Taking a Magical Mystery Tour–Guest Post

Magical Mystery TourToday I’d like to give a warm welcome to Renee Dalo of That Bride’s Got Moxie–she’s guest-posting here as part of a blog posting trade-off I’m participating in.  Thanks to AJ Feuerman of Confessions of a Fat Girl, a group of bloggers have agreed to trade off with each other and “walk a mile in another blogger’s shoes.”

Renee and I actually got a chance to meet (for a second) at the Women Get Social conference in San Diego, a few weeks ago; and hopefully, we’ll work together on something again. So without further ado, let me introduce Renee Dalo…

Hi, I am so excited to be guest posting on Ann About Town! Thanks for having me, Ann.

A Magical Mystery Tour

On January 2nd, Bob the Builder (my husband of three months) looked over at me from his place on the couch and said, “Keep the weekend of March 7th open. We’re going on a magical mystery tour.” I was instantly excited, and also instantly curious. In my family, a magical mystery tour (or MMT, for short) is a great treat. My dad started planning these a few years ago for my stepmom.

Basically, the planner of the magical mystery tour tells the recipient the date and what to pack (if it’s an overnight trip), and…that’s it. No hints are given. Not much is said about it in the meantime. It’s a total surprise. As the recipient, it can be totally nerve-wracking!

I am a planner, by nature and by trade (I’m a wedding planner), so giving up the reigns to my husband to make all the arrangements was a huge step for me. Never mind that I had no idea where we we going – I am used to being in charge of such things. But, I was so touched that Bob the Builder decided to plan a MMT for me that I decided to just go with the flow.

So, at 5am on Friday, March 7th, we got in our car and headed to LAX. I had been told to pack a small suitcase, bring my ID, and some warm clothes. That’s it.


SurpriseWhen we arrived at LAX, our destination was revealed: San Francisco! I’ve been to there a few times, but never with Bob the Builder! I was so excited to see the city together.

And as an extra bonus, he surprised me with my sister and brother-in-law, Joann and Rick. This is me, at 7am, before coffee and contact lenses, being surprised by them in the lobby. I am so not cute at that time of morning.

We immediately went out and started enjoying the city. We did it all! We took a cable car down to Fisherman’s Wharf and saw the adorable sea lions. We ate breakfast at Boudin, a San Fran institution, and had the first of many sourdough bread bowl meals. We tried to tour Alcatraz, but all the tours were sold out until Monday! Now we know. If you want to see Alcatraz, you must book ahead of time! Then we got on one of those double decker tour buses, and headed all around the city, ending up at the Golden Gate Bridge.

Magical Mystery TourAfter that whirlwind afternoon, we went back to the hotel and checked in. We took a nap, and re-grouped for dinner.


One of the great things about San Francisco is the variety and volume of amazing restaurants. You can find really amazing places to dine in every corner of the city.

Our group decided on Italian, and so we headed to the North Beach neighborhood. North Beach is known for their Italian restaurants, and we found a gem with a little hole in the wall called Sotto Mare. I had a truly delicious linguine with clam sauce. Delish!

LinguineI should mention now, before I tell you what we did on Saturday, that I will literally go anywhere for the promise of a great meal. My dad is the same way, so I think it’s genetic. We have been known to drive four hours for a good sandwich. This is not an exaggeration.

Saturday Morning

I somehow convinced Bob the Builder to get up on Saturday and head back to North Beach in order to buy some focaccia. Yes, I wanted to buy focaccia at 9am on a Saturday. Do yourself a favor. Next time you are in San Francisco, go to Liguria Bakery and get some pizza focaccia, if you can.

If you don’t get there first thing in the morning, they will sell out, and close up shop, and you won’t get any. Also, they aren’t super nice. And they only take cash. But I’m telling you, it’s worth it. It’s the best focaccia I ever had, and I’m Italian. I’ve had a lot of focaccia bread in my 37 years.

It just so happened that Liguria Bakery is directly across the street from (according to Yelp) the “best brunch in San Francisco,” Mama’s On Washington Square. Mama’s does not take reservations, or even keep a list at the door. If you want to eat at Mama’s, you have to literally wait in line.

Magical Mystery TourBreakfastBob the Builder and I decided to go for it for two reasons. One: we had pesto cheese focaccia to tide us over; and Two: what else did we have to do? Our next scheduled tourist activity wasn’t until 2pm. It was 10am. What did we have to lose but time?

After standing in line for 90 minutes, (Yes, an hour and a half!) we were finally led to the counter to order our breakfast, and I have to tell you – it was worth the wait! If you are ever in San Francisco and have the time, head to Mama’s on Washington Square!

Saturday Afternoon

We spent the rest of our day on a bus tour of the Muir Woods and Sausalito. Seeing the Redwoods is on my Life List, so I was super excited we decided to take this tour. The drive to Muir Woods only took about an hour, and all of a sudden, we were in a beautiful forest!

Magical Mystery TourThere aren’t enough words to describe how majestic the Redwoods are in person. These pictures do not do it justice at all. If you ever get the opportunity to spend a few hours and hike through, you should do it.

Pro Tip: If someone invites you on a magical mystery tour, pack running sneakers. Just in case you end up hiking the Muir Woods, you don’t want to be wearing pointy toe flats, like I was.Magical Mystery Tour

We ended our day watching the sun set while enjoying dinner in lovely Sausalito, which reminded me a lot of Positano, Italy; a very good thing. The next morning, we got an early flight back to Los Angeles, and just like that, we were home again! It was such a lovely weekend of fun and family.

Planning Tips

I am so thankful to Bob the Builder for planning such an awesome time; and to my sister and brother in law for playing along for months to keep it a secret! If you are thinking of doing a magical mystery tour for someone you love, here are a few tips:

  1. Keep it a secret! Just tell them the date. That’s it. No hints! Keep the surprise alive!
  2. It doesn’t have to be elaborate or expensive! In fact, some of the best MMTs can just be local things that you’ve always been wanting to do, but never made the time to do.
  3. And lastly, if you are the recipient of a MMT, just go with it! (This one was hard for me, but in the end, totally worth it!)

So, have you ever planned a magical mystery tour or surprise day for someone? Or has someone planned one for you? We’d love to hear about it!

Renee is a wedding planner and blogger, who lives and loves in Los Angeles. She writes at That Brides Got Moxie and you can find her being sassy and over sharing on Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram.

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  1. Yay!
    Thanks, Ann, for hosting me today!

  2. OMG, I love this idea! So much fun! Kudos to your husband — what a doll.

  3. Wow, that’s an amazing surprise! I love the happiness on your face at the airport.

  4. What an awesome idea! I love the idea of a surprise trip, but have never planned or experienced one. It sounds like so much fun! I am a planner by nature too! It was wonderful to meet you in San Diego last month Renee!

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