Best Bay Area Beaches + The Ultimate Beach Bum Accessory

It’s already the middle of June {holy smokes, how’d that happen?!} and we’re officially itching for the dog days of summer to arrive, as quickly as possible, please! We want nothing more than to ditch the office to bask in the sun and bury our toesies in the sand. Luckily, here in San Francisco we have a ton of beautiful beaches as close as a 20 minute drive up the coast. And while the waters might not be warm enough to swim in, enjoying all-day picnics and catching up on tons of mags sounds like the ideal way to spend a gorgeous Saturday at the beach!

Here are three of our fave Bay Area beaches {tested and approved by our favorite always-shooting-on-the-beach photographer, Emily Scott!} to escape to during the summer weekends ahead!

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Cowell Ranch Beach in Half Moon Bay is the definition of the perfect Northern California beach. It’s warmer {due to the cliffs shielding the winds} and more secluded than other beaches, making it ideal for watching the crashing waves and catching some rays. We recommend setting up a picnic and on a good day, maybe even changing into your swimsuit. It’s about a half mile walk to get to the sand, and worth it!

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Carmel hosts a mile stretch of beach where you’re bound to find the most romantic “let’s park it here forever” spot. The fine white sand under your toes means you could honestly leave home without a blanket. Dog friendly, you could also bring your four-legged child, or your real child, to enjoy the gentle surf and sand with you and your honey!

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Right in our San Francisco backyard, Baker Beach is the cool “hipster” hang spot. Almost directly under the Golden Gate , it has some of the most spectacular views of the bridge and is the perfect place for enjoying wine out of plastic cups, frisbee games, impromptu photoshoots and fun friends!

The one accessory you need to throw over your shoulder for all of these destinations? A fun beach bag, duh. Pack in picnic essentials, a sweater for those cooler temps as the sun sets and whatever else you may need for a day of beach bummin’. You can’t go wrong with any of these hot picks:

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> 1. Woven Fringe Bag
> 2. Skinny Striped Drawstring Bag
> 3. Objects Without Meaning Cork Bag
> 4. Mar y Sol Collins Bag
> 5. Black and White Sisal Woven Tote
> 6. Cold Picnic Bucket Bag
> 7. All Hands Canvas Sailor Bag
> 8. Mar y Sol Caracas Bag

Here’s to many long beach days and super cute bags in all of our near futures! Where are some of your fave beaches to hang out during the summer??

CLICK TO SHOP! 

images via Emily Scott 

Tasty Tuesday: {Chill Out with This Tangy Summer Treat}

“Summer” in San Francisco is a tricky thing. We’ve been dying for Karl the Fog to disappear so we can enjoy the season’s finest – warm weather, tropical flavors and treats on treats on treats. But this recipe stopped us in our summer-seeking tracks! The coconut chia pudding topped with passion fruit granita sounds like the ultimate mid-afternoon indulgence or after dinner dessert. Refreshing, tangy and healthy as far as sweets go, we’re guaranteed to be chilling out with this bowl of goodness in hand all summer long – just as soon as the sun decides to show up!

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Coconut Chia Pudding + Orange Passion Fruit Granita 

Ingredients:

For the pudding
:
– 1 medium young coconut
– 1 cup coconut cream (from a can)
– 1/3 cup white chia seeds
– 1/2 teaspoon almond extract
– 1 tablespoon elderflower syrup
– 1/2 vanilla pod
– Juice of 1 lime

For the granita:
– 1 cup freshly squeezed orange juice
– 1 passion fruit, pulp removed
– 1 teaspoon agave syrup or honey

Pomegranate and mint to garnish.

Sounds amazing, right? Well, we won’t mention you can can substitute the almond extract for amaretto. Wait, we just did! You’d be silly not to head over to Artful Desperado for the full recipe!

image via Artful Desperado 

Gotta Getaway: Escaping to Wine Country with a Newborn

People ask me what I was looking forward to the most post-pregnancy. Sushi? Unpasteurized cheese? Oysters?? Yeah, sure I do love all those things, but for my entire 10 months of growing that human, I was most looking forward to wine – and finally getting to enjoy wine country again! It was pretty tough for me to have some of the best wines in the world less than an hour’s drive away and all I could do was give it all a longing stare. That’s why I was determined to get my butt back to wine country after Carter was born. It was also a wonderful excuse to get my butt out of our house! So at four weeks old, we loaded Carter up in the car {and all his gear – our station wagon has never been so full!} and headed for Alexander Valley.

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Nestled 90 minutes north of San Francisco just north of Healdsburg, Alexander Valley is a wine lovers sweet spot. While the region is known for its amazing Cabernet, Zinfandel and Sauvignon Blanc, in all our adventures in wine country we’d never ventured that far north. Needless to say I was very excited to get out among the vineyards, but the first step was finding a place to stay. Thankfully, I discovered a picture perfect rental home on Homeaway.com. This spot had my name written all over it!

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This modern take on a farmhouse had everything my design-loving heart could ask for in a vacation home. The architecture and design are stunning. Think vaulted ceilings, beautiful hardwood floors and pitch perfect finishes in every space. The house is split into two sections with an adjoining deck…that leads out to a heated pool! Um, yes and yes. We would slide open the oversized glass doors and just sit in the kitchen letting the warm wine country air waft in. The minimalist decor and neutral color palette was so relaxing. The spa-like bathrooms and gourmet kitchen were another major plus. And Carter got to take his first dip in a pool. He was less than amused but he loved the shower we took after getting out!

And while I was temped to sit on that deck all day erry’day, we did manage to get out and about. That was made particularly simple because there were wineries and the cute Jimtown Store literally steps from our front door. That took care of my need for cappuccino and my return to wine tasting – no driving required! But wine country is too beautiful not to venture a bit further so we did hop in the car and head to Dry Creek – a whole 20 minutes away and discovered some of our favorite wines to date.

Wine tasting with a newborn was actually a breeze. Sure I overpacked swaddle blankets and under packed diapers. Sure, we had blowouts and spitups that required me to do laundry {thank you rental house with laundy room}. But none of it mattered because I was dealing with those things in such a beautiful space! Carter also basically slept the whole time we were out and about, really boosting our parental confidence. In fact our confidence was boosted so much that we even braved a dinner in downtown Healdsburg. Sadly, that experiment was less successful. Carter did not take to bustling restaurant noise, so we were forced to enjoy our entrees solo while the other parent circled the block with the stroller. But since we ate at the new-parent dinner hour of 5:30pm, we were able to return to our gorgeous rental home, that stunning deck, the fine bottle of wine we’d picked up in the Valley that day and this sunset:

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And I couldn’t have been happier.

I’m already counting down the days until we can return. While I’m hesitant to give up this gorgeous find, you can check it out for yourself on Homeaway.com right here. Below are a few of the spots we uncovered during our mini-adventure, but I know they are only the tip of the Alexander Valley iceberg. If you have any recommendations for wine tasting, dining or really anything fabulous in northern Sonoma/Russian River/Alexander Valley, please leave them in the comments!

FAVORITE ALEXANDER VALLEY DISCOVERIES:

Wineries
> Hawkes
> Truitt-Hearst
> Preston
> Medlock Ames

Food
> Healdsburg SHED
> Scopa
> Noble Folk
> Flying Goat Coffee
> Jimtown Store

For more of our favorite wine country finds click here, here and here!

Still have wanderlust? Check out the rest of our Gotta Getaway series HERE including trips to Santa Barbara, Hawaii and Washington, DC.