No need to make this super neat, as you’re just starting to lay the foundation.

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3. Start making piles: In my last post, I advised you to make piles based on type–shirts with shirt, jeans with jeans, etc. Recently however, I’ve been changing my ways and actually setting out my outfits. So instead of creating piles by type, I create piles of actual outfits that I intend to wear on my trip.

I find this to be the most crucial step, as it ensures that you’re only bringing exactly what you intend to wear and don’t wind up 500 miles from home with 10 blouses but no jeans that pair well with them.

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4. Pile it into the suitcase: With your outfits all set out, it should be really easy to see exactly what you’re bringing with you and what can go back into your closet. Simply put, if you have ten extra dresses than days on your trip, you can confidently put those all back in your closet.

When it comes to actually laying things down in the suitcase, I like to revert back to the piles by type strategy. I’ll put jackets with other jackets, jeans with other jeans, and so on and so forth.

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I like to start with the bulkiest items first and gradually layer in my lighter pieces.

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So now that we’re all packed, where should we go? : )

Preparing for Travel

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Every time we go away for the weekend, I find myself with a laundry list of chores to do in the minutes before we have to leave for the airport. Given this, I’m sure you can imagine how I felt as I was trying to prepare for our two-week long vacation to Thailand.

As we were gearing up to go, I made yet another lengthy list for myself of all house chores that needed to be done. But instead of just tossing it out once our taxi arrived, I decided to hang onto it. This way, I don’t have to rack my brain each time we prepare to leave the city, state, or country, because I have my list all ready to go.

Here are the household chores I always complete before leaving on vacation:

  • Water all the plants and move them to a sunny space in the house
  • Clean out the refrigerator and throw all out perishables
  • Take out the trash
  • Close all windows
  • Put away all dishes
  • Check mailbox
  • Change sheets (nothing beats coming home to a freshly clean bed)
  • Do the laundry (same logic here)

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What other chores do you make sure to check off before leaving for vacation? Share in the comments!