5 Places to Get Outside in Northern CA This Weekend. (Northern, CA)

Anyone else getting housebound with all this rain? We are not complaining. We just have to get out of here and fast. Here are some weekend ideas we are kicking around and wanted to share with all our Farm Tots friends here in Northern CA.

Full Belly Farm Tour-Full Belly Farm is a certified organic farm in the Capay Valley in northern California and this Saturday they are offering a public event with a farm tour. The tour starts at 11:00 am and guests can bring a picnic lunch to have at the farm after the tour.

Full Belly Farm
16090 County Road 43
Guinda, CA

Daffodil Hill-Each spring Daffodil Hill explodes with thousands of blooms, attracting visitors from around the world to this farm that is open to the public. Admission is free and the season only lasts for the daffodil season.

Daffodil Hill
18310 Rams Horn Grade
Volcano, California
Open daily 10:00 am-4:00 pm

Soil Born Farms Early Spring Plant Sale-Visit this community farm stand for their annual plant sale and fill your early spring garden with seasonal vegetables, flowers, medicinal and/ culinary herbs and edible perennials, including fruit trees.

Soil Born Farms
2140 Chase Drive
Rancho Cordova, CA
Open Saturday, March 19, 2016, 9:00am – 01:30pm

Picnic in Apple Hill-Bring a picnic and hit up Boa Vista. This year-round farmstand offers seasonal produce, bakery favorites, apple cider and more. Picnic tables are pletiful and there is space for tots to run around and have some fun. Take time to buy your weekly groceries and some car snacks for the way home like apple doughnuts and apple cider.

Boa Vista Orchards
2952 Carson Road
Placerville, CA
Open 8:00 am-5:30 pm daily

Folsom Farmer’s MarketThis outdoor market is held on Saturdays from 8:00 am-1:00 pm in Historic Folsom. More than 40 local vendors come out for this market that offers locally grown seasonal fruits and vegetables, baked goods, fresh eggs and dairy items, live music and so much more! Covered free public parking is available.

Folsom Farmer’s Market
Folsom, CA

Year in Review. Trips of 2015.

Last year we had so many fun getaways and we made the most of staying close to home and taking trips in our car whenever we could escape town. As we start a new year we wanted to revisit all of the places we discovered last year and this is our list of trips we went on. This week follow along as we review the trips, farmer’s markets, restaurants, shops and more that we visited in 2015.

Thank you for following along our adventures with us.

Quick Summer Overnight in Santa Cruz (Santa Cruz, CA)

Earthbound Farms Market and Cafe Visit (Carmel, CA)

San Diego Off Season Vacation (San Diego, CA)

San Diego Off Season Vacation, Where to Stay (San Diego, CA)

San Diego Off Season Vacation. What to Do (San Diego, CA)

San Diego Off Season Beach Vacation. What to Do.(San Diego, CA)

Mission Beach

After many trips to San Diego, at least one trip a year since I moved away 15 years ago, we have decided that we just can’t do it all. There is so much to do with kids in San Diego that it’s way too much pressure, and to expensive, to try to crunch it all into a short trip. We have now started letting our trips be all about the beach and adding one other activity in if we are up for it.

One of the best parts about traveling off season is that everything is cheaper. The other bonus is the crowds have disappeared and most tourist attractions are frequented by locals and a small group of tourists. This year we went to Legoland on Thanksgiving and we only waited in line for certain rides and wait times were less than 5 minutes for the most part. The beaches are almost completely empty and parking is easy. Roads aren’t crowded and overall you can live like a local instead of battling it out with throngs of tourists. (more…)

San Diego Off Season Beach Vacation. Where to Stay. (San Diego, CA)

South Mission Beach Rental House

Mission Beach is a lively beach with walkable options for dining and recreation. That’s one of the reasons it makes such a fun family vacation. Not having to get in the car (unless you want to) makes it one of the most affordable and relaxing beach vacations we have found. There are two accommodations options for travelers visiting the area. We are going to detail both.

Every family is different in what they expect from a vacation. We are often conflicted about our preference for staying in a rental home or a hotel. Both have advantages and disadvantages. We find hotels are nice because we know we have a safe lighted place to land no matter what time we arrive, rooms are clean and remade and restocked daily, dining options are easy and plentiful and most hotels have pools or other recreation options for our kids. Rental homes offer more of the comforts of home. We know they are going to have a kitchen we can stock and cook our own meals and space to stretch out. With our children we find that overall rental homes are most relaxing for us when we go to San Diego for a beach vacation (Legoland vacation or downtown we prefer hotels). Since we really are relieved to get away either way we often book a hotel and then look for last minute deals on rental homes to get the most for our money. (more…)

San Diego Off Season Beach Vacation (San Diego, CA)

South Mission Beach

It’s no secret that we love San Diego around here. Ben grew up spending summers and holidays there visiting his grandfather in La Jolla. I went to college at the University of San Diego and lived in South Mission Beach and stayed around working for a year after graduation. We got married in San Diego at USD and had our party at The Prado in Balboa Park. Each year since our wedding we try to go back and visit during our anniversary in October so we have become experts at navigating San Diego in the off season.

Since most families want to visit the beach during summer vacation a beach trip to San Diego in summer can become so cost prohibitive because of the competitive busy season rates it makes it almost impossible to make it work. Hotel rates skyrocket too and attractions are busy along with roads and the beach.

Our favorite time to visit is during the fall when most families aren’t traveling and prices are way down. Today we are sharing our San Diego off season beach vacation secrets.  Throughout the week we are going to share more hints like where to stay, what to do and what to eat while you are away. So join us in this four part series on getting the most out of a budget-conscious trip to San Diego. (more…)

Be Right Back. (San Diego, CA)

South Mission Beach San DiegoWe are taking a break this week and getting out of town.  San Diego is one of those places that has so many meanings for us that it’s almost difficult to capture everything in words alone.  It’s our place to log off, relax and explore.  We hope you have the chance to take some time off this holiday break.  We are going to be back with some travel tips, recipes and farm visits soon!

Free Redwood Parks Day. Redwood Parks in California (CA)

California's 49 Redwood State Parks Map

I can say with conviction that I am not a Black Friday shopper. I think the only Black Friday sale we indulged in was to buy a new dishwasher and it was not on Black Friday and was online not in a store. I am a firm supporter of not participating in any of the insanity associated with “the biggest shopping day of the year.” Don’t get me wrong. I love to shop. I crave deals. I just think that the Thanksgiving holiday is one that should be shared in a relaxing environment surrounded by family and friends.  I am all about this year’s new tradition, Free Redwood Parks Day. (more…)

The Mountain Mandarin Festival. November Tot Friendly Event. (Auburn, CA)

Mountain Mandarin Trees in Penryn, CA

The Mountain Mandarin Festival marks the official beginning of Placer County Mountain Mandarin season. The event takes place the weekend before Thanksgiving every year at the Gold Country Fairgrounds in Auburn. This 3-day celebration draws 30,000 visitors from as far away as the San Francisco Bay Area and Reno. Just off Hwy 80 between Sacramento and North Lake Tahoe this event is easy to get to and is the perfect stop for anyone on their way to Tahoe.

Festival attendees can sample fresh mandarins hand-picked by Mountain Mandarin Growers’ Association members, as well as a variety of mandarin-based products including olive oils, marinades, marmalades, syrups and mandarin blossom honey. Growers will have plenty of 5 and 10 pound bags of mandarins for sale, ready for holiday enjoyment. Most growers can also ship mandarins to your friends and family. (more…)

Get Outside. Free National Park Day. (California)

Golden Gate Bridge from Ft Mason

This week school and work are both out on Wednesday, November 11 in recognition of Veterans Day. I sort of just realized this as I was doing our weekly meal plan. Would be a perfect day to get out of town for the day and explore somewhere new.

Then I found out that The National Park Service invites all visitors to remember our veterans by visiting any National Park Service site for free on Veterans Day, November 11, 2015 for Free National Park Day. There are many National Parks that honor our military and their long service to our country.

There are gorgeous National Parks right here in California and definitely some worth the off-season visit. This time of year crowds have thinned out some and a midweek visit might be the only opportunity to get up-close to some park attractions that usually are difficult to maneaveur with kids. (more…)

Earthbound Farms Market and Organic Cafe (Carmel, CA)

Earthbound Farms Market and Organic CafeMost of our fruits and vegetables are grown locally. We try to only use organic and local in our home cooking as much as possible. We do buy some of our produce at Costco or the grocery store and when we do we try to buy California grown organic products. One of our favorite brands is Earthbound Farms. We buy their salad mix and carrots when we can’t get to farmer’s market or the farmstand that week. I like that the brand is semi-local (less than 200 miles away) and is creating more organic farmland in our state every year. Earthbound Farms has over 50,000 acres of organic agriculture in their network of growers. On a small piece of that land sits the adorable Earthbound Farms Market and Organic Cafe in Carmel, CA. This place is exactly what Carmel means to me, earthy bohemian and artistic California chic.

We travel to the Monterey and Carmel area often because my younger sister lives there and both my brother and sister went to boarding school there. For years we have been staying out our favorite hotel, The Hyatt Regency Monterey, and exploring all that the area has to offer. Because we travel so often we often stock our room with our own food and try to eat as clean as we can while we are there.

Earthbound Farms Market and Organic Cafe

A friend that also travels to the area often mentioned we should try the Earthbound Farm for lunch one day on a recent trip. I couldn’t believe we hadn’t been there before or even heard of it! I tried looking on Google and found it was difficult to even find the address and then found the Yelp page and we were on our way.

When we pulled into the parking lot I was instantly obsessed with this perfect local stop. Earthbound Farms started with a 2.5 acre organic raspberry farm just down the road from the current farmstand in 1984. The farmstand was opened 8 years later and then expanded to the farmstand and cafe in 2003. Earthbound Farms has brilliantly put a quaint authentic face on their large agriculture brand and allows locals to engage directly with the people who provide food to thousands of consumers around the country. By allowing people to see how the brand started and sample what they produce now families are able to interact directly with a company they wouldn’t otherwise be able to get to know.

Earthbound Farms Market and Organic Cafe

The Cafe

The cafe was our first stop after finding our way into the farmstand building and we were hungry and ready for lunch. Led by Executive Chef, Sarah La Casse, the cafe offers organic menu choices that showcase Earthbound Farms produce and allows guests to understand her passion for fresh and flavorful food that utilize the palette of the fields right outside her kitchen. The cafe also serves as a creative venue for recipe tasting and sampling new food combinations. The menu board shows what is available and it is kept simple and straightforward. Every day there is a meat and vegetarian grilled panini for $8.95 that changes throughout the day, a market salad for $8.95 and choice of 2 soups, cup for $3.95 and bowl for $5.95. A salad bar offers all the Earthbound Farm specialties and big wood bowls for those that want to make their own at $8.99/lb. There is also a kids’ menu that includes organic grilled cheese on house made bread for $4.95 or peanut butter and jelly for $3.95. Organic and fair-trade coffee along with frozen yogurt completes the simple approach to dining menus.

Earthbound Farms Market and Organic Cafe

There are shaded tables just outside the farmstand main entrance and a larger group-dining area with picnic tables in a cooler open barn area. Sitting outside on the patio we were so entertained by the fields and gardens surrounding us we all relaxed and chatted for much longer than vacation lunches ususually last with a 3 and 5 year old. I ordered the kale and white bean soup with house-made French baguette slices, Ben got a sliced Italian meat panini and the tots each got grilled cheese sandwiches. We finished lunch off with organic chocolate frozen yogurt and made our way through the gardens that had been tempting us throughout our lunch. Everything we tried was perfectly prepared and didn’t leave us with that post-vacation regret.

Earthbound Farms Market and Organic Cafe

The Gardens

Walking through organic gardens after a nice meal might be my favorite afternoon activity with children. The Gardens include a kid’s garden, herb garden, berry patch, flower garden and more. Each are of the garden areas are accessed through gorgeous arbors and paths that make the whole experience more adventure than teaching. We were the only people in the gardens during our visit and our children could just run and explore without fear of bothering anyone or getting lost. We tasted raspberries right of the vine, admired flowers and learned about organic farming methods all while being immersed in a storybook like environment that each of us could appreciate.

The Gardens also play host to private and public events throughout the year. Posted events include educational days, craft days and more.

Earthbound Farms Market and Organic Cafe

The Market

We returned to the market after our garden tour to stock up on local fruit to have in our hotel room during our stay. Prices might be higher than other local farmstands only considering the location of the place in one of the highest rent areas of the state along with the ease of purchasing so much in one stop makes the prices realistic for a travel budget. Not to mention more affordable than dining in local restaurants. The market stays full year round of Earthbound Farms produce that is all organic and locally-produced. There is a refrigerated section that includes take-away deli selections perfect for easy hotel lunches and dinners. Bakery choices are available too along with gourmet specialty grocery selections and Earth-friendly gifts. Definitely where I am going to be buying souveniers from now on. A flower stand outside offers specatular organic flowers featuring what’s local and in season. We made off with overflowing baskets of strawberries, blueberries and fat juicy peaches we demolished in the car before we even hit the main road. Having fruit and vegetables as snack options in our hotel room when we travel is one of my travel secrets and this place makes it easy and fun to do just that.

Earthbound Farms Market and Organic CafeEarthbound Farms Market and Organic CafeEarthbound Farms Market and Organic CafeEarthbound Farms Market and Organic CafeEarthbound Farms Market and Organic CafeEarthbound Farms Market and Organic Cafe

Earthbound Farms Farmstand and Cafe is open 9:00 am to 6:00 pm daily and is located at 7250 Carmel Valley Road Carmel, CA. The Farmstand and Cafe Facebook page is the best resource to view upcoming events and valuable information. A dirt parking lot and restrooms with running water are available to guests.

This is not a sponsored post and is a real review of a place we like.