Lebanon Weather   Friday March 25, 2005
Californy is the place you ought to be!

I'm heading out to the SF/Bay area in a couple of weeks to shake off the winter with my Sister's family, the Normal Normans. Three adults (mostly) and two young boys (11-13?) and a week to kill. I've been putting together a list of activities so we have something to pick and choose from as the mood/opportunity strikes.

I used to travel to the valley on a regular basis for business and have discovered lots of good places for hiking, biking, eating and so forth. Then again, it's a large place and I barely tapped the potential. My brother in-law Andy lived there for a couple of years and pitched in with some recommendations, as did my friend Pedraum, whom I'm looking forward to visiting at Apple.

Here's the list so far. It's a growing, transmogrifying thing that I'll be updating (and moving to the current day of the weblog) at least until we leave. Feel free to pitch in! Leave a comment, send an email, call me on the phone, and I'll add your suggestions to the list as well. When the trip is over I'll post the list somewhere permanent for others to use.


San Francisco

North of SF

South of SF (along ocean)

Silicon Valley/Bay Area

Tips on places to stay in the silicon valley area are also welcome.

From Andy

There is a great park/hike I recommend south of Carmel along route 1 called Ventana Wilderness take the long path up to the top overlooking the ocean- I would check the road conditions before heading anywhere near the coast - lots of wash-outs, even during "normal" years.  For winter I prefer to spend my time south of SF where it is warmer, Santa Cruz mountains, Henry Coe, Ventana, etc. 

My favorite Thai restaurant: the Regent Thai (1700 Church St, SF) - if you go there be sure to order the mieng kum appetizer (spinach leaf with toasted coconut, lime wedges, peanuts, onion. peppers, tamarind sauce) which is the best thing I've ever eaten - also golden bags? anyway great place.  Cupertino has some great Dim Sum places too.  If you're in Chinatown in SF stop by the fortune cookie factory (Golden Gate Fortune Cookies 56 Ross Alley) and there is a very old Taoist Temple (How Taoist Temple 125-129 Waverly Pl./Washington St) also in Chinatown.

For hiking I would drive up Page Mill Rd and turn left on 35 (Skyline Blvd) go about 1/2 mile and park in the large lot on the right - hike up to either Black Mountain or if time is short, straight up (west) for great views and weather - it will be warmer and sunnier there this time of year than Big Basin.  Also, Henry Coe is fabulous this time of year.

Shelley • 2005-03-09 05:50pm

Well, I think you have Crissy Field covered with the shoreline hiking and kite flying. That's a must. Hopefully there will be a fog when you go.

Food -- don't forget the Stinking Rose, though I don't know if the kids would like this.

Fresh crab at Fisherman's.

And also consider Japantown in addition to Chinatown.

Then there's the Segway tour (http://www.inetours.com/Tours/Segway_Tour.html and http://inet.sfelectrictour.com/)

jerry • 2005-03-10 07:05am

Thanks Shelley!

Stinking Rose? Have to research that...hope it has something to do with cheese.

The segway tour sounds fun, if only you didn't have to dress up like road construction crew.
jerry • 2005-03-10 10:21am

A note from Martin with a thumbs up for the Mystery House.

Jannie • 2005-03-10 02:14pm

You can combine a visit to the Farmer's market at the Ferry Building http://www.ferrybuildingmarketplace.com with a ferry ride to Tiburon, Sausalito or Angel Island (one of the many ferry services). There's plenty of dining options (not just groceries) at the Farmer's market.
jerry • 2005-03-10 08:34pm

Thanks, Jannie!

Dan Lyke • 2005-03-14 01:14pm

While you're out at Fisherman's Warf, you, especially, should not miss the Musee Mechanique. You can get more entertainment there out of $5 in quarters than almost anywhere else near the Bay. The aquarium there has a walk-through tunnel tank that we enjoyed a lot, but I remember it being pretty pricey.

If you come up into Marin, the wildflowers should be kickin' about that time, and a wander through the redwoods (either Muir Woods, or email me for a local's suggestions) is worthwhile. But if you're going to be more south-bay-ish, then the redwoods down in the Santa Cruz mountains are just as good. If you come up and are into hiking or can scrounge some bikes (and I might be able to help with that), Arch Rock at the end of the Bear Valley trail (just south of Point Reyes) is, in my opinion, one of the coolest places to experience the Pacific coast. Sit up on the bluffs and watch for whales and seals, or scramble down a creek and falls and slip through the arch when the waves run out and walk on the beach.

And Rodeo Lagoon is not only right over the bridge, it's just downhill from the old gun emplacements, and nestled amongst all sorts of other military archeology.

My food tastes aren't terribly froufy, although I think you can't lose with an evening at Millenium if your preferences have ever run remotely vegetarian, but Little Baobab down in the Mission (heck, just about everything down in the Mission) works for me.

East Bay, Breads of India and Vik's Chaat Room are my standouts, although the view at Skates is hard to turn down.

I found Alcatraz fun, but only if you take the audio tour. Others have been less impressed.

Hit the Ferry Building Marketplace on Monday evening and you can hit dollar oyster happy hour. Yum!

Yes, the Winchester Mystery house is crowded and commercialized, but I still enjoyed it.

Best way to get from Pier 39 to the Ferry Building (and Embarcadero BART) is the F line, old restored streetcars that aren't as outrageously expensive as the cable cars. However, the cable
Dan Lyke • 2005-03-14 01:14pm

... car museum is cool if you're into neat neat ancient technologies and big iron.
Dan Lyke • 2005-03-14 01:28pm

Oh yeah: Speaking of redwoods and South Bay: Big Trees and Roaring Camp Railroad in Felton has two running steam locomotives that are not to be misssed if you're a fan of the genre: A Shay and a Heisler. If you have to ask, you won't appreciate it, if you don't then you'll be there.
jerry • 2005-03-14 01:33pm

Great list, Dan, thanks!

Dan Lyke • 2005-03-14 03:33pm

Speaking of military archeology near Rodeo Lagoon, this post got me to go find out when the Nike missile site that they're restoring is open for tours: Apparently self-guided on Wed-Fri afternoons, or a guided tour (and, given that these things are being rebuilt by the folks who ran 'em in the first place that should mean some good stories) on the afternoon of the first Sunday of the month:


I think I know which hike we're doing first Sunday in April.
christopher • 2005-03-15 11:25am

Cool, be fun to hike the missle area, they look awesome.
jerry • 2005-03-17 06:35pm

From my friend, Tyler:

In the Santa Cruz area, India Joze was a great restaurant - if very slow. Fusion food Cali style.

The Stinkin Rose is a tourist trap.

The Mystery Spot is weird and wonderful.

If you have night life time, Moes Alley in SC is a great Blues place. But Kuumbwa in SC is a better Jazz place - I see Pat Metheny was there on the
2nd, nice. Monday nights, after the act was in SF for the weekend, is the prime hunting ground.

We used to bike through Wilder State Park North of Santa Cruz and it was really wonderful. Don't know if you'll get that amount of time. We could turn right and climb into the foothills or turn left to go towards the beach and ride along it through the wind.

Also the butterflies migrate through Santa Cruz near Natural Bridges. They hang like ripe grapes for a short time, but unfortunately that's later in the summer. Still a fun place to visit.

DaveP • 2005-04-11 07:07am

You don't have an area for "Santa Cruz Mountains", but there's a lot to do up in the hills, too.

Start with the map http://www.scmwa.com/map.htm of Santa Cruz Mountain Wineries. I recommend David Bruce (22), Byington (23), Hallcrest (35) and Bonny Doon (37) as good ones that have tastings open to the public without reservations needed. Also, on the SV side, Pichetti Ranch (8) is just a short hop up from Cupertino.

There are the parks in the mountains. Castle Rock has some rewarding terrain and views even if you're short on time. Even just a drive along Skyline will reward you with some good views of ocean and valley.

The Boulder Creek Brewery http://www.ihwy.com/~brewco/ has good brews and good food if you're driving around up there.

Have fun!
jerry • 2005-04-11 05:06pm

Thanks, Dave!

We just got back last week so I'll have to save this for the next trip. Also, good info for anyone else who heads out that way.