Tag Archives: Bay Area trips

Hog Wild: Weekend Trips to Tomales Bay, CA

By Jessica Rogers

I made plans for my escape to Tomales Bay in May. I knew I needed something on the books later in the year to break up the monotony of being a shut in during the pandemic. I’d fallen in love with the charming cottages at Nick’s Cove on a day trip long ago, but the waterfront cottages book up so far in advance that I never had the timing right. My plan? Come back one day to spend a night or two here and soak up the salt and rocks. In a rare stroke of luck in 2020, I was able to secure a reservation for two nights during the Halloween weekend. Even luckier, the weather was gorgeous.

The picnic tables at Hog Island Boat Oyster Bar

We hit the road on a Saturday morning, driving further and further away from the crowded communities, each town smaller than the last along the windy country roads leading away from the Bay. Despite stopping for a pleasant lunch at Two Bird Cafe in San Geronimo, I knew we needed oysters immediately upon arrival. I booked a post-lunch snack at the Hog Island Boat Oyster Bar on Resy. It’s a pilgrimage of sorts to eat these shellfish where they are pulled fresh from the sea.

I had avoided the ubiquitous Hog Island in the past as it was always a crowded mess of people shucking their own oysters and fighting for table space. Now, they required reservations and had shucking service. The vibe was festive as I think most people were as overjoyed as we were to be sitting on the water on such a gorgeous day.

Second round of Sweetwaters at Hog Island Boat Oyster Bar

We ordered drinks and Sweetwater oysters at the bar and settled in to enjoy the view. Inexplicably, my husband isn’t a huge oyster fan so I ordered just six, but after trying one I had to order another round just to have more Hogwash, their distinct rice wine vinegar mignonette with jalapeno and cilantro. I could have stayed the entire afternoon sitting there on the bay but the bar was closing, and we had to check into the hotel.

Rustic-chic bedroom in Al’s Cottage

We booked Al’s Cottage, one of the rooms directly on the water. The decor was deliberately rustic, but had modern amenities like heated bathroom floors and a fully stocked minibar (a glorious rare joy in COVID days). The cottage had a living room with a big leather couch and fireplace, and a bedroom with a comfy king-sized bed, both with a direct view out onto the water.

Living room and deck, Al’s Cottage

At the end of the long pier at Nick’s Cove, there is a little boat shack designed for parties, complete with an old piano and a phone to call for food and beverages. Someone was hosting a gathering and the sound of laughter and clinking glasses in the distance made it feel like life was normal again. As the fog arrived, the merry party departed for the evening. The silence set in as the sun faded, and I felt very far from home, even though I was only an hour’s drive away. I headed inside for a nice soak in the deep claw-foot tub.

Fog rolling in at sunset, Nick’s Cove

Given the pandemic, there was no dining service, so we ordered at the front window and ate outside on the deck with the heaters. The food was unremarkable, but the bar was still serving and the martini I ordered was the perfect ending to a beautiful day.

The next morning, we took a short drive to Dillon Beach, a small community tucked away down a rambling road. A new resort of sorts dominates the town with its tiny houses, overlooking an expansive beach with expensive parking. We spent the day reading on the beach and had takeout lunch from the Coastal Kitchen

Dillon Beach view from the Coastal Kitchen

For our second dinner, we drove up windy Highway 1 to the town of Tomales for dinner at William Tell House. That night it was just us and another table braving the cold outside dining. The heat lamp helped, as did the amazing fish tacos. The menu was simple, but what lacked in description made up for in flavor – the most

perfectly crisp battered with a mix of vinegary and spicy toppings.

Waterfront dining at Tony’s Seafood

In no rush to get home the day of our departure, we stopped at Tony’s Seafood for lunch, which is also owned by Hog Island. It had a more extensive menu than the Boat Shack so I tried the Earthquake Bay oysters for the first time, which are grown in bags that tumble the oysters as the tide rises and falls. The result is the most tender oyster. We paired this with the decadently rich Cowgirl Creamery grilled cheese sandwich and sipped our wine watching the sun reflect off the water. In that moment, I was filled with gratitude, for the oysters and sunshine and a dream weekend fulfilled.

Earthquake Bay and Kumamoto Oysters, Tony’s Seafood

Staycationing in Sausalito

Beautiful Sausalito

By Jessica Rogers

Sadly with the pandemic, many of us are traveling a lot less than in 2019. I used to be on a plane multiple times a month for work (or using travel points for vacations), but I haven’t gotten up the courage yet to head to the airport. On the positive side of things, it’s given me more time to explore the bounty of the Bay Area. One of the gems in its crown is charming Sausalito.

The city of Sausalito has waterfront end-to-end on its eastern side and is framed by the gorgeous hills of the Marin Headlands on its western side so there are plenty of outdoor activities to be enjoyed here (perfect for social distancing!). One of my favorite activities is kayaking or stand-up paddleboarding on the Bay. Sea Trek makes it easy with year-round rentals. You can spend hours exploring the Sausalito waterfront and its quirky houseboat community.

SUPs on Richardson Bay

If you prefer to have someone do the boating for you, SF Bay Adventures is your go-to resource for a whole fleet of boats, either for public or private sails. The Matthew Turner tall ship is a 132’ classic vessel built right in Sausalito. This impressive ship offers various opportunities to get out on the bay, including a 3-hour sunset sail with reserved seating areas so you can stay distanced from others. The Schooner Freda B also offers unique options, including a Full Moon Sail or private charters if you’d like to take the family.

A quick drive west will bring you to Rodeo Beach with plenty of parking and options to either lounge on the wide beach or take a hike along the coast overlooking the Pacific Ocean. Go as far as you like along the endless trail system in the Headlands.

View from the Rodeo Beach coastal trail

Of course, all this activity will make you hungry. Food options abound in Sausalito, and most take advantage of the gorgeous waterfront setting. Le Garage, a French bistro set on the water in the Schoonmaker Marina, is a standout. The tables are widely distanced and heat lamps and umbrellas are available. Their brunch is amazing … get ready to feast on their decadent quiche, and wash it down with a delicious Peach Bellini (my fave, although my friend adores their Kir!).

Le Garage’s delectable Dungeness crab salad and Kir

In downtown Sausalito, I am among the many local fans that adore the Italian food at Angelino, which is run by the lovely Ancona family. Tables here face directly onto the Bay with a clear shot of Angel Island and San Francisco. Plus points for COVID – they recently installed some outdoor heaters so you can linger longer. If you’re looking for the quintessential Sausalito experience, this is it.

For something more casual on the water, The Joinery is a neighborhood favorite. Order at the bar and find a table outside overlooking Richardson Bay. They have a rotating menu of beer and wine and the food is delicious and well-portioned. I dream about their crispy fried chicken sandwich, balanced perfectly with a nice arugula and fennel topping and a spicy aioli. The fried brussel sprouts are also amazing … I think the pandemic has me craving comfort food!

Screen Shot 2020-05-08 at 5.41.28 PM.png

Stores are currently open at limited capacity in Marin, so if you’re in the mood for spending, Sausalito has you covered here, too. My favorite new store in town is Salty on Caledonia Street, which carries a broad range of well-designed goodies from the local area and beyond.

Of course, a trip to Sausalito wouldn’t be complete without a visit to the Heath Ceramics store. I could spend hours in here dreaming of ways to fill my kitchen cabinets with their dishes and serveware.

Heath Ceramics

To enjoy Sausalito for multiple nights, hit up one of the luxury hotels in the area. A favorite is the Inn Above Tide, which sits directly on the Bay. Perfect for a romantic getaway or just to get out of the same house you’ve been sitting in since March.

View toward San Francisco from one of the waterfront rooms at Inn Above Tide

The best thing about Sausalito is that it’s easy to visit … just a 10-minute drive from San Francisco, or 40 minutes from SFO, if you have the courage to fly. With most of the city based around outdoor activities and dining, it’s the perfect place to visit and imagine the pandemic away.

When she’s not planning a vacation, Jessica Rogers is the Chief Growth Officer at Turner Duckworth, a global design studio. The way to her heart is a luxury hotel and a dirty vodka martini.