Local Getaways/Day Trips in San Francisco, CA
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.
Although located in a residential neighborhood next to the Exploratorium, the Palace of Fine Arts is more than a dome structure; its magnificence, beauty and serenity are enough to make you want to mediate. While some people visit simply to take photos and leave the park, make an afternoon of your daytrip with free activities like absorbing the views of the Palace on the many benches sprinkled around the pond, and taking note of the swans majestically swimming as the light dances off of the water. However, it's in the evening that the Palace of Fine Arts offers the most breathtaking views, with lights that glow and warm even the chilliest of nights. But, whether you come to picnic or just reacquaint yourself with your inner peace, bring a jacket as it gets very windy under the dome.
Encounter dolphins, sip on libations and let the breeze of the open water blow your cares away as you sail along the San Francisco Bay with the San Francisco Bay Sailing Company. Expect a social crew, eager to please as they take you under the Golden Gate Bridge, Bay Bridge and even a stop in McCovey Cove during a baseball game. Opt for the 12:30 pm ride if you're looking for smoother sailing, but all excursions last about two hours. But, along with the wind this daytrip brings a chill to the air, so dress in layers to really be comfortable - you may even want to bring a blanket for a.m. sails. And, don't forget to bring your camera, because there are no souvenir photos of your excursion for purchase. When you disembark, wander through Pier 39's plentiful shops, restaurants and wine bar before taking in the sights - and yes occasional smells - of the local sea lions on your daytrip to your own backyard.
Situated on the cliffs on the northern end of Ocean Beach, get a glimpse back in time as you gaze upon the Cliff House, Sutro Baths and ruins while experiencing awe-inspiring views. Although a fire wiped out most of this historical site beyond repair, the Cliff House has undergone renovations to bring it back to its former glory, boasting some of the best food - and panoramic views - in the area. Then, carefully make your way to the baths and ruins, where seven pools of water once stood. For those who don't mind getting a little wet, hunt for the cave at the bottom of the baths. Although you are welcomed to explore the landmarks on your own, you may want to splurge on the continental breakfast and walking tour package through the Cliff House, followed by a 90-minute excursion lead by a historian and retired Nationanl Park Service Ranger John A. Martini. Either way, be prepared to maneuver a ton of stairs, paved paths and lots of uphill trekking.
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.