Monday, June 30, 2008

Muir Beach Ovelook & Pelican Inn

On Muir Woods tours I frequently take my guests to the Muir Beach Overlook. This old army lookout is located just north of the village of Muir Beach off of Hwy. 1. A short walk out to the point overlooking the Pacific will reward you with panoramic views of the ocean from San Francisco to Point Reyes. Here is one of the best spots to witness the dramatic meeting of cliffs and ocean that is the northern California coastline. On really clear days you can see the Farallon Islands, which are about 25 miles offshore. Be forewarned that the Muir Beach Overlook is often fogged in during the summer. The sun can be shining at Muir Woods while the Overlook, which is about five miles away, is shrouded in fog.

You can combine a visit to the Overlook with lunch at the Pelican Inn in Muir Beach. This quaint bed and breakfast serves classic British food along with some American favorites. The pub has some great beers on tap, including cellar-temperature Guinness Stout. The Pelican Inn's restaurant is open for lunch daily. On Sundays freshly carved roast beef, ham, and turkey are served. The pub serves snacks and light food throughout the day.

If you would like to take a private tour that includes a visit to the Muir Beach Overlook and/or lunch at the Pelican Inn, please call me at (866) 326-4237 or e-mail me by clicking here. (The big scheduled tour operators do not include the Overlook on their tours.)

Thursday, June 26, 2008

Tips for Riding San Francisco's Cable Cars

San Francisco's cable cars are one of the city's signature attractions. Invented in 1873, cable cars have traveled up and down San Francisco's hills ever since, except for two years in the 1980s when the system was closed for repairs.

Three lines remain in San Francisco: Powell-Hyde, Powell-Mason, and California Street. Tourists flock to ride the cable cars resulting in hour-long waits at the cable car turnarounds. Here are some tips to help you avoid the long waits:

Ride the California Street line. If you just want to ride a cable car and don't care about the views or don't need to go to either Union Square or Fisherman's Wharf, ride the California Street line. There are almost never lines to board the cars at the ends of the line at California Street & Van Ness Avenue and California & Market Streets. Many visitors find themselves at the foot of Market Street, near the Ferry Building, so can easily get to the Market Street end of the California Street line. If you want to go to Fisherman's Wharf or Union Square from this end, take the California Street Line to Powell Street and transfer to one of the two Powell Street lines. You will have to pay the $5 fee on both cars unless you buy a Muni Pass ($11/one day, $18/three days, $24/three days).

Ride the Powell Street lines before 9:00 a.m. or after 8:00 p.m. The Powell-Hyde line runs from Powell and Market Streets to Aquatic Park, near the Cannery and Ghirardelli Square. This is the most popular line as it passes by the top of "The Crookedest Street in the World," Lombard Street. Long waits are not uncommon at the ends of the line. By traveling early in the day or in the evening, you may avoid a long wait.

The Powell-Mason line travels from Powell and Market Streets to Taylor and Bay Streets, near Fisherman's Wharf. This line too has long waits, so try to ride the car in the early morning or evening.

Take the Powell-Mason line from Fisherman's Wharf to Union Square. If you want to travel from Fisherman's Wharf back to Union Square, the wait for the Powell-Mason cable car at Taylor and Bay Streets is usually shorter than the wait for the Powell-Hyde cable car at Aquatic Park.

Board the Powell Street lines away from the ends of the lines. There is frequently a long wait to board the cable cars at Powell and Market Streets. Sometimes you can squeeze on the cars by just walking a few blocks up Powell Street. The further you get away from the ends of the lines, the easier it is to squeeze on a car. Many riders disembark at California and Powell Streets, Hyde and Lombard Streets (Crooked Street), and the Cable Car Museum at Washington and Mason Streets, so these are good spots to board a cable car.

I hope this information helps you to enjoy your ride on the only cable cars in an American city. If you want to take a private San Francisco tour that includes a ride on a cable car, please call me at (866) 326-4237 (toll free) or e-mail me by clicking here.

Monday, June 16, 2008

Lunch with a View on the Monterey Peninsula

As I have mentioned often, one of the rules of dining is the better the view, the worse the food. However, there are exceptions and one of them is the Stillwater Bar & Grill at The Lodge at Pebble Beach. This restaurant overlooks the 18th green and Carmel Bay at one of America's legendary golf courses.

The Pebble Beach Golf Links and The Lodge at Pebble Beach were founded in 1919. The Links has hosted the Bing Crosby National Pro-Am (now known as the AT&T Pebble Beach National Pro-Am) tournament since 1947. The U.S. Open has been held at Pebble Beach four times (1972, 1982, 1992, and 2000) and will be held here again in 2010.

The Stillwater Bar & Grill offers dinner daily, lunch from Monday to Saturday, and brunch on Sunday. The restaurant offers an array of entrees but emphasizes fresh seafood. A leisurely lunch while gazing out at Carmel Bay and watching golfers celebrating completion of their round of golf is a great way to spend a couple of hours. You can make a restaurant reservation by calling (831) 625-8524.

If you would like to take a private tour of Monterey and Carmel that includes lunch a stop at The Lodge at Pebble Beach, please call me at (866) 326-4237 (toll free) or e-mail me by clicking here.