Santa Cruz Weekend

Last weekend my husband and I enjoyed President’s Day weekend in Santa Cruz, CA to celebrate out 16 year anniversary! That’s right, highschool sweethearts, turned parents, to now husband and wife. It sounds crazy and out of order, but we love it! It’s us!!! We’ve been together so long that it’s a clear come every anniversary (Feb 15th) the day after Valentine’s, we’ll usually plan a getaway for us to relax, and enjoy each others company. This year, since we’re now residing in Sacramento, and due to the last minute planning of our trip, we couldn’t branch out as far as we wanted with the time frame give. But Santa Cruz, has always been a favorite, so check out every year or so. This time….Without the kids.

Where we stayed:

Hotel Paradox

Address:

611 Ocean St.
Santa Cruz, CA 95060

As we arrived to Hotel Paradox, we were welcomed to an awesome florescent sign at the front of the hotel. Modern lighting sitting against a cemented wall, leading you into a chic boutique hotel. My husband and I walked into the lobby and were greeted by the front desk, which was behind a huge fallen eucalyptus tree, as the reception desk. What a great wow factor!!!!!

Now I can go on with all the adorable swanky details in the hotel. From the succulent floor markers, clean poolside cabanas, heat lamps, the gorgeous fire pit, and tasty food. Hotel Paradox is your Santa Cruz hipster heaven of reclaimed wood and sleek design touches.

With just a short walk through San Lorenzo Park located right behind the hotel, you don’t need to worry about driving and finding parking downtown. My husband and I walked majority of the time of our stay. An amazing PLUS, it was walking distance to Trader Joes, Rite Aid, and also a Whole Foods!!

Hotel Paradox is such a great home base location for tourist. Since it wasn’t the season for the beach, the Boardwalk wasn’t an attraction to check out. But, if it were the season, there’s a shuttle to the Boardwalk!!!

The following day we walked through the park, and over the river which took us directly to downtown Santa Cruz. We started each morning with coffee from Santa Cruz’s coffee roaster, the Verve.

Verve locations we checked out:

Pacific Avenue

Address:

1540 Pacific Ave.
Santa Cruz, CA 95060

Seabright

Address:

104 Bronson St.
Santa Cruz, CA 95062

 

If you’re a coffee drinker or not, Verve is a Santa Cruz must!!! The coffee is amazing and the atmosphere is great at every location. Their latte is smooth and rich, and their coffee is definitely high quality. I do recall my husband saying their pour over was $7, which is ridiculously expensive, maybe because it’s their higher quality bean, on top of being a touristy spot. Overall, the Verve will serve you well, if you pay them a visit. I’d compare them to Blue Bottle or Temple if you’re familiar with your California coffee roasters.

We explored through Pacific Ave. as we shopped at local novelty shops, book stores, and even got to catch a movie at the Regal movie theater. There would be pockets of time, were we even walked back to the hotel for a small cat nap/recharge (times we usually don’t get while having children!)

Evenings were fun, as my husband and I would start drinking close to dinner time, and bar hop. One night we hung around Joe’s Pizza & Subs to catch the NBA All Star game. After a couple beers, and pizza slices, we found ourselves at Penny Ice Creamery.

The Penny Ice Creamery 

Address:

913 Cedar St.
Santa Cruz, CA 95060
When talking about Santa Cruz with friends, I’m sure somewhere in the conversation The Penny Ice Creamery will be mentioned. Their delicious artisinal ice cream made from scratch, and toasted marshmallow fluff, is what gives The Penny Ice Creamery all hype it deserves. With it being the only ice cream shop in Santa Cruz making small batches in house – this ice cream shop has that distinctive edge.
Open daily til 11pm (Cedar St.) this is the original location for The Penny Ice Creamery. I was able to try the Dark Chocolate Sorbet and Tahitian Vanilla with the marshmallow toasted fluff. Fresh and flavorful,  you can’t really go wrong here. When it comes to fresh ice cream, it all the texture and taste, which beats out store-bought. Coming in, I knew the marshmallow fluff would be on the sweet side, so I paired it was simple yet decadent classic favors. If enjoying a junior sized waffle cone, double scoop ice cream with warm toasted fluff, buzzed at 10pm on Sunday means not being an adult, we cannot be friends.
Along with many cities I’ve visited within the past 2 years, Santa Cruz has a special place in my heart. Only one hour away from San Jose, going straight down I-17, Santa Cruz has the beach, coffee, and small town feel….California at it’s best small scale. It’s no San Diego, but it makes the Bay Area natives, and people from all over visit SC to relish it for its beach town vibe, and family owned businesses. 
 

The Banyan Tree

It’s been a year since we’ve moved to Sacramento, and with many of the amazing things that make Sacramento has to offer, one this that Sacramento is very proud of is their local businesses (and also how affordable it is, compared to the San Francisco Bay Area.) I started coloring my hair late of 2015, and was always paying around $200 dollars for a color and cut. With mid-length hair, and going to multiple East Bay Hair Salons, every time I could come in during 2015- early 2016, the prices would rise significantly, and the customer service was never genuinely there.

I first found The Banyan Tree through the “Visit Sacramento” Instagram accounts. Having moved from the Bay Area, I had faith in finding the right hair salon within Midtown. Midtown Sacramento  is a historical district and neighborhood just east of Downtown Sacramento, from the Sutter District to the Handle District, Midtown provides an eclectic mix of boutiques, bars, galleries and restaurants, which is why I had faith in finding the perfect salon for me. Midtown’s unique charm and spirit always leaves you in a place of discovery. Midtown’s boundaries are from 16th – 29th, B – W street, conveniently located near the Capitol and accessible from major freeways.

The Banyan Tree

Address:

2311 S St.

Sacramento, CA 95816

(Midtown)

 

Kristina Fong is my stylist and I can’t thank her enough for color-correcting my lion-esque hair with a 7 month grown out balayage!!! She’s so chill, easy to talk to, and definitely will put you at ease, as you get your hair beatified. Times at other salons I’ve been to, hair colorists wouldn’t even talk much to me, and just color and leave me be. Kristina can actually hold down a conversation, and makes your experience at the Banyan Tree totally worth-while.

Follow Kristina Fong here on Instagram!!!

Below was my first color correction appointment, last October in 2016.

The Banyan Tree is a family owned and operated hair salon, that has a ongoing emphasis on love, respect, creativity, and professionalism.

The Banyan Tree is a Davines exclusive salon. Davines hair products are made with high grade, natural ingredients, created in an environmentally sustainable manner.

You can read more about The Banyan Tree HERE.

I get compliments regularly on my cuts, strangers, friends, all notice the perfect lines and stop to say so. I can’t tell you how great it is to have that I have extreme high faith with my stylist, just talk with them and let them do what they do, you will never look better! I look forward to my future cuts and color appointments forever at The Banyan Tree.

 

Sacramento Railway Station

Last month, the boys and I took Amtrak for the first time! For those international readers, Amtrak is a passenger railroad service that provides medium- and long-distance intercity service in the adjoining United States. Whether traveling around Northern California for business or pleasure, the boys and I wanted to skip the traffic and parking hassles and take the train!! Amtrak Capitol Corridor provides convenient, frequent and affordable daily service between the Sacramento region and the Bay Area, which is where we were heading (Fremont, CA | East Bay)

The travel plan was to take Lyft from our home leaving our car, to drop the boys and I to the Sacramento Valley Station. The station is only a freeway exit away from our neighborhood for the cost of our Lyft was only ($7).  Next, the boys and I waited just a few minutes until it was ready to board. Our trip to the Bay Area, is always to visit mama & papa. Our visits back to the Bay tend to be every 3 weeks or so, traveling by car. This time, we wanted to take train, since daddy was in San Francisco for business having his car. I would drop off the boys to my parents, then take BART to San Francisco, to meet with my husband and have a small weekend getaway.

For you married couples out there with young children, this is how my husband and I get our date nights every month.

I had already printed out the ticket for Amtrak, which the boys fought over plenty of times while walking through the terminal. Over and over again, one boy wanted to hold the ticket, because they wanted to meet the conductor. For families with kids, taking the train can be both an exciting and affordable way to travel. It may not be the fastest way to get to your destination, but it’s perhaps the most comfortable and least stressful when you are traveling with children. Both my boys are a good age where they are able to sit still, and play on their own. But if you have young ones that may need a little more attention here are some tips to smooth your journey:

  • Take snacks & games
  • Arrive early
  • Bring a stroller

Snacks, games, action figures, coloring books are a staple. Every parent with whatever aged child boarding Amtrak will definietly need this. I too, needed snacks and water to survive the 2.5hr ride.

Arriving early, allows you the parent to relax, and not rush. The station may have long walkways/passageways for passengers to walk – to reach the train platform. Arriving early gives you that extra time walking with your children, and setting up your stroller, if needed to do so. This gives you time to explore the station with your children, and get familiar with any public restrooms, or possibly grab a coffee and snacks from the station’s cafe or vending machine.

We arrived at your station about 30 minutes ahead of time so we can get settled. As for me, 1 parent, with 2 children, I do get a little bit of travel anxiety, so arriving early, helped me cool down, and figure things out following the train stations signage. Before leaving for the station, make sure to download Amtrak’s app for iPhone and Android phones and check your train’s status. If your kids are really curious, you can even access our live train map and track where your train is. It’s pretty cool, I have to admit.

Amtrak was such a amazing experience. The boys sat together and played quietly with their action figures, and puzzle books, as mommy sat across the aisle reading my book, and listening to music. I look forward to our future rides to and from Sacramento to the Bay Area.

 

Have you traveled taking Amtrak?! If so, comment below! How was your experience? Where did you travel to?

 

 

Oak Park and the New Triangle District


A few weekends ago the family and I took a trip to Oak Park in Sacramento. I wanted to do a little bit of exploring, as well as Christmas shopping, and hopefully stumbling upon a coffee shop. Oak Park is informally bounded by (US Route 50) to the North, Stockton Blvd. to the East (CA 99). It is situated within the city limits and provides easy access to the ever growing/changing Downtown Sacramento. The streets intersect with avenues and there is one main street that runs through all of Oak Park, Martin Luther King Jr. Boulevard.

Read more on Oak Park (OPBA Triangle District HERE)

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Oak Park, has recently opened up Display California. Set in a 850 square ft storefront in Oak Park’s newly developed Triangle District, DISPLAY is a revolving pop up concept that connects retail with community to create amazing experiences again and again.

A West Coast Inspired Pop Up Shop Curated By Unseen Heroes.

Display California

(Oak Park)

3444 Broadway

Sacramento, CA 95817

You can see more about Display California on IG HERE.

This revolving pop-up shop means every four to eight weeks, DISPLAY will completely change to create another retail experience – from installation and store design to merchandise and daily happenings – all with the intentions of exposing the possibilities that can happen when we all build together.

Reimagine retail… I seriously love this.

See that right there?! Display’s mission is about bringing in the community! This pop-up shop isn’t the biggest space, but it has a goal, and with their revolving concept, it brings in the community to keep coming in, and supporting local artists!

photo-dec-10-6-15-56-pm

I love love love love love Sacramento.

You know when they say it’s the little things in life? Well, this is it. This newly developed triangle district brings in art, and culture to the community. A small community within a big city, I absolutely love it!

Stay tuned as I explore more within Sacramento. Every weekend I aim to take my family out and about within the Sacramento area and discover more local shops, local businesses, eateries, and much much more!