California Dreamin’

Not sure if you got the memo, but California was BIG this year! I had easily half a dozen clients ask for California coast road trips this summer, and I was more than happy to oblige:) There’s so much to see and do in that stretch of coast from San Francisco to L.A. that it can be tailored to anyone’s specific tastes and interests. Here’s a trip report from Kevin and Sue, whose trip happened to coincide with the August earthquake in Napa:

Hi Ann.  We had a terrific time on our California vacation!  

We did experience the earthquake, but it luckily ended up being—exactly as you put it—just a good travel story.  The “funny” part of it was my wife Sue’s initial reaction.  We were in bed, as the quake happened just before 3:30 in the morning. Sue’s first words as the bed started shaking moderately were, “Kevin, what are you doing?”—said in a slightly annoyed tone!  I sat up and said, in a surprisingly calm voice, “I’m not doing anything, and I’m pretty sure this is an earthquake.”  The shaking lasted for what seemed like about 15-20 seconds.  I do feel bad for the folks up in Napa who experienced the brunt of it, but as far as we could tell, San Francisco itself suffered no damage at all.

The Jet Blue flights were good both ways.  I think they are my favorite domestic airline at this point.  We also enjoyed excellent weather during the trip.  It seemed like every day was a mix of sun and clouds, temperatures during the day in the low 70s, cooling to about 59/60 at night, and no rain.

Kevin Grady 2

The Prescott Hotel in San Francisco was fine for our purposes—good central location, clean accommodations, friendly and helpful staff, comfortable bed, plus continental breakfast and a daily cocktail hour included.  (We only took advantage of the cocktail hour one day because we were out and about so much).  It is an older building and some of the furnishings are a little dated, but we were content there. I would rate it overall as about a 3.8 or 3.9 out of 5 stars.  Sue and I both loved the city of San Francisco.  It felt a lot like Boston to us, except for all the steep hills there!  One thing we learned is that the famed cable cars are not at all useful on summer weekends.  Lines to get on a cable car during the weekend ranged from about 30 minutes to 2 hours!   

Kevin Grady 1

We enjoyed Fisherman’s Wharf; Alcatraz was great; we took an enjoyable Segway tour; walked down Lombard Street (it was not as pretty as it apparently is in the Spring, but it was still cool), went across the Golden Gate Bridge a couple of times, had lunch one day in Sausalito; and walked through Muir Woods.  We absolutely would go back!  Here are a few restaurants we liked—Scoma’s (seafood at Fisherman’s Wharf), Jeanne D’arc (good reasonably priced prix fixe French food including a soufflé—but it’s a small and very quirky setting–located in  the basement of a hotel and decorated like a cross between a castle and a church); and Ristorante Milano (very small neighborhood Italian restaurant, with excellent homemade pastas including lasagna and gnocchi).

We very much enjoyed the drive south to Monterey!  The Jeep worked out fine.  We loved our accommodations at the Monterey Plaza Hotel & Spa.  The room and bed were very comfortable; we had a great view of the ocean right below (including sea otters frolicking); and the staff were all friendly and helpful!  The spa there was excellent—we took advantage of the two rooftop hot tubs each day and each of us had a massage on the last day!  The restaurant in the hotel had good food and a first class ocean view.  I would rate the hotel overall about a 4.3 or 4.4 out of 5. 

Kevin Grady 3

We enjoyed the Monterey Aquarium; we went horseback riding on the beach; we walked around Carmel and had a drink at Clint Eastwood’s Mission Ranch (he apparently shows up a lot and plays the piano there, but we did not see him that day); we loved the 17-mile drive at Pebble Beach and then the drive down to Big Sur (had lunch on the way at a restaurant called Rocky Point—good food (not exceptional but good) and just an outstanding/fantastic view, where we saw a number of whales from our table!)


Kevin Grady 4

Bottom line—our trip was an unqualified success!  We are very glad we went; we would do it again; and we would recommend it to anyone!

Thanks again for your help putting it together, Ann!!

Maybe it’s time to think about planning the NEXT vacation!!!






You provided excellent guidance for us. I appreciated that you really had us think about what was most important to us when we were selecting the right cruise – and not to totally focus on what other people had to say. THANK YOU for helping to make this a memorable trip for our family! It really was a trip of a lifetime!

Clare and Mark (family cruise to Alaska)

The level of service we experienced was out of this world (and we did NOT make it easy on Ann). We weren’t quite sure where we wanted to go, when we would be able to go, or what “vibe” we were going for. After asking us some key questions (what we liked, didn’t like, why, etc.) Ann helped us narrow down our trip details and planned the honeymoon of our dreams. She helped book some of our excursions, answered some emergency questions while abroad and was always available/willing to help. I think it’s safe to say we won’t be using anyone else for future travel planning – Ann is a rockstar!

Carli (Italy and Spain)