Travel

An End-of-Summer Family Trip

Northern California family vacation

This August, we went to visit family and friends in California and then Maine. We rode trains, petted alpacas and ate all the tacos. Here are a few photos, if you’d like to see…

Lucy Kalanithi Joanna Goddard

This photo is blurry, but I was so happy to visit my twin sister, Lucy, outside San Francisco.

Northern California family trip

At my sister’s house, the cousins went swimming at the neighborhood pool and played with their sweet cat. (For Anton, it’s not a vacation without a cat.)

Train Town Sonoma

We then drove up to Sonoma, where the boys’ favorite part was Train Town, a small, old-school amusement park that felt right out of the 1950s. (For example, the guy who ran the roller coaster also ran the ferris wheel, so if he was at the other one, you just waited. It was so charming and had the effect of mellowing everyone out.) Side note: Anton’s expression here makes me laugh — he always brings his A game for photos!

Train Town Sonoma petting zoo

They also had a petting zoo with goats and alpacas…

Train Town Sonoma

…and this terrifyingly fast plane ride.

El Molino Central sonoma

While at Train Town, a local family tipped us off to El Molino Central, a Mexican spot nearby with a cult following. We wolfed the beer-battered fish tacos and the mole chicken enchiladas.

Scribe Winery

Scribe Wintery

Another day, we joined my friend Kendra and her kids for lunch at the AMAZING Scribe Winery with views of vineyards and the best hummus toast, green olives and dry rosé. The winery felt so transporting (and not at all touristy) — and the boys couldn’t get over that we were in a real vineyard, just like The Parent Trap.

Indian Springs pool

Indian Springs pool

After Sonoma, we headed to Indian Springs, a Calistoga hotel we’d heard about for years. Their claim to fame is their giant mineral pool fed by geysers. The boys went bananas, and we loved swimming after dinner when the sun was setting. How gorgeous is that sky?

Hog Island Oyster Co

Hog Island Oyster Co

We also met up with old friends and went to Hog Island Oyster Co. The vibe was windswept and laid-back, and you can sit outside, eat oysters and drink sparkling wine. I have to say, though, our particular lunch was a little rough — the kids were melting down (like, way down) and our nerves were shot. It looks so pretty in the photos, but I was gulping my rosé! I’d love to return, maybe grown-ups only:)

Northern California family trip

Luckily, all moods picked up when we stopped by the grocery and stumbled upon buffalo milk soft serve.

Migis Lodge Maine

Finally, we headed back to the east coast. The plan was to spend a final three days in Maine — just six hours north of Brooklyn — with my mom, although at the last minute, my mom wasn’t able to come. (We missed her!)

Migis Lodge Maine

We stayed at Migis Lodge, a family camp on Sebago Lake. (Here’s our little cabin.) They have hiking, kayaking, tennis, swimming, playgrounds and s’mores.

Migis Lodge Maine

Another sweet part is that everyone dressed up for dinner at the lodge. Kids don’t have to get too fancy, but the boys wanted to borrow jackets (or “tuxes,” as Toby called them) from the front desk.

Migis Lodge Maine

One evening, there was a bingo night — the boys couldn’t have been more excited. It felt like the family camp from The Marvelous Mrs. Maisel.

Migis Lodge Maine

Of course, as always, not pictured were jet-lag meltdowns, sibling squabbles, traffic jams, long travel days, etc., but we felt really lucky and grateful to get to spend this time with family and friends in such beautiful places. How was the end of your summer? Are you glad to be heading into the fall? xo

P.S. The weird thing we do on vacations, and what not to pack for a trip.

  1. Amy Walton says...

    Omggg, it is sooo like the Mrs. Maisel camp! :) Ha! Too fun!
    What a fun end of summer!

  2. Claire says...

    Travel with kids is always worth the craziness but sometimes right in the middle of the trip I wonder why on earth I thought leaving home was a good idea! Thank you for ALWAYS acknowledging that travel with kids includes insanity, whining, meltdowns and (my personal favorite) gulped wine for a hasty exit.

  3. MA says...

    Ah, what a lovely trip. Look at Sweet Anton downing an oyster!
    I took my 9yo daughter to the South of France for a girls trip this summer. We rented bikes in St Remy, lounged on the beach in Nice and ate cheese everywhere.
    It was so much fun to let her take the reins once in awhile – she figured out the insanely confusing GPS in our rental, doled out change for the endless tolls and picked out restaurants (using a mysterious but effective method). She was a wonderful co-pilot.
    It also felt like a real holiday, swimming every chance we got, ice cream two times a day and reading books in bed while a warm breeze came through the window. Low pressure, less planned and great bonding.

  4. Trina says...

    My partner and I toured Portugal for the first time and it was basically a cycle of eat, wander, relax, repeat! Before we met up in Lisbon, I flew in early to walk a few days along the Camino de Santiago route from Porto (Vilar do Pinheiro) to Ponte de Lima. Good to get my mind in the zone and . . . not really be thinking about anything. Also happy to begin realizing the dream of completing at least one Camino someday!

    Just flew back on Monday and now back to work (whew), but we’re headed up to Sonoma this weekend to visit family and, as usual, El Molino Central will likely be involved. ;) My favorite thing to order there is the chicken enchiladas suizas.

  5. After a lot of deliberation we bought a tiny used camper called a wolf pup, that our mini van hauls. We took 3 kids camping for 3 weeks including Episcopal family camp in central Ohio and then up to Michigan. Everyone in Ohio vacations in Michigan and now we know why! 75 degrees, sunny and mosquito free, the weather was a perfect backdrop for this questionable venture. We visited Detroit (loved), Frankenmuth (weird) took a Macs dune tour (worth it) but probably the highlight was campground playgrounds. We were pleasantly surprised that we really had a great time in tiny spaces with our children, limited screens, lots of (camp) fire, and handwashing dishes every night. Here’s to trying new things that take a lot of work and planning — I think we’ll do it again 🙂

  6. Kim says...

    So happy to hear you and the fam had a great trip! I passed by Anton, Toby, and a sitter in Hayes Valley and felt a little starstruck, ha! Toby is SO tall.

  7. Heather says...

    Love the confession that it looks so pretty in the photos but you were gulping your rosé as kids had meltdowns…since becoming a mom this could caption at least half my photos!

  8. My young kids also had epic meltdowns at Hog Island! There was some kind of seasonal wasp flare-up that day, so we were all gulping down oysters and wine and taking turns attempting to soothe children until we could get out of there ASAP. We’ve been too traumatized by the memory to return! Since then I’ve heard enough similar stories that I now have a theory that all those idyllic photos at Hog Island of adults chilling out and laughing have children crying just out of frame…

  9. Anna says...

    I LOVE Indian Springs. Hoping to take my mom there for her 60th.

  10. Alicia Michela says...

    That first picture reminds me of the Las Vegas airport tram 😄. Once I had a six hour delay with my three boys in that airport, and we rode that train back and forth for hours 😄. Your pictures are great! It looks like such a fun trip! I always love reading your blog!

  11. Emily says...

    So thrilled to be heading into the fall. Swimming in an empty pool on a rare warm summer night as the sun sets is one of my fondest memories of growing up in northern california, thank you for sharing!

  12. Martha Patterson says...

    I remember those days….we spent a week on the Oregon Coast with our two young adult kids last month, and as I watched families with young kids struggle for calm at restaurants and the aquarium, my thought was, I am so glad we are done with that stage! On one grey, drippy afternoon we all found a corner of the house to read in….it was lovely! I am at the point though, that a true vacation is one where I don’t have to cook, plan, clean up!

  13. Cynthia says...

    I’m so glad you had a great trip. The amusement park looks like fun! Kids are going to have meltdowns because they are hungry or tired or whatever. It’s a part of life.

  14. We basically did this same itinerary a month ago! So much fun, Hog Island what a dream!

  15. Emily says...

    You did all of the best Bay Area things!! Tomales Bay is such a gem. What a wonderful family trip before the fall begins. xo

  16. Elisabeth says...

    Train Town is the best! Except my husband almost barfed after that ride.

  17. Martini says...

    I tip my hat to the photographer.

    Thoroughly enjoyed all the pictures.

    May I ask, please…is your Alex in a current running Ikea tv commercial? There’s a fellow who is the image of Alex in it. Big smile and enjoying himself. I hope you can see it. Amazing how much he resembles Alex. He appears early in the commercial.
    Thank you.

    • Joanna Goddard says...

      oh my gosh, that’s so funny! i’m going to try to google it now! :)

  18. Jen says...

    Did the cabin you stayed in at Migis happen to be wheelchair accessible? I think I see a ramp to the front door but can’t be sure. My husband uses a wheelchair and we’re always looking for vacation spots other than cities (which will usually have hotels with accessible rooms). Tucked away places can be tough to find. Thank you!

    • Joanna Goddard says...

      yes it was! :)

  19. Brooke says...

    What a sweet sensory joyful vibe from your time! I like so many I’m so thankful for you mention what’s not picture. Makes me feel more connected and human and normal and a lovely reminder that of course we take pictures of the happy times but life is all of the times (Like that wonderful wholeness vs. happiness post you did a while ago Joanna!)

    As far as your boys going nuts for a big mineral pool, may I recommend Banff, and Jasper Canada – we went as a family when I was a little girl and I will never forget the epic joy of all those big hot springs pools up there. Totally gorgeous surroundings too. Glen Ivy in California is pretty amazing too – mud baths, massages. I think that one might be adults only though (great girlfriend or couple getaway!). Gosh I love thinking of planning more wonderful hot spring vacations…

    • Sasha L says...

      Hot springs all over western Montana, just to the south of Banff, as well. We love a nice soak, especially in the winter. It’s just a delight.

  20. Tracy says...

    I love the pic of you and Alex through the glass window. Something so very natural about it.

    And I hope your sister is well. I read “When Breath becomes Air” earlier this year (I couldn’t read it when it was first recommended on your blog bc my dad had just died, but I finally had the courage/strength to this year) and it was beautiful.

    • Isabella says...

      Tracy, I’m so sorry you lost your father. Sending you so much love!

  21. Jessica says...

    I thought maybe I saw Alex and Anton heading out of the restaurant at Two Lights Lobster Shack the final week of August. I was reading your city guide for Portland, ME. It was a bit kismety. But also my mind could have been playing tricks on me.

  22. Hilary says...

    Ah this looks amazing! I’d love to take my baby when she’s older. What do you think would be the best age for kiddos to enjoy it?

  23. Looks like you hit all of the spots!

  24. Amanda Tudor says...

    Joanna – Thank you for always keeping it real and being honest that travel and life with kids is not always glamorous or picture perfect. I always like to add the meltdown picture on the back of my Christmas cards ;)

    It looks like a wonderful family vacation! Cheers!

  25. Alexis says...

    This makes me so nostalgic for my home state!
    Joanna, how in the world did you get your boys to eat raw oysters??

    • Joanna Goddard says...

      hahaha toby hates them, but anton does anything daddy does :)

  26. Anna says...

    “he always brings his A game for photos!“ I don’t know why but I laughed so hard at that part. His little hand wave! Hahahaha

    • Joanna Goddard says...

      omg it makes me laugh so much. sometimes he waves like a little politician, other times he strikes a pose and stares off into the middle distance. he always nails it hahaha.

  27. Ann says...

    My family has been going to Migis Lodge 15 years, since my high school freshman was an infant and my younger daughter was only 3 weeks old for her first visit! Such a special place. (I love the typo calling it “Migi’s”…I want to call it that from now on!)

    • Joanna Goddard says...

      wow, what an amazing family tradition!

    • Christine Shatto says...

      I had the privilege of doing childcare for this wonderful family while they were in California. Spending time with the boys was a great experience. They were very nice, polite and thoughtful children. Charming at every turn. Thanks family fir the experience! Chris

    • Joanna Goddard says...

      hi chris!!! what a sweet note, thank you :) we were so grateful to have you babysit so we could take a date night!

  28. Sonja says...

    Couple of things:
    1) I live in the Bay Area and clearly need to get out more. Thanks for the great ideas! September and October have great summer weather out here so lots of warm and sunny weekends ahead.
    2) Our end of summer trip was a roadtrip from SF to Seattle. Stopped on the Oregon coast for a night and spent some busy/lazy days with friends and family and showed our son where he was born! He’s still recovering from all the travel – if you sleep in Mom and Dad’s bed for a week it’s a hard habit to quit!
    3) I love Lucy updates – I root for her from afar!

  29. ez1019 says...

    Isn’t Scribe magical? It just feels different and special. I love it so much!

    • Joanna Goddard says...

      yes, so beautiful!

  30. Angela says...

    Too funny to see you mention Scribe. That is my bff and her wife’s spot! They got engaged there and are members. I am lucky enough to be gifted a bottle of their delicious Rose’ occasionally. Also, loving that you call it a “family trip” instead of vacation because let’s be real- it isn’t a real vacation with kids involved. Thanks for sharing and keeping it real about the ups and the downs of traveling young ones.

  31. SLF says...

    You went to all my favorite places, including Scribe Winery and Maine!

  32. Alyssa says...

    Ahh all the camp feels! It does remind me of Mrs. Maisel! So fun. I feel like this summer wasn’t much of a summer. I always travel early which happened but the rest of the summer felt like a blur of dog sitting, doing grown up things, and trying to figure out some job stuff. Grateful to feel like I’ve landed from all of these things as we head into fall. One wedding last weekend, a cabin trip this weekend, another wedding next weekend, a trip to Cape May this month and a trip to Savannah next month.

    • Joanna Goddard says...

      oooh your upcoming trips sound so wonderful. i’ve always wanted to go to savannah. have a wonderful time xx

  33. Ellen says...

    What an amazing vacation! I just spent a week in Maine and the beauty there is otherworldly. I was eager to check out the Migis Lodge video as a possible vacation for the family next summer but must say I was disturbed by the lack of racial/ethnic diversity in the promo video. I know Maine is not a racially/ethnic diverse state, but I do hope there were actually more families from different backgrounds when you were at Migis Lodge.

    • Anonymous says...

      Ellen, I had the same thought :(. Coming from a minority family whose parents don’t speak English well, it makes me sad when I see families relaxing and enjoying places where I would worry about my family and I not being/feeling very welcome. When I was younger, I remember reading about Wildwood, NJ being this great, fun, family-friendly town, and when my family and I went, I recall a group of white teenagers actually heckling us on the boardwalk…and this was less than 10 years ago. Sigh. Diversity breeds familiarity, and that leads to (hopefully) no one feeling like an “other”.

  34. Andrea says...

    Skip the dog. Get two cats.

  35. Laura C. says...

    What a lovely trip you made. Lucy looks great. And I love that picture with Toby floating on the swimming pool!
    Oh and feel free to add a pic of the meltdowns, we surely understand an appreciate your honesty!

  36. Rue says...

    My family ran a summer B&B for Jewish families in a rural part of the northeast, so I loved the article you linked about Mrs. Maisel! The land is still in the family, but no longer operates as an inn. The B&B served the “city folks” in a nearby community, because in the city your vacation was limited to whatever was within driving distance. The inn also hosted religious holiday gatherings. But now that we’ve got so many ways to vacation and so many ways to spend religious holidays, the family camp/B&B model just doesn’t seem to be a big draw.

  37. Hannah G says...

    I just got so homesick reading this! I grew up around that area and moved away when I got married. I treasure visits back and the first time I ate oysters was at Hog Island Oyster Co, with my grandparents while I was pregnant with my daughter. Something about that part of California feels like one long exhale.

  38. Mia Shulman says...

    Your trip looks unreal, but I especially love the mention of the kids melting down at lunch. It’s nice to know that even perfect vacations include exhausted and cranky kids and grown ups. Makes me feel like I’m in good company when my toddler loses it, even on the most glorious of occasions.

    • Cat says...

      Was going to say the same thing! It was a refreshing and much appreciated reminder that my kids are in good company :)

  39. I can’t tell you how many photos I have of my own kids looking out the window of that train going to the rental car at SFO! Every year, home to Carmel for Thanksgiving. Thank you for the memory nudge!

  40. K says...

    Anton with the Cat is too cute. Reminds me of Sabrina the Teenage Witch with his blond hair and the black fur cat.

    And that photo of Toby on the pool float. His serene blissed out expression, the curve of the headrest, the warm ombre of the sunset vs the cool ombre of the pool. AMAZING.

    So glad you had an awesome time, unfun parts, and all! I recently went to Malta and we must have traveled AT LEAST 4 hours per day (I’d say a lot for a 4 night trip) by slow inefficient bus or steep craggy hill but it didn’t feel nearly painful because 1. All the people watching! 2. the reward was such pretty, pretty wild beaches– or dinner :).

  41. Julia says...

    I love this last comment: “…not pictured were jet-lag meltdowns, sibling squabbles, traffic jams, long travel days, etc.,”
    I believe that without the little downs, we weren’t able to enjoy all the ups that much. :-)

    • Meghan says...

      Agreed! I love your transparency about the kids being tired and your nerves being shot. Thanks for reminding us it’s OK to be human.

  42. Alison says...

    I love how your photos always look like a regular person took them. That is not shade at all, but a compliment! It’s so authentic and inspiring because I love to see your photos and hear your stories but they’re not picture perfect like you hired a photographer to capture your normal life–it’s a throwback to the glory days of blogging before Instagram. It makes me feel like I could share my less-than-perfect photos, too, and have them connect with people. Thank you for sharing your life with us!

    • Joanna Goddard says...

      i’m so glad you feel that way! i agree, the sites i love the most are the ones where people are just living their regular lives (dinner a love story, the wednesday chef, kottke, etc.) and their posts just feel like a friend is emailing you. :) thank you so much for your note.

    • Agreed! This has always been one of my favorite parts of Cup of Jo :) Thanks for staying real!

    • Yes! I was thinking that too. I love that the pics are not styled and posed; just a genuine snapshots.

  43. Madame says...

    Oh my god! The photo of Indian Springs was a total flashback!! We traveled a lot growing up, and to so many places but always by airplane. I immediately recognized that from one of the only road trips we took when I a little girl from Washington state all the way down to Mexico! I must have been five or six years old ( so more than forty years ago!) Amazing the memories that brought back! Wow, what a blast from the past, even the smells….

  44. Courtney Dal Porto says...

    My cousin’s bf works at Hog Island, and my good friend celebrates her birthday there every year with her family. And yet, here I am not far away in Sacramento and still haven’t been! I’m not an oyster fan but still want to enjoy that view:)

    • Joanna Goddard says...

      it’s so beautiful! feels super laid back and i’d recommend the sparkling rosé:)

  45. Cait says...

    Joanna,
    Thank you for always including the small “not-pictured” sentence at the bottom of your family vacation posts. Our vacations with our 2 and 5.75 year old daughters can have some really real and painfully mundane moments mixed in with the sweet ones, and it feels so good to just be honest about the reality of it all.

  46. Anton and cats! My son is the same way. Little boys loving kitties are one of the best things in life!

    • Sarz says...

      Yes!! It says a lot about a fella. With all those photos of male celebs cuddling with kitties, your son and Anton are in good company. 😊

  47. Marcella says...

    I love your trip posts :) my boyfriend and I are going to LA in a couple of weeks and I’m so excited – here in TX it’s still in the high 90s and LA feels downright refreshing to us. Can’t wait to enjoy the weather, the beach, the Everlane store (!!) and of course Pizzeria Mozza.

  48. Emily says...

    Looking for a similar family camp in DC metro-ish area, anyone have any recs? Would be willing to drive 4-5 hrs (so PA, WV, VA, etc would be ok). Maine is a little to far!

    • Joanna Goddard says...

      i’d love to hear this too! any recommendations of family camps around the country?

    • Maggie says...

      I can’t recommend a specific one, but I think there are lots in the Poconos in Pennsylvania. We’re in Philly and have been looking for campgrounds for tent camping, and found that lots of Pennsylvania State Parks have cabins/cottages, boat rentals, pools, lodges, etc. (Different from Northern California, where I grew up)

    • Jackie says...

      We are going to try out Jellystone – like Yoga bear! – located in PA. It looks like a super cute family camp.

    • Rach says...

      Sounds like a needed post! Also interested in family dude ranch experiences. :)

    • We did Forest Home Family Camp in California (about 1.5 hours outside of LA, in the mountains) this summer! It does have a Christian element so keep that in mind. But the best part about it was kids’ camp from 9am – 12pm every day, AND a babysitter every night after dinner who puts your kids to bed! Also, not having to plan, cook, or clean up meals for an entire week was also nice. :)

    • SMK says...

      We also live in DC and my husband’s extended family got together are Woodloch in the Poconos one year and enjoyed it. I went to a wedding at Migis pre-kids and loved it. I’ve been wanting to go back with my kids now but it’s so expensive 😟

  49. Isabella says...

    You were right in my ‘hood! So glad you were able to visit the Sonoma Valley and lovely Point Reyes. My friends and I often compare notes before a long weekend and it’s always like, “Going anywhere?” “No, why would we leave?”

  50. Karli says...

    This looks like an ideal summer holiday – lots to do and plenty of time to rest and hang out together.

  51. Anna says...

    We went to a family camp at the end of the summer with our two girls and it was the BEST. I went hiking, did yoga, lazed around, read a whole book, and the kids were excited to ride horses, swim, do archery, and just hang out. We can’t wait to do it again!

    • Vee says...

      Sounds awesome. Could u say where?

    • Anna says...

      It was Camp Michigania East, which is typically for University of Michigan alumni but both my husband and I work at U of M and he was the faculty speaker for the week. 😊 They do East in the Adirondacks for two weeks a summer, but the main camp is on Lake Walloon in northern Michigan. We are thinking about going to that one next summer because it was such an amazing experience. You can find more info at alumni.umich.edu/camp-michigania. Another family that was at camp told us about the Tyler Place Family Resort in Highgate Springs, Vermont and that looks amazing, too!

  52. Mairsydoates says...

    One thing my husband and I started doing (inspired by an old travel post on Cup of Jo) is taking photos when our boys are having meltdowns on our travels. Usually someone is sulking or avoiding having their photo taken, but capturing the moment takes a lot of the stress out of the situation for me and my husband. We end up having a secret giggle about it and it helps the moment pass much more quickly. I wouldn’t put any of these photos in a photo album but now some are my favorites because the humor of it is such a fun memory.

    • Jessica says...

      This is kind of like the meltdown Santa photo. Sure, when the baby/kid is smiling and you get that picturesque photo, that’s cool, but don’t you kinda want the kid to have a total meltdown so you can have the best bad Santa photo?? They are just too funny to laugh at after (even if it’s stressful in the moment).

  53. Cherie says...

    I live near Sebago Lake ME, it would have been so cool to run into you and your family and say hi!

  54. Jules says...

    What a great trip! Our two older boys were born in Sonoma and Train Town was always a hit even though they were very young (2 & 1) while we lived there. There are lots of things we miss from Sonoma & Napa!

  55. Anna says...

    I was visiting Sonoma the same week as you and also ate at El Molino. It was so good! Also went to the farmers market. For your next trip to Sonoma, I highly recommend Sunflower Caffe for brunch.
    Went to Indian Springs for a mud bath. So relaxing!
    I grew up going to Migis Lodge and loved it!
    Glad you had fun!

  56. Anne Evans says...

    We were in New York and I kept feeling like I would turn around and see you:)

  57. Michelle Gordon says...

    Living in SF for almost 15yrs now and don’t think I couldn’t have written a better itinerary for you trip. Next trip you should hike to Alamere Falls, it’s one of the most beautiful hikes!

    • Joanna Goddard says...

      That sounds beautiful!

    • I love the posts about cities – whether a City Guide or just a vacation round up.

      Funny story: I moved away from New Orleans to Texas for three years. While living in Texas, I read the COJ post on New Orleans (written by Remy Robert). It was SO good – it made my heart break! It was so clearly written by someone who lived in my old neighborhood and loved all the things I loved. I have since moved back, a decision I always trace back to the pang I got in my heart the day I read that post.

  58. Natalie says...

    Joanna! We love the point Reyes area but both times we’ve been to hog island there were meltdowns with our kids! I don’t know what it is about that place. The buffalo soft serve is the BEST! So glad you discovered it! We love that grocery store.

  59. Bee says...

    As always, thank you for the honesty along with all the wonderful pictures!

  60. Ashley says...

    What a magical trip, and how lucky to get to see lots of friends and family along the way! Thanks for the mention of the meltdown lunch- I know we’ve all been there, but I’m never sick of reminders that we’ve all been there. :)

  61. june2 says...

    Next time you’re in California try to visit the Redwood Forest – there’s nothing else like it. It’s a pretty exceptional experience for kids and adults alike.

  62. S says...

    Oh, Sebago! I spent a spring on its shores as part of an undergraduate writing program. It was a remarkably formative experience, and remains among the most treasured of my college years. Those familiar glimpses of the lake in your photos made my heart pang!

    • Hayley Berlin says...

      Hello fellow NELPer!! Go Blue! xoxo

    • Kristen says...

      Joining in on the Sebago nostalgia! My dad went to Camp O-At-Ka for years and our family drove up from Boston every summer for the family weekend. There was a point in the drive when we’d crest a hill and see Lake Sebago for the first time and my dad would break into a camp song about the “place that we have longed for all the busy season through.” I loved it there. I can practically smell the pine needles…

  63. LT says...

    Love your honesty about the rough patches. They happen on every vacay!
    You guys should get a cat! I know you are thinking dog, but cats are SO much easier! They don’t cramp your style as much as dogs. Think- for dogs you need to board them even for a 1 night trip away. Spontaneity goes out the window. You have to have someone walk them if you are away all day. Then you need to go right home after work/school instead of stopping by that park/restaurant/ice cream parlor on the way home. It’s rough with dogs, 12-18 years of being tied to a schedule of letting an animal out to pee every 6 hours. But cats! Cats are glorious! Get one that’s around 1-2 years old so it’ll be past the scratching phase but still silly enough to be charming for kids. And cats can be SO cuddly and lovable. My 20 lb adopted cat is laying on me and purring up a storm right now.
    Note: I also have a 14 year old dog and she is so sweet. I love her, but I won’t get a dog again. It’s too restrictive.

    • Midge says...

      I feel sorry you felt your dog was “restrictive”. As an animal lover, I find it painful to read such comments. Of course, you are entitled to your opinion but you must also mention that cat saliva is not benign and their litter box contents are toxic, not to mention their fur traps all sorts of pollen. You are lucky that your cat is cuddly and lovable, but that isn’t true for ALL cats. I’m not for and again any one species and each have their pros and cons and love cats and dogs equally, but just reading your statement “12-18 years of being tied to a schedule of letting an animal out” is heartbreaking.
      Isn’t having kids also “restrictive/heartbreaking” in many ways? If you (Joanna) feel they (dog/cat) hinder your schedule in any way , just don’t get them! You shouldn’t be compelled to doing any of this, it should come from a place of love.

    • Anne says...

      Midge, it’s certainly reasonable to consider the logistics of having a pet! How many puppies are abandoned because the owners didn’t realize how much work they would be? It’s in the animal’s best interest for potential owners to be realistic about what kind of commitment they’re willing to take on.

    • Midge says...

      @Anne: Definitely, I agree with you. But owning a cat isn’t easier, it is just different. I see no mention of the work it takes to raise a cat in the comment above. As is, the comment above is biased and can also mislead.

  64. Jessica says...

    I love how your sister looks *exactly* like you, but just not preppy.

    I mean, I look at that picture and think: She knew about the Breeders waaaaaaaay before you did, didn’t she?

  65. Charlotte K says...

    Is that Anton eating an oyster! How delightful. I loved oyster stew as a kid but the actual oysters went to my parents. I will eat them ALL now.

    I visited that part of the world about 13 years ago and would LOVE to go back. It’s very special.

  66. Summer in LA lasts until Halloween, so I’m looking forward to an end of summer camping trip near Santa Barbara (usually 20+ degrees cooler than down here) in a couple weeks!!

    Also, thank you for keeping it real re: the oyster lunch with kids! ;)

  67. jet says...

    Oh, that summer camp! I could smell the pine trees and loved it all.

  68. Sarah M says...

    I’d just like to say, I always have enjoyed your vacation recaps because they’re so….real. It sounds like it was a real trip for the memory books, and as someone who lives in the Bay Area, I’ve bookmarked those places for my own future vacation plans. And knowing you guys did it with two youngsters in tow makes me think it’s more possible than I think. :-)

  69. Lib says...

    I think that spot along the 1 near where you got oysters is just plagued with meltdowns… i had one and i’m a full grown responsible adult! maybe i needed more rose?!

  70. Elizabeth says...

    Oh gosh, when I was younger we had a lake house in the middle of nowhere but there was a country club that used to have Bingo on Saturday nights. My sisters and I would dress up, order Shirley Temples, and get giddy over winning $10. Some of my happiest memories.

  71. MKW says...

    End of summer brought an end to another parenting season. We moved our youngest to college. Be. Still. My. Heart.

  72. alle says...

    You know you’re in Sonoma when there’s buffalo soft serve at the GROCERY store lol – sounds like heaven, as usual!

  73. Megan Powell says...

    I love that each family post you have you always say “if you’d like to see” or something to that effect. I’ve been a reader since you + Alex were engaged. So if you’re ever wondering, the answer is always yes, yes I would like to see that.

    • Erin says...

      I love it too! And feel the same ;)

  74. Mims says...

    I live over the hill next to Matanzas Creek winery…Sonoma so fun, and so glad you went to all these old school places. Did you get a mud bath in Calistoga?! If you are ever back that way on a weekend, our son loved talking to the morse code operators here at Pt Reyes:
    https://www.nps.gov/pore/learn/historyculture/people_communications.htm

    It is a very special glimpse back in time, and a witness to the outbreak of WW2. But we are nerdy that way.

    IF you like cult tacos and great mexican, the BEST molcajete and al pastor tacos are at a strip mall in Santa Rosa: Taqueria Molcajete. Seriously, it is the real deal. But don’t go if your kids are approaching melt down points.

  75. Andrea C says...

    What grocery has buffalo milk soft serve?? If you don’t know the name, maybe just the town? I live in Sonoma County and would love to find that! Looks like a lovely trip

    • Joanna Goddard says...

      Oh my gosh it was so good. It was as the grocery store in point Reyes station.

    • Isabella says...

      It’s at the Palace Market!

  76. Liz says...

    I LOVE your travel posts and their honesty :) no trip is without its bumps, and I appreciate how you weave them in among the fun stories, beautiful photos, and genuine gratitude for these adventures. A breath of fresh air.

  77. Allison says...

    It is WILD how close this Cali trip was to the trip we took that same week! We also went to Hog Island Oyster Co, Molino Central, Buffalo Milk soft serve, the whole shebang. What are the odds?! It was a great trip though! Glad you guys had fun!

    • Joanna Goddard says...

      Wow!!! I wonder if we passed each other!

  78. Laura says...

    We just went to Scribe with our 1 year old a month ago while visiting friends in the Bay Area — hands down my favorite thing we did on our trip! SO beautiful, relaxing, and friendly (100% brought home a bottle of that rosé). So glad you guys loved it and that the boys could live out their Hallie Parker dreams ;)

  79. Ingrid says...

    Everything looks like so much fun! The melt-downs and grouchiness will soon be forgotten, with only the adventures remembered. Thanks for sharing!

  80. Lesley says...

    Indian Springs is my jam! I go on New Year’s Day with friends.

    • Annie says...

      I used to work at Migis Lodge when I was a confused 22 year old recent college graduate. I worked in the dining room and would read Cup of Jo with my roommate on our laptops in the staff dorms. Lots of love to your family and so glad you got to enjoy a special place!

    • Joanna Goddard says...

      wow, annie! that’s so cool — what a small world :) and how fun to work at migis! the staff seemed to be having a great time.

  81. Sarah says...

    OMG you went to El Molino?! <3 I live right next door!

    Looks like you enjoyed so many of the Sonoma highlights. Scribe & El Molino are the best.

    Love that beautiful pic of you and Lucy! xx

    • Joanna Goddard says...

      Oh my gosh, wish we could have met up! We loved sonoma — the town green is such a dream with the playgrounds and farmer’s market etc.

    • Anna says...

      I love comments like these! I’m in the thick of it with 4 kids 4 and under and I look forward to the day I say “I am so glad we are done with that stage” I am holding a picture in my mind of all 3 of my girls (grown) and myself sitting in Adirondack chairs in front of a lake drinking wine and talking…probably some about the cute things they did as littles. But right now it’s so much work!!!