A little while back I was on a day trip north of San Francisco and ended up in Novato, a town I really didn’t know anything about. We decided to take a random turn and ended up checking out an art gallery and then the Hamilton Field History Museum.
Earlier this year I saw this infographic:
It ranks San Francisco as the 7th happiest city in the world, although the way it ranks it is really odd to me. We get high marks here for shopping centers, middle marks for outdoor and culture locations and lower marks for performances and amusements. We do have ample shopping here, I suppose, but I really think of us as a place with lots of performances and culture locations. Interesting. In the end I guess what matters most is that I’m happy here!
Some new, some old, all taken by me during walks in San Francisco’s Japantown:
I’ve been to Solvang a few times in my life. It’s this cute little Dutch-themed town in Southern California. We went as a family when I was a kid during a trip to see relatives somewhere else in the same area. Since my brother lives in LA and I live here in San Francisco I’ve done the drive between the two cities quite a few times and have sometimes taken a route that lets me stop in Solvang. It’s a small place and not somewhere I’d need to spend a ton of time but it’s a cute little place with some great bakeries, an adorable bookstore and beautiful photo spots.
- Solvang means “sunny field” in Dutch.
- The town was founded in 1911 by a group of Danish teachers.
- There are about 5000 people who call this town home.
- It’s home to lots of windmills and Hans Christian Andersen stuff.
Is there a cute little town near you? What’s it like?
I’ve been to Old Faithful in Yellowstone National Park. I’ve been to the Petrified Forest in Arizona. The Old Faithful Geyser of California and the Petrified Forest in the same area are not quite as amazing as those places but they make for a fun little day trip away from San Francisco.
Old Faithful Geyser of California
The Geyser is a natural geyser like the ones in Yellowstone. It’s a single geyser and it’s small compared to what I remember of the real Old Faithful but it’s kinda cool. I hadn’t actually thought about this place in awhile (I haven’t been there in awhile) but I saw a sign for it when I went to wine country and realized that it’s really not that far from here.
There is a little feeding zoo of goats and sheep in the same place as the geyser. I confess that when I look back on my trip to this spot (which was actually several years ago now) this is what I remember as my favorite part!
The hike through the Petrified Forest is short from what I recall but it is impressive to see these major fallen trees that are hardened over.
I’ve been to San Diego several times. It’s easy to get down there. It’s sunny. It’s relatively affordable. And there are tons of things I like about it. When I think about the memories of my trips, I usually think about the big things. I think about the great boutique hotels I’ve stayed in, the experience of going kayaking in the ocean, the times at the zoo … but there are actually a lot of little things I loved during the days of my San Diego trips, things that enhanced those big things by adding in the details to enjoy. Here are a few of those things:
The Lily Pond in Balboa Park on a sunny day. Actually a lot of the little things I love are in this park!
Flowers from the conservatory also in Balboa Park.
A ship that was in the harbor during one of my trips.
A statue of that famous kiss.
My sister peeking out of sculpture on the street.
Reading the signs to find out about the people who were in the Old Town cemetery.
Huge display inside one of the museums.
Koi in Japantown pond
Rose in one of the gardens
Desert garden in Balboa Park
The details make the days!!!!
I recently saw a play performed by someone who was originally from Niagara Falls. She made a joke about how she lived for 19 years in a place where most people spend two days. It got me thinking about my trip to Niagara Falls. My sister and I went on a trip there together a couple of years ago. I have fond memories of the time that we had together although I also remember being hugely disappointed with the falls.
I thought that they were going to be super amazing. And they were amazing but the hype of the amazingness of this must-see travel hot spot definitely made the actual first viewing of it as an adult not so exciting at all. I did think it was interesting to cross the border into Canada (which I’d never done before) and see the touristy town. I liked the Journey Behind the Falls attraction where you get to walk through caves behind the water. I enjoyed having ice wine at a restaurant overlooking the water. It was kind of pretty seeing the lights at night.
I’m not quite sure I understand why people would come here more than once. Or why they’d come as a honeymoon / wedding thing. I think you pay a lot of money to hang out in a crowd and see some water. It made me wish I’d gone to Iguazu Falls when I was in Argentina so I could compare the two.
Ultimately I think that Niagara Falls is worth seeing once in your life. It’d be cool to have gotten a chance to see it on a family trip as a kid. I’m glad I got to experience it with my sister. But if I only go that one time in my life I’m also okay with that.
Have you been to Niagara Falls? What were your thoughts?
After going hiking at Castle Rock State Park recently I stopped for dinner in Saratoga Springs. This is such a cute little touristy town.
It’s filled with vineyards and opportunitites for wine tasting. Sadly I wasn’t actually in a wine mood after hiking so I’ll have to back some day for that.
Nopales from Casa de Cobre in Saratoga Springs, California
What I did do while I was here:
- Walked along the main street, reading the menus of various restaurants and doing some window shopping
- Truffles tasting at a chocolate ship; it was good although nothing beats my favorite XO Truffles in North Beach in San Francisco
- Stopped into an antique store and saw some cool old perfume bottles although mostly it was dishes that were here
- Stopped into a gift shop that had High Heel Shoe Shaped Wine Caddies that were adorable
- Had dinner at a Casa de Cobre
And I read the signage on a historic home on the main strip, musing upon thoughts about the people who may have lived and worked in this space over time.
I love San Francisco. I love almost everything about this city. Even the things that annoy me are things that I love. Because of my love for this city, I am constantly embracing the small and large opportunities for joy here. Here are some recent San Francisco city moments I loved:
San Francisco Street Musician
I adored the cheery attitude of this terrific street musician over at The Ferry Building one day.
Sunny Day by the Bay
With so many foggy, rainy, chilly days here it is always important to stop and appreciate the sunny ones!
I also got to enjoy perfect Farmer’s Market strawberries:
Music at Union Square
This man was singing old love songs in Union Square on Valentine’s Day while many couples took pictures by the heart sculptures located there. I was headed someplace else but had to stop for a few moments to enjoy the celebratory magic moments in the air there.
Arcade Machine Sign
There is a free vintage arcade museum here called Musee Mecanique. Loved this sign on one of the machines:
Writers with Drinks
One of my favorite monthly city events is Writers with Drinks at The Makeout Room in the Mission. I could go on and on about the writers themselves or the fun of experiencing different types of writing in the same event space but in this case I’ll just share the magic city moment of seeing the lights sparkling on the floor of this dive bar before any of the reading even happened.
Dragon and Crowd
I was at another Mission bar recently, Elbo Room, to see a fun burlesque show. The show was terrific. But it was two smaller things that I noticed in the in-between moments. First, the large dragon statue on the side of the stage. I’ve been to shows here several times and never noticed it which either means it’s new or I’m not very observant. Either could be true. Second was the energy of the people in the room watching the show. Fun times.