A fun visit to Lake Tahoe

Back in July, Luke and I spent five days exploring the Lake Tahoe area. It was our first visit and I can say with complete confidence that it will not be our last! The lake and surrounding areas are just stunning. The lake looks like one hundred different shades of blue depending on what area you’re viewing it from.

We chose to stay in South Lake Tahoe due to the number of accommodations, restaurants, coffee shops, breweries, shopping, etc. We could not have loved our location more! We ended each day completely exhausted from exploring, hiking, rafting and swimming. We would return to our hotel at the end of each day to freshen up and then walk only a few blocks to a variety of restaurants and breweries in the area – it was perfect.

See below for links to our favorite restaurants, bars, activities as well as a few helpful tips.



Activities & Outdoors:

A Few Tips:

We flew into the Reno-Tahoe International Airport, rented a small SUV and drove just under 60 miles to South Lake Tahoe. We made South Lake Tahoe our main base and spent different days exploring different areas. One day we dedicated to exploring South Lake Tahoe. One day we dedicated to exploring Incline Village and the northern area of the lake. One day we drove to the west side of the lake and went river rafting in Tahoe City.

If you want to spend any time at Sand Harbor, make sure you get there very early in the morning to secure a parking spot. I’m talking 7:30am or earlier. We arrived around 9am and the lot was already full and they don’t allow you to park down the street and walk in. We found the parking situation to be the same for the hiking trails. Arrive. Early. Do your research on any area that you’d like to spend time in ahead of your visit.

If there are any activities that are high on your list (rafting, kayaking, jest skis, boating, restaurants, etc) check to see if you can make reservations in advance. It was quite busy when we visited in July and as each day passed more and more tourists arrived at the lake. Thinking ahead to our next trip, we’ll likely visit during the week and not over the weekend because the crowds on Friday and Saturday became overwhelming.

Viewpoint at Memorial Point Scenic Overlook
Viewpoint at Memorial Point Scenic Overlook

Beers at South of North Brewery. We visited their location at the Basecamp Hotel a few times during our trip. They have live music in the evenings!
Sand Harbor
Sidellis Brewery

Emerald Bay State Park
Emerald Bay State Park
Emerald Bay State Park
Emerald Bay State Park
Emerald Bay State Park
Back at South of North for some pre-dinner beers.
A ski chair at the Heavenly Village Shops.
Edgewood Golf Course
Edgewood Golf Course
Donner Train Tunnels
Donner Train Tunnels
Donner Train Tunnels
Donner Train Tunnels
A quick stop to explore Truckee, CA before heading back to the Reno-Tahoe Airport.

A Quick Trip to California

Back in September we were itching to get away for a quick weekend trip. We had California on our minds and envisioned driving up and down 101 and taking in the views of the central coast. We figured staying in our car/finding places to explore outdoors was our best bet given there is still a pandemic in full swing. Anytime we were around anyone else we 100% had our masks on. We actually had our masks on just even walking around outside. For us, it’s better to err on the side of caution and plus I truly don’t mind wearing a mask. I understand people being leery of traveling (trust me, I am as well) which is why we take our safety and the safety of others very seriously by wearing our masks, washing our hands, sanitizing, eating meals outdoors away from other people, etc.

In California we explored Santa Cruz, Monterey and Carmel-by-the-Sea. Monterey and Carmel-by-the-Sea were new-to-me places and they were just adorable! I don’t have any restaurant recommendations, coffee shops or fun things to do to share in this post as this trip was really focused on being close to the water and breathing the fresh California air. I do have some pretty pictures to share though, which is something I’m always good for!

A Trip to Balboa Island, California

Our next stop was Balboa Island in Newport Beach. We parked on the island and spent a few hours walking in and out of shops and admiring the adorable houses. We even spotted a 3-car auto ferry and took a quick trip over the water and back. The sun was shinning, there were zero clouds in sight, nothing to do but walk around and soak up the sun. What a Saturday!
– Photos © Holly Copeland –

A Trip to Laguna Beach, California

Last weekend Luke and I went on a quick weekend getaway to Los Angeles. Upon touching down at LAX, we hurried to our rental car to start driving south, to Laguna Beach. We had lunch with a beautiful view at On Deck. Fish tacos + ice cold beers was the perfect start to this trip. After lunch we walked all around the little town. Laguna Beach was cute, relaxing and very warm – also a good spot to start the next part of our day… a drive up the coastline.
– Photos © Holly Copeland –

Los Angeles Sisters Trip

My sister and I took a little girls trip to Los Angeles this past weekend. I can’t even believe it myself, but this was my first trip there! It’s long been on my list of places to explore, so I’m glad that I finally made the trip. I loved every second of our stay and can’t wait to go back and visit again in the future. From cruising around nice neighborhoods and admiring all the gorgeous houses to hanging out in eclectic coffee shops and dining at delicious restaurants; this trip was full of a lot of things I love.

See below the photos for a list of my favorite restaurants and activities in and around the city.

Santa Monica Pier | Beach Art between Santa Monica and Venice | Runyon Canyon hike
Love wall in Culver City by Smashbox Studios | LA Street Art | Malibu Beach
Malibu Farm Cafe on the pier | Sweedish Pancakes | DTLA views from Hollywood Hills
Alfred Coffee {Melrose Place} | Macchiato in a waffle cone @ Alfred | Biking on the beach

Restaurants: Gracias Madre, Plan Check, Umami Burger, Lemonade, 800 Degrees, Malibu Farm Cafe, Poke Poke, Alfred Coffee

Activities: Pedicures at the W Hollywood Bliss Spa, Wandering around the LACMA, Visiting Griffith Observatory, beach walking in Malibu

Urban Workouts: Renting bikes in Santa Monica, hiking the secret stairs of Beachwood Canyon, hiking Runyon Canyon

Sonoma, California #wineweekend

On our second day in wine country we ventured towards the Sonoma Valley. This area was much more our style! We started out with a delicious brunch and then worked our way a little north, making stops at a few wineries and exploring downtown Sonoma. Sonoma had a more relaxing vibe and the people seemed a little friendlier. The first two wineries that we visited offered free tastings (yippe!) so I made sure to make a few purchases at their gift shops to show my appreciation. See below for a list of the places where we tasted and dined.
Fremont Diner in Sonoma. So good! We had the ricotta pancakes, a breakfast sandwich, chili bacon and cheesy grits. Definitely recommend!
Wineries Visited:
Cline Cellars Free tastings of really good wines!
Jacuzzi Family Vineyards A beyond gorgeous winery and across the street from Cline. Also offers free tastings! We received so many free tasting that we lost count…
Roche Winery Quaint little tasting room on the edge of downtown Sonoma. We sat outside by a fire pit and sipped some delicious wines.
Kunde Family Estate Awesome winery that offers cave tours on-site.
Kenwood Vineyards We got here close to closing time so they gave us free tastings!
La Casa Delicious Mexican food in downtown Sonoma. We had the bean and chese fundido and street tacos.
Ristorante Allegria Amazing Italian in downtown Napa. We had the Dungeness crab cakes, carpaccio, penne con pollo and pappardelle allo zafferano.
– Photos © Holly Copeland –

Napa, California #wineweekend

Last month Luke and I flew down to California wine country for a long weekend. Other than driving past a few times, this was our first time really exploring the area (and definitely won’t be our last…). On our first day in wine country we spent a good part of the day exploring in the Napa Valley. We started off with a yummy lunch in downtown Napa and then worked our way up north to stop by a few wineries. With temps in the mid-60’s a a few sun breaks, we were feeling pretty lucky with the weather (Oregonians have low weather expectations, haha). 
Gott’s Roadside in downtown Napa. Yummy burgers and fries!
Napa Cellars To be completely honest there was nothing special about this place, the guy pouring our wine was really rude.
Cosentino A gorgeous winery with delicious wines.
Markham Vineyards This is the place where I discovered that I don’t hate merlots; they have a great one!
Francis Ford Coppola Okay, so this was more in Sonoma Valley… I loved everything about this place. I’ve been wanting to visit this winery for the longest time and I’m finally glad that I was able to. I recommend everything here! Next time I’d like to dine at their restaurant, Rustic.
Ridge Great wines with sweeping views. We took our glasses out to the patio and chatted while we enjoyed our wines.
Zuzu in downtown Nappa. The most amazing spanish tapas we’ve had. We had the Ceviche del Dia, Tunisian Brik Pastry, Flat Iron steak and Paella del Dia. I highly recommend it all!
*Since Napa is a little on the pricey side, we found a lot of 2 for 1 coupons here, they really helped 🙂 
– Photos © Holly Copeland –

San Diego shenanigans

Last month I went to San Diego for my dear friend Katie’s Bachelorette Party. It was the absolute most perfect location for eleven girls to get together and celebrate Katie’s final days of freedom (I joke!) before her wedding next weekend! Our San Diego weekend was packed full with a lot of laughing, lots of drinking, a crazy night out on the town, gorgeous sunsets, a roller coaster ride and one giant ice cream cone – plus a few other unmentionables. It was quite the weekend and looking through these photos make me want to hop on a plane back to blue skies and sunshine!
^ Our Mission Beach accommodations ^
^Clear skies, sun and palm trees all weekend! ^
 ^Karen, Traci, Kacie, Brandi, Megan ^
Katie (the Bachelorette!), Jenny, Audra, Abby, Kara and I
^ Had to! ^

I left my heart in San Francisco

It’s true, I did. I don’t know what it is about this city, but I just feel so at home there. From the moment that we started our descent into the city and looked down below to the landscape beneath us… Those all familiar butterflies of returning to my favorite city leapt into my stomach.

Every time I visit, it seems that I purposefully leave out items that I have on my agenda, just so I have a reason to come back. (ride a cable car, make the trek up to wine country, visit the secret slides, bike/walk across the Golden Gate Bridge, visit the Ferry Building…) All must-do’s in my book – but never quite enough time to do them all in one visit.

I visited a few years ago (after college) with a strong thought of moving here. The reality of not having any money, or a job in such an expensive city deterred me. Actually now that I do have a steady job, a savings account and a lot of stability – moving here isn’t really realistic either. It really comes down to the money. Which breaks my heart. But at the same time I’m not exactly willing to trade in my two-story house with a backyard, two-car garage, plenty of street parking, and my front loading washer and dryer for a tiny 1-maybe-2-if-I’m-lucky-bedroom-apartment with no garage, no parking, and highly overpriced rent. The older I get, the more I realize it just isn’t worth it. Even if I did make it happen, I don’t think I’d be able to live the lifestyle that I would want. The dreamer in me can not stop plotting and scheming up ways to make a move to San Francisco a reality – then my logical side (heh hem, Luke) kicks in and brings me back down to earth.

As much as I love this city, I think I’ll keep it for long weekend trips every few years or so. It will become the city that I visit and continually fall in love with time and time again. Each time I return its incredible views, amazing restaurants and steep hills will make me fall head over heels again.

I’ve reserved a special place in my heart, just for you, San Francisco.

You can check out what we ate during our trip – because a trip with me isn’t complete unless you revolve your itineary around checking out the yummiest restaurants in the city Le Zinc, Delarosa and Tacolicious.

And a few pics from some previous San Francisco trips… 2006, 2010

City by the Bay

We’re headed to San Francisco on Saturday! We’ve had this trip planned for a few months, but it just now hit me that we’re going in less than a week & we haven’t done any planning, except to find someone to watch Gracie while we’re gone (thanks, Abby!). We’re staying with Luke’s old boss & his partner in the Noe Valley/Diamond Heights area & they already have a few fun things planned for us. Then I plan on spending the remainder of our time wandering around the Mission looking for yummy food. (Any recs? Send my way!)

My computer wouldn’t let me upload pics from our last trip to the city, so here are a few snaps from 2006 when my cousin & I took a spontaneous road trip down to SF & stayed for a week. We were both bored & unemployed so we decided to drive down to San Francisco, just for kicks. I didn’t have much money & was afraid to look at my bank account when we got there – when I finally did & realized that I had more money than I thought – we stayed a few extra days in the city. Oh to be young & in your early twenties again…

– Photos © Holly Carman –