A year ago, during a period of major angst and a requisite late-20s existential crisis, I realized I rarely ever left San Francisco, where life had suddenly become as gray and cold as the summer fog that walls it in. And so I did as so many of the heroines and authors I admire have done before me: I hit the road. Well, usually on the weekends or slightly longer stretches, at least twice a month.
In my mostly West Coast travels this year, I’ve slept in five-star resorts, Wine Country bed and breakfasts, chic and sexy hotels, and even a teepee. I’ve been to Portland and driven through all of the Willamette Valley, gone fly-fishing in Coeur d’Alene, Idaho, danced all night in Las Vegas, rode a BMW motorcycle through Aspen’s Independence Pass, drove across the bridge to Cavallo Point’s amazing view of SF, soaked in the mineral pool at Indian Springs in Napa Valley, scoured LA’s flea markets for vintage finds, baked in Scottsdale’s sun, backpacked through the Grand Canyon and played in its secret waterfalls, hiked in Tahoe’s winter snow, visited the Chopra Center in Carlsbad, California, hid away in a guest house in Tomales a few times, wore myself out at Coachella in the desert sun, sipped my way through Santa Barbara’s urban wine trail, and revisited Monterey’s Cannery Row to see what was new (note: nothing much).
Without a lot of thought, I shared my travels on Instagram. Most of the comments ask for my itineraries so others can go too. Here are the top three destination requests.
1. Big Sur Trailer: This mint-condition 1960s trailer sits on a hillside overlooking the ocean and Esalen (across the street), where you can enjoy the cliffside bathhouse and a massage. But I didn’t really want to leave. Richard, the landowner, rents out just this one secluded trailer, so I had total privacy to enjoy the trailer’s private bathhouse with a large soaking tub, where I spent most of the day sipping whiskey and watching for whales. There’s also an outdoor shower that hits the herb garden below and perfumes the air. And in the afternoon, Richard leaves for you at the top of the drive fillets of fish he caught in the ocean that day. All they need are a drizzle of olive oil, salt, pepper, lemon, and a few minutes on each side over the trailer’s original gas stove.
2. Burlingame Treehouse: The only thing I knew about Burlingame was that it was near the airport. But last weekend, I drove 20 minutes south of SF and into the suburb’s hills, where I spent the night in a floating treehouse with a lofted bed and wraparound porch. Inside were a table for our included breakfast, a TV and DVD player, chandelier, candles, and books. At night, the wind gently swayed the branches, and in the morning, I took a short, three-mile hike through a canyon just blocks away.
3. Hacienda San Angel: OK, so Puerto Vallarta isn’t exactly off the beaten path, but in Old Town, blocks from the beach, is a gorgeous, romantic stay filled with Mexican and European antiques and three candle-lit pools. It’s also the former home of Richard Burton. I got to stay in his master bedroom, which overlooks the hacienda’s chapel on one side and its lush courtyard on the other.