Northern California Travel Diary

I just got back from a week spent in California visiting San Francisco, Palo Alto, Santa Cruz, Carmel, and Monterey. Being the foodie that I am, my trip quickly turned into a food tour around Northern California. I started at In N Out and worked my way through wine & cheese tastings, ice cream shops, and macaroni & cheese dives. Although my skinny jeans no longer fit, it’s a small price to pay for the incredible experiences. For this little travel journal, I’ll share my favorite spots to visit in each location, especially if you are visiting California for the first time. Most are restaurants (because, food.), but I sprinkled a couple activities here and there.

Erin Kean Blog

Starting off with the basics,

In n Out. Basic, I know. I learned the lingo and ordered a protein style burger with light well fries – meaning they are crispier than normal, so good.

Pressed Juice. I’m a sucker for overpriced juice, so this was an obvious stop on my travels. If you get the freeze, you’re basically eating a healthy version of frozen yogurt.

CREAM. The love of my life. Nothing is better than a scoop of ice cream sandwiched between two warm cookies. I am drooling even thinking about it. Unless In n Out is your first stop in California, this must be. 100% a go-to.


Santa Cruz

Santa Cruz Boardwalk. Beaches and boardwalks. If you’re going to be in Santa Cruz, you need to visit the boardwalk. The Giant Dipper is the 6th oldest roller coast in the U.S. that you can still ride! There are games, rides, and shows for everyone to enjoy right on the beach. Grab a bag of cotton candy and ride the chairlift or watch a magician perform with the ocean in full view. Then, sunbathe on the beach for an hour or two.



The Cheese Shop. Wine and cheese – my all-time BFFs. I’m not going to lie, my friends and I spent our entire afternoon eating cheese and drinking wine like there was no tomorrow. Not only can you taste cheeses from all over the world, but you can pair them with wine for the perfect combo.



Monterey Bay Aquarium. This is non-negotiable. The Monterey Bay Aquarium is one of the best aquariums in the country and you cannot miss it!

Big Sur Bridge. Calling all Big Little Lies fans. Drive across this bridge while listening to the soundtrack from Big Little Lies and pull over to watch the sunset!


San Francisco

MAC’D. Build your own mac n cheese, what more do I have to say? It doesn’t matter if you are vegetarian, vegan, gluten-free, or paleo – you will be able to eat here.

Golen Gate Bridge. Obviously. In order to work off all the food you are eating, rent a bike and ride across the bridge. There are plenty of places to rent bikes in San Francisco, just make sure you pick one close enough to the bridge or you will spend 20 minutes biking before you even reach the bridge like I did.


Palo Alto

Siam Royal Authentic Thai. Thai food heaven. If you are a fan of Thai food, then going to Siam Royal Authentic Thai food is a must. I recommend the pad thai and curry.

True Food Kitchen. A place for healthy cheat meals. True Food Kitchen is another incredible place to hit up for lunch on a shopping day at the Stanford Shopping Center. Anything you get will be incredible, but I got the butternut squash pizza and I have no words for how amazing it was.