June 27, 2015
My brother, Aaron, visited me two weeks prior to when my extended family and sister visited me. I shared with my family my favorite parts of San Francisco and also explored new areas in San Francisco and Los Angeles. The reasoning behind the trip to Los Angeles was Tammy, my older cousin, came up with the idea of doing a night run with Night Nation. We decided to make a weekend trip in Los Angeles as well. In both cities, I was still working so I was not able to spend time with them during their whole duration. Throughout this trip, I included the areas in which I was able to spend time with my family. New areas explored in San Francisco included restaurants, Napa Valley, Off the Grid Presidio, and a bon fire at Ocean Beach (pictures not included); new areas explored in Los Angeles included Runyon Canyon Park, Malibu Creek State Park, and Pasadena.
Lands End continues to be a favorite part of what I love most of the San Francisco Bay Area. It also has become a must-see spot in my itinerary when I have family and friends visiting. What is spectacular about the Lands End Area is its close proximity to Ocean Beach, restaurants with ocean views, and the Sutro Baths. The Sutro Baths was at one point one of the largest saltwater pool in the world. Adolph Sutro was a self-made millionaire who was responsible for designing the Cliff House, one of the restaurants in the Lands End Area and the Sutro Baths (National Park Service, 2017). When Aaron was visiting, the tides were low so we were able to climb to one of the many large rocks in Sutro Baths.
During the week Aaron was visiting, it was also around the same time Gay Pride festivities were in session. We experienced the night life in San Francisco, and this was one of the bars we checked out: Blackbird. Blackbird is a bar that has a spacious lounge area with unique cocktails to try, craft beer, and pool area.
Waterbar – seafood restaurant with indoor and outdoor dining; amazing views of the Ferry Building and San Francisco-Oakland Bay Bridge
This was a group photograph; we were celebrating Tammy’s friend’s dirty thirty.
Homeroom – Oakland must-eat restaurant with thirteen different types of mac ‘n’ cheese, along with beer, wine, and homemade desserts
The Trappist – cozy Belgian pub with indoor and outdoor seating, plus delicious meat and cheese plate options
I spend most of my time checking out new areas in San Francisco rather than in Oakland. Tammy researched this pub in Oakland, and the beer and meat and cheese plates were delicious! The pub was cozy, and the ambiance was perfect for a chill night out.
Domaine Carneros – winery known for its sparkling wine, Pinot Noir, vineyards, and beautiful château (Domaine Carneros, 2017)
Napa Valley is one of the world’s must-visit destinations, known primarily for its wineries, vineyards, and beautiful views (landscapes). It is nice knowing that Napa is practically right outside of my backyard and a staple for the one of many perks associated with NorCal. We were determined to visit; however, we were close to cancelling our plans since we felt that we would not have enough time exploring the area. I was glad I was able to convince my cousins to still go to Napa even if it meant spending less than half a day there. We quickly learned that the smartest thing to do is research which winery to visit prior to arriving at Napa because most wineries require reservations. Luckily, we found a popular winery that did not require any reservation: Domaine Carneros. Prior to arriving, we explored Oxbow Public Market to grab a bite to eat.
Photo Credit: Tammy Tan
We learned the difference between sparkling wines and Champagne. Our server shared that a sparkling wine should only be called Champagne when it comes from the region of Champagne, France. Since their wines were produced in Napa Valley, they referenced their wines as sparkling wines.
Off the Grid – street food market experience with a variety of food trucks to choose from, while connecting friends and families together
We were lucky that we found a vacant space with a tent and fire pit, free of charge. Normally, the spaces are filled quickly, and renting a space is expensive.
Runyon Canyon Park – about a 2.5 mile hike leading to gorgeous views of Los Angeles; a popular spot for celebrities to hike at as well
Runyon Canyon is one of the popular hikes of Los Angeles. However, it was not my favorite because I felt that the hiking trails leading up to the Hollywood Sign was much more breathtaking, and the hike required more of a workout. This hiking trail was worth exploring because it still provided views of the city. For more information on various hikes in Los Angeles, check out this article.
We did not encounter any celebrities while embarking on this hike. However, we saw how popular this hike was for tourists and locals. There were many people hiking in this area, which included families, children, and pets.
Malibu Creek State Park – state park also known as “The Yosemite of SoCal” (Malibu Creek State Park, 2017)
Video Credit: Tammy Tan
We researched this national park because it is also known for great cliff jumping sites. For more information on the hiking trail to Rock Pool, check out this website. Another great resource to check out awesome hiking trails is Go Hike It.
Night Nation Run – running music festival in various states and select countries
We purposely chose the city closest to Los Angeles: Pasadena. The running music festival took place at the Rose Bowl. There were various part of the race that had sections, in which the runner, could choose to take a break and dance before proceeding on. At the end of the run, there were also a stage with EDM/EDC type of music for people to jam out to.
Foreign Cinema – popular restaurant with an outdoor space for screening films; you have to always make a reservation prior to dining
During one of our first cousins trip together, Tammy and I dined at Foreign Cinema. Our dining experience was amazing! The fried chicken was a must-eat dish; it was almost like it was perfectly fried at the right temperature and time. Since our experience was phenomenal, we wanted to share this experience with my aunt, younger cousin, and younger sister.
Living in California is so far from home. It is the state that is literally all the way on the other side of the east coast. Having my family visit meant a lot to me, and it also gave me an opportunity to research places that I have explored and have yet to explore with them.
Growing up, my father was always in charge of planning family trips. Therefore, showing my family new areas and areas that I love felt natural and familiar. I cannot wait until my family visits me again!
Where have I traveled in the United States?