Friday, April 28, 2017

Day trip to Capitola

I have been meaning to write about our daytrip to Capitola for quite some time now (almost a year!). So here I am, 8.5 months pregnant with baby #3, trying to muster up the energy to get one last post in before the baby arrives. I have rather optimistically made a long list of day trips and adventures that I want to pursue on maternity leave, so I hope you all will follow along on instagram in the event that I don't get around to writing much on the blog.

Now, back to Capitola! Like many of our trips, the catalyst for heading to the area was to make a stop at the very popular Saint Adairius Brewery in Capitola. Our first planned stop of the day, however, was the nearby Forest of Nisene Marks State Park. We hadn't done the best job packing for the day, so we were all a bit hungry when we arrived in the area.  Thankfully, we stumbled upon the Aptos Farmers Market which was pretty darn awesome! I highly recommend making a pit stop if you are visiting on a Saturday. We loaded up on fresh baked pastries and several baskets of berries and fresh fruit and then continued on our way down the road to start our hike.

Does anyone else have a problem actually getting home with strawberries?? These kids could easily eat half a flat in one sitting!
We parked just inside the main gates (parking is $8/vehicle) and hiked along Aptos Creek. The trail immediately takes you off the main road and into the redwood groves where you are greeted by the sound of the creek. We followed the trail until we got to a point where the creek was just an easy couple of steps down from the path. The kids enjoyed hopping on the boulders and walking across the fallen trees. It doesn't get much more relaxing than being surrounded by nature with the sound of water flowing. We ended up keeping the hike relatively short and turned back after about a mile.

Our next stop was Saint Adarius, so we swung by a local grocery store to pick up deli sandwiches and some snacks and then headed to the brewery. The seating area is relatively limited, but we were able to find a nice picnic table in the back room, which opens to the parking lot, providing fresh air and ample sunlight. The kids were easily entertained with lunch and some coloring books, and we got to enjoy some of the delicious beers on tap!

Our kids love to smell our coffee and beer.

Clearly a relaxing venue for this little lady...
Our last stop of the day was Capitola City Beach, located in the heart of the charming beachside town of Capitola. We arrived in the early afternoon, but despite being a popular spot, we had no problems finding a place on the sand to settle in for a bit. One of my favorite parts of this beach is that Soquel Creek runs through the middle, making for a very calm moving and relatively shallow body of water for the kids to splash around in without the worry of waves. It was the perfect environment for both our girls to enjoy some time in the water.

We came a bit unprepared in the sense that we didn't bring swimsuits since we don't typically go too far into the ocean water (brrrrrrr!). The kids ended up having a blast and getting pretty soaked in the creek, so thankfully we had a change of clothes back in the car. After a couple of hours in the sun, we were all pretty exhausted so we packed up and headed home. While I got the sense that the beachside stores and restaurants were pretty touristy, I would definitely like to do a little more perusing of the nearby streets when we return someday.

Any recommendations for things to do in Capitola?

Details: Capitola is about an hour and a half from Berkeley. Street parking is a bit hard to find, but there were plenty of spots in the Beach and Village public parking lot.

Monday, April 17, 2017

Exploring Point Reyes National Seashore: A roundup of my favorite spots

With spring finally here, and the promise of warmer weather on the horizon, I wanted to put together a roundup of our favorite spots in the Point Reyes National Seashore. Despite living in the Bay Area for most of my life, it wasn't until just over 2 years ago that we actually made a trip to the Point Reyes area. If you haven't been, then now is the time to go! It's one of my personal happy places and we have literally never had anything short of an amazing experience on our visits.

Abbott's Lagoon

I'm starting the list off with Abbott's Lagoon because spring is the absolute perfect time of year to go. We visited on Mother's Day weekend a couple of years ago and I can still see the rolling green hills and perfectly blue water of the lagoon as if I were there now. I'm sure it's beautiful year round, but the contrast of colors in the springtime makes for a really special trip. From the parking lot, there is an easy 1.5 mile hike out to the sand dunes and lagoon. I suggest packing a picnic and making a day out of it! You can read all about our trip here.

Limantour Beach

Limantour was our first taste of West Marin and started what has become a clear love affair between me and this part of the Bay Area. As soon as I saw pictures of the rugged sandstone cliffs, I knew this had to be part of our first trip to the area! It has been a recurring realization since I started this blog just how lucky we are to live in such a beautiful state! So pack up a picnic lunch or treat yourself to something tasty from Cowgirl Creamery and make your way to Limantour! You can read all about our trip here.

Tule Elk Preserve

Our trip to the Tule Elk Preserve is proof that you can't have a bad day in Point Reyes. We visited in late October and had misty weather and a sky of clouds that almost completely blocked out the ocean views on our coastal hike. Did it matter? Nope! Our kids were ecstatic to be exploring the old barn at Pierce Point Ranch and then continuing on our search for Tule Elk. On the weekends there are docents at the trail head as well as about 1 mile into the hike that are happy to engage the kids with elk horns and binoculars. You can read all about our trip here.

Heart's Desire Beach

My kids LOVE spending the day at the beach, but the rough ocean waters here in Northern California are not always ideal for young kids. One of my favorite beach trips to Point Reyes was Heart's Desire Beach, which sits in a small alcove on the Tomale's Bay side of the National Seashore. Here, you get to enjoy a beautiful sand beach with the relatively calm waters of the bay, all while nestled in a forested alcove (which also provides nice protection from the wind!). Despite being a fairly popular destination, the calming scenery makes you feel as though you're the only one there. You can read all about our trip here.

Point Reyes Lighthouse/Drakes Beach

This trip requires an extra 45 minutes of driving past Point Reyes Station, which for a very long time meant that we opted for other destinations in Point Reyes. I am happy to report that we finally made it out to the lighthouse this past winter and it was well worth the drive! The Point Reyes Lighthouse is a prime spot for whale watching from late December to mid April, and Drakes beach is a picturesque spot for some fun in the sand that is just a few miles down the road. On our trip we saw deer, whales and even watched as an elephant seal rode the waves in and settled on the beach about 100 yards from us! I highly recommend a mid-week visit towards the end of December before prime tourist season when you are required to take a shuttle out to the lighthouse.   You can read all about our trip here.

Tomales and Dillon Beach

Just 17 miles north of Point Reyes Station is the small town of Tomales. The town, despite only spanning one intersection, is a good stopping point to get some coffee/pastries and a nice lunch. It's also conveniently location a short drive to Dillon Beach. We had a wonderful stay this past holiday season at Toluma Farms, which has a beautiful home for rent that is perfect for large family gatherings. If you are visiting the area, the farm also offers tours with reservation. Read more about our visit to Tomales here.

Samuel Taylor Park

While not technically in the Point Reyes National Seashore,  Samuel Taylor Park is a great option for those looking for affordable lodging in the area. They offer both traditional camping sites as well as cabin camping options that are perfect for those looking for a less rustic experience. The cabins, which were built in 2012, come equipped with electricity, platform bunk beds with mattresses, wood floors, covered porches, and a small electric stove. There are 4 bunks (one full size mattress and three single beds) and the top bunks have rails, making them pretty safe for kids. All you have to bring is your bed linens and you are set! Read more about our visit to here.

Any suggestions for future trips?