Monday, December 17, 2007

Pacific Heights

In September, I wrote about Sea Cliff and mentioned that it and Pacific Heights are probably the two wealthiest neighborhoods in San Francisco. This post will talk about Pacific Heights.

Pacific Heights includes the hilly part of San Francisco from Van Ness Avenue on the east to Lyon Street and the Presidio wall on the west. The north and south boundaries are Green and Bush Streets. Some of San Francisco's wealthiest and most influential residents make their homes in Pacific Heights. Many of them have spectaculr views from their houses. While you may not be in a position to buy a home with such a view, you can approximate the views by walking up the Lyon or Baker Street steps. You'll also get a good workout.

Some of San Francisco's largest homes are in Pacific Heights. Currently, there are two houses on the market in Pacific Heights with asking prices of over $50 million. 2901 Broadway is listed for $55 million, while the owners of 2845 Broadway are asking $65 million. The Spreckels Mansion, at 2080 Washington, is one of the largest homes in San Francisco. Built by Alma and Adolph Spreckels in 1915, its current owner is Danielle Steele.

If you are a movie buff, you can see the house that Sally Fields and Robin Williams called home in "Mrs. Doubtfire" on the southeast corner of Broadway and Steiner Street.

Fillmore Street between Post and Jackson Streets is the main shopping district for Pacific Heights. Along the street you will find many upscale shops and some very good restaurants. You can easily combine a stroll along Fillmore Street with a walk along the Union Street shopping district in Cow Hollow. Just make sure you visit Fillmore Street first so you walk down the steep hill to Union Street.

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

Monday, December 10, 2007

Fisherman's Wharf IV - Pier 39's Sea Lions

Pier 39 has little connection with San Francisco. It's a collection of tourist-oriented shops that could be located almost anywhere in the U.S. However, any visit to Fisherman's Wharf must include a walk to the end of Pier 39 to see the hundreds of California sea lions that have been calling the pier home since late 1989.

Prior to the Loma Prieta Earthquake in October 1989, most sea lions lived at Seal Rocks, just off Land's End in the Pacific Ocean. Starting in September 1989, sea lions began hauling themselves out of the water onto the empty boat docks at Pier 39. After the earthquake, even more found their way to Pier 39. Whether the earthquake contributed to the sea lions' migration, we do not know. We do know that at Pier 39 they found a plentiful supply of herring to dine on and protection from the killer whales and sharks in the ocean. So they decided to stay.

Most sea lions live at Pier 39 for about 9 months per year. During the summer all but a few sea lions travel to the Channel Islands, off the Santa Barbara coast, to mate. After all, even sea lions need a little privacy.

Watching the sea lions bark and push each other around is great fun. If you would like to take a private tour of San Francisco that includes a visit to the sea lions, please call me at (866) 326-4237 (toll free) or e-mail me by clicking here.

This concludes my series on Fisherman's Wharf. San Franciscans tend to stay away from the wharf. However, I hope this short series has shown that the Wharf contains attractions for both locals and visitors.

Wednesday, December 05, 2007

Fisherman's Wharf III - SS Jeremiah O'Brien & USS Pampanito

Pier 45, where the Musee Mecanique is located (see November 12 post), is also home to the Liberty Ship SS Jeremiah O'Brien and the World War II era submarine USS Pampanito.

The Liberty Ship SS Jeremiah O'Brien transported soldiers and supplies during World War II. Most famously, it supported the D-Day invasion of Normandy, France in 1944. In 1979, the ship was rescued from the scrap heap and restored to its former glory. Of the 5,000 plus ships that participated in D-Day, the Jeremiah O'Brien was the only ship to return for the 50th anniversary celebration in 1994.

Today, visitors can take a self-guided tour of the ship. The ship welcomes guests daily, except on Thanksgiving, Christmas, New Year's Day, and when cruising. Admission is $8/adult, $6/senior, and $4/junior. Children under the age of six may tour for free. A family may tour the ship for $20. The ship also cruises the Bay from time to time. If you'd like to see San Francisco Bay from the deck of a World War II Liberty Ship, check the ship's website to see if a cruise will occur during your visit to San Francisco.

The USS Pamapanito is a World War II-era submarine that berths next to the Jeremiah O'Brien. This Balao class Fleet submarine patrolled the Pacific during the war, sinking six Japanese ships and damaging four more. Self-guided audio tours enable visitors to understand what life was like aboard the Pampanito. The submarine opens daily at 9:00 a.m. From October 14 through May 23, the ship closes at 6:00 p.m., except on Fridays and Saturdays when it remains open until 8:00 p.m. During the balance of the year, the ship is open daily until 8:00 p.m., except on Wednesdays when it closes at 6:00 p.m. Admission costs $9/adult, $5/senior, $3/children between 6 and 12, and $20/family.

Touring the Jeremiah O'Brien and Pampanito is great fun for kids, especially on rainy days when indoor activities are preferable. A family can easily spend a few hours at Pier 45 by visiting these two ships and exploring the Musee Mecanique.

If you would like help planning a vacation that includes visits to the Jeremiah O'Brien and the Pampanito, feel free to call me at (866) 326-4237 (toll free) or e-mail me by clicking here.