I’m currently in the process of planning my big trip to Europe, which is both extremely exciting and overwhelming! On one hand, choosing the cities I want to visit and the things I want to see has been a huge motivator, but then I get anxiety attacks about Airbnb bookings and the thought of searching for a travel insurance provider. There’s so much to think about, lots much to do, and of course graduation before I can even get excited about this trip. If you have any recommendations, send them my way!
In the midst of all this planning, I have also been attempting to take day-trips close to my home on my very limited time off. Whether it’s visiting a cute antique shop and eating Basque food in Gardnerville or trying out a new beach in Lake Tahoe, I love having the opportunity to learn more about my state and the surrounding areas. This past weekend, I decided to head over to Nevada City, CA for coffee, lunch, and a quick hike. I’ve passed the Nevada City exit time and time again on my way to San Francisco, and I finally decided to check it out.
Nevada City ended up being entirely different than I expected. It’s such a cute little town with fun shops, a cool coffee house where the locals hang out, and plenty of restaurants. I think I’m even going to head back there next weekend if I can get off work in time!
A few minutes out of town itself is a quick, simple hike called the Independence Trail. It’s probably one of the greenest places I’ve ever seen with velvety, moss-covered rocks, and an an amazing waterfall at the end. The minute you reach the waterfall there’s a beautiful, windy bridge and the mist sends a chill in the air, so I recommend tying a jacket around your waste (which I did not). As you can see, I was 100% not dressed properly for hiking, as that was not on my agenda for the day, but again, it’s such a simple hike that it’s practically just walking. I would only recommend wearing hiking boots or tennis shoes as it can get a little muddy out there.
I’ll update you with recommendations for Nevada City next time I visit. It’s such a fun day trip if you live in the Northern Nevada/California area!
Jeans: Lucky Brand – Smoking Slippers: Sebago – Fringe Blouse: Thrifted (similar) – Sunglasses: Ray Ban
Over the weekend, my friends and I made the 2.5 hour drive to Apple Hill, a large co-op of orchards, wineries, and markets that CA and NV locals frequently visit once fall makes its breezy return. Although I had heard about it many a time in previous seasons, I had never actually made the trip until this year. And yeah, I’ve been missing out! It’s the pumpkin-patch-apple-picking-fall-crazed-plaid-scarf-wearing-hard-cider-loving-redhead-fringe-girl’s dream. Although if we’re being honest, it takes no convincing to get me to go anywhere with beautiful greenery and fresh produce.
Although there is a whole entire map of places to visit in Apple Hill, we visited a few favorites like Kid’s Inc, Rainbow Orchards, and Jack Russell Brewery (not listed on the map). Kid’s Inc has the most beautiful, green field overlooking their orchard, and it’s the perfect place to have a picnic and enjoy a hard cider from Delfino Family Farm. If you’re looking for a good place to buy unique pumpkins and a variety of fruits like apples, pears, and nectarines, Rainbow Farms has so many options at a great price! They also have the best apple cider donuts and gallons of fresh pressed apple cider. After our pumpkin-search, we visited a local orchard to grab a few apples – they were pretty picked over, but we still had fun hiking around the orchard with our little picker and buckets! We ended our day at Jack Russell Brewery, which is not associated with Apple Hill but is right next to all the apple-fun. There is both a brewery and a “cave” that serves wine, hard apple cider, and mead. My friends enjoyed the mead-hard apple cider mixed option, but I was more interested in the hard blackberry apple cider. Everything is made on-premises, and I love that their ciders are dry unlike many store-bought brands. They have the most lovely patio for relaxing and enjoying your drink overlooking their farm and llamas!
My only recommendation would be to bring a picnic lunch or some snacks! Although there are plenty of amazing apple dessert options, the food is pretty limited. We went on a Friday, so it was a little less busy, but I’ve heard they have lots of food options on the weekends – however, it is pretty standard fair food, and there are so many beautiful places to bring a picnic basket!
As I’ve mentioned countless times in the past, visiting San Francisco for the weekend is one of my favorite things to do, especially since I live so close! I will be posting updates with all of my best SF recommendations as I continue to visit. Stay tuned for my favorite restaurants, bars, activities, and places to go!
The last time I was in The City, I dropped by Haight-Ashbury to hit some of my favorite spots. Haight-Ashbury has an incredibly unique art culture and history, so I always try to stop by if I have the chance. In addition to going to some of my favorite stores, I have been learning more about the neighborhood restaurants, coffee places, and other local spots. As soon as the Uber dropped us off, I grabbed a capp at Stanza Coffee Bar and went to this really cool art store called Mendel’s to pick up some fabric. I always try to stop by Mendel’s when I’m in the city, because they have a huge variety of art supplies you can’t find in run-of-the-mill places. Afterwards, I went to one of the most unique thrift/vintage shops, Decades of Fashion, just to check out what they had in stock – if you love vintage clothing or unique costumes, definitely stop by! I also made sure to hit one of my favorite record stores, Rasputin Music, which has a large variety of CDs, records, and DVDs, both old and new, classic and recent. After a couple hours of shopping, we were pretty hungry and looking for restaurants close by. I had never eaten at a restaurant in Haight-Ashbury before this trip, so I was excited to see what the neighborhood had to offer. Trusting solely on Yelp reviews, we decided on what turned out to be an amazing French restaurant called Zazie, just a few blocks up on Cole St.
Zazie is located on a quiet street in a narrow space, that I believe is an old apartment building. The ambience is classic French bistro, with yellow walls and pretty wooden tables. They have many of the French favorites, breakfast, lunch, and specials including the pancakes I got! I had poppy pancakes with lemon curd and strawberries, and they came with a side of potatoes. I also got their house tea, which was amazing! Other orders were the Croque Madame and the French toast, which were both delicious (based on the few bites I had!).
After brunch at Zazie, we drove over to Golden Gate Park to enjoy the beautiful NoCal weather. Golden Gate Park is one of my favorite places in San Francisco, so I definitely wanted to take a long walk, especially after a few stressful weeks at home. Previous to this trip, I had walked past the Botanical Gardens in Golden Gate Park multiple times, but I had never actually gone in. This time, I thought it would be fun to walk around since the tickets are fairly inexpensive, especially if you have a student ID! The Botanical Gardens were beautiful, with all kinds of unique plants and greenery. It was a very peaceful way to spend an afternoon, especially in the busyness of the city.
Later that night, we walked around near the beach and enjoyed a quiet dinner (can’t remember the name of the restaurant – if I see it next time I’m in SF, I’ll update).
If you need any more recommendations, feel free to reach out! San Fran is one of my favorite places to go, so I have lots of things to share!
For a list of my favorite coffee places in SF, click here.
Signs of fall have slowly been inching into Reno one-by-one. Many people would disagree with me, as it’s still in the 80s and 90s during the day, but as an early-morning barista, I know the true story. It begins when I wake up in the morning before anybody else, and grab a sweater on the way out the door, because it’s 6:00 a.m., it’s in the late 50s, and my tank top isn’t cutting it. I head to work, and still groggy, brew the drip coffee first thing. I grab a mug, letting it warm my hands as I turn on the grinder. The sunlight finally appears as I switch on the open sign, and Reno starts to warm steadily. The kicker of this situation is that Reno is always at least a little bit cool when it’s dark outside. That’s what makes it the perfect place to host bonfires and sit on the porch late into the night mid-July. However, there’s a different feel to the air when it starts turning into fall. It’s slightly colder, and the air smells different. I don’t know how to explain it, but I know it when it appears.
Although I absolutely love fall, it also signals the beginning of classes, which I will be attending in just a few, short days. Naturally, I’m already missing summer and all of my little adventures. A few weeks ago, I visited Vegas for my brother’s graduation party and to help my parents move some stuff into their new house in Reno. I had recently been told about the 7 Magic Mountains, an art exhibit by Ugo Rondinone located in the middle of the desert, by a friend from the Nevada Museum of Art where I regularly volunteer. Hearing about it, I knew I had to go. Huge, brightly colored boulders in the middle of drab, dry Southern Nevada desert? Amazing.
The drive out to the 7 Magic Mountains is super easy but a little confusing. Just take the I-15 South to Sloan Rd., turn left onto Las Vegas Blvd, and drive for about 15-20 minutes. However, you won’t see the exhibit itself until the last minute – this is the confusing part. You’re driving and driving, and all you see is flat desert. Then, a tiny hill, and then…suddenly there’s an enormous, rainbow sculpture right to the left. Luckily, there’s a parking lot right out front. After a short walk, you’re looking straight up at overwhelmingly large, neon rocks.
Now, I went to the 7 Magic Mountains in the midst of Vegas summer, when heatwaves radiate off of the pavement late into the afternoon, and you get an instant sunburn walking to your car. While the exhibit was amazing, it was absolutely not the best summer activity. But Vegas fall? Beautiful! This would be an amazing Sunday afternoon activity in late October/early November. If you will be traveling there, please take a break from casinos and drinking, and go see this! Locals of course should take the trip – Nevada culture is flourishing and so important to support!
Unfortunately, the 7 Magic Mountains have already been vandalized (this is why we can’t have nice things), but they are still breathtaking and worth the visit. However, because of this, I want to give my little spiel on art: Artists work incredibly hard to improve this world through beauty, whether it’s painting, music, dance, sculpture, or any other medium. Please be respectful to their art, support it, and love it. Spread the word. Help your community by supporting local museums and events. If Reno can change as drastically as it has in the past few years, many communities can also.
Click here for more information on the 7 Magic Mountains.
As I’ve mentioned many times on this blog, San Francisco is one of my favorite places to visit. The foggy weather, public art, trendy restaurants, and bearded men get me every time. Plus the coffee. Because, as you also know if you’ve been following me for a while, I LOVE COFFEE. Like, a lot. So naturally, I have to write a post about my favorite coffee places.
Before I begin, let me first give you some of my qualifications. 1. It usually has to be specialty coffee. I say “usually”, because of the “never say never” rule, and I can’t promise that I’ll never write about a non-specialty coffee shop. For more info about specialty coffee, see here. 2. I have to be impressed by not only their coffee, but also by their employees and atmosphere. That may not be fair, since really it’s all about the coffee, but there’s something to be said about the other aspects, too. If I’m visiting a coffee shop on vacation, I probably want to hang out for a little while, and the atmosphere and employees should be pleasant. 3. I have to want to visit again. I’ve been to specialty coffee shops that I’ve thought were okay, but I wouldn’t go out of my way to visit again. To make the list, it has to be a place I want to spend a lot of time at.
And there you go! The list will be pretty short, because not all the places I visited were list-worthy, and I also didn’t get to make it to all of the shops I planned on visiting. However, I’ll update this list as I continue to visit SF 🙂
P.S. These are in no particular order.
1. Beacon Coffee & Pastry
If you’re staying near Fisherman’s Wharf, Beacon is a short walk away from most of the hotels and shops. It was about an eight minute walk from our hotel, so not the closest, but definitely close enough for this coffee snob. Their beans are roasted by Sightglass (see below), and they have great espresso drinks and a few snacks. If you’re looking for a close, relaxing place to spend your morning before a day of shopping or tourist-ing, this is a great choice. (Oops! I forgot to snap a pic).
Stanza is a cute, minimalist coffee shop in the middle of The Haight. I love Haight Ashbury area, because they have really good food, some great thrift shops, and a killer record store that always has amazing finds. I had never seen a specialty coffee shop there until this trip (I’m not sure how long Stanza has been there), so I was thrilled to see one! My recommendation would be a cappuccino. Served the only specialty way, with silky foam.
Tip: They have another location in The Mission as well.
This was my second trip to Sightglass, and I loved it just as much the second time as I did the first. I have only been to their 7th Street location, but I imagine their other locations are just as beautiful. The cool part about their 7th Street location is that it is where they roast their coffee, and there are 2 stories, so you can watch the action happening below. They had Ethiopian coffee, which has been difficult to come by this summer in Reno, so I was beyond stoked. They also have really great espresso drinks. Plus, they have cool swag for sale – it’s where I got my amazing Chemex pin pictured above!
Tip: They have locations in The Mission, The SF Farmer’s Market, SFMOMA, and soon on Divisadero!
Four Barrel is probably my favorite SF coffee to date. Their Valencia shop has a lot of energy, local art, cool staff, and (of course) amazing coffee. Honestly, it’s a good thing I don’t live anywhere near this neighborhood, because I would spend all of my tip money (unless they want to hire me? Yes? YES?!). Anyways, aside from their fantastic marketing, mugs, and (duh) coffee, they have adorable coffee roasters. I watched them dance when they weren’t looking (Creeper Confession #2). However, I don’t think they would mind my watching.
Side note true story: They had this mug in their shop for the longest time that I loved, because it really embraced my personality. Right when I decided to buy it, they went out of stock. SO MANY TEARS. See mug here.
Tip: They have locations at The Mill and in Portola!
When I was younger, I loved looking up the symbols of birth months – birth stones, astrological symbols, birth flowers; being a July baby: ruby, Leo, larkspur. But, I was never all that excited about my birth flower, not compared to April with sweet peas or August with lilies. I never saw my birth flower growing wildly in fields near my cabin in Utah or daintily posed in the floral section of the grocery in puffy bouquets sprayed with dense TDZ. I had no idea what a larkspur was, and I had completely forgot about them, right until recently when, while scrolling through the Travel Nevada Instagram, I noticed a picture featuring a vibrant, purple field of flowers with an orange sunset setting the scene. Larkspurs! I had finally found them, and they were so close! I was (clearly) excited, until I reached my destination and realized I was actually looking at…
Also, I had missed prime lupine season, so all I was going to find after an hour drive to Lake Tahoe at 7 p.m. after an 8 hour shift was a bunch of green bushes with a few leftover purple flowers slowly closing for the season. But never the matter. I was at the lake, it was a beautiful day, and fields of green and purple are even better than just fields of purple, in my personal opinion. However, my favorite color has been green my whole life, so I may be biased.
Apparently, the best time to visit the lupines is in June, when the weather is warm, the lake is higher, and the water can reach the bushes. There are fuzzy, mostly-black bees swarming the flowers, and little orangey-red ladybugs fly around with them. I also found a tiny, secluded beach where the wildflowers are abundant, and I spent a quiet evening relaxing in the sand and watching the sunset. After a few hours at the beach, I stopped by one of my favorite local pizza places, Wild Garlic, where I had cheese pizza with plenty of jalapenos, ranch, and honey (for the crust. A Reno thing, I believe). After a long day at work, I was very excited to relax and enjoy some me time, especially in such a serene place.
Pictured here: My new Lucky dress, which is definitely a favorite. Similar.
My old, trusty lace TOMS that I wore to my high school prom years ago. Similar.
Jewelry made by my aunt 🙂
If you’re visiting Reno or Tahoe, and want some good local recommendations, feel free to reach out! I’d love to share my favorite spots 🙂
When class gets cancelled, you brunch and go to Tahoe. That’s the unspoken rule anywhere within an hour radius of the lake, but I’m bringing it to light. If there’s an opportunity to hit the forest and hang on the beach, regardless if there’s snow or not, you take said opportunity, because life is too short and whatnot.
Also, you eat ice cream for lunch, which I did, because I’m an adult and I can make those kind of life choices.
Lake Tahoe is the perfect place to spend St. Paddy’s week, because…well, it’s green. Really green. And during the middle of the week in March, no one is there, and you can explore as long as you want without interruption. Plus you don’t have to listen to people talk about March Madness all day thank God. (On a side note, March Madness is for basketball, right?)
One of my best friends, Andrea, and I went to Tahoe to hike, but we actually just ended up climbing on rocks at Sand Harbor and jumping over random streams in the middle of King Beach. It was a little chilly at first, but ended up being in the 60s and absolutely sunny and beautiful. The forest is one of my favorite places in the whole world, and I feel so at peace whenever I get to spend a day in it. Taking a Tahoe trip was definitely a great way to kick off spring break and give myself a day to relax and enjoy the privilege of living so close to such an incredible place.
A lone kayaker.
Happy Spring Break to college students, and happy Spring to everyone else!
*Song of the Day: 80’s Comedown Machine by The Strokes