Many believe that living in San Francisco with its multitude of offerings is ultimately superb, and although true on many levels, I believe one of the not-to-be taken for granted perks about living in the Bay Area is the easy access to get out of the city for a quick day trip or an even longer weekend retreat. For those thinking of getting away, the nearby town of Saratoga is an ideal destination to put on the map. Only an hour away from San Francisco, it’s the foolproof mix of food, wine, music, art and relaxation. Saratoga also offers ideal weather for many outdoor activities including hiking, horseback riding, rock climbing, golf, and biking.
When venturing out there, here are a few of my Saratoga highlights that you don’t want to miss:
Cooper Garrod Estate Vineyards
On a recent visit, I visited Cooper Garrod Winery for a bit of wine tasting and a picnic in their rustic, outdoor space surrounded by vineyards and 100-year old eucalyptus trees. The comfortable, casual winery boasts a historic-country ranch setting with an antique barn, horseback riding and valley views. On every last Sunday of the month, there is a combination horse back riding and wine tasting trail ride. And yes, it was well-thought out with the riding taking place before the wine and buffet consumption. Yee Haw!
Hakone Estate and Gardens
If you’re seeking some zen in your life, and who isn’t really… this is the place to be. The exquisite landscape is host to the oldest Japanese garden on the Western Hemisphere. Portions of the film Memoirs of a Geisha were even filmed here. Get visually lost in the koi pond or find your peace in the bamboo garden. Think of it as your mini-Japanese vacation spot in the Bay Area.
Executive Chef/Owner Peter Armellino’s elegant restaurant is a favorite among those seeking fine dining in the South Bay. From the contemporary, glass-encased wine cellar to the traditional, elegant souffles, this is the spot to head to for a romantic dinner date, or a bottle of champagne to celebrate life and all its milestones. Their wine selection is no-doubt impressive and includes both the classics and the eclectic. See the list here.
Deja and Co Exquisite Jewels
Indulge your inner princess at this boutique of baubles. Owner Deja is a gem and her highly-curated selection includes both exquisite domestic and international pieces. Gather a group of your loveliest lady pals and enjoy a “Sip, Sparkle, Wish” party where you can try on the many glorious jewels from the glass cases, while enjoying desserts and champagne.
With almost every seat being a not-too-far distance from the main stage, this is the concert venue to get up-close and personal to the biggest names in the music industry. From Ray Charles to Foreigner, they have all played here. Founded in 1901, Mountain Winery is a sophisticated gathering point for wine and live-music lovers. Since its inception, the winery has focused on cultivating Pinot Noir and Chardonnays due to the ideal growing soil of the environment. To this day, the winemakers at Mountain Winery use malolactic bacteria and yeast that are indigenous to the environment. Sample the Estate Wine and take in the panoramic view at the outdoor Vineyard Wine Bar.
Preston Wynne Spa
This is where many of the Silicon Valley set come to relax and beautify. Pamper yourself or someone you love with a facial, massage, or the latest technology (it is Silicon Valley, after all) spa treatment including an infrared Sauna Therapy suite. On Tuesdays and Thursdays, they host a Happy Hour Manicure Bar where guests are treated to sparkling wine and sweets paired with their manis and pedis.
You now have no excuse not to add the Northern California city of Saratoga to a future upcoming weekend escape.