San Francisco & Santa Rosa

I’m still playing catch up on the trips we took this spring. A few months ago, Tony found a program through RiteAid’s Happy You Year! program where making certain health, wellness, and beauty purchases would qualify you for a two night hotel stay. Tony and I made a list and purchased products that we knew we’d use throughout the year — maskcara, nail polish, cold medicine, baby wash, etc., and made sure those purchases counted towards the program’s rewards. Tony had been warned that you need to be persistent in pursuing that Rite Aid actually comes through and grants the award, so he made sure to dot his i’s and cross his t’s. Sure enough, after a few weeks of persistence (and phone calls) we received our vouchers for the hotel stay.

We decided to stay at the Hyatt Vineyard Creek in Santa Rosa. Fresh off the heels of our San Francisco trip in March, we were feeling very love-y about northern California and were anxious to make another trip. Plus, since we knew the trip would be coming early in the insane heat season that is summer in Phoenix, we figured a trip to the more temperate climate of California’s north would be a welcome change (it was).

We flew out of Phoenix on Thursday afternoon. In an effort to keep our child rested and happy, we booked the first night at the Hyatt Regency San Francisco airport. After getting off the plane, we waited 10 minutes or so for the hotel shuttle and were checked in to our (rather nice) room pretty darn quickly. We weren’t expecting too much from this night at the hotel, but the atrium was huge and beautiful and very entertaining for the two year old with plenty of energy to spare.

Ready to leave the airport Hyatt
Ready to leave the airport Hyatt

After a restful night, we woke Friday morning ready to get moving. Tony left to grab the shuttle back to the airport to get our rental car while Matteo and I packed up the room and ran around the hotel like crazy people. Once Tony returned, we hit the road and drove straight to Golden Gate Park. Matteo tired quickly so after a short play time in the park, we got back in the car to drive over the Golden Gate Bridge and over to Oakland where we were staying at a Hyatt Residence for another night.

Rental Car selfie
Rental Car selfie

Is it dorky to admit that driving was a highlight of this trip? It was! The Bay Area is so pretty. We went from cloudy gray skies on the San Francisco side of the bridge to opened up, bright and sunny blue skies as we entered Sausalito. Gorgeous! Since we were driving late morning/early afternoon, traffic was pretty light making it even more pleasant. Matteo ended up falling asleep for much of the drive and Tony and I enjoyed watching the scenery change from bay views to rolling hills and wine country.

Friday in Berkley/Oakland was fun and laid back. We drove down to a great park and walked along the water, bothering the ducks. We also had fun watching the Amtrak train from outside our hotel and telling Matteo that we’ll be taking a train trip soon. We forgot that toddlers have no sense of time and that as soon as we said we would be going, he’d want to go immediately. So we spent the afternoon telling the poor boy, “not yet…”


On Saturday we drove further north and arrived in Santa Rosa and had no trouble finding our hotel, the Hyatt Vineyard Creek. Our (free for two nights!) room was a little dated, but clean and comfortable. The best part of the hotel was its location, a very walkable distance to the quaint and charming “downtown” area of Santa Rosa. We walked a few blocks and had some fun window shopping. We wanted to check out Russian River’s brewhouse, but the line was soooo long. Every time we went by the store front, we were amazed at the stream of people patiently waiting their turn to go in. We’ll have to make another trip without Matteo and wait it out — a line that long can’t be for nothing.

On Saturday night we tried out the Santa Rosa classic “Superburger” and were both pleased with our food. Fair warning, don’t let them talk you in to sharing a large order of fries — it will be an inhuman amount of food and you will throw half away! Portion size is no joke. But the burgers were great! Sunday night we decided to check out Chevy’s Mexican Grill and we both loved the fresh, light grilled food.

When it was time to leave Santa Rosa, we decided to take the long way and drive down the Pacific Coast Highway. This may have been both mine and Tony’s favorite part of the weekend — it was gorgeous! So many times we wished we could have just pulled over the car and started hiking, or just had a picnic on a gorgeous overlook. Watching from the car wasn’t a bad deal either though, and it gave Matteo the chance to have his best nap of the weekend.

We had a minor hiccup when we arrived at the Oakland airport and discovered that our flight home to PHX had been cancelled and that we had to be shuttled to SFO for a flight out (where we had just come from after dropping off the rental car) but after having a temper tantrum, I was able to take Tony’s lead and try to just roll with it. Thank goodness for AmEx’s Centurion Lounge at SFO…not only were we able to sit and relax while waiting for our flight, but Matteo had a chance to play (video games!) and we all had a bite to eat before the last leg of the trip.


Overall, a great family weekend. Wine country would be even more fun with just adults, but don’t hesitate to visit with a little one in tow. There are enough family friendly options to keep you busy while you relax as a family.


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