West Coast Honeymoon In the Winter
If you haven’t figured it out by now, we left our hearts in California and will jump at the chance to get back to the most beautiful place on earth. The west coast in general is an amazing place to explore, due to the fact that the landscape between SoCal and NorCal is so diverse. So while my husband and I make it a habit to visit San Diego at least once a year, this year we decided to add to it by inviting another couple who we’re dear friends with for a “group honeymoon” up and down the west coast as a much-needed wind down from a hectic wedding season.
Here’s a breakdown of our favorite places we visited! And, in case you’re planning a trip to any of these gorgeous places yourself, all of our favorite spots mentioned are linked!
If you’re looking to escape to sunshine any time during the year, San Diego is your place. The temperature and sunshine are ideal almost every day of the year and with so many different beach towns, there is something for everyone!
Where We Stayed
Lagoon Rental in Carlsbad – With views of the calm lagoon and the Pacific Ocean, this modern and comfy home was the perfect place to kick of vacation. Two large bedrooms with private baths and balconies were just the right amount of privacy along with a family room and kitchen well equipped with coffee! And the views from the balcony were our FAVORITE. I highly recommend checking this place out. Carlsbad is small beach town with a lot of charm and boasts some of the best restaurants in San Diego! It’s a quick 30 min ride north of town.
Where We Ate
1500 Ocean – This steakhouse at Hotel Del Coronado is a favorite of ours and we were so glad to share it with our friends. Their chef is one of only a few Michelin certified in the country and the desserts were (almost) too pretty to eat!
Duke’s La Jolla – Brunch with a view! This famous Hawaiian spot opened in La Jolla a few years ago and the mimosas and French toast did not disappoint. Their restaurant sits on top of the hill in La Jolla overlooking the gorgeous blue pacific. Look closely and you may even see some of the famous seals!
Bobboi – If you’re an ice cream lover like my husband, this place is a must try! Homemade gelato in unique flavors such as charcoal vanilla, cilantropic and goat cheese and grape in addition to favorite Italian classics such as straticella and of course an affangato. We enjoyed a post brunch scoop while walking around the shops of La Jolla.
Campfire – Built around an old airplane hangar with an abundance of both indoor and outdoor seating, this restaurant hosts some fresh from the farm deliciousness with drinks to match their taste. And, what better than roasting your own s’mores table-side for dessert with your loved one?
Café Topes – This charming breakfast place has been a favorite of Team Exhale for years, as this is one of the first places Katharine brought my husband and I when we were settling in San Diego! Greeted by a succulent filled wall, you can order one of their many fresh and made to order breakfast favorites all while enjoying a lavender latte with your lover! If you’re a sweets lover, their cinnamon roll is a wonderful treat to share! Be sure to ask for it extra dirty ;) (It’s extra icing!)
Things to Do
While we were in town for a wedding, we sent our friends out to explore more of our home away from home.
Stone Brewery & Bistro Tours
Bike around Coronado Island
Romantic Coast Drives up Highway 1
Sunset Cliffs at Sunset
Hike Torrey Pines
This booming city has diverse neighborhoods and plenty of greenspace for outdoor picnics and lunches. In addition, it’s got some great and iconic sights to see!
Where We Ate
The Brixton – Our lunch stop was located on Union Street near the Marina District. This adorable part of town greeted us with outdoor flower markets and lots of high designer shops to browse. Because it was a Monday, it was not extremely crowded, but I can see the trendy vibes of this place making it the place to be on the weekends during brunch on the weekend.
E Tutto Qua – How much more romantic can you get than an Italian dinner where the staff speaks the language? Being Italian myself, I’m always in search of the best pasta, and this place was literally voted best Italian food from those born in Italy. We loved sharing our meals and a glass of vino to end our day in San Francisco. Their burrata was so creamy and delicious and the homemade pasta’s were so delicate and soft.
Other Activities We Did
The Painted Ladies
Golden Gate Bride
Full House - Sadly there were construction fences around the house, but we managed to sneak a peek through them!
The Ice Cream Museum – This was the HIGHLIGHT of our trip to San Fran! It was so much fun walking around the walls for their Pinkmas display. Since both my husband and I love ice-cream, it was the perfect activity to do together. Plus they have a pool of sprinkles!! What more could you ask for! I even made a quick cameo in a CBS morning segment about pop-ups (that’s me on the swing at the Ice Cream Museum!)
Wine lovers – this is the PERFECT place to escape for your honeymoon. We spent a few days here on a mini honeymoon (okay a couple’s honeymoon) but wine tasting with friends makes it much more fun!
Where We Stayed
Our cottage style bungalows provided access to our friends, while keeping some privacy. Each room had its own bathroom and a fireplace joined by an outdoor patio that was shared. The only downside was that the weather was too cold to enjoy the outdoor parts, but the fireplace certainly came in handy!
It was so cozy, we opted for a pizza night in with some champagne from Mumm during our stay!
Where We Ate
Angele - This adorable French restaurant was right on the water. While it was raining during our trip, I can see how beautiful it would be in the warmer weather. The food was so good, I didn’t want lunch to end!
Rutherford Grill - Comfort food at its finest! This place is a local favorite, and I can see why!
Farm - This upscale dining at our resort was full of unique foods and exquisite service.
Bistro Don Giovanni - Our wine expert at one of the wineries recommended this local hot spot, and as a homemade pasta fan, I was in HEAVEN.
Boon Fly Cafe - This place is known for their homemade fresh donuts. If you can go there, DO IT - we had them daily and I’m not ashamed to admit it!
Wineries We Visited
Mumm – Champagne lovers rejoice! We opted for the private tour to see their facility that was paired with tastings. It is so interesting to learn about the history of champagne and all that goes in to the development of it. Because it is their slow season, we even scored some extra tastings and took a bottle home for dinner that night. And we even now proud member of the Mumm Wine Membership!
Cakebread – This cute winery is still run by the couple that founded it, Mr. and Mrs. Cakebread (Yes I’m serious that’s their name!). We did get to do a tasting of multiple chardonnay’s which provided great insight to how aging and treatment of the same kind of wine provides such a different flavor.
Robert Mondavi – Robert Mondavi’s wine’s are well known across the country, so this was an easy decision to stop. The groups of this place were so spacious and while it was not vine season you can tell that during the spring and summer months this place is gorgeous.
Duckhorn – If you ask my husband and friend Emily their favorite spot on the trip, it is likely Duckhorn. Duckhorn was one of the only locations that still had leaves on their vines, and their charming house reminded us of something straight out of a quaint little east coast town. We decided to taste on the patio since it was heated and we even received little blankets to keep us warm. The wine speaks for itself and they even have a cat, Kitters, that walks the property and loves attention from the guests. I think out of all the wineries we visited, this place felt the most like “home”. Our friends left as wine club members and we can’t wait to get some Duckhorn shipped home!
Del Dotto – Del Dotto offers a tour of their caves where you can taste wine straight from the barrel. The tour was highly information and our tour guide, Erik was so knowledgeable about the wines (and funny!) We even were fed at the end of our tour, but I should note that you might want to eat prior – we had over 10 tastings during our tour!
Caymus – Caymus was just a small tasting room with no tour and the perfect way to end our day! I’m a huge fan of their Mer Soleil Chardonnay so it was great to taste other their other brands.
Domain Carneros – Domain Carneros is well known for their bubbles, so of course, we had to try! It was only a quick ride from our resort so we could shuttle there! Sean and I decided to split the bubbly flight and thank goodness – the tastings are almost full glasses of champagne! We paired this with their cheese plate which was heavenly and delicious – a great way to happy hour if I do say so myself!
After two days in Napa, we chose to taste a day in Sonoma.
Mayo – This family owned winery has two tasting rooms and a delicious sparkling wine that is just perfect kick off your day!
Ramsgate – Ramsgate is a beautiful and modern winery that included both indoor and outdoor seating. Since it was relatively new, the modern elements really drove the experience but after speaking to our sommelier, he informed us that each piece in the location had history, from the wood in the ceiling to the Italian marble on the bar.
Chateau St. Jean – If you’re looking for a castle in Sonoma, look no more! The grounds of Chateau were straight out of Italy with lemon and orange trees. We were greeted with a sparkling wine and then led to a smaller tasting room in the actual castle. Fun fact – it is older than the Golden Gate Bridge! Our tasting sommelier, Butch was so accommodating and made our experience something we will never forget! In fact, we even left as wine club members!
Since we’ve been home a few week, all of the wine clubs that we joined successfully sent their first shipment and we are enjoying our wines to the fullest! We’ve even put a bottle back from our first shipment to celebrate with our friends in a few years - perhaps to start the planning of our next Napa trip ;)
A special thank you to my husband, Sean and our friends Emily and Matt for being the best assistant photographers and wonderful friends to travel with. The trip could not have been more fun without them.
The west coast is a gorgeous place to visit and if you can manage to do it with your loved one, I highly recommend. The sunsets are extremely romantic and what better combination than sun, sand and a little wine. As someone who gets to enjoy these views on a more regular basis than most, If you can manage to sneak away for a mini moon do it! It’s always helpful as a newly married couple (or any married couple for that fact!) to travel and take some time away from the daily grind to spend it with each other.
“It is well to remember that there are five reasons for drinking: the arrival of a friend; one's present or future thirst; the excellence of the wine; or any other reason.”