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The Bucket List: Northern California

Take a two-part trip to Northern California with waterfront views, fresh seafood and endless wine tasting

San Francisco 

Hotels:

Fairmont San Francisco

Where luxury meets history. Sitting atop Nob Hill, the hotel’s gilded lobby features a grand staircase, marble floors and crystal chandeliers that feel fit for an English castle. But the best feature might just be the expansive view of the bay.

Fairmont San Francisco

St. Regis San Francisco

If art is a part of your San Francisco vacation, I recommend staying at the St. Regis. The Museum of the African Diaspora is located within the hotel, while the San Francisco Museum of Modern Art is next door. The sleek space is sophisticated and elegant, while still feeling incredibly comfortable and lounge-worthy. 

St. Regis San Francisco

Hotel Vitale + Spa Vitale

For those who flock to the waterfront, Hotel Vitale provides a relaxing escape. Aside from its tranquil spa-like atmosphere and the scent of lavender wafting through the property, the hotel also offers must-try spa experiences. Take advantage of the deep soaking tub treatment in their rooftop bamboo garden.

 

Restaurants:

Kusakabe

Chef Mitsunori Kusakabe, otherwise known as Chef Nori, is bringing sushi to an epic level at his Michelin-starred restaurant Kusakabe. They serve one prix fixe Omakase menu each night for $95, which changes regularly based on the selection of ingredients available.  Sit by the bar instead of a table so you can see the sushi chefs in action.

Kusakabe

Waterbar

I can’t decide if the impeccable service, fresh seafood or the stunning Bay Bridge views are the best part of dining at Waterbar. Grab a cushy booth and ask the hospitable server for her best raw bar recommendations.  Don’t miss the Champagne-marinated local anchovies and the lamb sausage stuffed squid.

The Perennial

There’s a reason Bon Appetit named The Perennial one of America’s Best New Restaurants. The eatery achieved that accolade not just for providing a memorable dining experience, but also for making strides in sustainability. They’ve set up an aguaponic greenhouse in Oakland, their space is outfitted with recycled and reclaimed materials and they’re even serving up climate beneficial beef with carbon farming. The four-course, $59 menu is a great way to get a taste of the day’s offerings.

 

To do: 

San Francisco Museum of Modern Art

Get your culture fix at SF MOMA. The contemporary and modern art museum features extensive collections of photography, sculpture, film, and architecture pieces. It’s right next to the St. Regis, too, if you want to stop by the lobby for a post-museum cocktail or coffee.

Ferry Plaza Farmer’s Market

On Tuesdays, Thursdays and Saturdays, there’s a game-changing farmer’s market in the Ferry Building in San Francisco. I say game-changing because every tomato, fig and radish is likely the most exquisite produce item you’ll ever see. Hog Island Oyster Company is also there, shelling out plates of oysters to snack on while taking in the harbor views.

Anchor Distilling Company

You’ve likely heard of Anchor Brewing Company’s iconic brews, but for spirits drinkers, there’s Anchor Distilling Company upstairs. Book an intimate seated tasting of the distillery’s selection of gins, whiskeys and vodka, and make sure to check out the roof deck with stunning views of the city’s skyline.

Anchor Distilling Company

Napa & Sonoma 

Hotels:

Cottage Inn and Spa

Cottage Inn & Spa might be the most charming place to stay in Sonoma. The boutique hotel sits in the heart of wine country, with an ivy-covered courtyard, a farmhouse-chic esthetic and a friendly, attentive staff. Stay in the luxe Vineyard View Suite, complete with a fireplace and double Jacuzzi tub.

Cottage Inn & Spa

Fairmont Mission Inn Sonoma

For the ultimate luxury experience, stay at the Fairmont Sonoma Mission Inn & Spa. Upon arriving at the hotel, guests are greeted with a glass of sparkling wine and escorted through the manicured resort to the grand lobby. During your stay, be sure to explore the property: take a dip in the pool, visit the spa and dine at Santé.

Fairmont Sonoma Mission Inn & Spa

 

Wineries:

Domaine Chandon

Start your winery tour in Napa Valley on the sparkling side. Domaine Chandon is more than just a winery and tasting room. It’s a wine empire, with a massive lawn, terrace and patio spaces, and a retail shop with plenty of bubbly to buy. 

Italics Winegrowers

For a more personal experience, visit Italics Winegrowers. The winery is set back in a remote area that feels like a hidden gem in the busy wine tourism-filled town. The caves are decked out with a tasting room with mountain views, a sound system extending through the entire space and a dining room fit for a wine-paired meal. 

Scribe Winery

Drive to Sonoma where brothers and winemakers Andrew and Adam Mariani started Scribe Winery. Grab a blanket or picnic table on the Tasting Knoll, a grassy hill with an Instagram-ready view of the valley. Indulge in a tasting of four of the winery’s top wines, which includes a cheese plate filled with local cheeses and a selection of produce from the farm—like cherry tomatoes topped with sea salt and juicy peaches.

Scribe Winery

Benziger Family Winery

Benziger takes the wine tour to the next level on their biodynamic tram tour. Ride through the property to the sun-drenched vineyards, barrel caves and fermentation facility. Guests finish at a private tasting room where they see the complete wine tasting experience come full-circle. Not only does the winery offer a spectacular wine selection, it also educates patrons on the true meaning of biodynamic, sustainable and organic approaches to winemaking.

Benziger Family Winery

 

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