When the weekend forecast calls for 80 degrees and nothing but sunshine, I always head to Stinson Beach. A beach town in Marin County just about an hour’s drive from San Francisco, Stinson is filled with everything you could ask for on a sunny Saturday—beautiful open beach, delicious food, and quaint shops. Plus, the drive there is absolutely breathtaking as you make your way down the mountain and onto the coast.
The town itself is very small (only about 2-3 blocks), so you can easily cover all of the shops and sites in a single afternoon.
My favorite spots for lunch are The Parkside Café and The Siren Canteen. If I’m in the mood for healthier options, I’ll hit the first one but if I am craving a burger and milkshakes, I always go to the latter.
One of my favorite weekend activities is to pack a big basket full of picnic essentials (looking at you, baguettes, cheese, and fruits) and head to a nearby park. Thankfully, the Bay Area is full of perfect places for a perfect picnic so there is never a shortage of spots. Whether you’re visiting the Bay Area on vacation or are a local and just need some inspiration, keep reading for my list of favorite picnic places.
Palace of Fine Arts: Since the Marina is one of my favorite neighborhoods in San Francisco, I love spending the afternoon at the Palace of Fine Arts. Directly across from the pond is a big grassy field where you can lay out a blanket and enjoy your picnic in the blissful sunshine.
Crissy Field: A picnic with a side of Golden Gate views? Yes, please. Just be sure to pack a few extra layers for this destination, as it can get pretty windy by the water.
Lake Merritt: Ahhh, Lake Merritt. My happy place. Pretty much whenever I need a little space to clear my head, I drive the 15 minutes over to Lake Merritt and make my way around the lake. Since it’s so close my apartment, it is my go-to spot for a weekend picnic.
Cavallo Point: Just across the Golden Gate Bridge, you’ll find Cavallo Point. Typically when we drive out here, we get brunch or drinks at the Cavallo Point Hotel but I’ve also thought that the grassy area would make an ideal picnic spot.
Alamo Square Park: Recently renovated, Alamo Square Park is one of my favorite parks in all of San Francisco. Not only does it have amazing views of the Painted Ladies and downtown San Francisco, but it’s also situated in one of the cutest neighborhoods of all time, Hayes Valley. Pro tip: Pick up salads and rosé from Souvla and then walk up the street to enjoy your lunch in the park.
About to say something pretty shocking: It’s been almost 6 months since my last apartment refresh—can you even believe it? As soon as I realized that, I knew I needed to check in with you all on the latest additions to my apartment. Keep reading to see what I’ve changed!
While we used to have three succulents situated above the glass cabinet our dining room, they were not getting the best light and I was having to replace them quite frequently. Finally, I decided to move them and replace them with cookbooks and my favorite wine.
One of the plants has now made its way to a sunny corner of our kitchen.
Couldn’t help but brag about just how big my Vogue magazine stack is getting!
Current nightstand essentials: A delicious candle from Candlefish in Charleston and my Beatles book.
These colder nights call for an extra quilt on the bed.
I’ve had my eye on this straw basket for quite some time and I’m so happy it has found a home in our living room.
Any time there’s a long weekend, I try to get out of town and explore somewhere new. But when there’s a holiday weekend and our 8 year anniversary all in one, we definitely head out of town—and to a beautiful place at that.
This year, we decided to spend our long weekend along the Mendocino Coast. We had seen photos and heard a few stories from friends about Mendocino, but we had no idea just how deeply we’d fall in love with it. To say it was a perfect weekend would be an understatement, and I’m breaking down everything we did below.
Since Mendocino is about a 3.5 hour drive from our house, we decided to take Friday off so we could take our time getting up there. The first stop we made was in a small town called Boonville. It was no less than 110 degrees outside so we weren’t really able to do the exploring I had hoped for, but we did grab delicious sandwiches from Boonville General Store
and a sweet, refreshing treat at Paysanne
Our second stop of the day was Navarro Vineyards
, a seriously stunning winery with delicious wines. After doing their tasting, we purchased a bottle of their Gewürztraminer and then made our way to our hotel in Mendocino, the Sea Rock Inn
. With expansive views and quaint cottages, this place looked perfect on paper but was even more stunning IRL. I seriously cannot recommend it enough—every little detail was perfection. Just look at our adorable cabin below!
We closed out our first day with sunset drinks and dinner at Little River Inn
. Pro tip: Order your drink at the bar and then enjoy it outside on the deck.
To kick off our second day, we woke up early and hit the hiking trails to beat the heat. The views from Russian Gulch State Park
were breathtaking, as is a nice walk through the Mendocino Headlands. From there, we made our way into what may be the sweetest town I’ve ever seen. Between the Victorian homes with white picket fences, adorable shops and cafés, and ocean views, it’s no wonder that we spent a couple hours just taking it all in. There aren’t a ton of great lunch spots to choose from but we loved our salads and iced coffees from the Goodlife Café and Bakery
After a solid shopping sesh (my favorite shop was Honey & Ro!
), it was the perfect time for a beach sesh. Best part? Big River Beach is just a few steps away from town and was the dreamiest place to spend the rest of the afternoon.
The dreaminess continued with happy hour at MacCallum House
. As soon as we walked in and saw the massive white windows and wraparound porch, it was love at first sight. We didn’t have a chance to eat here, but it looked like the perfect place to spend an evening. Instead, we ate dinner at the Ledford House
, which is the ideal spot to catch the sunset and listen to live jazz, but is a bit of a drive from town.
On our last full day, we traveled north to Fort Bragg, a much larger town just about 10 miles from Mendocino. To be totally honest, I’d say you could easily leave this off the itinerary and opt to spend yet another afternoon in the oh-so-charming Mendocino. But if you do decide to venture to Fort Bragg, here are the top spots to hit: Glass Beach, MacKerricher State Park, Jenny’s Giant Burger
, and Pacific Star Winery
for a $5 tasting in Adirondack chairs overlooking the ocean.
I guess you could say we saved the best for last for our anniversary dinner because our meal at Wild Fish
was one for the books. Whatever you do, make your reservation in advance because the restaurant is teeny tiny and fills up quickly.
Though it took significantly longer, we ended up driving all the way down the coast to go back home. Along the way, we stopped whenever we saw something that caught our eyes with our favorite places being: Point Arena Lighthouse, Bowling Ball Beach, Bodega Bay, and Nick’s Cove
for fish and chips.
I’m already looking at the calendar to see when we can spend another weekend in magic Mendocino. If you’re looking for more long weekend destinations, check out my travel guides for Big Sur and Seattle.
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!
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.
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.