Tuesday, June 23, 2009

Fresh Seafood Near Monterey's Cannery Row

Recently a guest on a Monterey tour wanted to eat at a place like an East Coast seafood shack after visiting the Monterey Bay Aquarium. Unfortunately, such places are tough to find in Northern California and are nonexistent on the Monterey Peninsula, as far as I know.

Cannery Row has long been known as a very touristy strip of shopping centers selling T-shirts and other souvenirs. The area is not well known for good food. Zagat only lists a couple of restaurants near Cannery Row and neither of these had views or were open for lunch.

However, I found a seafood market, a couple of blocks from Cannery Row, that had a good review for its restaurant on Yelp. While my guests toured the Aquarium, I checked out the Sea Harvest Fish Market & Restaurant. It looked just like the type of place my guests wanted except that it doesn't have a view. We decided to give it a try at lunch and were not disappointed.

When you walk into the Sea Harvest, you'll see an array of fresh fillets lined up in the counter and lobsters swimming in a nearby tank. The decor is simple; lots of seafood posters and fish shaped cake pans and Jello molds. The food is simple, mostly grilled and fried fish. Four of us had grilled fish and all enjoyed perfectly done fish. You can order the grilled fish with rice, a vegetable, and cole slaw; over a Caesar Salad; or on a sandwich with fries. Fried fish comes with chips. We also had some barbecue oysters for a starter.

Next time you are visiting Cannery Row, skip the touristy places on the water and walk to 598 Foam Street for a fresh seafood lunch. If you would like to take a private tour of Monterey and Carmel that includes lunch at the Sea Harvest, contact Blue Heron Custom Tours and Travel at (866) 326-4237 (toll free) or Rick@BlueHeronTours.com.

Thursday, June 18, 2009

The Inner Mission - Sights

The Inner Mission is one of my favorite neighborhoods in San Francisco but is frequently overlooked by visitors. Perhaps the urban grit is a bit too much for some folks. I think a walk through the neighborhood gives you a good feel for daily life for many city residents. Plus there are interesting sights, fun shops, and excellent restaurants.

Where is the Inner Mission? San Franciscans frequently argue over neighborhood boundaries and, more recently, their names. For the purpose of this series of postings, I'll consider the Inner Mission to be the area bounded by Market Street on the north, Church Street on the west, 24th Street on the south, and South Van Ness on the east.

The principal sight in the area is Mission Dolores (aka Mission San Francisco de Asis). This is one of the 21 missions established by the Spanish in the late 18th and early 19th centuries. The mission was constructed in 1791 and is the oldest building in San Francisco. You can take a self-guided tour through the old mission. Mission Dolores charges $5/adult and $3/child and senior to enter. Visitors are welcome from 9:00 a.m. to 4:30 p.m. from May 1 to October 31 and to 4:00 p.m. during the balance of the year.

The original mission was built on the shore of Lago de los Dolores. Both the building and the lake are long gone, but a plaque marks the spot on Albion Street, near the intersection with Camp Street, about 1 1/2 blocks from the current mission.

The Mission District is home to hundreds of murals. The most famous may be MaestraPeace on the Women's Building at 3543 18th Street. The mural was painted in 1994 by a group of women and covers two sides of the building. A number of famous and not-so-famous women are depicted. A guide to the mural is available inside the Women's Building.

If you would like to take a private San Francisco tour that includes a visit to the Inner Mission, contact Blue Heron Custom Tours and Travel at (866) 326-4237 (toll free) or Rick@BlueHeronTours.com.

Monday, June 08, 2009

Northern California: An Explorer's Guide

This new guidebook, written by San Francisco resident, Michele Bigley, was just released on June 1. It's a great resource for travel in San Francisco, the Bay Area, and all of Northern California - from Big Sur to the Oregon border.

Here's what Michele had to say about Blue Heron Custom Tours and Travel, "A wealth of knowledge, Rick takes folks on customized tours of the Bay Area, Wine Country, Central Coast, Mendocino, and even the Sierra Foothills. You tell him what you want and he'll create the ideal trip. He knows more about wine and food than most."

Many thanks to Michelle for the nice review. If you're planning a trip to San Francisco, you can pick up "Northern California: An Explorer's Guide" at most good bookstores.

If you'd like to take a tour with a guide who "possesses a wealth of knowledge," please phone me at (866) 326-4237 (toll free) or e-mail me at Rick@BlueHeronTours.com.

Monday, June 01, 2009

Stow Lake in Golden Gate Park

A short walk west of the Music Concourse in Golden Gate Park lies Stow Lake. Here families can partake in an array of outdoor activities. The easiest and least expensive is to take a walk around the lake or to the top of Strawberry Hill. During the approximately mile-long walk around the lake, you are likely to see ducks and other birds as well as turtles. If you walk to the top of 430-foot tall Strawberry Hill in the middle of the lake, you'll pass by a lovely man-made waterfall and be rewarded with a nice view of the park as well as the Sunset and Richmond Districts at the summit.

If you want to spend some time on the water and get an up-close look at the birds and turtles, you can rent paddle boats and row boats at the Stow Lake Boathouse. Rentals are available from 10:00 a.m. - 4:00 p.m. on most nice days. You can check to make sure the boathouse is open and by phoning (415) 752-0347.

If you want a little more exercise, bicycles and peddle-powered carriages are available for rental at the boathouse. On Saturdays during the summer and on Sundays year-round, the section of JFK Drive closest to the lake is closed to cars making it a nice place for a leisurely bike ride.

Need a quick refresher? The Stow Lake Boathouse sells ice cream, sodas, and other snacks. The food's not gourmet but tastes good after a hike or boat ride.

If you would like to take a private tour of San Francisco that includes a stop at Stow Lake, please feel free to contact Blue Heron Custom Tours and Travel at (866) 326-4237 or Rick@BlueHeronTours.com.