[Visit] NorCal beach towns

In classic California fashion, we spent the weekend exploring beach towns here in the Bay Area. We visited both Half Moon Bay and Santa Cruz, exploring a mix of touristy and local things.

Mike’s parents arrived from Toronto on Friday and before beach bumming it, we kicked things off at B Street and Vine in downtown San Mateo. This place is a local Bay Area gem with the best bruschetta around.

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On Saturday, after coffee and a light breakfast, we drove to Half Moon Bay. Our first stop was back to Dad’s Lunchonette for burgers, beers, and mac n’ cheese. Just like the last time Mike and I went to Dad’s, we took it to-go and ate on the beach across the street at Half Moon Bay State Beach. True to NorCal weather, it was a windy but the sun stayed shinning throughout the afternoon; making for a nice day!

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After we ate, we played a few rounds of Kubb (Barb and Dan beating us 2/3 games). Next up? A nice beach stroll where we found a flock of baby seagulls, proving that everything is cute when it is a baby and small!

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The boys setting things up
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They were so tiny!

After our walk, we drove to Half Moon Bay Distillery for a FREE tour. HMB Distillery is a small craft distillery run by a husband and wife. Ulli gave our tour and she was great! Now thinking about it though, the tour was actually more of a talk. It started with a introduction video explaining how her and her husband started the distillery. Then she told us all about vodka and gin – how they were made and the key differences between them – following it up with tastes of each.

I was a big fan of their gin so we ended up going home with a bottle. I also just love to support local and small businesses. Plus, since the whole thing was free, I’m glad we bought something at the end. If you’re ever in Half Moon Bay, I recommend checking it out.

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Those gorgeous Cali. beaches 👌

We ended the night back in the south bay at one of mine and Mike’s favorite restaurants, Orchard City Kitchen.

On Sunday we started the day at The Mystery Spot in Santa Cruz. This place is a little touristy but at $8 a ticket (and $5 to park), it’s a fun, reasonably priced thing to do. Plus, the drive there is beautiful under all of the California redwoods.

The Mystery Spot claims to be “a gravitational anomaly.” You’re able to do all of these weird things like stand a table and lean off of it without falling (pictures below). It is only a 45 minute tour – that’s pretty cheesy with a lot of punny jokes – but I think it was worth it.

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After The Mystery Spot we drove to downtown Santa Cruz. One of our favorite thing to do as a couple is go to the Tea House Spa, where you can enjoy a hour spa and a hour massage for only $180. Such a deal! We didn’t do this with Mike’s parents but there is a cool beer place nearby that we usually go to after the spa called Lúpulo Craft Beer House. We decided to stop there first for beers and a meat and cheese plate. It was a nice day out so we were able to sit on the patio and enjoy our brews and noshes.

After we walked to Mike’s favorite place in Santa Cruz to stock up on cookies at Pacific Cookie Company. Typically I rather go for something else indulgent (like a really good cheese or wine!) but even I have to admit, the cookies are delish here.

We ended the day at Pour Taproom on the main strip in downtown. Mike and I have been there before and think it’s a cool idea. There aren’t any bartenders here but, instead, you serve yourself with selections of different beer, mead, and wine to pick from. One huge wall is lined with all of the taps and you can do a “taste” (2 ounces), a “flight” (4 ounces), or a full glass. You’re given a bracelet to wear that tracks your pours to pay at the end.

I think we each tried about 4 different beers while playing a game of parcheesi, which is about the longest game ever. We actually ended up leaving before we finished. Then it was time to head back over the hill to go home.

Tired but happy from a good weekend, we curled up and watched Lady Gaga’s new special on Netflix, Five Foot Two, in our new spacious office!

I See You Morro Bay

Last weekend, we celebrated my birthday in Morro Bay. We met our close friends Gary and April there and stayed in a nice little airbnb close to the beach. Mike and I drove down on Friday night after work, arriving at the house around 9:30pm (minutes before Gary and April).

Mike, April, and I went to the store to stock up on beer and breakfast noms for the next morning. I’m a big fan of IPAs and found a tangerine one that was legit. It was a perfect combination of citrus and hoppy (and a solid 6% – beer under 5% is a waste of time and calories, in my opinion). After a few beers and catching up a little bit, we all went to bed.

The next morning we drank coffee (tea for Mike!) and made a decadent breakfast. I’ve mentioned on the blog a few times that a splash of 1/2&1/2 in my morning coffee would be one of the hardest things to give up if I were ever to be a vegan. I’m surprised that this theory has been completely debunked… I now prefer almond milk in my coffee over cow’s milk. Now, if only cheese wasn’t part of the reason I live so delicious…

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Morning view of the Morro Bay Rock from our airbnb
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The digs

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For breakfast we have waffles, eggs, bacon, and strawberries. Then is was time to get ready and head to San Luis Obispo. There was a Dia De Los Muertos (The Day of the Dead) festival in downtown that we explored. We also ate at Luna Red, a restaurant we went to a few years ago for brunch after a camping trip. Here we filled up on cocktails and tacos. #whatsbetter

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I’ve got almond milk clouds in my coffee…
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Me & April #a2

When we got back to our airbnb, Gary and April took a nap. I was trying to resist the urge, so Mike and I started an episode of The West Wing (gotta love an airbnb with Netflix!) but I quickly fell asleep, despite the political drama P.O.T.U.S. Bartlet and his staff were going through. (Side note: I actually love West Wing – do people actually say “The“? – and rarely fall asleep during an episode!)

For dinner we went Rose’s Bar and Grill and sat out by the water. Morro Bay is famous for this massive rock and we had a great view! April and I each ordered a glass of white wine, a house salad, and the lobster mac n’ cheese. Hooray for girlfriends to spilt dinners with! (Even though, to be fair, Mike does spilt things with me most of the time.) As we were walking out, we spotted a small arcade room with air hockey. We stopped for a few rounds before heading back to the house and, yes, of course Mike was champion. We finished the night off with a game of Love Letters, which is one of mine and Mike’s favorite games.

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Dinner and a view!
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Mike holding my purse (thanks Life in Leggings for the recommendation!)  while I played air hockey
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Games and vino

The next morning, Gary and Mike woke up early to set up for the race while April and I spelt in and took our time. Woot woot! Plus, it was also daylight savings (daylight saving?) and I was not complaining about the extra hour off sleep. Okaaaay?!

After the boys were in from the swim, April and I headed to The Coffee Pot (recommendation to us by my mom and stepdad, who got MARRIED in Morro Bay earlier this year) for some much needed BLACK MAGIC and breakfast. Here we spilt (again, I know) a breakfast croissant and home fries. Then it was back to the finish line to see our men come in from the run.

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Mike peeling off his wetsuit after the swim (the only picture I got, ek)
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“Now a silly one….”

Before lunch we packed up the cars, cleaned up the house, and then were right back downtown ready to eat. Morro Bay is your quintessential little beach town, with it’s salty air; creaky, semi-worn down restaurants; and ocean sound effects. (This was actually the 2nd year that we’ve been there and the 2nd time we’ve seen otters in the Bay! Which, in my opinion, is the cutest, best part of the trip.)

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I forgot where we decided to go for lunch but I wasn’t all too impressed with their menu selection. Everyone else got a burger but I knew I would feel sluggish if I ate such a big meal, so I went with a side salad and cup of calm chowder. Pro tip: when dining out, or even at home, ask for a slice of lemon and side of olive oil for your dressing instead of the sugary, calorie-dense options they likely have. I swear, a squirt of citrus, a dash of OO, with some S&P, and you won’t even miss the other stuff.

It was time to head home and say goodbye after 😦

Until next time, Morro Bay!