Everything was in place, and we were ready to get this family vacation on the road. We booked a hotel room for the night before our flight out at 7:50 am, about a mile from LAX (Los Angeles International Airport). If there is one thing you do not want to do, is travel from Temecula to Los Angeles on a Thursday morning during the rush hour commute. You will not see L.A. for a good 4-5 hours. With that in mind, we set out Wednesday afternoon and had an easy 2-hour drive.
Flying Into STS Airport
We had a smooth flight on a little charter plane that flew directly to Santa Rosa Airport. In 1 ½ hours, we went from Southern California to Northern California and collected our carry-on luggage right from the tarmac. We took a couple of photos right in front of our plane; the kids loved it.
Santa Rosa was pretty much exactly the way I remembered it when I was there 15 years ago. A few changes to downtown, some stores moved out and new ones in. But for the most part, it was the same. My dad pointed out various areas that were hit by the fires, but where he lives close to the junior college, it looked relatively clean. There were massive clean-up efforts right after the fires.
Check-In At Chateau du Parents
Being at my parent’s house was surreal. I hadn’t been there in 15 years. Before this day, the last time I visited was with my husband who was my fiance at the time, and we had no kids.
Keeping Active with the Kids
We kept busy that Thursday we arrived. My dad treated the kids to a day at the EpiCenter in town for Vallen’s 5th birthday. They had a blast. This place has everything from a trampoline park, 4D movie/game experience, climbing gym, arcade, laser tag, bowling alley, full sports bar with a movie theater size TV, and more.
From there we ran back home to dress for Happy Hour Thursday at Trentadue Winery in Geyserville. It was such a blast! The redwoods surround the winery, grapevines, and a beautiful building. They had a Venezuelan food truck, $2 glasses of wine, a full band, kids running all over the place having fun, and a dance floor packed with people dancing and laughing. Trentadue was bustling. My uncle and his son, whom I haven’t seen since my high school graduation met us there. We got to catch up, dance, and take a walk down memory lane. We didn’t get back home until late that night, and everybody went right to bed.
The Great Redwoods
The Redwoods in Sonoma County is breathtaking. We went to Armstrong Woods State Natural Reserve. The kids were excited. We love to hike, but there is nothing like walking amongst the redwoods. The air is a little cooler, fresher, and dense. The trees are huddled closely and make almost a canopy at the top with sunlight filtering through them. Some trees have caves through the entire trunk that you can walkthrough. Others have alcoves for hiding. There were even trees that had one trunk and two trees growing out of them. Every now and again you would see a tree resting on its sides with the roots exposed. I would highly recommend visiting the redwoods if you get the opportunity.
A Father’s Day Family Reunion
We didn’t realize when we booked the trip, that it was actually over Father’s Day weekend. How cool was that! That night we had a get-together at my parent’s place with our family, including my uncle Bert, Cousin Josh, my step-brother Zack, and his two sons Nathan and Tyler. We had a fun night catching up, roasting mini marshmallows (very challenging), and my kids meeting family they’ve never met before.
What We Did In San Francisco With The Kids
It was Sunday, our last full day in Santa Rosa. We wanted to take the kids on a trip to San Francisco for the day. I knew they would love it. It is where I grew up, so there was a lot of nostalgia there for me.
We took the kids to Golden Gate Park where we visited the Japanese Tea Gardens. They were so beautiful and lush. The kids loved hiking around. The coy ponds in the gardens have colossal coy in black, orange, red, and white. We went a mile or so to the Koret Playground and carousel. The kids got to see where mom used to go when she was a little girl. They had just as much fun as I did coming to this park when I was their age. They loved the concrete slides, artsy play structures, and a ride on the old carousel.
From Golden Gate Park we headed to Pier 39 and Fisherman’s Wharf. We strolled along the water, checked out old warcraft submarines and ships, ate clam chowder and calamari.
We walked around Ghirardelli Square, sat at a fountain, and listened to a man playing his guitar. Then we headed into the Ghirardelli Ice Cream Shop. Tourists packed the shop, purchasing goodies, taking photos, and getting a glimpse at the dozen or so workers behind the counters making sundaes. We moved amongst the sea of people in the shop shoulder to shoulder. The kids enjoyed walking around the two-story structure, which in addition to ice cream, also sells their chocolate. They even have a display recreating the chocolate-making process. We opted to skip not only the double process lines to get served but the $15 each per ice cream cost.
Our favorite spot was relaxing at Hide Street Beach. The kids made sandcastles and ran around while we relaxed in the 68-degree sunshine. This beach is an excellent spot for people-watching.
We took a ride to San Francisco’s version of Little Italy, which is North Beach. It is a very diverse area with 2 to 3 packed pizzerias on every block. We settled on Tony’s Pizza Napoletana, and even scored the only table inside the place! There was a guitar player on the corner of the street, serenading the long lines of patrons waiting outside the door for pizza. His soft jazz was juxtaposing against the homeless man pacing up and down the block and loud chatter of friends hanging out in line. We ate some very delicious pizza, before heading over to Lombard Crooked Street.
We made it to Lombard at the peak of sunset. Tourists were lined up at the top, middle, and bottom of the crooked street taking pictures. As we zigged and zagged down the road behind a line of other cars, we felt like movie stars as the paparazzi of phone cameras were taking photos of this historic site. I couldn’t help but feel sorry for the people who lived in the homes on this street. Getting in and out every day must be a chore in itself, not to mention all the tourists taking photos. But we had a fabulous time doing it.
Saying Goodbye To San Francisco
We had a blast! It was late, and we were ready to head back to Santa Rosa and pack up to go home the next morning. The kids passed out in the back seat and did not wake up until we made it home almost an hour later. We put Vallen to bed and Vincent, Anthony, and I packed up the carry-ons.
Heading Home After Our Family Vacation
We enjoyed our stay and headed out the next morning after a quick breakfast. We had a delayed flight but took off by 12 pm. As a side note, when you fly in and out of Santa Rosa Airport, they offer patrons 21 and over a complimentary glass of local beer and wine.
After our long ride back from Los Angeles toward Temecula, we decided to stop by Hermosa Beach on our way home. We had supper at Hennessey’s Tavern and took a walk along the beach. It was a good time, but we are looking forward to heading out again.