Tuesday, June 3, 2014

Muir Woods and Downtown Napa

The day after we arrived in San Francisco, I patted myself on the back for sleeping 9 hours in a row. 9 HOURS. In my world, it's basically like 24 hours.

We had no big plans for the day except driving from SF to Napa Valley and checking into our hotel, but we decided to do one more "touristy" thing before heading out of the city. We drove the very windey (wait.. windy?.. A road that winds? I can't spell today) twisty road up to Muir Woods National Monument, and I am SO GLAD that we did.

After successfully managing NOT to barf on the way up the aforementioned road (I get terrible motion sickness), I was thrilled to step out of the car and just smell the air. I work in an office in a city in Ohio for 40 hours a week, so I don't get to spend as much time outdoors as I'd like. 

 One thing I promised myself before embarking on this trip was that I would take moments to just breathe it all in. I know too often that time gets away from you, obligations get in the way, and having two young children means that trips with my husband like this won't be a frequent occurrence. Which you all know I am okay with because I'm borderline obsessed with my daughters, but still. I wanted to enjoy every moment on this trip, and just relax and appreciate the gift of time we were given to enjoy each other's company in this beautiful place.

I took photo after photo, trying to capture just the sheer size of these trees, to no avail. They were massive and breathtaking. Yes, I know they're just trees. But they're huge. Just huge man.

I wish we could have spent more time there, going on some of the hiking trails, but neither of us anticipated how long the trails were, and our footwear was less than appropriate. 

If you enjoy nature on any level (which, how could you not?) I would highly, HIGHLY recommend going to Muir Woods if you're going to be in the SF area. A beautiful, humbling reminder that some of the greatest things in life were not created by humans.

On our way back down, I insisted that Jon pull carefully off the side of the road so we could take in this view of the city. It took my breath away.

Is this real??


After taking a gazillion photos of this view, and after 10 months of anticipation, we finally began making our way to Napa Valley.

Our first stop in the city? Gott's Roadside Cafe.

Ahi Poke Crispy Tacos. This right here folks? This is what dreams are made of. Holy hell.

Gott's has 4 locations in Northern California, and is considered to be one of those "Must See" places if you're in the area. I wholeheartedly agree with this statement, and in fact we patronized this franchise 3 times while in California. And we were only there 5 days. Yep.

After Gott's, we headed next door to the Oxbow Public Market, another recommendation we received. I thought it was pretty cool, but we're spoiled in Ohio with the North Market in Columbus so I wasn't as impressed with it as I probably should have been. We were so stuffed from Gott's that we didn't buy anything there, but the ice cream and cupcake shops inside did look pretty amazing.

From there, we decided that now would be the perfect time to have some wine. Since we were in downtown Napa, I looked on my Yelp app to find a wine shop near us that had the best reviews. Wines by Mark Herold had 5 stars and was a block away, so we were like, SOLD!

This place was awesome. A completely different experience from the wineries that we would visit in the Valley, but still right up our alley (hehe, that rhymed). We found out that Mark Herold studied under Joseph Phelps, which was a vineyard that was on our must-see list, so we felt the visit was serendipitous.

Our host was Blake, a very laid back dude who clearly enjoyed himself some wine. As such, we were able to enjoy a laid-back atmosphere and our wine while also learning more about how and why Mark Herold makes the wines that he does. It was a cool experience and in my opinion the perfect kickoff to our trip.

From there, we still had about an hour until our dinner reservation, so we headed back to Oxbow to sit at their Italian wine bar. Jon discovered that they carried a wine from a vineyard he visited in Tuscany, so we bought a bottle (but sadly could only finish about half- let's not get crazy on night one people).

Finally, enough time had passed to make it socially acceptable to eat again. We wanted sushi, and we thought about going to this well-known Japanese restaurant, Morimoto Napa, but after looking at their menu, we were not interested. They seemed to specialize more in very interesting, rare, and unique types of cuisine, and I just wanted the simple stuff. So, once again I searched on Yelp until I found Eiko's.

If you're looking for just regular sushi and sashimi in Napa, look no further. This place had all of the typical sushi offerings we'd enjoy at home, with some specialty items. The sashimi was also extremely fresh, which is the biggest sign of a good establishment to me, since I've had it at many places and it's not always good. I left Eiko's with a full belly and a happy smile.

I'd say the only disadvantage to Eiko's was that it was in part of the downtown area that was under construction, and therefore it looked like a ghost town. I am sure on the small business owners around that area were PISSED when this construction started, because it blocks access to many of the shops and wine bars. Hopefully it will be done soon, because that area has a ton of potential if done well.

So at this time, it was almost 9:00pm, which is midnight in Ohio, so with our stomachs full of wine, sake and sushi, we headed back to the hotel to prepare for our busy day of wine tasting the next day.


  1. I wish we had gone to the Muir Woods, we literally drove straight through downtown and on to Napa making zero stops and it's my biggest regret. I remember there being tears when we crossed the Golden Gate because we didn't make enough time to really enjoy it.
    I also was not a huge fan of the Oxbow Market, the tea shop was kind of cool but having experienced the West Side Market and all it's awesomeness while in Cleveland nothing really compares.
    LOVING the pictures and so glad you had an amazing time. You're making me want to take another trip soon... but first I should probably have this baby... :-)

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