It was two days before the long weekend in January when I found out we also got the coming Monday off. The forecast called for dry weather and I figured it was another great opportunity to see more of what Northern California has to offer. Roger had the great suggestion of driving a few hours south to Pinnacles National Park, which is the country’s newest national park, having just been designated in 2013. I immediately took a look at the Airbnb’s in its surrounding cities, but actually found that the hotels in the area were more competitively priced. Because I already had local plans on Saturday, we ended up driving down to Pinnacles early Sunday morning and spending the night in the small town of Hollister (no association with the clothing brand). Our weekend at Pinnacles National Park was incredibly worthwhile. Its vast network of deep and winding talus caves and towering volcanic formations are not to be missed for locals and California tourists alike.
It’s been over three years since I left my hometown of Vancouver for the sunny California coast and the city has undergone quite a transformation since. I visit about two times per year and see a new crop of shops, restaurants, breweries, apartments, and events popping up each time. Perhaps most noticeable are the sprawling murals now seen across Canada’s third largest city. Over the past two summers, I’ve seen friends post vibrant photos of these diverse artworks across social media and noticed a few tagging “Vancouver Mural Festival”. Turns out a local non-profit launched an annual art celebration in 2016, which takes shape through events and art installations across the city.
After spending a week in Mexico last month, I was fortunate enough to spend another weekend at the beach along the central California coast. A close friend and I drove south from the Bay Area for a less than 48 hour jaunt to Monterey and its surrounding coastal towns. I had never visited the region during such a traditionally cold month, but the sandy destination ended up being a wonderful spot to retreat to in December. We were greeted with clear blue skies and even dipped our toes into the fresh Pacific water. From holiday festivities along the Monterey wharf to a monarch butterflies viewing in Pacific Grove, the Monterey region is a great destination during the cold season. If you’re looking for things to do along the central coast in fall/winter, keep reading to see what we managed to pack into our retreat to Monterey and beyond.
Our girls getaway to Mexico had some hilarious moments and was a really well-rounded trip – we got to relax, take in Puerto Vallarta’s colorful sights, and experience its lively nightlife scene. This marked my third friends/girls trip of the year, and boy did it get off to a rocky start though. Firstly, I need to stop picking these redeye and 5:30am flights just because I think I’m saving money. I actually ended up paying $42 to take a Lyft to the airport, which I think brought me pretty close to how much a better timed flight would’ve been. Learn from my mistakes!