Hotspots in San Francisco, CA
Go behind the scenes at the well-known jelly bean factory for a free guided walking tour. Tours being every 10-15 minutes and last 40 minutes, teaching tour-goers about the creation of the famous sweet beans. Weekday visitors can get a peek at a full-functioning factory, but weekend visitors can still see the machines at work via video monitors. However, all tours include samples of Jelly Bellies during different stages of production and each person gets a sample bag to take home at the end of the tour. Avoid peak times like summer weekends and holidays to avoid waiting up to an hour for a tour. Strollers and wheelchairs are permitted.
About a half of an hour below San Francisco lays Half Moon Bay, huging the Northern California coastline and radiating costal town friendliness. While the town itself boasts some of the most popular nurseries in the Bay area and road-side produce stands right off the farms, it's often the giant waves and tide pools that most people remember about Half Moon Bay. Make a day of strolling along beautiful beaches, dine on fresh fish from harbor boats and farm-fresh fare, browse art galleries and shops on Main Street or exploring the tide pools. When wandering through town, park on side streets to avoid the two-hour time limit on the main drag. But, as most seaside cities are, Half Moon Bay's even climate can make it a bit cool, so dress in layers so you can comfortably concentrate on all this gorgeous daytrip destination has to offer.
Chez Panisse features an eclectic, sustainable-source menu that changes nightly, and the ambiance is inspired by a well-planned, detailed and welcoming dinner party. The price includes a four course meal and be sure to top it off with a bottle from their detailed wine list.
Just across the bay less than 30 minutes away from San Francisco, get ready to tantalize your taste buds in ways you never dreamed of when you join a three-hour walking tour of North Berkeley's Gourmet Ghetto district. Also known as "North Shattuck," the area's unique eateries make it a popular culinary destination, but even on a daytrip, there's no way you can really explore them all. That's when the Epicurean Concierge steps up to the plate, leading visitors on a journey to eat your way through one of the Bay's most famous restaurants and cafés, nibbling cupcakes, noshing on pastrami and even sipping soups. The excursion will include an average of seven stops, so wear comfortable walking shoes and your appetite, because the tasting portions are substantial.
Whether you sip, eat or view your way through this region close to San Francisco but a million miles a way, you're sure to become smitten with Sonoma and the people who live there. Wine lovers will find plenty of outstanding wineries for every palate, offering tasting rooms, barrel tours and picnic spaces to take in the views thanks to the hilly region. Foodies will find local fare that inspires culinary trends with unique restaurants and cafes, often seen savoring wine in the Sonoma Plaza where public consumption of alcohol is permitted. And, those looking to take in the sights and views of Sonoma County can get inspired by Sonoma's coast and explore the tide pools of Bodega Bay. Then, head to Petaluma, pick up a walking tour map and saunter through the shops that seem to have been lost in time. But, regardless of how you spend your time in Sonoma County, you're sure to go back again and again.
When you want to indulge in a little more than just a glass of wine, hit the Golden Gate Bridge and escape to the serenity of Napa Valley, the infamous wine country of California's coast. While the drive itself is worth the trip, with grand views of the Napa Valley and Mount St. Helena. Begin your wine tasting excursion in Calistoga, where wineries, eateries and spas are plentiful. Once you hit Napa, you can drive yourself through the lush wineries or you have the option of being shuttled, chauffeured or even lifted in a hot air balloon over this breathtaking wine country. Then catch lunch in Calistoga and finish off the day with one of the spas in for which Napa Valley is well known.
A scenic two-hour drive from San Francisco will take you to Monterey County, where picturesque towns like Carmel by the Sea, Big Sur and even Monterey itself will have you longing for more than a daytrip. To properly kick off your day in Monterey Bay, head towards the Monterey Bay Aquarium become awestruck by the majestic creatures both big and small that inhabit the sea. Then, stroll down Cannery Row to explore the specialty shops and local artists' galleries along this historic waterfront street. Head to Monterey's Fisherman's Warf for a hot bowl of clam chowder or to indulge in the fresh-caught seafood before hopping on a glass bottom boat tour. Or, get gussied up and dine at the Sardine Factory, where the service, décor and food will knock your socks off. But, regardless of whether or not you're a fan of golf, be sure to make time for Pebble Beach's 17-mile drive before leaving this magical haven on the central coast.
Looking to get more bang for your buck when you head to a theme park? California's Great America offers a theme park and water park for the cost of a single admission. There are rides and attractions for both younger and older kids, but note that the kiddie area is in the middle of the park, which is a good distance from the entrance, so be prepared to walk if you're only going for the smaller attractions.
With the freedom to explore and learn, the Bay Area Discovery Museum gives kids a safe, engaging place to have fun and expand their minds. Each room will keep your kids engaged as much as the last, with hands-on displays and projects for young school-aged kids, including tidal pools, art studios, and a theater. The museum's outdoor space is organized by age group, making it easy for little hands to maneuver, while you can take in breathtaking views from the foot of the Golden Gate Bridge where the museum is located. Admission is free the second Saturday of each month from 1 p.m. to 5 p.m., and tasty organic fare is available on site for purchase.
Music lovers can spend Valentine’s Day weekend with their sweetie, falling in love all over again to the tunes of the concerts at the Claremont music series. Co-hosted by 102.9 KBLX, the Valentine’s 2011 concert will feature the R&B and smooth jazz of Bobby Caldwell, who’s vocal talents and big band songs will have your honey melt like putty in your hands. Hosted at the Claremont Hotel, Club & Spa, the historic Claremont Ballroom has hosted such musical masters as Louis Armstrong, Tommy Dorsey, and Count Basie. Tickets sell out fast, so be sure to reserve your spot for this romantic evening.