I'll Follow You Anywhere

IMG_2640

I’ve been all over California thanks to a West Coast upbringing and parents who love to chase the sunshine as much as I do, but there are a few cities I have yet to revisit as an adult and really experience. As the years ticked by, San Francisco remained one of those unexplored sections of the state, so when my friend Tegan invited me to come stay with her in the heat of The Mission I couldn’t say no.

What started as a short visit to one small city quickly snowballed into a total exploration of Northern California, from Tahoe to the Sonoma Coast, but for now I’m just going to focus on SF itself, because seriously, it’s AWESOME all on its own!

With the help of Tegan, some newfound local friends, and a lot of blog research, I managed to hit an almost outrageous number of amazing spots in the Bay Area, and like most trips I still left with a list of places to visit the next time around.

From vegan sushi and flaming tiki drinks to abandoned bath house ruins and sprawling beaches, here’s what made my must-see list in the city of pastel houses, hills, and expensive toast (seriously, they love fancy toast!)

Scroll down to see the full list!

IMG_2655

IMG_2708

IMG_3590

IMG_3585

IMG_3488

IMG_3417

IMG_3412

IMG_2738

IMG_3566

Sips //

Trouble Coffee
Tonga Room
Sightglass Coffee
Pagan Idol Tiki Bar
Samovar Tea

Sweets //

Mr. Holmes Bakehouse
Bi-Rite
Dandelion Chocolate

Snacks //

Shizen Vegan Sushi
St Francis Fountain
Leo’s Oysters
Souley Vegan
Tartine
Flour + Water

Shops //

Voyager
Le Point
Cove
Little Paper Planes
Heath Ceramics
Case for Making

Adventures //

Sutro Baths
Walt Disney Family Museum
The famous Painted Ladies
Mission Cliffs Climbing Gym
Love Story Yoga
Urban Putt Mini Golf Bar
Fisherman’s wharf
Ferry building
Burnell heights Hill
Land’s end park
Ocean beach

On the list for next time //
Garden Creamery (vegan ice cream shop that opened right when I left!)
Academy of Sciences
Conservatory of Flowers
Alamo Theatre
Mt. Tam Hiking
Baker Beach

I'll Follow You Anywhere

IMG_3094

I’d instantly grow a nose like Pinocchio if I was to say my sister and I have always been close. With four years and a lot of personality differences between us, it hasn’t always been smooth sailing, but I’m pleased to report that we seem to grow closer the older we get. Maybe we should blame it on the alcohol…

My sister, a talented restaurant employee, loves her drinks, and wine is right at the top of her list. She always has something to teach me about this Chardonnay or that Estate blend, and once I realized how close to Napa I’d be while staying in San Francisco, I invited her down for a couple days of sister bonding and sipping.

As expected, she said “Yes way Rosé!”

Personally I’m not a wine connoisseur by any stretch of the imagination. I like my trashy strawberry margaritas, simple whisky sours, and when I have to purchase wine it’s almost always ENTIRELY based on great label design. My sister Sierra couldn’t be more different, so we both weren’t really sure what a trip from Napa to the Sonoma Coast and back would look like for the two of us. Luckily, California wine country is a seriously magical place, and like a field of mixed grape vines turned picked and processed into a delicious blended wine, we too gained body and depth under the right conditions. I don’t know if I’ve ever felt as close to my little sister as I did those days chatting about tasting notes (she made fun of me for using “Sandalwood” as a descriptor) and nights giggling in the hot tub with a bottle of bubbly.

I guess just like a good vintage Merlot, we only get better with age.

Scroll down for our California Wine Country must-see stops

IMG_2818

IMG_2926

IMG_3044

IMG_3097

IMG_2827

IMG_2792

IMG_3077

IMG_3093

IMG_2920

Where we stayed //

White House Inn:
Located just around the corner from downtown Napa, you’d never guess this massive white Victorian mansion is open to the public, never mind a place you can stay over! It was love at first sight when we walked in and saw the crystal chandeliers, polka dot carpets, lush plant life covering the grounds, and of course the swoon-worthy pool and hot tub nested among lemon trees. The complimentary breakfast was divine, the service spectacular, and the sheet sets so soft it was actually impossible to get yourself out of bed. Top it all off with in-room fire places and eclectic furnishings, and you have the boutique hotel of every blogger’s dreams. Why would you stay anywhere else?

Timber Cove Resort:
I have a theory that whether you survive the breathtaking and TERRIFYING drive up the Sonoma Coast past Jenner or not, you’ll always end up at Timber Cove Resort, because it quite possible might be heaven on earth. I don’t have enough words to explain how deeply I adored this place. Record players in the room and bedside ocean views, sunsets like you’ve never seen and a massive fire pit on the cliffs by the sea. Everything from the forest green fabric on the couches to the minimalist copper light fixtures was any design-lovers dream, and the staff was so friendly it was like being home (a new, improved version of home that is). Don’t miss the in-hotel restaurant Coast Kitchen, or the awesome horse riding down the coast (more on those below).

Where we ate //

Archetype This spot is serious blogger dreams, and I can assure you once you cozy up in the sun room by the fireplace you’ll never ever want to leave!
Oxbow Public Market A plethora of cute local goods and delicious flavours, don’t miss this adorable building just outside of downtown Napa. Our favourite stall was the Napa Distillery!
Hog Island Oysters Get a tray of oysters and learn to shuck them yourselves! It’s one of my favourite new skills, best practiced beachside of course.
Coast Kitchen Though it was technically the hotel restaurant at Timber Cove, it was so much more. This delicious fare is worth the drive even if you can’t stay the night at the resort!

Where we sipped //

Tank Garage Winery By far the most youthful, design-forward winery on our route, we couldn’t get enough of the creative labels and limited-edition blends at this gas station-turned wine shop

Domaine Carneros Classic Napa beauty in all it’s glory, we highly recommend the sparkling tasting menu, best served with a side of sunset views.

Cru at the Annex Brand new to the Napa scene, this space was incredibly beautiful (complete with faux stuffed white peacock and love locks to sign) and the artisan popcorn pairings are a must!

Stag’s Leap Winery The history at this place was truly overwhelming, and I don’t know if I’ve ever been so enchanted by a tour of any space like I was Stag’s Leap. Originally purchased as a wedding gift from husband to wife in the 1890s’ this property had Northern California’s first outdoor tennis court, swimming pool, an underground speakeasy during prohibition times, and a “moon garden” filled only with flowers that bloom white to reflect the moonlight. Even more special yet, a corner of the winery is still filled with original vines of all varieties, and every year the wine maker blends the entire corner of the vineyard into a limited edition red that honestly tastes like heaven. Definitely a must-see!

Extra fun //

Horse n’ Around trail rides There is nothing I adore more than exploring a new place from the back of a horse, and Horse n’ Around really made our riding dreams come true. The staff was incredibly friendly, the horses so well-behaved and lovely, and riding along the beach with the waves crashing beside us is a memory I’ll never ever forget. Make sure you check them out when their new ranch opens shortly!

Patrick’s Taffy A sweet colourful stop if you’re heading down the coast back to SF!

IMG_3119

IMG_3237

IMG_3217

IMG_3155

IMG_3234

IMG_3232

IMG_3366

Things we want to try next time //

Napa Valley Aloft Balloon Rides (our ride was cancelled due to wind)
Boonfly Cafe
Domaine Chandon
Nickel Nickel
Gott’s Roadside Diner

A special thanks to the Visit Napa Valley and Timber Cove Resort

Dear DiaryI'll Follow You Anywhere

IMG_1794

I don’t really know how to write this post without sounding like a brag, but I have to be honest: life is really, stupidly good. It’s not just the sun, and the beach, and the comically fresh avocados… it’s the ability to go for a run every day without piling on layers, to order something vegan at any restaurant you desire, to make friends who take you to LACMA and rock climbing gyms and comedy shows because that’s how people hang out here. It’s a feeling of freedom that escaped me for too long.

Yes, I’m romanticizing, but in all fairness this place has been total bliss for me. I went vegan the day I touched down, have finally fully said goodbye to the disgusting world of cigarettes, and feel more in shape than I have in months. Sunshine and fresh veggies are the best medicine money can buy in my books, and coming down to California to escape some of that Toronto winter doom and gloom back home was just what the doctor ordered.

As I write this I find myself in San Francisco for a few weeks, a brand new place that I’ve never really explored! So until I get my bearings and can formulate a list of SF faves, here are my favourite NEW findings from L.A. this past month:

IMG_1706

IMG_1857

IMG_2010

IMG_1720

Otherwild // If you were ever looking for housewares with boobs all over them, look no further. Seriously though, this Los Feliz shop is filled with perfect feminist finds and queer goodies. I wanted to buy the entire inventory (rainbow stairway included).

Shojin // Not only is Shojin a totally vegan sushi restaurant tucked away in a mall in Little Tokyo, but it also happens to be the best service I’ve ever experienced. If you want to feel like a princess and try the most creative fish-free Japanese dishes around, this is the place for you.

Shop Belljar // Stocked with RAOP favourites like HKM and Samantha Pleet, this lovely little store of amazing pastel finds is right next to Otherwild, so prepare to leave the block with a seriously dented wallet.

Go Get Em Tiger // A popular brunch and coffee spot in both Larchmont and Los Feliz), this cafe is perfect for a light meal, a tasty beverage, and lazy outdoor lounging (unless you go on the weekend, then you’ll be fighting for a seat all morning).

Eric Buterbaugh Perfumes // If you’re walking down Beverly Blvd. and come across a Nirvana-like garden with an undeniably delicate and distinct floral scent, you’ve found Eric Buterbaugh’s space. Part gallery, part perfumery, this gorgeous building is full of unexpected sensory delights, and if you think floral scents are outdated and boring, get ready to think again.

Tenoversix // An endless array of local art, dreamy housewares and wardrobe essentials await within this pastel heaven.

IMG_1758

IMG_2072

IMG_2325

IMG_1807

FullSizeRender

Juice Served Here // Simple and to the point, this LA juicery has some crazy good combos. We recommend “Tropic Thunder”, “The Pixie”, and/or “Pearl Punch”… if you have to choose.

Bar Bandini // Cozy and crowded, this tiny dive bar in Echo Park makes for the perfect place to get close to someone new. Try the 101 Cider House “Cactus Red” if you’re not sure what fancy craft beverage to order – it’s hot pink and delicious!

Super Smash Buns Food Truck // The best late night food delivery of ALL time. We ordered the Vegan Quesedilla, Masala Fries, and Rose Lavender Lemonade and basically had a collective meltdown over the goodness.

Cliffs of ID // Rock climbing is rapidly getting big everywhere, but it’s REALLY big in LA. All the cool kids are doing it, and on top of being a fun way to make friends it’s also a SUPER hard workout!

Erin McKenna’s Bakery // I’ve been a massive fan of Erin’s Vegan, gluten free goods since first discovery her original bakery in NYC a few years back, and seeing her shop in Larchmont was like bumping into a deeply missed and oh so sweet friend. This is also the only place I know of that makes vegan black-and-white cookies, which just so happen to by my all time favourite!

IMG_1540

Still on my list to see…
Sweet Fin Poke
By CHLOE
SQRL
Little Pine
Block Party
Sage
Clifton’s
Donut Friend

Dear DiaryI'll Follow You Anywhere

dsc_7462

When I made the decision to book a one-way ticket to LA with no sense of when I’d stop adventuring and come back, it was so spontaneous and unexpected I didn’t really think all of the details through. When a friend asked me about a going away party a few days after I made the announcement, I was totally blindsided – I needed to say farewell to all of my dearest friends!

With less than a week left I scrambled to put something together, and luckily Planta came to my rescue. A new upscale vegan restaurant in Yorkville, this place is literally to DIE for, and I knew it would be the perfect location to feast with friends. Their incredible team booked us our own massive table tucked away at the back for Sunday brunch, and no lie, it ended up being one of the best meals of my entire life.

Cauliflower tater tots, banana pancakes, nachos, crab cake benedict… the list of wondrous creations sent from the kitchen went on and on. Every single thing, from the tea to the blood orange mimosas was absolutely divine, and by the end of the meal we were confident our server was the nicest man alive. We ate like queens, chatted incessantly, and in the end shed a few tears over goodbye hugs and Christmas gifts.

It was the kind of sendoff that almost convinces you to stay, and ensures you’ll be back.

dsc_7501

dsc_7505

dsc_7424

dsc_7533

dsc_7552

dsc_7473

dsc_7520

A special thanks to Planta for hosting my special day!

I'll Follow You Anywhere

cover

The last time Johanna and I visited Montreal, we really felt like we’d seen it all. Practically running from cafe to cafe, we discovered so much more than we had ever planned to, and our guide list when we returned home proved to be pretty expansive.

But believe it or not, there’s more.

My week in Montreal with my best friend from Vancouver was a truly magical experience. It helped me get back on my feet and make some scary life changes (more on that in the coming weeks), but it was also just a really fun time! We stayed in the gorgeous William Grey Hotel, and literally ate our way across the city. By the time the trip had ended I was shocked to find I had a whole new list of additions to my original pastel city guide.

Here are some of our favourite picks, plus a few we spotted but didn’t get the chance to enjoy:

Rooney // All thing minimalist and luxe.

Away Spa // Best pedicures of our lives! There are heated beds… it’s incredible.

Mlle Catherine // Located across from our hotel, this tiny pink gem was the perfect place to grab a coffee and girl talk.

Le Petit Dep // A gorgeous little general store in the heart of Old Montreal, perfect for all the gift shopping you could ever desire.

Cafe Olympico // Hands down the world’s best hot cocoa. THE BEST. There’s also some great “eye candy” if you know what I mean.

img_9807

img_9992

img_0003

img_0031

img_9956

img_0039

img_9917

img_9781

Ristorante Beatrice // We didn’t make it to this one, but it looks like total paradise in the warmer summer months.

Bird Bar // Vegan popcorn chicken! Need I say more?

Beige // All things cozy, homey and shiny.

September Surf // A little slice of California surf shop in Griffintown

Annex Vintage // The holy grail of patches, pins, and general flair!

Deux Lions Jewellery // A great little nook of clothing and accessories.

Vertuose // An Epic plant shop that gave me the amazing idea to stick pom poms on cacti!

Vertu Bar Sante // Healthy, delicious, and pastel – this is our kind of juice bar.