Posted by: Amy Walsh | February 21, 2010

San Francisco, CA

I believe…I really did, “leave my heart in San Francisco.”  This city has everything from an entrepreneurial spirit to vacation adventure all within a 7 mile radius.  Transportation is readily available in the city by taxi, bus or my favorite…the trolley.  Also, don’t forget your walking shoes because parking is a challenge and most locals walk or bike to their destination.  In addition to, you will notice most San Franciscans are in general good health from all the walking, up hill in both directions without snow, so be prepared.  For venturing to the wine country, red wood forest or another location outside the city I suggest renting a car.  The food is exquisite, the architecture romantic and the energy…inspiring.  The journey is well worth it but bring your jacket, San Francisco tends to be a little cooler than one might expect. 

First stop, The Golden Gate bridge…

Building the Golden Gate Bridge
The now-familiar art deco design and International Red color were chosen, and construction began in 1933. The Golden Gate Bridge project was completed in 1937, a prominent date in San Francisco history. Strauss was a pioneer in building safety, making history with innovations including hard hats and daily sobriety tests. The Bay Bridge (which was being built at the same time) lost 24 lives while the Golden Gate Bridge lost only 12, an outstanding accomplishment in an era when one man was killed on most construction projects for every million spent.

The Golden Gate bridge is just as beautiful as it was almost 90 years ago.  One thing you will notice wither you drive or walk across it is its sheer power and greatness.  Its beams rise high into the sky and on a foggy day seem to disappear into the clouds like a giant ladder reaching into the heavens.  Once you ventured to the other side of the bridge is another view overlooking the city and inlet.

All within walking distance of the Golden Gate bridge is Chrissy Fields park a historic airfield.   The airfield, now a grassy field where children fly kites and play kick ball upon a backdrop of airplane hangers and old military bunkers custom to the 1940’s reveal the nostalgia of the WWII era .    Here you can stop, rest, grab lunch and enjoy the inlet waves or local beach.  Following the bike trail up to the Golden Gate bridge you’ll go further back in time to see historic Civil War ammunition bunkers and remains of a once proud fort eluding to the essence of protection from foreign threat on a once new territory.

Also, in the bay is the famous Alcatraz Island.  The first lighthouse and US fort on the West Coast and later converted to a federal penitentiary can be seen in the distance.  Tours are day or night and are usually full so book in advance.

The Exploritorium

The Exploratorium  History -The task of creating a Palace of Fine Arts for the 1915 Panama-Pacific International Exposition fell to the architect Bernard R. Maybeck, then fifty years old and known for his innovative ideas. Setting to work on this new project, he chose as his theme a Roman ruin, mutilated and overgrown, in the mood of a Piranesi engraving. But this ruin was not to exist solely for itself to show “the mortality of grandeur and the vanity of human wishes …. ” Although it was meant to give delight by its exterior beauty, its purpose was also to offer all visitors a stimulating experience within doors.

This was a great find!  Walking though eminence pillars and observing the romantic architecture you can see sculptures of cherubs and Roman Greco ladies that adorn the top of this great structure.   The pond is laden with swans that gracefully make their way from one side to the other taking food offerings. 

Lombard Street

This street is a must see.  Click here to view picture is this steep curvy hill decorated on each side by colorful floral.   If you don’t care to drive down it the trolley stops at the top of the street every 15 minutes it makes for a very interesting view.

Japanese Tea Garden

72 Tea Garden Drive & Martin Luther King Jr Drive, San Francisco, CA 94118-4502

An excerpt from http://travel.yahoo.com/p-travelguide-2733708-hakone_japanese_tea_garden_san_francisco-i “Located in Golden Gate Park , this garden is a marvel of the landscape architects art. This traditional Japanese garden covers five acres. Several paths take you by an authentic pagoda, a monumental Buddha, a miniature waterfall, and over an acutely arched bridge that no kid can resist. Overlooking the gardens Koi-filled pond is a Japanese-style tea house, which in spring is covered with a cascade of wisteria.”  Admission is around $10 per person non-California resident. 

Wineries – Sonoma and Napa Valley

Wine tours are daily and so much fun.  For about $15 per tasting of 5-7 wines from vintage to newly aged this experience of flavor is worth the drive into the valley.  If you are staying in San Francisco then plan on about an hour trip into wine country.  I found a website that list the wineries in the area, click the link for more information.  California Wineries.  If you find a wine you like cost start around $22 per bottle and shipping is pretty reasonable around $25 for 6 to 10 bottles.  Lest it allows you to avoid issues with airport security.  There are also many different tour packages.  Multi-vinyard touring by bus or limo at a $$$ cost or rent a car and drive at your leisure.  But make sure you have a DD some wines have a high alcohol content.  Each winery has a tour the grounds and wine distillery these are “a-la-carte” additional charges.  They are nice to see once but pretty much the same at each winery its more fun to taste and explore.  These wineries aren’t just limited to wines either, browse through the cook books, assortment of cheese, home-made ice-cream and spreads that are just as tasty and complement your favorite wine. 

Each winery is landscaped with statues giving tribute to the harvest.  Surrounded by colorful floral and vines with hanging grapes.  It reminds you of a movie set in a Tuscan villa sitting top the Italian hills and then you are reminded you are still in California and it is beautiful.

 

San Francisco has a lot more to see…including the Red Wood Forest, Museums, down town shopping district, Japan Town, China Town, Little Italy, Trolley Car Museum, Soma, Pier 39 -Fisherman’s Wharf, Pier 23 home to the sea lions and all within a 7 mile radius…Amazing. 

So, if you are planning a trip I hope this information is useful  as to what there is to see, experience and expect. 

Happy and Save Travels! ~Amy

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