7 Places to Visit in Napa Valley and Sonoma Valley

Four people sitting on a picnic blanket on a hill overlooking vineyards and mountains.

I was lucky enough to visit Napa and Sonoma Valley in 2017, just before the brutal wildfires ravaged the area.  As the area continues to recover, here are some places to check out in California wine country on your next visit!

Scribe Winery (Sonoma Valley)

Overall, I would say that Scribe was my favorite winery that I have visited in the region. The Scribe vibe is cool and casual, skewing toward a younger crowd (at least on a Sunday), with views for days.

Four people sitting on a picnic blanket on a hill overlooking vineyards and mountains.
Cali views at Scribe Winery

Pro tip: The Hacienda is awesome and you can get food there to go with your wine tasting, but if you are looking for super chill afternoon, grab a bottle, bring it over to The Knoll (pictured above), spread out a picnic blanket, and hang out overlooking the gorgeous vineyards and mountains.

Petroni Vineyards (Sonoma Valley)

Petroni was the first winery that we visited on our most recent trip, and what a way to kick things off. After a winding drive up the side of a mountain on a tiny one-car wide road, a massive gate opens up into an oasis with vines, olive trees, beautiful gardens, a bocce pit, and two unassuming cave entrances in the side of the mountain.

Vineyards on the side of a hill, with two cave entrances in the side of the hill.
Approaching the caves at Petroni Vineyards.

Our tasting guide (shouts to Patrick!) greeted us in the driveway with some chardonnay literally on a silver platter, before leading us inside to the expansive caves. Once inside, Patrick gave us a tour of the caves before guiding us through a tasting in our own nook of the caves. It was an outstanding experience and we got to taste some really great wines, including one of the only (if not THE only…I don’t remember) Brunello wines produced in the region. And the tasting is very affordable compared to others in the region (especially compared to Napa wineries).

St. Clair Brown Winery (Downtown Napa)

St. Clair Brown is a newer winery that is actually in downtown Napa, so if you are staying in town this is a good spot to finish the day with a tasting around dinner time. They make some good wines and good beer as well, either of which you can enjoy in the middle of their urban garden, which is entirely edible! As you imbibe, you can peruse the garden and pick anything you see and give it a taste. Unfortunately, I did not get any good pictures of this one (I was a few wine tastings in at this point if you catch my drift), but take my word for it – it was a cool spot!

Zuzu (Downtown Napa)

Zuzu and the neighboring bar La Taberna specialize in excellent Barcelona-style tapas and pintxos. We were naturally excited to try Zuzu due to our trip to Barcelona that was upcoming at the time, and it did not disappoint! Zuzu doesn’t take reservations, so put your name in and head next door for some pan con tomate while you wait.

Hog Island Oyster Co. (Downtown Napa)

As you may know by now, I am a sucker for my oysters. On our way to Zuzu we stopped in at Hog Island Oyster Co, which is in the Oxbow Public Market. The oysters selection was great, as was the beer and wine selection. We didn’t have time to check out the rest of the market but there were some good-looking restaurants in there as well, including Kitchen Door, which is one of the best-reviewed restaurants in the city.

A round platter of oysters on ice, with a cup of sauce and two lemon wedges in the middle.


Inglenook (Rutherford, Napa Valley)

In terms of opulent views and setting, Inglenook took the proverbial cake. The grounds are beautiful, with magnificent fountains and a huge courtyard area looking out over the mountains. The main building itself is also extravagant, with a grand tasting room where we went through some of the tastiest reds that we had tasted on the trip, plus some cheese and charcuterie (duh!). The tasting was $45 (which seems to be pretty average for the area), but the quality of the wines and the awesome setting provided plenty of bang for that buck.

A fountain in the middle of a shaded courtyard overlooking mountains and trees. People are sit together in various locations in the courtyard.
A gorgeous view from Inglenook.


Boon Fly Cafe (Napa)

If you thought we were going to get through a whole Steintinerary list without donuts, then you haven’t been paying attention. Boon Fly is renowned in the area for its warm, light and fluffy cinnamon fry cakes.

Several small sugar coated donuts in a cardboard box.
Wouldn’t be a Steintinerary trip without some donuts.

Their other food was great too, but it will be busy on weekends. If you’re in a rush, just grab a box or two of donuts to go, and get on with your wine tasting!

There are countless wineries in Napa Valley and Sonoma Valley, and I am hoping to get back out there this year. Which ones should I check out next time? Let me know in the comments!

And as always, if you’d like some help planning your next adventure, be sure to hit me up on Fiverr!


West Coast Trip 2015 – San Diego

Photo of the sunset at Ocean Beach in San Diego, California

The first thing I noticed about San Diego as we walked down a little alley to our Airbnb at midnight, was that people have nothing but a screen for a front door.  And they don’t get cold overnight.  They just let the breeze come in.  One of my arguments, having lived in Upstate NY my whole life, has been that if weather could be removed from the long list of things that stress you out, then why not remove it?  San Diego seems to be a place where you could make that happen.


  • Cali Burrito
  • Fish tacos
  • Breweries
  • Beaches

Day 9 – Saturday

Rachel and I did a morning run around North Park to start the day off, in the gorgeous 70 degree sunshine.  North Park borders the northeast corner of Balboa Park, and seems to be the hip part of town.  A lot of craft breweries, cool bars and restaurants, and a younger feel to it.  By the end of the trip, I had determined that North Park is probably the neighborhood that we visited that I could most see myself living in.

After the run, Alena had made us a reservation at The Tractor Room for brunch.  The place was packed.  They offered what you might call “American sized” portions of all the brunch classics, but most of them with some kind of twist.  Add to that a multi-page bloody mary menu, and you can bet that we were off to a good start in SD.  Unfortunately, as of this post it appears that The Tractor Room has shut down 😢.

Brunch at the now-defunct Tractor Room in Hillcrest

Next up was the world-famous San Diego Zoo.

It goes without saying that it was the best zoo I’ve ever been to.  Swamped with people, but still very enjoyable, and a must-see for anyone who has not been.

With so much to do and so little time, we selectively chose the exhibits we visited, and got in and out in about 4 hours, which we felt was still worth the $50ish price of admission.  Insider tip: a lot of locals have season-long passes, so if you know somebody in the area it may be worth asking if you can borrow their pass for a day.

By the time we left the zoo, it had been way too long since any of us had a beer.  So we headed back to North Park and hit up Belching Beaver.  San Diego (and the West Coast in general) is known for its IPAs, but I thought that the San Diego breweries we visited in particular had outstanding stouts.  The “Beaver’s Milk” stout was easily one of my top 3 beers of the trip.  The brewery was also very dog-friendly, which is something that I feel the East Coast is way behind the times on.

After a few brews, it was time to find some food.  Burritos and fish tacos were on the must-eat list for SD, and we decided tonight was fish taco night.  Alena recommended an unassuming, very casual spot called Oscar’s Mexican Seafood, which has a few locations around the city.

Oscar’s was fantastic – we went to the one on University Ave, which is one of the main drags north of Balboa Park.  No frills, just really fresh, really good fish tacos.

After Oscar’s we got ready for the rest of the night, and headed out to Starlite to meet up with some of Alena’s grad school friends.  It a bit of a swankier vibe to it, with good food and cocktails.  After hanging there for a bit, we walked down to Bolt Brewery in Little Italy, for a few craft beers and an epic game of Jenga to close out the night.

Day 10 – Sunday

The last day of the trip 😢!  Of course, the group was a little somber this morning as the reality set in that we would have to return to work in less than 48 hours.  Regardless, there were still some things that needed to be done.  Alena had gotten us another sweet brunch reservation, this time at Urban Solace, which features live bluegrass music (“Bluegrass Brunch”) on Sunday mornings to go along with a southern leaning menu.

The rest of the day was dedicated to beachin’.  It was mostly cloudy during the day and the weather was a little cool (70 degrees is cool, I guess 🤔), so the beaches weren’t too crowded, which was nice and relaxing.  We started by driving to La Jolla which was more of a tourist experience, followed by Torrey Pines beach, where we stayed and relaxed for a while.

After the beaches, we regrouped at the Airbnb for a bit before heading back out to Ocean Beach.  We went to the now closed Shades Oceanfront Bistro, which had an unobstructed view directly out to the beach and the gorgeous sunset.  After a drink and snapping a few photos on the beach, it was time to satisfy our final major goal of the trip – finding a California style burrito.

The sun sets on West Coast Trip 2015.

My research had indicated that Nico’s was consistently in the top 3 for Cali burritos, and it happened to be located in OB, so it seemed like a match made in heaven.  And oh boy, it was.  Having not ever even heard of a Cali style burrito until I started researching for this trip, I am still very confused that these are not a bigger thing on the East Coast.  Crispy fries in a burrito instead of rice = 👌.

Alena still had one more place that we absolutely had to visit, and that was Modern Times for their renowned stouts.  But before that she and Hilary wanted to change, so Rachel and I made a pit stop at Tiger!Tiger! brewery back in North Park in the meantime.  Perhaps my favorite beer of the whole trip was their Golden Milk Stout – if it is on the menu, definitely give it a try.

Modern Times afterward did not disappoint either.  We had the place to ourselves on a Sunday night, and we were given many samples before we determined that their Nitro Milk Stout was bomb.  A satisfying final beverage of West Coast Trip 2015.


  • Nico’s – Cali Burrito > Mission Burrito
  • Tiger!Tiger!
  • Brunches
  • San Diego Zoo

Next Time:

What’s new in SD since I went in 2015?  Post your favorite SD locale in the comments!

West Coast Trip 2015 – Pacific Coast Highway

the winding road as we travel down the Pacific Coast Highway from San Francisco to San Diego

We were sad to leave SF, but pumped to hit the road and drive the coast down to SoCal!


  • Views
  • In-N-Out Burger
  • Get to San Diego without falling into the Pacific

Day 8 – Friday

Leaving the SF bros in SF, and with Alena flying back to SD to work, only three of us remained to make The Drive.  We hit the road at around 10am, picked up a Volvo rental car and headed south.  It was a foggy, somewhat dreary day around SF, but the scenery was still stunning.

view of the ocean south of Half Moon Bay
One of the state beaches just south of Half Moon Bay

About 2 hours south of Half Moon Bay was perhaps my favorite part of the drive, as we pulled off the highway to drive through some of the streets in Carmel-by-the-Sea.  The homes were all looked like they were picked up in Europe a few hundred years ago, and dropped into this picturesque town on the Pacific, right on the water.

view of the ocean and beach from Carmel by the Sea
View from a Carmel resident’s front yard

Soon after Carmel, we hit Big Sur, which was equally stunning.  Around this area is when the iconic windy roads and steep cliffs and bluffs start to make an appearance.  Some of the turns are truly insane, with no guard rails between you and hundreds of feet down to the ocean.  An exhilarating drive for sure!

the winding road and cliffs on the Pacific Coast Highway
Careful on those turns!

By the time we got to the seal beach near Morro Bay, we were starting to get hangry.

seals on a beach on the Pacific Coast Highway
The seals were very entertaining to watch – a good break from driving.

We decided to stop in San Luis Obispo, at the High St Market and Deli.  It was very apparent that we had at some point officially entered SoCal.  Surfer bros, wind-blown hair, and the smell of an ocean breeze all around.  After a boss sandwich, we were back on the road to San Diego.  The rest of the drive was not as impressive as the first 6 hours or so, but it was still quite scenic, with the sun setting over the Pacific.

the sun setting over the Pacific ocean
Somewhere between SLO and LA

By the time we hit LA, it was dark and there was surprisingly not much traffic.  We stopped at an In-N-Out Burger for a quick dinner, to see what the fuss is all about.  To be honest, it was quite good, but being an East Coaster with a Five Guys bias, I didn’t find it THAT special…I suppose I will be shunned in certain circles for that comment, but somebody had to say it.

The burger fueled me just enough to get to San Diego with my eyes still open – we rolled into the airport to return the rental around 11pm, making the total trek roughly 13 hours.  From there, Alena was kind enough to pick us up and drop us off at our Airbnb in the North Park neighborhood, where we would rest up for the last leg of the trip!


  • Carmel-by-the-Sea
  • Big Sur
  • In-N-Out

Next Time:

  • Head north along the coast from SF
  • Stop at some wineries along the way

What is your favorite spot to marvel at the scenery along Route 1?  Comment away!

West Coast Trip 2015 – San Francisco

Rachel overlooking the San Francisco skyline and Golden Gate Bridge from Telegraph Hill

Early Wednesday morning, the four of us found ourselves on a Virgin flight to San Francisco, headed to meet back up with the two SF bros.  Once we were on the ground, we took an Uber to our Airbnb in Hayes Valley, a couple of blocks from Alamo Square Park.  After a quick nap, we were ready to get back at it.


  • Neighborhood exploring
  • Views
  • Mission Burrito
  • Cool bars

Day 6 – Wednesday

After a quick nap, Rachel and I set out for a short run, to Alamo Square, around the Panhandle and back while our two travel companions took a longer nap.  The weather was gorgeous, we got some pics of the Painted Ladies, and got a lot of hill work in.

After waking everyone up, we took a walk over to DragonEats for a super tasty (and super cheap) banh mi, before embarking on a quest for some Instagram shots.  We started with an Uber to Coit Tower at the top of Telegraph Hill, and from there we walked over to the famous stretch of Lombard Street, marveling at the beautiful views along the way.

Roamin’ the streets of SF

All that walking around and climbing hills had us hankering for a snack.  We stopped at Smitten Ice Cream on the way back to the Airbnb, before getting ready for the rest of the night.  For dinner, we met up with our SF bros at Magnolia in Dogpatch for some beers and BBQ.  And then for a nightcap (or two or three), we closed out the evening at Toronado, a well known dive bar with an outstanding selection of craft beers.

Day 7 – Thursday

Day 2 in SF started with a longer run this time for Rach and I – about 6 miles from the Airbnb, through the Panhandle and Golden Gate Park to Ocean Beach.  The two sleepers met us at Lands End for a short hike and some more views.

The bridge from Lands End

After freshening up a bit, we started on a quest for a Mission burrito.  We took an Uber to Dolores Park, turned down somebody offering us “fresh edibles,” and from there walked into the Mission to Taqueria Cancun.  It did not disappoint.

With our stomachs full, next up was one of the recommendations from our friend in Portland at 10 Barrel Brewing – cocktails at Trick Dog.  Recently named one of the 50 best bars in the world, Trick Dog is a dog-friendly (of course), hip space serving up really tasty and inventive cocktails from a calendar menu with photos of the bartenders and friends’ puppies.


We (or I) was actually lucky enough to have timed this trip such that my Seattle Seahawks were in San Francisco for a Thursday night game against the 49ers.  And, I was also lucky enough to find that the local Seahawks bar was a mere 10 minute walk from the Airbnb!  I was only verbally abused four or five times on the walk to Danny Coyle’s for wearing my Earl Thomas jersey.  My personal favorite was the UPS driver who pulled over to the side of the road to lean out of his truck and warn: “You better take that shit OFF!”

Upon entering Danny Coyle’s, I also noticed that during college basketball season it is a UNC Tar Heels bar too!  I was in heaven.  On top of THAT, probably the best deal we encountered on the trip was $15 for a bucket of 5 Tecate beers during the game.  After watching the Hawks redeem themselves after their collapse on Sunday, we had reservations with the whole crew at Nopa, with great food and some bottles of fine red wine.  Be sure to book at least a couple months in advance if you want a table there at a reasonable hour.

With another long day ahead of us, we had time for one more stop before calling it a night.  We went to a local favorite of our SF contingent, Club Waziema, an Ethiopian bar and restaurant with a pool table in the back.  Apparently some legitimate big-time musicians used to play shows there – it seemed like a bar with a lot of history in the area.

After Waziema, we bid a sad adieu to Dan and Eric, as the rest of the trip would be only the core four.  Actually the next day we would be down one more, as Alena had to fly down to San Diego to work the next day while Rachel, Hilary and I drove the coast.


  • Danny Coyle’s
  • Trick Dog
  • Nopa

Next Time:

  • Too much stuff to list!  There is so much to do in SF…what are some spots that I should check out next time?  Let me know in the comments!

West Coast Trip 2015 – Portland

Portland skyline and Willamette River

Next stop on #WCT2015 was Portland, Oregon.  After an early morning Einstein bagel (chocolate chip with plain shmear, not toasted, duh), the four of us who remained headed over to the Amtrak station in the International District of Seattle, and hopped on a train headed south.


  • Breweries
  • Food trucks
  • Strip club – Portland is apparently the strip club capital of America, gotta do it…
  • Weirdness

DAY 4 – Monday

The train from Seattle to Portland took about 4 hours, and it was a picturesque ride.  The weather was gray and dreary, but I imagine the scenery would be quite beautiful under the right circumstances.  At only $35 a ticket, I highly recommend the train for anyone going from Seattle to Portland.

We arrived around 1:30pm, and we knew that we had to get right down to business, since we really only had a day and a half to get weird in Portland.  We called an Uber, and headed to our Airbnb in Ladd’s Addition neighborhood in SE Portland.  The Airbnb was quite nice – a little carriage house to ourselves in somebody’s backyard.  And bikes available to borrow, as you’d expect in Portland.

After a brief rest, we headed out to some breweries!  First up was Cascade Brewing Barrel House, known for their sours – a great spot for an adventurous beer drinker.  It was walk-able from the Airbnb, so we decided to walk it out to take in some sights and sounds.  The stereotypes that I had heard about Portland seemed to be true so far: some weirdness, lots of breweries, tons of bikes, some hippies, some homeless, and signs of gentrification.

After Cascade, the original plan was to head to Rogue, which sells brews back in Rochester, to check out their brewery.  We took an Uber to NW Portland, but when we got to Rogue the Uber driver recommended that we get some food at another brewery right across the street.  We were getting pretty hungry at this point, so we headed into 10 Barrel Brewing.  We filled up on fantastic pizzas, and also got some tips from our waiter, who incidentally had recently moved from San Francisco.  He gave us some great recommendations for the next leg of our trip – by now I’ve forgotten the name, but thanks waiter guy!

Next, we stumbled across the street to Rogue, which actually has a couple of locations in Portland.  This one was a dark, kind of divey bar with board games and a wide selection of their brews.  I got one of my probably top 10-20 beers of all time, the Hazelnut Brown Nectar.  The ladies got flights, and we played some games to close out the night.

DAY 5 – Tuesday

Rachel and I woke up early for a run around town, down SE Hawthorne to the Eastbank Esplanade.

a food truck pod in Portland
Pod spotted on the morning run got me real excited for our upcoming food truck dinner…

About 4 miles and a few photos later, we were back at the ranch and rounding up the rest of the troops for breakfast.  We chose Pine State Biscuits, and we were not disappointed.  All reports said that we would encounter a line, but we were luckily able to walk right in!  If you’re looking to avoid the wait, I guess Tuesday morning is a good time to go.

After breakfast, it was time for…breakfast dessert?  The tourist in all of us came out a little bit, and our next stop was Voodoo Doughnuts.  We weren’t able to finish the whole box, but there were plenty of homeless folks outside who were happy to take the extras.

a box of Voodoo Doughnuts
Voodoo Doughnuts – with some sexual innuendo names that I don’t remember…

After Voodoo, we took an Uber to Powell’s City of Books in the Pearl District, the iconic bookstore with the claim to fame of being the largest independent bookstore in the world.  I don’t have hard data to back that up, but I can say that it is pretty damn large.  Floors on floors on floors of books, new and used, to get lost in for hours.  We did spend a good hour and a half there, and did not come close to checking out the whole store.  If visiting Portland on a rainy day, Powell’s should definitely be on the to-do list.

Next up were a couple more touristy activities: the International Rose Test Garden, and Pittock Mansion.

view of the Portland skyline from Pittock Mansion
Portland from Pittock Mansion – a little too cloudy to see Mt. Hood 😕

The two are located very close to each other, a short ride outside of downtown to the west.  Both are great for photo ops.  Typically the Pittock Mansion type of activity is not for me, but I did enjoy this one.  The view of Portland and Mt. Hood from the backyard alone was worth the price of admission (which was only $10).

After the mansion and a quick trip back to home base to change, we headed back out for an early food truck supper.  We headed to the NE quadrant for to Guero PDX at Pod 28, which was a quaint little pod with about 5 or 6 food trucks, and a bar truck.

I’m a sucker for good street food, and this was fantastic.  I wanted a 2nd, but the ladies correctly pointed out that there was more work to be done!  Namely, a flight at Migration Brewing, a couple beers and some appetizers at Burnside Brewing (“Sweet Heat” is a must!), and second supper (sushi) at Mirakutei.

Finally, we were feeling good and liquored up enough to hit the strip club.  The experience of strolling into an empty strip club in what felt like a fairly residential area, at 11pm on a Tuesday night, with three girls in my crew was something I will never forget.  All I will say is fun times were had, and we had a hard time pulling Hilary away from the ATM…

And that was it for the Portland leg of the trip.  It’s a shame that we had such a short amount of time there, and I would definitely like to go back soon to explore further.  My main takeaway from Portland was that it felt like perhaps the most livable city that we visited on this trip.  We were sad to leave the next morning, but pumped for San Francisco!


  • Food trucks
  • Burnside Brewing
  • Overall vibe of the city

Next Time:

What is your favorite place to get weird in Portland?  Hit me up in the comments!

West Coast Trip 2015 – Seattle

the Fremont Troll in Seattle, Washington

The first stop on West Coast Trip 2015 was the beautiful Pacific Northwest.  As a Seahawks fan who had never been, Seattle was a must-see, and it did not disappoint.


  • Seahawks vs. Panthers game
  • Seafood
  • Breweries
  • Neighborhood exploring

The goal for this part of the trip (the whole trip, really) was to explore as much of the city and neighborhoods as we could in the limited amount of time that we had.  It’s not every day that I can get out west, so I really wanted to immerse myself and experience the different parts of the city!  Some of the more touristy things are must-sees, but we wanted to hit some of the local favorites as well.

Day 1 – Friday

The trip started early on a Friday morning, with myself, Rachel, and Hilary on a 6am flight from Rochester, NY, landing in Seattle at 11am.  Rochester is not the cheapest airport to fly out of, so I had to keep an eye out all summer for reasonably priced flights.  I ended up finding this flight one-way for $180 in July.

We had also coordinated this trip with some of our friends from college who now live on the West Coast.  Our friend Alena (living in San Diego) joined us for the whole trip, and Dan and Eric (living in San Francisco) joined us in Seattle as well.  Alena was scheduled to land in Seattle around 2:30pm, and the others were flying up later that night after work.

Once we landed, the first order of business was to drop our bags at our hotel.  We stayed downtown at the W Seattle, for $188 a night.  The hotel was great.  It was clean, modern, centrally located, and with four of us staying in the room, it ended up only being about $47 per person per night.

We took the Light Rail from Sea-Tac to University Station – roughly a 45 minute ride for a measly $3.  We were instantly in awe of the gorgeous mountains off in the distance in all directions.  Walking out of University Station and seeing the Puget Sound three blocks to our left was breathtaking.  After a steep uphill trek to the hotel, we dropped our bags before walking to Il Corvo for lunch, near Pioneer Square.  What a pick for a first meal – honestly, it may have been my favorite meal of the trip.

Il Corvo is only open for lunch on weekdays, and it is a popular spot among the local workers.  The line was out the door but it moved quickly.  Every day they have three or four handmade pastas, which can be paired with three or four sauce options, in addition to a few side options (definitely get the house-made foccacia).  Order at the counter, wait for a table to open up, and mangia!  I will absolutely return to Il Corvo any time I am in Seattle.

With the carbo-load complete, the three of us explored Pioneer Square on foot for a bit, and stopped into Storyville Coffee at 1st and Madison to wait for Alena to arrive from San Diego.  After reuniting, we went on a quest for views!

Everyone that I know from Seattle recommended skipping the Space Needle because you can get a better view of the city (for free) from Kerry Park.  After snapping some pics, we took a stroll around the surrounding Upper Queen Anne neighborhood and checked out some of the unique, awesome mansions that overlook the city and Elliott Bay.  The neighborhood and views were incredible, and we lucked out with some beautiful weather.  If this blog ever makes me rich,  I’m moving to Upper Queen Anne.

Next, we checked out the Seattle Center area briefly to see the Space Needle (but did not go up to the top), before heading back to the hotel to get ready for the night.

Dinner was at Pike Brewing Company downtown, a short walk from the hotel.  After dinner and a few brews, we were headed over to the Capitol Hill neighborhood, where we would meet up with the final two travel companions flying up from San Francisco.  We stopped into Elysian Brewing for a great atmosphere and great beers – including one of my favorite fall beers, the Punkachino.

After Eric and Dan arrived and tried to play a little bit of catch-up, we walked around Capitol Hill looking for the next bar to hit.  We settled on a bowling and games bar called Garage, where we rolled a couple games before getting some late-night grub at Freddy Junior’s.  A solid first day on the West Coast was in the books.

Day 2 – Saturday

If Day 1 was all about local brews, the focus for Day 2 was seafood.  The six of us got a bit of a late start after a long day and night, but we made it to the Pike Place Market to do our tourist thang around 11am, and made a beeline for Pike Place Chowder, which was well worth the 45 minute wait in line.  I would wait 45 more minutes for that chowder.

Pike Place Chowder in Seattle
Masses of humanity clamorin’ for chowda.

We followed up our early lunch with a stop a Caffe Ladro for a pick-me-up, and walked down to the waterfront to take in some more views.

With our tourist itch soothed, we took an Uber up to the Fremont neighborhood to do some more exploring.  First stop there was Fremont Brewing Company, which to this day is my favorite brewery I’ve been to.  There, we met up with another old college friend who is from Seattle, and he then took us around the neighborhood to see the troll, and get some drinks and games in at Add-a-Ball.

the craft beer menu at Fremont Brewing in Seattle
That Bonfire Ale…👌

After spending the afternoon in Fremont, we had a dinner reservation at Taylor Shellfish Oyster Bar in Pioneer Square, another spot I would highly recommend.

After supper, we took an Uber to the Ballard neighborhood, and got dropped off on the main drag, Ballard Ave NW.  After walking around a bit, we landed at King’s Hardware, a large bar with a young, rowdy crowd.  After a few pitchers of Manny’s we headed back to Capitol Hill – we tried to sneak into a private karaoke room at Rock Box but had no luck.  Instead we watched the karaoke at the main bar for a while, before heading back to the hotel.

Day 3 – Sunday

The day of the big game!  After a couple days and nights of debauchery, everyone was again slow to get moving.  Only Rachel and I had tickets for the game, so the group went their separate ways.  Hilary, Dan and Eric went to a local Buffalo Bills bar to watch their home team play at 10am, while Alena met up with some of her friends in the area.

Rachel and I ended up walking around Pioneer Square and the Stadium area trying to find brunch and pre-gaming.  With 2-3 hour waits at all of the hot spots, we opted instead to get a couple of Porchetta sandwiches at Rain Shadow Meats, which ended up being a great decision.  With our stomachs full, we headed into the stadium.

I can’t stay I have been to a ton of live sports events, but I would be incredibly surprised if there is any environment more electric than CenturyLink Field.  The crowd noise on every single defensive play is louder than anything I’ve ever heard.  We felt at home among 67,000 screaming Seahawks fans.  Despite a heartbreaking 4th quarter collapse, the experience was amazing and I would recommend it to ANY sports fan, regardless of allegiance.

After the game, we met back up with the rest of the squad at Brave Horse Tavern to drink the loss away (and play some shuffleboard).  Brave Horse is backed by renowned chef Tom Douglas, and not surprisingly has great food, as well as a killer lineup of great local brews in a very chill atmosphere great for playing or watching a game.

After Brave Horse, we decided to call it a night.  The San Franciscans had to catch an early flight, and the rest of us had a train to catch in the morning!


  • Seahawks game
  • Taylor Shellfish Oyster Bar
  • Fremont Brewing
  • Elysian
  • Pike Place Chowder
  • The weather!

Next Time:

What am I missing on my “Next Time” list?  Comment to let me know!

West Coast Trip 2015 – Preview

view of the Pacific Ocean as we travel down the coast on route 1

I have decided to kick off the #steintinerary blog with a multi-part recap of the trip that played a huge part in inspiring me to do this in the first place.  My social media followers know it as #WCT2015, or West Coast Trip 2015.

At the beginning of 2015, one of my resolutions was to travel more, and I had set a goal of visiting and exploring one new city per month.  Around April, I realized how poorly I was tracking toward that goal, and decided that I wanted to find a way to make up for it.

As a lifelong East Coaster, I have always been intrigued by the West Coast, and recent business trips to San Francisco and Los Angeles had really whet my whistle for a full-blown excursion.  So, I took stock of my vacation time at work, and along with my girlfriend Rachel and our BFF Hilary, decided that we could all block off a 10 day stretch in October to head west, from October 16th – 26th.

I had an absolute blast planning this trip over the next several months.  As a huge Seattle Seahawks fan, visiting the Pacific Northwest was obviously a priority, so I started there.  Looking at the Hawks schedule and ticket prices, the game that made the most sense to go to was the October 18th game, when the Carolina Panthers were scheduled to visit CenturyLink Field.

That was the first domino to fall, and once that decision was made the rest of the trip kind of fell into place.  We would start in Seattle for 3 days, travel by train to Portland for 2 days, fly to San Francisco for 2 days, spend 1 day driving the Pacific Coast Highway down to San Diego, where we would spend 2 days before flying back to reality.

A big part of the planning process was also coordinating with some friends from my University of Rochester days who are now living on the West Coast.  One in San Diego who ended up joining us for the entire trip, and two from San Francisco who joined for the Seattle leg of the trip, and hung out with us in SF as well.  It’s always a good time exploring new places with old friends!

Sure, a lot of time has passed since this trip went down.  But it was so great, I remember the play-by-play as vividly as if the return flight from San Diego has just touched down a moment ago…

See these posts for recaps of each leg of the trip!

Stay tuned for the city-by-city, play-by-play of #WCT2015!