Wednesday, March 28, 2007

Mecca for Foodies

San Francisco has always been a mecca for food aficionados. With a predominately male population during the Gold Rush, restaurants began cropping up to serve the many men who were clueless in the kitchen. Today San Francisco has over 3,000 restaurants. That's a lot for a city with just 750,000 residents.

In addition to the many restaurants, there are numerous stores to buy great produce, meats, and other foods. However, no place compares to the Marketplace at San Francisco's Ferry Building. Here you will find more purveyors of fine food than any place in the city.

People who love sweets will want to visit Scharfen Berger Chocolate Maker, Recchiuti Confections for divine truffles, and Miete Patisserie.

If you want to pick up bread, cheese, and wine for a picnic lunch, stop by Acme Bread Company, Cowgirl Creamery, and Ferry Plaza Wine Merchant. Acme is a local bakery that makes a variety of excellent breads. Cowgirl makes its own cheese and sells artisan cheeses from around the world. Ferry Plaza Wine Merchant has a large selection of wines from California and all over the world. They also have a nice tasting bar where you can sit down to have wine and cheese with friends.

Taylor's Automatic Refresher has great burgers, fries, and shakes, as well as a wine list.

I'm a big oyster fan. So I love sitting outside at Hog Island Oyster and lunching on raw oysters paired with a Sauvignon Blanc.

The list goes on and on.

On Tuesdays and Saturdays the permanent stores and restaurants are augmented by a large farmer's market. The Saturday market is the bigger of the two and runs from 8:00 a.m. until 2:00 p.m. The Tuesday market's hours are 10:00 a.m. - 2:00 p.m. If you visit on Saturday, have breakfast at the market. During the summer, there is a market on Thursday evenings.

The Ferry Building is one of the few spots in San Francisco where locals and tourists mix in large numbers. Don't miss it on your next visit. If you want to take a private San Francisco tour that includes a visit to the Ferry Building, please call me at (866) 326-4237 (toll free) or e-mail me by clicking here.

Tuesday, March 20, 2007

Wells Fargo History Museums

If you are a history buff like me, you enjoy visiting history museums. Even the smallest of towns often has a local history museum. San Francisco, being a city of 750,000, has a few museums that feature our unique history. One of my favorites is the Wells Fargo History Museum.

This little museum is open Monday - Friday from 9:00 a.m. until 5:00 p.m. Inside you will see a Concord Coach that was actually used by Wells Fargo. When you see stagecoaches today, it's hard to imagine that they seated up to 20 persons: 9 inside, 9 on top, driver, and shotgun. Imagine bouncing across the West in these vehicles; stopping only to change horses. While the Wells Fargo staff unhitched and hitched the horses, passengers usually dashed into a so-called restaurant to down awful to mediocre food. Mark Twain provides an excellent description of Western travel on a stagecoach in his book "Roughing It."

The museum also features exhibits on Wells Fargo's role in San Francisco's history from the Gold Rush of 1849 through the Earthquake of 1906. The museum is located at 420 Montgomery Street (near California Street). Admission is free.

There are also two Wells Fargo Museums in Sacramento. The larger of the two museums is at 400 Capitol Mall and also houses a Concord Coach. The museum is open from 9:00 a.m. until 5:00 p.m. on weekdays. A small storefront museum is at 1000 2nd Street in Old Sacramento, which is open every day form 10:00 a.m. until 5:00 p.m. Admission to both museums is free.

If you would like to take a private tour of San Francisco that focuses on the city's rich history, please call me at (866) 326-4237 (toll free) or e-mail me by clicking here.

Friday, March 16, 2007

Point Bonita Lighthouse

There's something romantic about lighthouses. I know the real story is that lighthouse keepers worked long hours, performed gruelling tasks -- often in miserable weather, and received little pay. Nevertheless, whenever I see a lighthouse I immediately want to visit it, learn the history, and fantasize about the keeper's life.

One of my favorite lighthouses is located at Point Bonita on the north side of the entrance to the Golden Gate. The original lighthouse, built in 1855, was the third on the West Coast. The site was too high and fog frequently obscured the beam. As a result, the lighthouse was moved to its current site in 1877.

Point Bonita, on a sunny day, provides one of the area's special views. On one side the Pacific crashes against the bluff. On the other side sits San Francisco, just across the Bay. Docents are available to tell you about the lighthouse, its keepers, and the area's history.

The drive to the lighthouse, along Conzelman Road in the Marin Headlands, offers spectacular vistas of the Golden Gate, the Bridge, and San Francisco. Stop at Battery Spencer and walk to the edge of the cliff for an up-close view of the Golden Gate Bridge. After arriving at the parking lot, you will walk along a half-mile trail through a hand-cut tunnel and across a narrow suspension bridge to get to the light. Unfortunately visitors hours are extremely limited. The lighthouse is open only Saturdays, Sundays, and Mondays from 12:30 a.m. until 3:30 p.m.

If you visit, make sure you bring a sweater as Point Bonita is frequently swept by strong winds. More information on the lighthouse can be found on the Golden Gate National Recreation Area's website: http://www.nps.gov/goga/pobo.htm.

If you would like a private tour of San Francisco and/or Muir Woods that includes a visit to the Point Bonita Lighthouse, please call me at (866) 326-4237 (toll free) or e-mail me by clicking here.

Thursday, March 01, 2007

Free San Francisco Walking Tours

San Francisco is a compact city -- just 46 square miles. With 750,000 people calling the city home, some of the neighborhoods are quite congested. Chinatown has the densest population in the United States outside of Manhattan.

My half-day tours of San Francisco provide a good overview of the City and the full-day tours enable visitors to see more of the city's neighborhoods. However, many of the neighborhoods are best explored on foot.

If you enjoy walking and want to see San Francisco up close, I highly recommend taking one or more walking tours during your stay. Commercial walking tour companies operate in some neighborhoods. However, City Guides provides free walking tours throughout San Francisco.

Operating under the auspices of the San Francisco Public Library, City Guides' volunteer docents will lead you on explorations of neighborhoods as diverse as Pacific Heights, Haight Ashbury, and the Financial District. Tours are offered seven days per week in both the morning and afternoon. The summer schedule is more expansive than the winter schedule. Regardless of the date you chose for your tour, you are bound to find a one of interest. Full schedules are available on City Guides' website: www.sfcityguides.org.

If you would like some help planning your San Francisco vacation, and want to include a walking tour, I would be pleased to assist you. Feel free to phone me at (866) 326-4237 or e-mail me by clicking here.