Wednesday, July 31, 2019

Gals' Trip to Sonoma

To say that our trip to California was a dream would be an understatement! I'm still daydreaming about the places we saw and could easily go back to the same area tomorrow and find plenty to do. A trip to California has been on my travel list for quite some time, so when my cousin asked if I was interested in going with her on a girls' trip, I jumped on the opportunity! The girls trips started with my aunt and her friends and it has now extended to my cousin and hers - and I was thrilled to be a part of it!

I was very lucky in that the trip had some great planners behind it, so I literally bought my ticket, paid for my hotel room, and showed up! Every aspect of the trip was so well thought out and captured a great variety of what Sonoma has to offer. While we did have free time to explore on our own, I ended up going along with the itinerary and it was a perfect mix of wine, adventure, and beautiful views.

The Itinerary:

Travel to San Francisco - arrive by 10:00am PT
Lombard Street
Lunch at the Wharf
Walk the Golden Gate Bridge
Transportation to Hotel Trio in Healdsburg
Dinner at Campo Fina

25-Mile Biking Wine Tour with Wine Country Bikes
 - Gourmet Picnic Lunch at Dry Creek Vineyard
 - Stop at Geyser Peak
Dinner at Healdsburg Bar & Grill

Morning trip to Armstrong Redwoods State Nature Reserve
Lunch at Oakville Grocery
Explore Healdsburg
Wine and Food Tasting at Jordan Winery
Dinner at Francis Ford Coppola Winery

Free Time
 - Croquet at Sonoma Cutrer or
 - Horseback Riding Adventure at Lake Sonoma
Quick Lunch
Cave Wine Tasting at Thomas George Estates
Drinks and Appetizers at The Rooftop
Dinner at El Farolito

Travel Home

Though Thursday was a very long day - I was up at 1:45am ET to make it to our flight out of Jacksonville - I was so glad that we got to San Francisco in the morning so that we could make full use of our day!

The Highlights:

It reflecting on this trip, I can honestly say that I loved every single thing that we did. The trip was very well-planned which made for seamless traveling from place-to-place and a wide range of activities. While I enjoyed every aspect, here are a few of my favorites.

The Golden Gate Bridge
For my entire life, I've thought it would be so neat to see the Golden Gate. Though Karl the Fog (yes, apparently the fog has a name) was there in full-force, it was still so neat to see such an iconic American structure and hike the trek across the bridge. Pro tip: Dress in layers! We were freezing on that bridge!

Wine Bike Tour

To say I was nervous about this adventure is an understatement. I've had a couple of bike accidents that made me very wary of riding one mile on a bike, let alone 25. Despite that, I showed up for the tour and to be honest, thought about opting out once I realized that we would be riding along winding roads with vehicles (I thought we would just be out in the country somewhere, ha!). The first 30 minutes, I was a nervous wreck, but thanks to an incredible guide and supportive friends, it turned out to be one of my favorite parts of the trip. That's one of the things I love about a group trip - sometimes it gets you out of your comfort zone!

I speak on behalf of our entire group that we couldn't recommend Wine Country Bikes enough. Our guide, "Tac," was knowledgeable about what we were touring, very hospitable, and always had the safety of the group as a priority - after all, a tour of 15 ladies is quite interesting! We made a stop at Dry Creek Vineyards for lunch and had a private tasting in The Secret Garden, a gorgeous private area. Wine Country Bikes provided our lunch from Oakville Grocery, where we all fell in love with their sandwiches!

The Redwoods

Seeing one of the redwood forests was absolutely incredible! It was certainly cooler (the weather was overcast and the trees also block out some of the light). I have never seen so many large trees and they were so stunning. There are many different hiking options but we did see the Parson Jones Tree (tallest) and the Colonel Armstrong tree (oldest).

The Variety of Wineries

A year ago, you couldn't convince me to drink a red wine. Though I had started to try a few here or there here at home, the reds in California ended up being my absolute favorite! I loved having the opportunity to not only try a variety of wines but also see the wineries from more of a behind the scenes point of view and learning about the growing and bottling process. It was also so amazing to me that as you drove down the road, it was just one beautiful winery after another - a view like none other!

Girl Time
Seriously, this trip is perfect for girlfriends! If you love wine and a little adventure, you would adore this trip! Some of my favorite moments were just spent with friends new and old and the memories we made are some I'll forever treasure.

The Wineries:

  • Dry Creek Vineyard - This was the first winery stop on the bike tour and it came at a perfect time! The gardens were absolutely stunning and it was the perfect break after being halfway into our ride. Favorite Wine: The Mariner Meritage
  • Geyser Peak - We did a quick tasting here at the end of our bike tour! Favorite Wine: Devil's Inkstand Cabernet Sauvignon 
  • Jordan Winery - I fell in love with this gorgeous vineyard! We did a brief tour a part of the property followed by a delicious food and wine tasting. Favorite Wine: Cabernet Sauvignon 
  • Sonoma-Cutrer - Such a fun place to do wine tasting! We played croquet which was the perfect morning activity. Favorite Wine: Rosé
  • Thomas George Estates - This winery was not only beautiful but also unique in that it is a cave winery. We did a wine tasting in the cave and it was hard to pick a favorite. Their gardens are also the perfect place to relax with a glass of rosé. Favorite Wine: Baker Ridge Pinot Noir

Where We Stayed:

Hotel Trio was our home away from home while in Sonoma County. Located in the town of Healdsburg, it was the perfect base for everything we did during the trip. If you follow along on Instagram, you may have seen little snippets of the hotel's resident robot, Rosé. Yep, you read that right - a robot! Need towels or Q-tips? No worries! The adorable robot shows up at your door to deliver and it was so fun catching her wandering around from time to time. 

With our group of 15, the suite-style was perfect. Our room was equipped with a spacious bathroom, two queen beds and a sitting area and kitchenette. While we didn't put the kitchenette to much use, it was great to have the extra space and the hotel would be perfect for families as well.

The hotel also offered a great complimentary breakfast which came in handy as we were leaving the hotel fairly early each day. This gave everyone more time to get ready and eat on their own time instead of rushing to breakfast off-site. In addition, the wine bar was perfect for pre-dinner cocktails while waiting for everyone to assemble for departure.

Other amenities include: pool, shuttle service (which we used!), bike rentals, and more. 

Where We Ate:

  • The Franciscan Crab Restaurant - What to order: (this menu was huge so we ended up sharing a lot of things) - Shrimp Skillet, Spicy Tomato Fettuccine Alfredo, Calamari, Crispy Potatoes
  • Campo Fina - What to order: Ravioli and Pizza Jersey Shore (or all the pizzas)
  • Oakville Grocery - What to order: BLTA or Turkey Sandwich - forever will be my favorite sandwiches!
  • Francis Ford Coppola - What to Order: Fried Zucchini, Rigatoni & Meatballs
  • Healdsburg Bar & Grill - What to Order: Truffle fries, Classic Cheeseburger
  • The Rooftop - What to Order: Truffle Fries, Housemade Chips & Dip, The Summertime (cocktail)
  • El Farolita - What to Order: Enchiladas! (or anything - great authentic Mexican food)


With a group of 15, transportation was key! We used Pure Luxury Transportation on three different occasions, which made for seamless arrival to our destinations. Pure Luxury picked us all up at the airport (we were coming in on two different flights) and took us into San Francisco. We stopped off at Lombard Street, then boarded again to head to the wharf for lunch. From there, the van took us close to two hours away to the town of Healdsburg, which would be our home base for the week. We reached out again for a spur of the moment trip to the redwoods, which allowed us to all ride together instead of Ubers/renting a car. Finally, they transported us all back to the airport for our trip home. We would highly recommend this service!
A trip out to California has always been on my travel list and this girls' trip was the absolute best way to first explore the Golden State. Stephen and I both want to travel there together so I have a feeling I'll be back soon!

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