Thanks to SPG points I had hanging around, we were happy to check into our room at The Sheraton at Fisherman’s Wharf, which was quite large and beautifully updated. Its location was perfect for the sight-seeing and eateries we were interested in, so with limited time here, we dove right in and headed toward the Wharf. It was such a beautiful, sunny and clear day that we could even see Alcatraz in the distance as we meandered down the boardwalk. We noticed some old War ships docked a ways down the dock (Pier 45) and decided to investigate. They were the  SS Jeremiah O’Brien and the USS Pampanito, both used during World War II. The USS Pampanito is a submarine and we were in awe as we walked alongside its restored hull where you can catch a glimpse of the main deck gun. I remember feeling so small and insignificant beside it… it was a truly unique experience. (It also helped that in the car as we road-tripped, we were listening to the audio book, Unbroken. What a coincidence!) Maybe next time I’ll purchase the tour that allows inside access to both mammoth vessels, but for now I decided to skip it and get back to more sights and breathe in that ocean air. I do, after all, live in the desert and long for all things ocean.

Feeling a hunger pang and wanting to enjoy the gorgeous day still ahead, we headed to Pier 39 to grab seafood with a view. We were lucky enough to nab a window seat and enjoy the fish & chips and coconut shrimp at Neptune’s. As we walked back to our room with full stomachs, we couldn’t help looking forward to a late dinner at the highly rated Golden Boy Pizza. (Yeah, foodies have a habit of thinking about their next meal even while full lol)  The reviews warned against long lines, but we figured on arriving around 9 or 10 so we’d miss them, right? Wrong!! Upon arriving at 9:30 we were given a wait time of 2 hours as we stood at the end of a line that wrapped around the block. Ugh…I probably would have waited but my impatient husband refused. We ended up at Trattoria Pinocchio, which was so awful I’d rather not comment any further. My take away from the night…test your patience and wait in line for superb food.

After checking out of our hotel the next morning we couldn’t leave the Wharf without a visit to Boudin’s for a breakfast of coffee and some type of bread. As we neared the Bakery the smell of sourdough was overwhelming and my mouth literally started watering. (That happens a lot lately) I guess you’d have to live in Arizona to appreciate how I felt. You see, getting decent bakery bread in AZ is nearly impossible, and hailing from NJ, it is a true love that I sorely miss. After my simple sourdough roll slathered with butter and a cup of their coffee we jumped in the car, happily fueled by the wonderful simplicity of this delicious breakfast.

Excited that we were on our way to Napa — the highpoint of my very carefully mapped road trip — the next hour and a half in the car flew by. To keep costs on budget, we chose to stay in Yountville at the Napa Valley Railway Inn. The Inn is actually train cars converted into rooms which were huge, clean, comfortable and had a great bathroom. Yes, it was a little quirky in that it was one long room, but I absolutely loved it. It’s located on Washington Street, which is a main thoroughfare in Napa so everything on our must-see list was within walking distance.

First stop…Jessop Cellars which we had to visit according to my daughter who belongs to their Wine Club. I’m glad we did! When we sat at their bar for a tasting and informed them that our daughter and son-in-law were Club members they treated us like royalty. Out came the discs of dark chocolate to enjoy with our heavy pours and they even waived their tasting fee. I definitely would return!

Afterward we continued walking along Washington St., stopping in at a few tasting rooms and boutiques offering everything from clothing to jewelry and bath products. On our way back to the Inn we realized that we were starving from all that walking (and wine?) and I couldn’t wait to get ready for our dinner at Chef Michael Chiarello’s Botegga. I’ve been a fan ever since I started watching his show, Napa Style. I decided on the wood grilled octopus and insalata mista. My husband chose, of all things, the burger! (which he later proclaimed was his top meal of the entire trip). We both enjoyed a glass of zinfandel with our meal. I was in Napa Heaven! Next to the restaurant is Napa Style MarketPlace (which has now been re-branded as Ottimo) where you can grab breakfast or lunch and shop for kitchen items such as artisanal salts, cooking tools and even flatware from Florence. Scattered throughout are tastings of pantry items sold. I literally could have spent hours there. After an evening stroll through the picturesque town it was back to the room. We needed to rest up for the long ride home.

The next morning was early to rise to see what breakfast choices lay before us to properly end this trip. Since we didn’t have time to try any of Thomas Keller’s 3 restaurants located on Washington St., we decided to bid him a visit at Bouchon Bakery where I enjoyed a wonderful cup of coffee with a brown sugar cheddar bacon scone. Yes, you heard right…and please don’t judge :) Sublime is the only thing that comes to mind when recalling this memorable breakfast.

So…now I can check California Road Trip off the bucket list. The only problem is I may end up erasing the checkmark because I can’t wait to do it again!