{oh} sonoma

Sonoma Valley Travel Guide
California’s wine country has been on our bucket list for as long as we’ve loved wine (that’s a very long time, for those of you keeping track). When we started planning the big California road trip Napa was an itinerary must, but after doing a little research (and budget planning) we thought the smaller, more laid-back Sonoma might be a better fit. Like all important decisions, this one was made over a bottle of wine – and boy were we right.

We loved Sonoma as soon as we saw it. We arrived mid-afternoon with just enough time to explore the tiny (but charming) town square before dinner. The streets are lined with galleries, shops and, of course, wine tasting rooms. Many wineries have storefronts in town to catch the wandering tourist – our favourite was the Roche Winery Tasting Room located just off the square. The wine at Roche is delicious and, as with everyone we met in Sonoma, the people are positively delightful. Seasoned wine drinkers at the relaxed outdoor bar welcomed us warmly and fed us with the kind of tips only locals can give, between glasses of crisp white wine.
Sonoma Valley Travel Guide
Our only full day in Sonoma started at Wine Country Cyclery where we rented bikes and picked up a map for a self-guided wine tour. We rode down country roads past incredible farm houses, beautiful barns, and wide open fields and stopped at a handful of wineries along the way. The highlight was Scribe Winery, a turkey farm-turned-winery perched on the top of a hill. It was also the only place we pulled out the camera, so all the pictures featured here were taken at Scribe! Unlike most wineries, Scribe doesn’t just line you up at bar for a 10-minute tasting, and for that reason they require appointments – we found this out the hard way, but they let us in anyway. Their tasting room is their yard, scattered with picnic tables and roamed by farm dogs, and the tasting experience is extremely intimate. We were surprised at how much time our sommelier spent sitting with us, explaining not only the wine but the history of the vineyards and the valley. We must have spent over an hour tasting and talking, soaking up the California sun – it was well-worth the higher-than-average tasting fee.
Sonoma Valley Travel Guide

Sonoma Valley Travel Guide
There’s no better way to end a perfect day than with a perfect meal. When in Sonoma go to Sondra Bernstein’s restaurant the girl & the fig for a dinner you won’t forget. Be sure to make a reservation – the inventive cocktails and plats du jour attract locals and tourists by the truck load. We won’t dare suggest what to order because the seasonal menu frequently changes, but we will confess that we still think about the chicken. And the steak. And the mussels…

The Sonoma Creek Inn was the perfect place to stay for our short two-night stay. The cute boutique hotel has comfortable rooms and accommodating staff, and it’s just a short drive from town. We can’t wait to check in again for another weekend in Sonoma.

{oh} california coast

California is a big state. We knew this going in, but we still grossly underestimated just how many hours of our road trip would be spent, well, on the road. Lucky for us, the coastal highway between SoCal and San Francisco is about the prettiest road you could ever drive. We’ll share our favourite California coffee shop, the best place to stop for picnic goods, and a breathtaking hike you won’t forget – but first, some (super amateur) photos! Travel California by {OH} Victoria Travel California by {OH} Victoria Travel California by {OH} Victoria Travel California by {OH} Victoria Travel California by {OH} Victoria Travel California by {OH} Victoria Travel California by {OH} Victoria Travel California by {OH} Victoria Travel California by {OH} Victoria Travel California by {OH} Victoria

Our first stop along the coast after Santa Monica was the ever-charming Santa Barbra. With only a day in town we had just enough time to explore State Street (the main shopping drag) and cruise bikes up and down the beach (with a pit stop at East Beach Grill for nachos, of course).

Next was San Luis Obispo (SLO). We breezed through pretty quickly, but if there’s one thing we always make time for it’s a good cup of coffee. We fuelled up at Kreuzberg, a trendy downtown coffee roaster by day/bar by night. The coffee is divine, but the retro decor that pays homage to classic lit’s best authors is really what won us over.

Two miles west of downtown SLO is the sunny, sandy Avila Beach. Lined with brightly coloured buildings (vacation rentals, cafes, and shops) the beach is the perfect picturesque pit stop.  Be sure to stop at the Avila Valley Barn for fresh local produce (it’s not a road trip without a bag of cherries) and to-die-for baked goods. Don’t leave without saying hello to the adorable critters just waiting to be pet and hand fed. It is a barn, after all.

Our absolute favourite thing about this leg of the road trip was without a doubt the view along Big Sur. We pulled over many, many times along the way (once to watch hundreds of sea lions shed their fur on the beach!) but the epic coastline deserves a closer look than what the vista stops have to offer. Pfeiffer Big Sur State Park offers some incredible hiking through lush ferns and the shade of the Redwoods all the way up to hot dusty mountain tops with wild flowers and breathtaking views of the Pacific coastline. The view alone makes the sweaty hike worthwhile!

Stay tuned for our final California post about Sonoma Valley!

{oh} santa monica

Santa Monica beach

We love the beach. We grew up on it, and we’ll never be able to live away from it. It’s why we decided to do a west coast road trip, and it’s why Santa Monica was top on our list of California destinations. Our three-day stay was not without hiccups (a car that wouldn’t start, a record-breaking heat wave, and a bad motel) but it remains a highlight of our trip. From phenomenal food to bicycle beach tours, here’s our take on the SoCal city.


Huckleberry Bakery and Cafe

Weeks after eating there (twice) we still think about Huckleberry Bakery and Cafe. The family owned and operated bakery and cafe is all about fresh, seasonal food – from savory sandwiches and lush salads to artisan baked goods that pair perfectly with their gourmet coffee. The casual space is pretty and rustic, and seems to be eternally full of chic and attractive SoCal residents looking for a gourmet grilled-cheese, a quinoa bowl or fresh-baked doughnut hole.

Tacos, tacos, tacos. The best tacos we’ve ever had can be found at Blue Plate Taco on Ocean Avenue, a cool restaurant with an energetic vibe, killer patio and an even better drink list. Tacos range from veggie to short rib, but the shrimp tacos won us over with pumpkin seed pesto, cilantro crema, jicama and cilantro. We recommend you make a reservation – this ain’t your neighbourhood taco truck. We’ve heard rave reviews about their sister restaurant Blue Plate Oysterette and have added it to our ‘Next time we’re in Santa Monica’ list.

Sometimes (or always) it’s okay to skip lunch (or dinner) and have ice cream instead. We discovered Sweet Rose Creamery at the Brentwood Country Mart and found out mid-cone that the quaint shop (with flavours like fig sorbet, lemon chiffon and salted caramel) is in fact owned and operated by the very couple behind Huckleberry.


Santa Monica Pier
The Santa Monica Pier should be seen by day as well as night. It’s definitely a mecca for tourists, but worth a stroll. When you’ve had enough of the crowds, grab a bike from one of the rental huts and cruise down to Venice Beach for some top-tier people watching. From body builders to street performers, there’s plenty to see. Watch the locals fish off the end of the Venice pier as the cranes swoop and dive around them.
Venice Beach, bird

The Third Street Promenade is a shopping lover’s dream. The beautiful three block stretch is lined with shops (Anthropologie, Urban Outfitters and Madewell, to name a few) and restaurants. Magazine kiosks and cafes give the Promenade a Parisian feel, and any of the restaurants have sidewalk patios perfect for dropping your bags and enjoying a late afternoon cocktail.

Venture into upper class Santa Monica and check out the Brentwood Country Mart where you’ll find upscale boutiques like Unionmade and Kendall Conrad. To give you an idea of just how trendy the ‘country’ mart is, goop was rumoured to have a pop-up shop there just days before our visit – yes, goop as in the divine Gwenyth’s goop. Our favourites are the slightly more affordable but still o-so-chic Diesel, A Bookstore and Sugar Paper. Unless you’re rollin’ like Gwen, pass on the designer leather handbag and grab some fresh garden grub at the (gorgeous) Farmshop. Finish off with that gourmet cone from Sweet Rose Creamery we mentioned – it’ll help ease the pain of passing up all those fancy threads.


Technically it’s not in Santa Monica, but we couldn’t write this post without mentioning our detour to Anaheim. Yes, we went to Disneyland. As childless adults, Disneyland is the MOST FUN. The best part about experiencing Disneyland as an adult is noticing and appreciating the sheer amount of detail in every design. To understand that it began as one man’s crazy dream is a pretty wonderful thing. While we’re on the topic of not-in-Santa Monica, make sure you explore the Hollywood hills, too.

Route 66

Stay tuned for our take on California’s Central Coast and the glorious wine country!