For travelers looking to indulge a little, Northern California might just be the perfect match.
Driving from San Francisco up to the wine country of the Napa and Sonoma valleys, I discovered high-end and boutique shopping, some of the best food and wine California has to offer, luxury resorts and some amazing vineyards set in the absolutely picturesque countryside.
Union Square – Shop Till You Drop
The Union Square district is the heartbeat of San Francisco’s shopping district. Walking around, not only did I find an abundance of shopping options, but with the iconic cable cars rattling up and down the road, city bus tour touts vying for your business, and San Franciscans going about their daily business, there’s a real buzz about the place. So, if you’re like me and you find you need to take a break, head to Maiden Lane. It’s just off the square itself, and is closed to cars between 11 a.m. and 6 p.m. It’s home to an abundance of cafés serving delicious food and beverages. Plus, it’s where you’ll find San Francisco’s highest concentration of luxury retail stores, including Chanel, Marc Jacobs, Yves Saint Laurent and plenty more, which means more shopping.
Union Square in San Francisco offers fabulous luxury shops such as Saks Fifth Avenue.
The Ferry Building – A Foodie’s Delight
Next, I visited The Ferry Building, about a 15-minute walk from Union Square. It’s a public transport hub, a great starting point for exploring San Francisco, but before you go anywhere, make sure you visit the Ferry Building Marketplace, filled with cafes, restaurants, a farmer’s market and specialty food stores. When it came to indulging my own taste buds, I settled for some freshly shucked oysters and wine, but with so many quality options, I can guarantee you won’t leave disappointed. Once you are finished sampling all that’s on offer, how about jumping on a ferry across to the seaside town of Sausalito?
The iconic clock tower of the Ferry Building in San Francisco, California.
Sausalito – Relax by the Seaside
If you don’t plan on taking the ferry trip, don’t worry, you can still get to Sausalito if you’re travelling by car; it’s just north of the Golden Gate Bridge. Sausalito is a lovely, quaint, seaside town, with art galleries, boutique stores, great dining options, bike hire and a great view of the bay. I also found the overall slower pace a good contrast to the hustle and bustle of downtown San Francisco. For an overnight stay here, there are plenty of hotel options available.
Serene atmosphere of Parkland in Sausalito, California.
Napa and Sonoma Valleys – World Class Wine
The Napa and Sonoma Valleys are only about 100 kilometres north of San Francisco – an easy drive with wide-open highways all the way. Napa Valley is considered to be one of the premier wine regions in the world, and has restaurants such as the French Laundry, Mustards Grill and Bottega to match. I found some vineyards required bookings in advance, and others are fine with walk-ins, so it’s best to always check beforehand. Once you’re there, enjoy the wine, enjoy the vineyards and enjoy the countryside; it’s all really spectacular. If you’re after some luxury accommodation, spend some time at the Carneros Inn. You’ll have your own luxury private cottage. It’s a true luxury resort, so it’s almost impossible not to unwind once you’re there.
With an abundance of fine food, fine wine, luxury shopping and spectacular countryside on offer, indulging yourself a little is easy – try it for yourself.
Take a scenic drive through the vineyards and rolling landscape of Napa Valley, California.