Sensory Overload: California’s Bay Area and Wine Country- how you can get the most out of your visit.

How do you do Girlfriends Getaways? I recently took a trip to California’s Bay Area and Napa Valley with mom and friends in tow. We try our best to travel together at least once a year to new and unique places. I wanted to choose a place that offered up an eclectic food scene and one of a kind excursions all mixed with luxury accommodations. Although I’ve traveled to the Bay Area many times, each time always offers something new and unexpected. In true girls weekend fashion, we made incredible memories to last a lifetime. Below are my top five recommendations to make the most out of your next trip to the Bay Area and wine country.

  1. Book a Luxury Hotel It’s worth it! It’s safe to say that you’ll get quite a lot of walking done when you visit, so its always nice to come home to a warm and cozy space after sight-seeing all day. We opted for the Intercontinental, centrally located in the heart of downtown San Francisco. It’s central which is key as there’s much to do in every direction. The Intercon is situated in San Francisco’s shopping district and you’ll get plenty of that done if you stay as well. Boutiques, high-end shopping as well as designer stores are all within walking distance, so bring comfortable shoes.

The Intercontinental will exceed your expectations in service, location, and overall comfort. First off, we were welcomed to warm notes, chocolate and fruit spreads topped with wine from nearby Napa Valley. That’s a great way to say, “welcome” to a first time guest. Unexpected twists. Have you ever heard of Grappa? Made from the discarded grape seeds, stalks and stems, this traditional Italian wine packs a major punch. The Intercon has a famous Grappa bar in the main lobby that houses over 100 flavors including grappa from nearby Napa Valley. I did give it a whirl, but it was too strong for my blood. The hotel also had a few hidden treasures like a world-class spa, sauna and pool. Take a peak for more. Click here! 

  1. Winery Hopping: With Napa Valley less than an hour away from San Francisco proper, its almost too tempting to resist a quick trip across the bridge to indulge in the seasons best wine offerings. Late December is wine resting season, so you won’t see any grapes on the vines. What you will see is rolling hills of sun kissed vineyards and plenty wine and champagne to try from the previous harvest!

We toured the Gallo Family’s two popular estates: Louis Martini and William Hill Winery’s. Louis Martini, famous for their dark reds, merlots and cabernets, won me over at first sip. We toured the cellars and sipped on their famous Cabernets and Rose’s. I selfishly brought a few bottles back with me to Miami to savor the memories. Tip: Winery hopping can be exhausting. Plan for no more than 4 in one day. After the first two, the wine starts to taste the same and you’ll miss the joy of tasting the unique blends. Also, hire a driver and stay nearby! If you plan on winery hopping, you’ll want to enjoy every moment and not have to worry about that long drive back to SFO.

  1. The Cable Cars: The famous cable cars of San Francisco really are as cool as they look. If you plan your day right, you can hop on and off while getting a complete tour of the city. The cars take you as far down as Fisherman’s Wharf and over to the famous Chinatown, Castro, and Mission Districts. The cars have a central meeting place very close to the Intercon in downtown, which worked perfect for us. You can catch it there take in the city all day.
  2. The food scene and famous Irish Coffee: California is definitely not suffering from a shortage of amazing eateries and the bay area is no exception. San Francisco in particular has been voted for its world-class restaurants in the entire country by Zagat and Trip Advisor. And for good reason. On every corner, you can find delectable sushi, tasty Chinese, Korean BBQ and even amazing Italian like the popular eatery “The Stinking Rose”. It’s a garlic lovers dream come true with everything from appetizers to desserts, all infused with garlic. It’s true; all you have to do is follow your nose in San Francisco and you’ll always be lead in the right direction. The food scene here is bar none! Make time to try the famous Irish Coffee shops that litter Fisherman’s Wharf. We loved ‘The Buena Vista’, perfect for Sunday brunch too.
  3. The famous sights; yes they are even more awesome in person. Touring the Golden Gate Bridge, Alcatraz, Fisherman’s Wharf, Sausalito and the Castro district will keep you busy! Give yourself at least two days to take it all in. They are spread out and require a bit of planning to really enjoy all that the city has to offer.

 Important Tip: Although SFO is centralized, you’ll still need a car to get around to experience it all. Make plans to rent a car from the airport before you head into the city. Parking is plentiful and relatively inexpensive. I was fortunate enough to take on San Francisco and Napa Valley in the new 2015 Ford Fusion. Comfortable, Cozy, Easy to Drive, and Stylish- in a nutshell that’s what you get with the Fusion. Perfect for Girls Getaways like this where you can kick back and make new memories and enjoy the ride! For more on the Ford Fusion, click here!

Written by Vanessa James. (All opinions are my own).

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