Travel

Vacation Photos: Palm Springs and San Francisco

Palm Springs

How was your holiday? I hope you had a good one (and if not, congrats for getting through it:) We just got back from a week in California, and here are a few photos, if you’d like to see…

Palm Springs

We always meet Alex’s family in Palm Springs for the holidays (we stayed at this comfy spot), and my mom also joined us this year! For various reasons, she’s never been able to spend Christmas with us, so we were overjoyed to have her. This photo especially makes me laugh. Note the floating coffee!

Palm Springs

We did a few Palm-Springs-y things, like taking the aerial tram up the mountain. The car slowly circulates as it rises, so you see a 360-degree view. The coolest part is that the weather is warm at the bottom and snowy at the top.

pork ragu

And my mom busted out with this pork ragù pasta on Christmas Eve. It’s very delicious, especially if you add extra parmesan while cooking.

joanna anton palm springs

We left cookies and carrots for Santa, and Anton got a couple books in his stocking, including this one about being a kid on the Titanic. (MEANWHILE HIS COWBOY BOOTS; I ALMOST DIED FROM THE CUTENESS. He got them for Halloween and hasn’t stopped wearing them since.)

toby rental car

Eight-year-old Toby’s presents centered around his current passion: rental cars. My mother-in-law wrapped up a Budget T-shirt, and my mom hunted down a real valet parking sign.

toby rental car

My brother-in-law designed these amazing checklists for a new company called “Tobias Rent-a-Car.” We all stood in line to rent one from him — I got a limo for a week for only $100! Honestly, something about these gifts from our relatives really moved me. They know and see him for exactly who he is.

pioneertown

Finally, one afternoon, Alex took Anton to Pioneertown. The town has 1880s-style false-front facades of stables, saloons and jails. A group of actors even did a mock gun fight on the main street. Have you ever been?

pioneertown

alex pioneertown

Anton was in heaven, and the views were bananas!

cousins in pajamas

After Palm Springs, we went up to San Francisco for a few days to visit my dad, twin sister, niece and other relatives. The cousins all got pajamas in their favorite colors, and we all fell asleep by 9:30 p.m. on New Year’s Eve, which is my definition of a good time :)

san francisco

Thank you for the great trip, California! What did you do for the holidays? How are you doing these days? xoxo

P.S. Our past California vacations (Toby was TINY), and the weirdest best part of trips.

(Tram photo via the Palm Springs Aerial Tram. Pasta photo by Ditte Isager. San Francisco view photo by One Fine Stay.)

  1. Yes I have been to Pioneer Town! Love that sweet little spot! We have done this off-road trail from there to Big Bear! Fantastic!

  2. Emma says...

    Those pyjamas make the kids look like The Wiggles! (Aussie children’s entertainers)

  3. Elizabeth says...

    Anton crossing his legs is ultimate cool and he is 100% my posing inspo.
    +++ Your mum is a BABE

  4. OMG Anton in cowboy boots! Too. Much.
    What is the Titanic book? My four year old would be very into this.

  5. Emma says...

    Anton in those boots! So adorable!! My heart!

  6. Good morning from a chilly London – those photos are glorious! And I now have Palm Springs, Pioneertown and SF on my ‘must visit’ list!
    Thanks for sharing!

  7. Alina Lane says...

    What do you do about the car seats? Our has almost outgrown his infant seat and we’re not really sure what to do for future trips. Thank you.

    • Joanna Goddard says...

      We bring a booster seat for Anton, and Toby just uses a seatbelt. Back in the day, we lugged two big car seats with our luggage!

  8. Annie says...

    Can I switch places with your mom in the pool? Thanks.

  9. Rachel says...

    I am DYING at the picture of Anton with his legs crossed. He looks like a grown-up author posing for a picture that will go inside a book jacket with his bio. <3

    • Liz says...

      YES. Love the picture and that description is perfect

  10. jiehae says...

    Are Anton and Alex twinning?

    • Joanna Goddard says...

      Accidentally haha! They have very similar style, both inspired by the other :)

  11. Toby’s gifts are really touching. I always think it’s so loving when adults beyond a kid’s own parents (and perhaps grandparents) really know him. His custom notepad is so full of care, I genuinely feel like it’s a more precious gift than an iPhone X!

  12. Katie says...

    oh man – these are divine! looks like so many good times (: love it. happy happy new year & cheers to a marvelous getaway in the Golden State! X

  13. Okay Toby’s rental car gifts are adorable and hilarious. As is his obsession. Kids are so eye-opening and lovely.

  14. Loesie says...

    My Mom and I went on a trip to NYC!
    It was a bucket list trip; my Mom really wanted to see the Christmas shopping windows! In my opinion, New York is always a good idea!
    So I said goodbye to my sweet family (which was hard), and my Mom and I left on Dec 27 and flew back home to Amsterdam on Dec 30.
    We saw the windows at Macy’s, the show at Sacks, the Rockefeller tree, walked the High Line, stood still at WTC and saw the Rockettes Christmas Spectacular. I have never seen such a beautiful show as the Rockettes Christmas Spectacular. I couldn’t stop crying afterwards; I thought it was so beautiful!
    How beautiful I thought the Rockettes were, how horrible I thought it was to see so many homeless people on the streets. A little boy sitting outside without a warm jacket on, crying heartbreakingly, about the same age as my own boy; he really got me thinking about how to give back and make a little difference in the world.
    So I tried to be a kind soul to this sweet little lady with her shopping cart, riding the subway. I sat next to her and even though I couldn’t really understand what she was saying; I think it was something about my pink shoes and sweater; I just smiled at her and hoped that would lighten up her day even just a little.
    I think New York is such a beautiful city in so many ways, and it always inspires me to do good in the world and be kind to others.
    My friend and I already scheduled a trip for a few years down the road when we will both be 40 years old.
    Thanks for sharing the photos of your trip; your family looks so sweet and nice and wonderful. Happy New Year to you all. I hope your sister is well; I think of her every once in a while and send her good vibes!

  15. wow that pork ragu pasta looks delicious!
    happy new year :)
    malinda

  16. christine says...

    We were in Palm Springs and Palm Desert this past week too. It was COLD that we barely had our rental car roof down (we rented a 2 door Beetle convertible at my 11 year old daughter’s request). Also, we could not get up the tram because I did not realize one should pre-book. We took your advice from Instagram and went to Cheeky’s for brunch (SO GOOD).

    Other highlights from our trip include a dive through (and short hikes in) Joshua Tree park, dinner at the Cliffhouse in La Quinta, trips to Target and Trader Joe’s (we are Canadian!), and hiking the Bump and Grind Trail.

  17. Jessica says...

    Your boys are the sweetest! I love Anton’s style choices and Toby’s enthusiasm! To echo everyone else, the photo of Anton with his legs crossed in the boots is too darling for words. I was cracking up explaining the rental car desk to my boyfriend, who then told me when he was about Toby’s age, he loved playing “businessman,” too! It’s so funny how kids get enjoyment out of the most mundane (to adults!) things.

  18. My friend’s daughter was obsessed with being a waitress when she was six’ish. An aunt gifted her with a boxful of important accoutrements — real notepad, apron, hairnet, tray, play money. Inspired, inexpensive and fulfilled a little girl’s dreams. Bravo to your family for fulfilling one of Toby’s dreams. BTW, wouldn’t it be wonderful to carry that happy obsession with work on into our adult lives? Some do, some don’t.

  19. RubyJo says...

    The personalized rental car gifts were so touching. My son was always passionate about different things. In his street sweeping phase my sister called a street sweeping manufacturer and the sweet office lady came in on the weekend to give him a private tour. Best birthday gift ever!

  20. Cailin says...

    Anton’s cowboy boots…I just can’t.

    I hope they become an integral part of his style for life. I had a pair of red cowboy boots with turquoise cacti that I ADORED as a little girl, and 20+ years later I am living in Montana and wearing cowboy boots regularly.

    Happy New Year to you and your family!

  21. Emily L says...

    OH MY GOD that picture of Anton at Pioneertown with his little cowboy boots is slaying me!!

    • Elizabeth says...

      I was going to write the same thing!!

    • Tina says...

      I’m dead over the cuteness of this photo!

  22. Claire says...

    It all looks like so much fun! I love to start a day with a swim – that swimming pool looks divine, and now I want a floating coffee experience. Your mom looks like your sister, btw. High-five to Anton on those cowboy boots.
    Happy New Year!

  23. Amanda says...

    Hm…thinking that I may need a pair of cowboy boots for 2019. Anton is outfit goals!

  24. Susan says...

    Dreaming of a vacation… I was trying to find a spot you posted years ago. A house on an island, the tide comes around it, you can access by a bridge. I think it was England. By any chance do you remember it? I wanted to look it up as a possible trip?

    • Katie says...

      I know Jo posted about Fire Island, which is not in England, but I’m not sure if that’s the one you mean. But it looked really cool!

    • Sally Scott says...

      Hi Susan, Jo’s English family are in Cornwall so it’s probably somewhere there but I also highly recommend Northumberland for beautiful beaches and castles – there is an island there called Holy Island, which you can drive to at low tide. You can stay on the island, and there are a few pubs, a castle and I think a brewery!

    • Joanna Goddard says...

      Oh yes! st Michaels mount in Cornwall! Xoxo

  25. Awww! This us so sweet and I can’t help but hope for this beauty holiday! Didn’t have much an awesome holiday, but I am glad for life all the same. I definitely do have plans for an amazing holidays in the future!

  26. Ramona says...

    Looks like there was something for everyone! Isn’t that the best?! Smiles all around! Love the photos!

  27. Shana says...

    I love the rental car themed gifts and when relatives really “get” a child!! so much love for this :)

  28. Kelly says...

    I just love all of this so much. Sooo missing the days when my boys had these sort of creative interests. They are 18 and 22 now and still are creative with their music and studies but I do miss the little boy things you are experiencing. Visited Palm Springs last spring and again this spring so your photos and airbnb are inspiring! Thanks for sharing your family – they are all beautiful!

  29. A says...

    That picture of Anton with casually crossed legs, cowboy boots and a lemonade is just enough to break my heart! What a gem!

  30. Happy New Year! Pioneertown looks amazing!!

  31. Betsy says...

    Anton’s cowboy boots! Your boys are too cute! I have a pair of 17-month old little guys so I love seeing what your ‘older’ boys are up to :)

  32. vveronika says...

    OMG that cowboy boots is to die for on him! so cute :-)

  33. Laura C. says...

    This Christmas trip is so easy and chill and calm and happy and funny… well done family!
    Anton’s pic is awesome- he’s only 5 and I really think that he’s figured everything out already. For his next birthday get him a stetson! I still remember Alex’s words “you can’t be depressed while wearing a stetson”.
    Love you all <3

  34. Seriously, those cowboy boots are everything! I want a pair!

  35. Eliza says...

    Sort of unrelated, but the kids in jammies reminded me: After your PJ’s post I ordered some Primary jammies for my kids! I got a teal top and one grey bottom and one purple bottom for my 6-year-old son, and a grey top and teal bottom and one red bottom for my 4-year-old son! They wore them in their mall-Santa pics and they’re SO soft and cozy and I love that I can mix and match to make them look holiday festive or “regular.” I live in Canada and they don’t ship to us so I sent them to my american sister who sent them to me. I had an issue with one cuff seam unraveling and Primary was SO great about resolving my issue. Thanks for the recommendation! I love that the site doesn’t gender-divide their colours. <3 Happy new year!

  36. Abesha1 says...

    Are those Primary pajamas??? I got my kids’ Christmas pajamas from Primary and they’re great! You did better than I, though, because it never occurred to me to get a pair for the cousin we stayed with :(. He was sad to be left out, and I was sorry I didn’t think of it.
    Happy New Year, everyone!

  37. We are still on break. =(
    School and preschool don’t start until next week, we’ve all had some sort of pukey sickness one day or another, and today, rather than show up for work, our nanny QUIT VIA TEXT MESSAGE! We’re buying our first house and moving next week, so the timing of all this togetherness (kids ages 1, 4, and 6) couldn’t be worse.
    Your picks of the SoCal desert made my evening, though. Do you guys ever make it out to Joshua Tree?

  38. Karli says...

    The photos of your boys are so sweet. They both seem to have such specific little personalities. Palm Springs looks so beautiful. I’ve never been anywhere in America and this makes me want to go.

  39. Jen says...

    We too spent Christmas in southern California this year, a first for my Pacific Northwest family. Swimming in a (nicely heated) outdoor pool on the 25th was a definite highlight!

  40. Kate says...

    Toby’s gifts are wonderful. I love reading about how you and your family love that sweet boy.

  41. Philly Mommy says...

    I love this, especially the rental car theme. All my 5 yo daughter really wanted for Christmas was a traffic light costume. She was beyond thrilled that Santa managed to find one! …and it came with an orange traffic cone hat to boot!

    • That’s adorable!

  42. Roxy says...

    omg Anton with his crossed legs and glass of lemonade! Be still my heart!

    • stephanie says...

      I’m here to say I can’t even with the photo of Anton legs crossed and Toby ready to rent out cars! I’ve been reading this blog so long that I felt a little teary seeing these two so grown up and just totally themselves. Makes me want to be totally myself too!

  43. Wendy says...

    Oh my gosh- I lived in Pioneertown for a year and a half in a log cabin (that my family & I still own) down the street from Pappy & Harriet’s (yes, people actually live there!). My heart just burst seeing these photos, as a big part of it is still there, sending my friends postcards from the tiny Pioneertown Post Office. So glad y’all made it over there. Happy New Year to you and the whole team!

  44. Joanna, your mama is so beautiful. You and Lucy have a natural, effortless energy to you and now I know the source. Wishing you all a very Happy New Year! Thank you for keeping me entertained and sustained through medical school :)

    • Sarah says...

      I agree! I was so surprised to find out that was your mom! I totally thought she was a friend… Looking so young and beautiful! Happy new year!

  45. Esther says...

    Those cowboys are killer on Anton!

  46. Kristian says...

    Seeing the boys makes me think you guys need to come out to Yellowstone- Stay at a Dude Ranch. We have the Old Timey (but real!) Western town fronts and the rodeos and gunslinger shows. Then rent a car and drive through to see all geysers and wolves and bears.

    Seriously though, you family are all the cutest and so glad you had a good trip.

    • Joanna Goddard says...

      oh my gosh, that sounds incredible!! i just read your comment to alex and he keeps saying “THAT WOULD BE THOROUGHLY AMAZING, THAT WOULD BE THOROUGHLY AMAZING.”

    • My daughter (16) and I went to a dude ranch one summer ago in Colorado and had the MOST amazing time. She cried when we had to say good-bye to everyone. We had our “own” horse for the week and went on rides every day, sometimes for 3 hours, through the rockies. The scenery was gorgeous. There was a baby cow on site (and goats and chickens) and if she wasn’t riding, she was in the pen with the cow, loving on him. She got to feed him as well. Two donkeys had free range to roam around. We also shot guns (skeet), learned to fly-fish and went white-water rafting. And the food…OMG it was the best food that I have ever had on vacation – home cooked family style. No wifi and no tv’s so in the evenings we hung out with the other families at the evening’s live entertainment or went to sleep (exhausted, in a good way). It’s a small family-run ranch and there were about 8 families there for the week – perfect. Joanna your boys would LOVE this place! The little boys there with us that week, if they weren’t riding, they were fishing on their own in the river (poles and bait were left laying around) or – I kid you not – whittling sticks. And these were city kids from Philly. So cute to see them just running free in nature. There was one big multi-generational family; it seemed like a great vacation for them. My daughter can’t wait to go back again.

    • Joanna Goddard says...

      oh my gosh, sherrelle, that sounds amazing!! what was the name of the ranch, if you don’t mind sharing?

  47. JO says...

    So sweet! The gifts to Toby made me tear up. I’ve found that the greatest joy of my life has been witnessing the love my family gives to my kids.

  48. Love your photos! Joanna, I spotted you at Salt and Straw on Abbot Kinney one afternoon (we were in Santa Monica for a week!) I reallllly wanted to come chat but didn’t want to cut into your family/vaca time! xoxo Nadia

    • Joanna Goddard says...

      oh my gosh, nadia, i would have LOVED to meet you!!!!! next time :)

  49. Jessica says...

    I LOVE Pioneertown! I love that it started out as a fake (movie set) and has become authentic (an actual town! populated by a fair number of retired movie stuntmen). I love the ceramics store (really great craft). I LOVE the music at Pappie and Harriet’s.
    We skipped Palm Springs entirely on our last sun-break in Southern CA and stayed in Yucca Valley – it’s a lot less posh, but filled with desert-culture weird quirks. The old diner-turned destination dining at La Copine, the Purifoy outdoor “art” museum, Pioneertown – someday I’ll even plan far enough in advance to book a spot at the Integratron. The trails at Big Morongo were perfect for our 2 year old, and the rock climbers at Joshua Tree were pretty fascinating, too.
    We were traveling with young toddlers (ours and a friend’s) and one thing I learned: save yourself some stress and skip the pool until your kids can swim. A hot tub will keep the parents happy after dark, but a pool is just a huge heart-attack waiting to happen. Even a yard full of cactus was easier, because one prick and a little kid learns to be careful!

  50. Natasha says...

    I see a striking resemblance between Anton and Cady! So cute! Happy New Year!

    • Joanna Goddard says...

      we thought the same thing! :)

  51. Oh my gosh – Is that Cady sitting right on the top of the couch back rest? My heart – she’s so lovely and carries both her mum and her dad within her beautifully.

    • Joanna Goddard says...

      yes, and she’s such an awesome little firecracker <3

  52. KJ says...

    So I think I saw you in the bathroom of the Ace hotel in Palm Springs a couple days before Christmas! My baby was screaming her head off during a diaper change so you might remember that. :) I thought you looked familiar but didn’t put together until now. So I’m saying hello after the fact!

    • Joanna Goddard says...

      oh my gosh, haha, that’s so funny! i don’t remember a crying baby, but that was probably me — we spent a lot of time at the ace. i don’t always hear other kids because my old wild ones drown them out, haha :)

  53. Karen says...

    My five year old has a pair of cowgirl boots and she loves them to death! They weren’t cheap (esp for kids’ shoes) but she’s done very well caring for them and wearing them a ton. I went to the boot store with my friends the other day, and wasn’t finding anything in the womens’ section….the lady working the store told me as a fellow size 8.5, she can wear a 6 in kids…..I checked out that area, and scored a pair that are very similar to my daughter’s shoes (and half the price of adult boots!).

    I wore them home, and when I walked in the door, my daughter’s whole face lit up with a huge smile, and she cheered “We’re TWINSIES!”

  54. Jessica says...

    My son is also obsessed with the Titanic! He is well known about town for his love and knowledge of the Titanic. We have that book (any several others). Thanks for sharing.

  55. Cynthia says...

    My youngest(now 33) went through the cowboy boots stage at Anton’s age. In fact, she went through two pairs. I love my cowboy boots and I wear them with everything. Can I rent a Cinderella carriage from Toby? Your boys are the cutest, and I am so glad you got to see your mom. We had a wonderful Christmas. I enjoyed your Instagram pictures.

  56. Rhonda says...

    Happy New Year to you and your family! Your holiday sounds perfect. Can you post your Mom’s Pork ragu recipe! The moment I saw it I wanted to make it!

    • Lea says...

      For the record, just made this for some friends who came over and it was AH-MAZ-ING! I was totally nervous that it wasn’t coming together, but boom! 4 hours later and stirring the parm in, it was a huge hit with both kids and adults. Everyone should make it!

  57. Danielle says...

    That Dolores Park picture! When I first moved to SF my commute included the J train past the park and up the hill just as the sun was hitting the city. We moved away over a year ago and I’m just starting to get the nostalgic tugs at my heartstrings.

    • shade says...

      I felt the same way looking at that photo. After living there for only 2 years, it will also hold a very special place in my heart. Like my first love…

  58. Jules says...

    Ah, Pioneertown looks like a real life Westworld! How cool

  59. Jenn says...

    Be still my heart! Toby almost looks like a teenager now, and Anton has some serious swag in his torn jeans and cowboy boots. Love watching them grow up!

  60. Katherine says...

    That pic of Anton in the cowboy boots with the jar of lemonade – so freakin’ adorable!

  61. Happy New Year! Sounds like a wonderful vacation with family! I’d love to go to Palm Springs one day and ride on the mountain tram with the 360-degree view. That would be breathtaking!

  62. Vivian says...

    Anton hanging out in his cowboy boots, sipping a lemonade is exactly what I needed to see today. What a stylish kid! Thanks for sharing :)

  63. Sonja says...

    Anton’s crossed legs with his boots! Hearts streaming out of my eyes. PS – though I’ve never met her I root for Lucy! Love peeks into her life.

    • Nicole says...

      I second this comment. And the rental car company is brilliant.

  64. A says...

    Pioneer Town!! Home to Pappy and Harriet’s – the GREATEST bar in the entire USA if you ask me.

    • Joanna Goddard says...

      alex was raving about it!!!! and our friend, who lives near pioneertown, said he once saw PAUL MCCARTNEY do a surprise performance!

  65. Colleen S says...

    I went to the Ponderosa Ranch (where Bonanza was sometimes filmed) when I was a kid. The shootout at the saloon was too loud for my ten-year-old ears, but I managed to sneak off with my dad to look at the view of Lake Tahoe nearby the horse stables and loved it. Sadly it’s not open to the public any longer.

  66. Natalia says...

    Oh my goodness! Your boys are so sweet. The group photo of the kids made me smile and I love that everyone made Toby’s rental car dreams come true… so cute. Also red cowboy boots!!! Adorable.

  67. peony says...

    ahhh i’m screaming, i can’t handle how cute these are!! Best CoJ xmas ever??