Small towns were a big deal: Here are the stories you loved most in 2022
Our most-read stories this year prove one thing: You city folks love a cute small town (like Capitola, pictured here). (Photo by Beau Barnett on Unsplash)

Small towns were a big deal: Here are the stories you loved most in 2022


2022 was the year of getting back out into the world.

And while 7x7 editors and readers ventured abroad with gusto, we also took every opportunity to hop in the car for day trips and weekend escapes, with quaint little towns from Big Sur to Nevada City regularly luring us away from city life.

Plus, we got pampered, cultured, and did some much needed convivial drinking. Here are 7x7's top 10 stories of the year.

10.The Big Drink: 50 Most Iconic Cocktails in San Francisco 2022

Holy Water's After the Gold Rush.(Marc Fiorito, Gamma Nine Photography)

Our selection reflected the flavor and format trends we’re seeing in the bars. Rum drinks like the Red + Blue at Kona’s Street Market represent sophisticated escapism. Mezcal, in cocktails like Casements’ Peas for Bees, is threatening to overtake bourbon and gin as the city’s most popular mixing spirit. And that “low and no” trend you keep hearing about is everywhere, in the forms of spritzes, cobblers, gazoz, and mocktails made with sherry, amaro, sparkling wine, and non-alcoholic spirits.

9.Chinese designer Guo Pei's otherworldly designs wow in Legion of Honor takeover

(Drew Altizer)

Shout-out to the person who named the Guo Pei: Couture Fantasy exhibition at the Legion of Honor. It's the clearest way to sum up the premier Chinese designer's work. Of course, "mind-blowing, heart-thumping, meticulously crafted, East-meets-West wearable art," works, too.

8.Modern Guide to Martinez, CA: A hip vibe emerges in the home of the martini

Martinez, CA.

(Courtesy of the City of Martinez)

Thirty miles northeast of San Francisco, Martinez is not a big city, yet it's also not fully the suburbs, either. This small community welcomes residents and visitors alike and makes anyone feel like they belong. Many families have recently moved from Oakland, SF, and other parts of the Bay Area, adding to the already vibrant fabric of Martinez.

7.The Best Private Dining Rooms in San Francisco


(Courtesy of @blvdsf)

Take your party on the road to one of San Francisco's best restaurants, where pro teams are ready to do all the cooking and cleaning for you in spaces with ambience you likely just can't achieve at home. In a city stacked with dining-out options, there are no doubt hundreds of exclusive spaces you could rent, but we've curated the most unique of the bunch—no conference rooms here.

6.The 9 Best Spas for Friends and Groups in the Bay Area

Soaking at Piedmont Springs. (Courtesy of @aleksandrazee)

Spa dates aren't only for lovers. Get spoiled with your best gal pals or plan a chill outing for even the manliest of bromances. Whether you're looking for some unique one on one time, an affordable option, or a group bash—think birthday parties and bridal showers—these are the best spas in the Bay Area for getting R&R with friends.

5.Video House Tour: San Francisco's original Painted Lady is for sale, asking $5.75 million


Steiner Street's seven Painted Ladies are known the world over for their signature Queen Anne Victorian architectural style—steep roofs, ornamented gables, bay windows, an abundance of pattern, and decorative spindlework. But the home at the corner of Grove Street stands apart from the rest: Not only is she the eldest of the seven sisters, she was also home to the Ladies' original builder, Matthew Kavanaugh.

4.The Essential Guide to San Francisco's Most Iconic Streets + Neighborhoods

(Photo by Robert Bye on Unsplash)

To the rest of the world, San Francisco is San Francisco—the urban manifestation of an entire political and ethical ethos; home of the progressive elite and the liberal media. San Francisco is an idea, and an ideal, as much as it is a place. But here on the the ground, there are many San Franciscos. This place we call The City and our home is actually comprised of so many neighborhoods of such distinct personalities that you may wander from block to block and find yourself in a completely different mood (and microclimate).

3.12 Bucket List Hikes in Northern California, One for Every Month of 2022

Yosemite Falls. (Photo by Jeremy Lwanga on Unsplash)

Northern California has so many incredible hiking trails that it was truly tough to narrow down our 2022 bucket list. In the end, we selected just 12, one hike for each month this year. From Point Reyes National Seashore to the Sequoia National Park to Big Sur, a year spent hiking these trails will remind you just how good we have it here. PS: Lace up your hikers once more for our top trails to hike in 2023.

2.5 Small Towns Near Lake Tahoe You Should Visit at Least Once

For a bit of holiday cheer in the Sierra, don't miss Virginia City's Christmas on the Comstock.

(Courtesy of @virginiacity)

Thinking of making a pit stop on the road to Lake Tahoe? There are a number of small towns scattered around the Sierra Nevada mountains and the Virginia Range that are worth checking out. Here are some of our favorites.

1.6 Northern California Towns You Haven't Heard of but Are Charming AF

If you think you’ve been everywhere worth going in Northern California, chances are you’re sorely mistaken. From the Lost Coast to Monterey Bay, a handful of small communities are just as delightful as their better-known counterparts, minus the crowds.

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