Bay Area travels - Union Square, Villa Florence, grassfed burgers, Mount Tamalpais State Park, and more!

Wow oh wow, what a great trip we just did!!

We just got back from a trip to San Francisco, Oakland, Berkeley, and some state and regional parks in the Bay Area. It was the first "real vacation" we've had in ages and boy, was it awesome!

My husband is from the Berkeley area and has family down there, but the original reason for our trip was a concert he wanted to go to that timed perfectly with his sister's birthday. And, she just got into midwifery school so there was a party for her on Saturday as well as a lovely birthday dinner on Sunday.

But, we made a whole trip of it and fit in some San Francisco sight-seeing, hiking, visiting restaurants we'd heard about, exploring, and generally being in vacation mode!

We drove down from Portland so we started very early Friday AM and made it to San Francisco in time for a little sight-seeing after checking into our hotel, Villa Florence, right by Union Square. (They're a sister hotel to The Heathman Hotel in Portland, who I'll be working with on some upcoming "staycations" but I was able to try out the Villa Florence and their restaurant, Kuleto's on this trip to share with you!)

The Villa Florence is in one of the many beautiful historic buildings in downtown SF and I loved the historic elements like the original brass doorknobs, heavy wooden doors, and wide baseboards - but they've recently updated it with some elegant pieces like these in the black and pink color scheme.

One of the highlights of the trip was the amazing meal we had at Kuleto's. We haven't been out to an Italian place in ages since we don't eat pasta or bread, but their menu had so many excellent choices for us and every single dish and course was so perfect, we think we may need to try to find a similar great place up here! Local ingredients, homemade salumi, amazing combinations... it was a very memorable, luxurious meal! (I tried to capture it but had a hard time not making it look like one of Martha Stewart's awful food photos... here's my ahi tuna!)

The next day we did a great little self-led walking tour around Union Square and visited Britex Fabrics. Four stories of incredible fabrics, basically a museum where you can shop if you have the means. ;) I'd been there years ago but it was great to go again now that I sew for myself so much more!

We also visited Roam Artisan Burgers, a place I'd heard about for their grassfed beef burgers and other quality ingredients. It did not disappoint! And it was cool for us to get outside the downtown area and see another part of San Francisco.

We did lots of family things Saturday and Sunday - big picnic in the park to celebrate my sister-in-law getting into midwifery school at UCSF, grilling out on her patio overlooking Oakland and the bay, hiking at Redwood Regional Park in Oakland (which is HUGE and a lot like Forest Park!), more grassfed burgers (at Farm Burger - really fun atmosphere and so many awesome add-ons for the grassfed burgers!!!!)...

Then Monday we made it out to Stinson Beach north of the city. An oasis! The weather was beautiful and warm, and the beach was perfect. We hung out a while here and had our picnic lunch before hiking!

From the beach we hiked up into Mount Tamalpais State Park. What an incredible place. Views of these idyllic hills, trekking through these spots of forest in shady, Fern Gully-style creeks and paths, views of the ocean and Golden Gate Bridge, California poppies everywhere...

It was a 7.6 mile hike with 1,600' of elevation gain but it was worth every bit of work to get up there! Every step was beautiful!

Then we had some more family time and cooked our hosts dinner, which we ate out on their patio as the sun set on the other side of the hills. Those hilly neighborhoods make for some amazing views! My sister-in-law's condo was built in the 50's and has oak floors and windows on all sides. The sun streams in in the mornings and the huge deck is perfect for eating breakfast in the sun and dinner in the shade. It was a great vacation spot for us!

Now we're refreshed and ready for the rest of the week! What a fantastic break we had!

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