This week’s 3rd Gold Country destination and my personal favourite from my most recent trip to the area is Amador County.
Located in the Sierra Nevada, Amador County is home to some of the best wineries and cutest little historic villages in all of California. The beautiful rolling hills and sun-drenched area has made it a prime location for family-run wineries. Wineries such as Vino Noceto (“California’s Sangiovese Specialist”) and Iron Hub (which has the prettiest tasting room in all of California no doubt), offer award-winning food-friendly wines and the most luxurious wine tasting experience. A lot of these wineries are solar powered and use their properties to educate locals and tourists alike on the art wine making.
In addition to wine making, the area is renown for its top notch farm to fork restaurant selections including, Plymouth’s Taste Restaurant, which not only has vegetarian offerings but also a full vegan menu. It’s the best place for a date night or an elegant evening of fine dining. The use of local and fresh produce is key to chefs and restauranteurs in the area.
A must-visit in the area is the historic village of Sutter Creek, named after prospector John Sutter. There are tons of unique accommodations, shops and bars to check out on the village’s main drag.
If you’re looking for somewhere to stay in the area, The Foxes Inn, is a beautiful Victorian gem dating back from the mid 19th century. Their sumptuous guest rooms take you back in time and offer a royalty-like stay. Plus, their quality chef-prepared 2-course breakfast is cooked-to-order and features some of the most delicious local produce.
Outdoor enthusiasts won’t be disappointed as there is ample terrain to explore in the county. The Eldorado National Forest is a wonderful option for hiking, camping and fishing. There are a handful of lakes and reservoirs to also visit. Plus, with the county’s 10,000-foot rise in elevation, you can even do some winter activities like skiing or snowshoeing in the colder months on the slopes of the Kirkwood Mountain Resort.
Amador County is without a doubt one of the best kept secrets of Gold Country and California as a whole. An absolutely charming region!
Tomorrow, the Gold Country series continues with – Calaveras County!
Today’s Gold Country destination is El Dorado County. The county is located entirely in the Sierra Nevada and ranges from the western foothills to the High Sierra in the east.
Situated just a 45 min drive from Sacramento, El Dorado County is where James W. Marshall discovered gold in Coloma on January 24th 1848. Soon after, the population of the area exploded with miners hoping to strike it rich. Today, the area is home to more than 181 000 residents.
These days, the area is known for its wineries, 26 miles of biking and hiking trails, pristine public lands, glamping tents as well as fun outdoor water activities on the American River.
White water rafting has become a huge attraction in the area, thanks to companies like Raft California, that offer a multitude of organized excursions from a simple rafting trip to rafting and wine tasting, camping and so on. Rafting with the crew from Raft California, was hands down one of the coolest experiences of my life!
The area is also filled with tons of cute farm to fork cafés such as The Argonaut, which is located just a stone’s throw from the river and the historic Sutter’s Mill Site, where gold was first found.
In addition to the protecting the rich history of the area, locals have worked hard at protecting the local environment and unique lands such as the Lake Tahoe area since the 1960 Winter Olympics hosted at Squaw Valley Ski Resort.
El Dorado County is an easy getaway to the Californian countryside for anyone coming from Sacramento and beyond.
For more information on El Dorado County, go here.
Planning a trip to LA soon and want to stay active while in the area? I share some of my favourite local workouts that will keep you sweating while on the go!
1) Barry’s Bootcamp – There are now 3 Barry’s Bootcamp located across the greater Los Angeles area. They offer a variety of classes, ranging from full-body workouts to leg or arm specific-classes. Half of the workout happens on the treadmill and the other half will have you working on different muscle groups from the floor with free weight and bodyweight exercises. Their easy circuit keeps you on your toes the entire hour. Their post-workout smoothie bar is also a great post-workout treat.
2) Flywheel – Their latest LA location just opened up a few months ago in downtown Santa Monica. Unlike other spin studios, the Flywheel studio is set up like an auditorium and the workout is based on RPMs and TORQ. The instructor will give riders suggestions of where they would like them to be during each song. There are two tv monitors at the front of the class that will show riders how they’re doing throughout the class (if they choose to register a profile) and will also throw in a few 30-second challenges throughout the class. Always one of the hardest spin classes.
3) Playlist Yoga – Located in West Hollywood, this small yoga studio revolves around creating the perfect hip hop and pop playlist for a Vinyasa Flow. Playlist Yoga is a candle lit yoga practice that includes lots of planks, downward dogs and warrior poses that will get you sweating. Though there are no showers or many amenities provided in the studio, each locker and studio quote was carefully curated to match the studio’s hip hop aesthetic.
4) BoxUnion – Also located in Santa Monica, BoxUnion is a trendy boxing studio offers boxing enthusiasts or the curious seeking a new fitness experience, the chance to glove up and throw a few 1-2 punch combos. Think of it like SoulCycle but for boxing, as in working out to the beat of the music. The 45-minute class is a great workout for cardio because it involves lots of dynamic body movements and +2000 punches per class.
5) SpeedPlay – One of the most talked about workout spots in downtown LA that boasts incredible city line views from their rooftop studio. SpeedPlay offers a variety of 45 or 60-minute workouts, some also include a special strength, glutes or ab portion. They incorporate running, rowing and a floor workout to create a great full-body workout. Watch for their second location opening up in West Hollywood soon!
Traveling is a great way to discover new yoga studios as well as new spots or ways to do yoga. I was recently in California for a couple of days and took the opportunity to try a variety of different yoga practices. Some of which where a first for me and some of which I had tried before. There’s definitely a yoga practice for everyone out there, all you have to find is what floats your boat. Here are a few that I tried out:
1) Yoga on the sand – Second time doing a flow and yoga while being on the beach. I must say, it’s a great way to work on balance, especially for poses that require strength and potentially even some balancing. It can even become hot yoga, on warm beach days. That said, the views are exquisite and the sound of the ocean is the perfect soundtrack for a relaxing session.
2) Yoga with candles – While in SoCal, I tried out a brand new studio called Yoga Bound in Carlsbad. What drew me to the studio is that they were offering a candlelit yoga session in the evening which sounded incredibly relaxing. And relaxing it was! It was a great mix of restorative yoga and meditation, a calming way to end a busy day.
3) Yoga with music – I love doing just about anything to music and yoga is no exception. A good playlist can get me feeling and thinking about all sorts of stuff, which is especially true while I’m doing yoga. I love yoga studios like The Distrikt because they play hip hop during yoga or classes that play folk or singer-songwriters during practice. I find it makes the experience that much more special and for someone like myself who’s still new to the practice, it makes it a lot more approachable.
4) Yoga at a hotel – Lots of hotels these days offer either complimentary yoga classes or even mats to use on their property for yoga. That way, you don’t have to worry about traveling with your own mat. Hotels usually have either beautifully groomed lawns or even rooftops or poolside spaces where you can practice either alone or with a teacher, depending on the hotel.
5) Yoga in a park – I never shy away from practicing yoga in a park on my own. Parks are a plenty in California and pretty much everywhere. It’s always easy to just bring a mat or even beach towel to do a quick flow in the park. I used to be shy and feel a little strange about it but after seeing so many people about it, it didn’t feel so awkward. I’m all about taking workouts outdoors, so this is a great option that you can do just about anywhere.
What is your favourite kind of yoga? Where do you like to practice?
Traveling to Palm Springs and looking for new activities to do while in the area? I’ve got you covered. The greater Palm Springs area offers such a wide variety of activities that there’s something for everyone! This was my 5th trip to the area and I always find new things to do. Here are my latest recommendations.
1) Pioneertown – Located just a quick drive from downtown Palm Springs via route 62, Pioneertown is an old live-in film set dating back to the 1940s that has now been transformed into a tourist attraction. The area was incredibly well kept and though a little small, is worth the trek. They’ve got a few shop as well as a bar and restaurant where you can stop in if you’re in need of a snack.
2) Tahquitz Canyon – This hidden gem is a stone’s throw away from downtown Palm Springs. Tahquitz Canyon is a very well kept secret in the city and rightfully so. This beautiful canyon has been around for 1500+ years and is part of the Agua Caliente Band of Cahuilla Indians Reservation. There is a beautiful 2 mile hike that leads to a 60 foot waterfall right in the middle of the canyon. You have to pay a small fee to walk on the trail but they also have a visitor centre with exhibits and information about local archeological finds, etc.
3) Native Foods Café – Around since 1994, Native Foods Café provides delicious and quality plant-based meals in a cafeteria style low-key restaurant in Palm Springs. Whether you’re craving a bowl, sandwich, burger or salad, they’ve got a wide variety of tasty eats to choose from. Though originally from Palm Springs, they’ve had so much success that they’ve expanded to several other locations across the Southern United States.
4) Off Road Rentals – If you’ve driven into Palm Springs before, you’ve probably noticed Off Road Rentals, located on the right of the highway 111 heading into town. This family-run business has been around since the late 80s. You can rent one of their 4-speed quads and drive up and down their huge sand dunes. It’s an amazing time for anyone wanting a little adventure. Depending on how busy the course is, they may even give you some free riding time!
5) Mt. San Jacinto – One of the greatest finds in all of Southern California. Mt. San Jacinto can be accessed via the Palm Springs Aerial Tramway (at $25+ a round trip!). It’s a quick 10 min ride up or for those wanting an extra challenge, you can also hike up the 10,000 ft mountain and just got a one-way down. Once at the Mountain Station, you can refuel or pack snacks and explore some of their 50+ miles of trails at the top. The trails offers some of the most stunning views of the desert, valley and high country forest.
If you were to ask me who are some of the women I look up to the most at the moment, these two ladies would without a doubt make my list. Ashmore Ellis and Anya Violet are the founders of Babes Ride Out, a community of female motorcycle riders and enthusiasts that put on a series of moto camping events throughout the United States and around the world. This year, they are celebrating the 5th anniversary of their inaugural Babes Ride Out event in Joshua Tree in October. They will also be putting on a handful of other experiences that have as a goal to unite and celebrate the camaraderie of women on two wheels. I was thrilled that Ashmore was willing to answer a few of my questions. I hope you’ll be inspired to check them out or one day attend one of their events. My goal is to become a good enough rider to make this year’s BRO event in October!
1) What drew you to riding motorcycles?
I love being outside more than anything. Unplugging from the world and its noise has brought me more mental peace than anything else. Riding motorcycles forces you to live in the present as all of your senses are activated at once as you connect with the elements around you.
2) Babes Ride Out is celebrating its 5th anniversary this year. What can ladies who take part in one of your events expect?
Babes has its 4th birthday coming up in June and will be celebrating our 5th desert campout this coming Oct in Joshua Tree CA. You could say it’s grown quite a bit and Anya and I are forever humbled by the ladies who commit, take the time off work, spend the funds to get there, and are open to experience this makeshift world we’ve created for a weekend. Our ethos focuses on creating an experience based event structure. You won’t see brands vending, rather giving an experience to each attendee. Each brand we have on site and that is a part of BRO is truly invested in this for the right reasons as they aren’t able to profit, rather really connect and get to know this community on a deeper level. As always, this is and will remain a riding event. No one hangs in camp during the day as we shut it down and hand out multiple maps of riding destinations that range 40-300 miles. Sure, we throw one hell of a party at night but during the day we expect everyone to get out and ride their motorcycles and enjoy the environment.
3) What do you attribute the success of Babes Ride Out to?
Oh man! We get asked this a bunch and I truly feel its several reasons but the biggest reason is because of the quality of ladies who attend. These women come from all over the world and are open to experience this and share their enthusiasm which has made the event grow at an exponential rate. Their excitement is contagious and spreads like wildfire. Ladies who come solo come back with 5 people next year and so on and so on. I feel its Anya and my job to ensure they have the best time while they are with us so we spend hundreds of hours planning every detail, listening to feedback, etc to make the event better. I have 0 problem admitting we’ve made mistakes along the way but man, we’ve learned so much which makes those mistakes priceless to me. Every single lady that buys a ticket to any of our events deserves our absolute best efforts so we do everything in our power to make sure they get an experience of a lifetime.
4) Do you feel that the attitude towards women riders has evolved much in the past five years? How much has the community grown?
Ladies have always ridden bikes, so have men. We aren’t doing anything new or super skilled over here so I don’t see any attitude personally. If it’s there, it’s not even worth mentioning. It is pretty cool to see other events pop up and brands putting more efforts into catering to the ladies with new products. Anya started a gear line with some friends which make some insanely beautiful technical gear. It’s called ATWYLD and they are really making a dent in the industry right now with their beautiful and functional protection. I am so proud of them!
5) What have you learned about yourself through riding?
I’ve learned how to be extremely self-sufficient and have had to tell myself on many occasions on the road “You are a grown ass woman, you can figure it out”. I’ve learned to find the joy and excitement of being a minimalist while traveling on two wheels. I’ve had to learn to problem solve on the fly, follow, lead, all sorts of things which I feel makes me a better person.
6) Where would you like to see Babes Ride Out five years from now?
Five years ago Babes Ride Out wasn’t even a thing so looking into the crystal ball is so hard to do at the moment. We want to keep our events growing in the right direction and hold tight to our values of being a true riding event where ladies can connect in a unique environment. We’d love to grow our East Coast event and continue to grow West Coast. Our dirt bike learning event, Babes in the Dirt, has really taken off as well. We currently have almost 1,000 ladies signed up. Sure, not all 1,000 will show up as it’s a free event so no pressure, but 1,000 signed up and said “I AM INTERSTED IN THIS” which is mind-blowing and a big deal to us.
Tickets for EC2 are now on sale. For more info or to purchase tickets, go here.
Located less than an hour drive from Los Angeles, Long Beach has become one of the hottest travel and living areas for millennials and young families. With rent still being pretty affordable, the city has really transformed a lot in the last couple of years. Long Beach is renown for its great cultural activities, food and outdoor activities just to name a few. Here are just a few recommendations for your next trip in the area.
1) Grab coffee at Portofolio. Located on East 4th St in Long Beach, Portofolio Coffeehouse has been a local favorite for years. It’s a great place to grab breakfast, coffee on the go, vegan treats and also a fun spot to spend the day working remotely. The coffee house also puts on a series of community events in their back room. It’s the perfect spot to meet locals and people watch.
2) Go vintage shopping on Retro Row. If you’re on the hunt for new vinyls, cool books or unique threads, Retro Row is your go-to spot. Also located on 4th St., this super cute walkable strip of stores has become one of the city’s most coveted shopping area. Whether you’re on the lookout for antiques, you’re in the mood for thrifting, looking for records or wanting a bite to eat, you can find it all. The 4th Street Long Beach Association also puts on a handful of special events throughout the year.
3) Eat lunch at Ahimsa vegan café. Praised as one of the city’s best vegan spots, Ahimsa vegan café is a restaurant that prides itself in using only the freshest and best local ingredients to craft delicious vegan plates. All of their food is made from scratch and all bursting with flavour. Their bowls and burgers are definite must-haves as well as their freshly made cold-pressed juices and desserts.
4) Find local street art. Long Beach is renown for its beautiful street art. Their street art festival POW! WOW! Long Beach is one of the most popular street art festivals in the United States, bringing in artists from all over. Searching for local street art around the city is a great activity to do while in Long Beach as it will make you discover many different neighborhoods in the city. Plus, they have some of the most beautiful art to see.
5) Satisfy your sweet tooth at Scratch Bakedgoods. This cute little bakery is the perfect place to stop at after a busy day of walking around and exploring in Long Beach. Scratch Bakedgoods makes some of the most delicious homemade baked goods from scratch daily. Whether you’re looking for cookies, a slice of cake, brownies, tarts, gallettes, brioches, bars, etc. they’ve got you covered. Everything in the shop is to die for.
One of my new favorite areas in California is SLO County. Located in this beautiful county is the historical town of San Luis Obispo, which almost halfway between Los Angeles and San Francisco and nestled between the Pacific Ocean and the Santa Lucia Mountains. There are lots of great things to see and do in the area, so here are five travel recommendations for your next trip.
1) Get your morning caffeine fix at Scout Coffee. Owned and operated by husband and wife Jon & Sara Peterson, Scout Coffee is a super cute coffee shop and the hotspot for pastries and coffee. It’s a great place to meet locals, enjoy a relaxing beverage or bring your computer to work. Their two locations are incredibly charming and offer some of the most delicious treats.
2) Hike at Montaña de Oro State Park. Located just 20 minutes from San Luis Obispo, the Montaña de Oro State Park is a stunning park where you can go for a walk, hike, bike ride or even camp overnight. The park’s rugged cliffs, canyons, plains and beautiful beaches make it the perfect place to visit all-year-round. There is also a lot of local wildlife and beautiful flora to see while you explore.
3) Grab an açaí bowl at SEEDS. Though it may also be a juice shop, SEEDS makes some of the most delicious açaí bowls I have ever tasted. Their selection of fresh fruits, nuts and seeds added to their delicious custom bases make them the best mid-day snack or healthy breakfast option.
4) Spend the afternoon at Avila Beach. You will find the cutest little oceanside community called Avila Beach just a few miles from downtown SLO. This small waterfront community (now part of the greater SLO County) is a great place to spend an afternoon. Whether you’re interested in surfing, relaxing on the beach, shopping, eating or just walking around on the boardwalk, it’s a great place to spend a few hours.
5) Go wine tasting at Wolff Vineyards. Located in SLO County’s Edna Valley, Wolff Wineyards is a family-run winery that produces a wide variety of wines including Chardonnay, Pinot Noir, Syrah and more. They have super friendly and knowledgeable staff on-site for wine tastings. You can walk around their property or even just set up for a picnic on their outdoor patio.
San Francisco is a city that grows on me every time I go for a visit. Whether it’s the vibrant food scene, the beautiful beaches or even some of the cool fitness studios in the city, there is always something new to check out no matter how many times you make it to the area. Here are some of my recommendations for your next trip to San Fran.
1) Go for a walk at Baker Beach. This beautiful beach is located just a few minutes away from the Golden Gate Bridge. Though it tends to get crowded during the summer, it’s relatively empty during the winter time and just as stunning. The big majestic trees that are located on top of the bluffs overlooking the ocean make for stunning pictures. Plus the views of the bridge from afar, make it a prime walking destination.
2) Eat at Tartine Manufactory. The newest addition to the Chad Robertson and Elisabeth Prueitt’s Tartine Bakery family in San Francisco is their ultra hype restaurant called Tartine Manufactory. Located in the Mission District, they serve a cafeteria-style lunch as well as a delectable sit down dinner. You can also obtain some of their infamous bread if you go early enough during the day. The dinner menu offers a wide range of meats, grains and veggie options as well as some of their delicious breads. Their desserts are also killer. Make sure you reserve in advance if you want to have a spot.
3) Go for a spin class at SoulCycle. This incredibly popular spin studio recently opened 3 locations in downtown San Francisco, one at Castro, another at Union and finally in SoMa. The SoulCycle studios are a lot bigger than most in Southern California and the amenities are always topnotch. Their instructors are some of the best in the biz, ultra motivating and will get you sweating in no-time! I recommend taking a class with Andrew, he always has a rad playlist!
4) Stop by Mr. Holmes Bakehouse. Satisfy your sweet tooth cravings with a quick stop at this ultra popular joint. Mr. Holmes Bakehouse offers the most delicious assortment of pastries and donuts. Grab just one or an entire box, everything sweet and savoury on the menu is to-die for. A major guilty pleasure!
5) Visit Clarion Alley. It’s easy to miss this little gem as it is tucked between Valencia and Mission Street in the Mission District. Grab a juice from next door at Happy Moose Juice and wander through Clarion Alley decorated with beautiful murals painted by members of the community. The Clarion Alley Mural Project, the American Indian Center are just some of the groups that have contributed artwork to this beautiful alley.
For the past month and a half, my husband and I have been living in an Escape Campervans. When came time to book our latest Californian adventure, we were on the lookout for a new low-cost experience that would allow us the flexibility to travel to different cities around the state while also providing us with some great accommodations. After doing a bit of research, I found a great van rental company called Escape Campervans based out in California. If you’ve traveled across the southern United States, you’ve probably seen some of their colorful vans on the road.
What I immediately loved about Escape Campervans was the two great campervan models they offer. We opted for the bigger model of the two, the Mavericks, seeing as we’d be living in it for quite some time and it turned out to be the perfect size. Their converted Ford E150 campervan was easy to drive, park, economical and also allowed us to travel to anywhere our hearts desired. The 17 ft truck was the perfect home on wheels with fully stocked bedding, 2-burner stove, sink with running water, refrigerator, cooking and eating utensils, tons of storage space, picnic chairs and everything we needed to be independent during our trip. I was particularly a fan of their solar-powered fridge and light, allowing us to make food even while off the grid.
Escape Campervans also offer a handful of different add-ons and options so that you can customize your experience exactly the way you want it. We opted for a roofbox to put all of our extra luggage, a GPS, a USB charger as well as one of their custom Insurance packages. The company also offers complimentary 24/7 roadside assistance.
The thing about #vanlife is that no matter what you end up doing with your campervan or where you end up going, it’ll always be an adventure and a unique learning experience. I’ve learned so much about camping, the roads, National Parks, etc. in the past month and a half, things I would have never learned if I hadn’t partaken in this great once-in-a-lifetime journey. The danger with vanlife is, once you get a taste of it, you’ll want to keep doing it. After living in a van for almost two months, we’ve grown so used to it that we are thinking of getting our own van after this portion of our travels ends. Our love for the #vanlife just keeps on growing every day!
You can find Escape Campervans in Los Angeles, San Francisco, Miami, Las Vegas, New York, Denver and Seattle. For more info, go here.