Monday, November 26, 2007

Fisherman's Wharf II - Hyde Street Pier

The Hyde Street Pier houses a terrific collection of historic ships. Formally known as the San Francisco Maritime National Historic Park, the Pier's collection includes the Balclutha, an 1886 square rigger; C.A. Thayer, an 1895 schooner; Eureka, an 1890 steam ferry boat; and many other artifacts from our nautical history. On the Pier is the Small Boat Shop, where visitors can talk with the boat builders. Be sure to walk to the end of the Pier for a nice view of San Francisco Bay and the City.

The Pier is located at the end of Hyde Street, near Aquatic Park and the Hyde Street cable car turnaround. There is no charge to walk along the Pier or to see the exhibits on the Pier. The cost is $5 per person to walk through the historic ships docked at the Pier. Children under the age of 16, if supervised by an adult, may board the ships for free.

Across the street from the Pier, in the Argonaut Hotel, is the park's Visitor Center. Here you can see permanent and temporary exhibits on San Francisco's and the West's maritime history.

The park also has a museum on Beach Street, across from Ghirardelli Square. However, it is closed for renovation until 2009.

The Pier and Visitors Center open daily at 9:30 a.m. The Pier closes at 5:30 p.m. between Memorial Day and September 30, while the Visitors Center closes at 7:30 p.m. During the balance of the year, both the Pier and Visitors Center close at 5:00 p.m.

If you are like me and enjoy old ships, then I highly recommend a visit to the Hyde Street Pier. If you would like to take a private San Francisco tour that includes a visit to the Pier and Fisherman's Wharf, please call me at (866) 326-4237 (toll free) or e-mail me by clicking here.

Monday, November 12, 2007

Fisherman's Wharf I - Musee Mecanique

Fisherman's Wharf seems a world apart from the rest of San Francisco. Tourists love it, while locals only venture there when friends or family visit. While much of the Wharf is tacky, there are some gems worth visiting.

My favorite place on Fisherman's Wharf is one of its most overlooked attractions: the Musee Mecanique. Located at Pier 45, Shed A, at the end of Taylor Street, the
Musee Mecanique is home to one of the largest collections of mechanical musical instruments and antique arcade games.

Today's children are accustomed to playing video games. They can't imagine that their grandfathers and great-grandfathers played mechanical, rather than electric, games. A visit to the Musee will enable your children to play early 20th century arcade games, music boxes, and pin ball games. You will also get to see exhibits from San Francisco's old amusement park, Playland; the Sutro Baths; and Cliff House.

The Musee Mecanique is a great place to come with children, but adults also will enjoy seeing these old games. You are likely to go through a pile of quarters during your visit, but change is easily gotten from machines in the museum. The Musee Mecanique opens daily at 10:00 a.m. and closes at 7:00 p.m. on weekdays and at 8:00 p.m. on weekends and holidays.

Wednesday, November 07, 2007

Lunch in Sausalito

Thousands of tourists visit the bayside town of Sausalito. Visitors love the views and enjoy strolling among the shops and galleries. Most folks usually include a stop in Sausalito with a tour of Muir Woods or take the ferry over from San Francisco.

Since most tourists visit during the middle of the day, they want to eat lunch during their stay. Unfortunately, options are limited. There are a few extremely mediocre cafes, a good burger place, and a few restaurants that are worth mentioning.

Many people want to dine with a view of San Francisco Bay and the San Francisco skyline. After all, that's why they came to Sausalito. Unfortunately, the basic rule of the better the view, the worse the food seems to hold in Sausalito. There are three restaurants in central Sausalito that have great views: Scoma's, The Spinnaker, and Horizons. All three restaurants feature seafood. I only have first-hand experience at Scoma's, where I believe the food is nothing better than acceptable. Some of my guests have eaten at Spinnaker, with a couple reporting excellent food and others saying the food was horrible. I have yet to talk with anyone who has eaten at Horizons. Only Scoma's is Zagat rated.

In central Sausalito, my favorite restaurant is Poggio, which features Italian food. Unfortunately, there is no view from the restaurant, but you can dine outside overlooking the street. Angelino's also has decent Italian fare. The Salsalito Taco Shop, 1115 Bridgeway, has good Cal/Mex food with outdoor dining.

My favorite restaurant in Sausalito is Fish, which features the freshest of local seafood. Located in the docks north of the town center, Fish is hard for visitors to get to. However, if you have biked to Sausalito, you can easily get to Fish if you travel about a mile north of the town center and turn right on Harbor Drive. At Fish, you can eat outside at picnic tables that overlook Richardson Bay. If you visit Fish, bring cash as it does not accept credit cards.

If you would like to take a San Francisco or Muir Woods private tour that includes a visit to Sausalito, please call me at (866) 326-4237 (toll free) or e-mail me by clicking here.