Wednesday, December 26, 2018

Beautiful West Marin - Part II

Below is the January 2019 issue of "Rick's Tips," Blue Heron Custom Tours and Travel's free newsletter of fun things to do in San Francisco, the Bay Area, and Northern California.  If you would like to subscribe to the newsletter, please e-mail me at Rick@BlueHeronTours.com

First, I want to wish everyone a happy 2019. I hope the year brings you much happiness and many good trips.

Beautiful West Marin, Part II

In the October 2018 issue of "Rick's Tips," we traveled from Muir Beach to Bolinas in West Marin County. In this issue, we'll continue our tour by focusing on the area around Point Reyes National Seashore.

Point Reyes National Seashore


Created in 1962, Point Reyes National Seashore protects magnificent coastline, historic structures, and abundant wildlife. There is so much to see and do at this park that only the surface will be touched in this narrative.

From Bolinas - where we left off in October - head north on CA Route 1. There are a number of entrances to the park. Where you enter will depend on your interests. If you turn left on Bear Valley Road, you will reach the Bear Valley Visitor Center. Stop at the Center to learn about activities in the park as well as the area's human and natural history. Near the Visitor Center are the Earthquake Trail and Kule Loklo. The Earthquake Trail is a .7 mile walk along the San Andreas fault. Learn about the legend of the cow that was grazing on the fault line when the 1906 earthquake struck. At Kule Loklo, a replica of a Miwok Village, find out about the region's first inhabitants.

Further out Bear Valley Road is the road to Limantour Beach. This area has abundant wildlife in the wetlands and along the beaches. There are many easy hiking trails in this part of the Seashore.

Bear Valley Road eventually meets Sir Francis Drake Boulevard, which is also accessible directly from CA 1 (as well as US 101). Sir Francis Drake travels through dairy farms and terrain that will make you think you are in Scotland. (Others did and named one of the local villages Inverness.) Two of my favorite beaches are along the north side of the road - North Beach and South Beach. These are not beaches where you go to soak in the sun. Rather, here you walk along the beach and experience Mother Nature's rough edge. If you like rugged coast, stop at one of these beaches to enjoy the wind and pounding surf.

On the south side of Sir Francis Drake is Drakes Beach. Historians think this is where Sir Francis Drake became the first European to step foot in Northern California when he beached his ship, the Golden Hinde, for repairs in 1579. This protected beach can be a great spot for a picnic. Adjacent to the parking lot is a bookstore, which is open on weekends and some federal holidays, with some packaged food and drinks. Sometimes Tule Elk graze near the road to the beach.

Sir Francis Drake Boulevard ends at Pt. Reyes, where you may walk down 300 steps to the Pt. Reyes Lighthouse. This is a great spot to look for whales from December to early April. The lighthouse is normally open Friday - Monday from 10:00 a.m. until 4:30 p.m. Currently, renovation of the lighthouse is underway. Until work is completed later this year. the lighthouse will be closed. Check out the park's website for the latest information.

Near the end of Sir Francis Drake is Chimney Rock. This is another great place for whale watching. In the spring, wildflowers abound. On a sunny day, this is one of the perfect meetings of land and sea. You may also see elephant seals ashore in the cove below from December to March. Look for the signs from the parking lot to the Elephant Seal Overlook.

One other spot to check out in the Seashore is Tomales Point. Hike among the Tule Elk to the spot where Tomales Bay meets the Pacific Ocean.

Much more information about Point Reyes National Seashore is available on its website: www.nps.gov/pore.

Inverness, Olema, and Point Reyes Station


These three towns are near the Seashore and provide many amenities to help you enjoy your visit. All are home to lovely bed and breakfasts and inns.

Point Reyes Station is the largest of the three towns. A stroll along the main street (CA 1) will take you to jewelry shops, a book store, clothing stores, and art galleries. Visit Cafe Reyes for pizza and oysters and the Side Street Kitchen for brunch and lunch. For those with a sweet tooth, I highly recommend Bovine Bakery.

Currently, my favorite place for dinner is Saltwater Oyster Depot in Inverness. The restaurant offers a la carte dinner on Friday, Saturday, and Sunday and a prix fixe menu on Monday and Thursday. The restaurant is open for lunch on Saturday and Sunday and also serves a bar menu from 3:00 to 5:00 on those days. Additional restaurants are located in all three towns as well as in Marshall, which is 15 minutes north of Point Reyes Station.

Oysters


One last note for those of you who love oysters. Oysters are farmed in Tomales Bay and, thus, are featured on most local menus. If you want to shuck your own oysters, visit Hog Island Oyster Company in Marshall. Bring picnic fixings to supplement your raw oysters. If you prefer to have someone else do the work, you can visit Hog Island's The Boat Oyster Bar, which serves raw and barbecued oysters, cheese, charcuterie, wine, beer, and other seasonal fare. Reservations are a must at Hog Island. Picnicking is available every day, while The Boat Oyster Bar is open Friday through Monday.

My favorite place to eat oysters is The Marshall Store. Here you can eat great raw, barbecued, and Rockefellered oysters as well as pork and beef barbecue, fish tacos, and other yummy food. Buy your beer, wine, or soft drinks in the Store, find a spot ay one of the bayside tables, and enjoy the beautiful setting while you wait for your order to arrive. If you visit on a Thursday, ask if they still offer discounted raw oysters.

I hope you've enjoyed your journey through West Marin. We've yet to reach the towns of Tomales and Dillon Beach, but I'll leave these for you to explore on your own. Better yet, let Blue Heron take you to West Marin. We feature two tours of this region: Oceanside Vistas and Point Reyes Ramblings. For more information on West Marin County, visit the West Marin Chamber of Commerce website. Here you'll find information on lodging, dining, shopping, and activities in the region.

Monday, December 03, 2018

Beautiful West Marin County - Part I

Below is the October edition of "Rick's Tips," Blue Heron's free newsletter of fun things to do in San Francisco and the Bay Area.  If you would like to subscribe, email me at Rick@BlueHeronTours.com.
 
Beautiful West Marin County - Part I
 
One of my favorite parts of the Bay Area is West Marin County. From San Francisco, visitors quickly get to wide open spaces and can see rugged coastline, explore quaint towns, drive through rolling hills of dairy farms, and eat some pretty good food. When Blue Heron opened in 2003, I hoped to share my love of this area with many visitors from out of town by offering two West Marin tours on the Blue Heron website. Unfortunately, not many visitors pick these tours. I hope it's because they prefer to explore West Marin on their own rather than to not take the time to visit this less-traveled region. In an effort to encourage more guests to visit this beautiful part of the Bay Area, I am republishing, with updates, two "Rick's Tips" that originally covered this area in 2005. Below is Part I. Part II will be in the January 2019 issue of "Rick's Tips." 

The area called West Marin stretches along the Pacific Ocean from Muir Beach in the south to Dillon Beach in the north. It is a world apart from the suburban life found in the rest of Marin County. Much of the land is protected. The Golden Gate National Recreation Area, Point Reyes National Seashore, Mt. Tamalpais State Park, and Tomales Bay State Park are part of West Marin. Much land is watershed and still more is reserved for agricultural uses. Dairy farming has a rich history in West Marin. Today this area is home to organic dairies and artisan cheese-makers. 

Each of the small communities that straddle California Route 1 - the main north/south artery through the area - has a unique character. We'll take a tour of West Marin in this issue from Muir Beach to Bolinas. In January, we'll explore the area from Point Reyes National Seashore to Dillon Beach.  

Muir Beach 

If you visit Muir Woods, turn right when you leave the parking lot. You will follow Redwood Creek on its journey to the ocean. When you arrive at Route 1, you will be in the small community of Muir Beach. In good years, which have been rare recently, our winter rains start in late October or early November. By December or early January, Redwood Creek gains enough force to break through the sandbar at Muir Beach. Then steelhead trout and salmon are able to swim up the creek and spawn in Muir Woods. Unfortunately, drought and other factors have greatly reduced the number of spawning fish. 

Muir Beach is home to a lovely bed and breakfast, The Pelican Inn. The inn has nine charming guest rooms as well as a restaurant that features country English fare. The bar has a great selection of ale, lager, and stout on tap. One of my favorite day hikes is to walk from Tennessee Valley in the Golden Gate National Recreation Area along the Coastal Trail to Muir Beach. I then stop for lunch or a brew (just one) at The Pelican Inn and head back. The round-trip walk is about nine miles. There's a fair amount of up and down, but the spectacular coastal views make it worth the effort. 

Just north of town is the Muir Beach Overlook, an old base-end station where soldiers searched for enemy ships during World War II. Today this beautiful bluff affords views of the rugged California coast from Point Reyes to the Golden Gate. Standing here, it is hard to imagine that one is in the midst of a metropolitan area of over seven million people. If you are lucky, you might see whales off shore.  

Stinson Beach 

The next town north on Route 1 is Stinson Beach. This is where San Franciscans go when the sun is shining and we just want to lie on the beach. (Yes, there are a few days in the Bay Area when the temperature hits 90, and you can walk on the beach in a bathing suit rather than a down jacket.) Stinson has that funky beach feel that is scarce in Northern California. No gourmet restaurants with extensive wine lists here, but there are three good places to grab a casual lunch. Parkside Cafe, Sand Dollar Restaurant, and Stinson Beach Breakers Cafe all have sandwiches, salads, and other dishes. You may also want to stroll through the shops that line the two blocks of Route 1 in town. 

Stinson Beach is all about escaping San Francisco's fog for a sunny day at the beach. Be warned: if one of these rare 90 degree days falls on a weekend, traffic will be heavy and parking scarce in town. 

Bolinas 

Bolinas has a reputation for being quirky and a refuge for former hippies and other free thinkers. For many years the highway department tried to place signs on Route 1 to indicate the turn-off to Bolinas. Within days the signs would disappear. Today, the main road into Bolinas is unmarked. It is the first left turn off Route 1 after you pass Bolinas Lagoon if you are driving from Stinson Beach. When you arrive, you may no longer find many hippies, but you will find a unique village to wander around for a short while. 

South of the Bolinas turn-off on Route 1 (3.5 miles north of Stinson Beach) is the Audubon Canyon Ranch's Martin Griffin Preserve. During the spectacular heron and egret nesting season, you can walk up on a hillside and use telescopes to view chicks in their nests. Hours vary depending on the season, so check the Preserve's website before visiting.  

Agate Beach County Park, just west of Bolinas, is a nice place to enjoy the beach on a warm, sunny day. At low tide, you can walk to the park along the shore from the town of Bolinas. Check a tide table before taking this pleasant, hour-long walk to make sure you can complete your journey before the tide comes in.  

Coast Cafe in Bolinas is a friendly spot for breakfast or lunch. A new hotel and restaurant, Eleven, recently opened for dinner. While I have not yet dined there, early reviews of the restaurant look promising. That's it for our journey in West Marin for this issue. For more information on visiting West Marin, visit the Chamber of Commerce's website. We'll head to Point Reyes in January.

Monday, July 02, 2018

Blue Heron Custom Tours Awarded TripAdvisor's 2018 Certificate of Excellence

For the seventh year in a row, Blue Heron Custom Tours has been awarded TripAdvisor's prestigious Certificate of Excellence. Thanks to our many guests who took the time to post a review this past year.


If you took a tour with us during the past 12 months and have yet to post a review on TripAdvisor, you may do so by clicking here.

Wednesday, June 20, 2018

Rick's Tips - Summer in the City

Here's the latest edition of "Rick's Tips,"  Blue Heron's free newsletter:

Welcome to "Rick's Tips," Blue Heron Custom Tours and Travel's newsletter of fun and interesting things to do in San Francisco, the Bay Area, and Northern California. Whether you are visiting San Francisco or hosting visitors, Blue Heron can provide an unforgettable experience. Visit our website, www.BlueHeronTours.com, to learn more about our private, custom tours.

Summer in the City
 
Summer in San Francisco is often cold, foggy, crowded, and a lot of fun. Here are some tips for enjoying your summer in the city.

Be Prepared for the Weather
 
There's an old quote attributed to Mark Twain but probably never spoken by the great author, "The coldest winter I ever spent was a summer's day in San Francisco." While Twain never may have spoken these words, the sentiment is oh-so-true. A typical summer day in San Francisco starts with a low of about 54F/12C with fog covering the city. The fog gradually burns off with the neighborhoods closest to the bay clearing first and those along the ocean often staying shrouded in fog throughout the day. Come mid-afternoon, a peak temperature of 67F/19C is reached, the winds pick up, and the fog comes pouring back through the Golden Gate. You can tell the locals; we are in down jackets and ski caps. The tourists are wearing tee-shirts and shorts. San Franciscans dress in layers as our weather is so unpredictable. Bring your shorts as it's hot outside of the City, but also bring long pants, a sweater or hoody, and/or a fall jacket.

Avoid the Crowds
 
San Francisco welcomes many visitors during the summer. Families prefer to travel when their children are on school breaks. If you can visit in late May or early June before all schools break for the summer or in late August or early September when many schools have reopened, the city will be slightly less crowded.

Last year, issue number 56 of "Rick's Tips" provided much information for avoiding crowds at many of our popular attractions. You can see that issue by clicking here. All of the information is still current with the exception of the information on visiting Muir Woods. Advance reservations now are required for all visitors arriving by personal vehicle or on the shuttle. You can get a reservation by visiting www.gomuirwoods.com. Reservations become available 90 days prior to the date of your visit. Tour operators, like Blue Heron, also need reservations to bring their guests to the park but get them through a different system.

Take in a Game
 
The Bay Area is home to two major league baseball teams - San Francisco Giants and Oakland Athletics, better known as the A's. The Giants play at AT&T Park, which is an easy, mile-long walk from Union Square. If you are staying downtown, you also can get to the stadium on the N and K/T streetcars. If your hotel is close to Fisherman's Wharf, the E Line street car runs between the Wharf and the stadium. The A's play at the Oakland Coliseum, which is next to a BART (subway) station. To get to the stadium from Union Square, SOMA, or the Financial District, board BART at the Powell, Montgomery, or Embarcadero stations. If you are staying close to the Wharf, take the E or F line streetcar and board BART at the Embarcadero station. Trains heading to Dublin/Pleasanton and Fremont/Warm Springs stop at the Coliseum station. Night games at AT&T park can be chilly, so bring warm clothes. The Giants often sell out their games, while the A's seldom do.

A unique sporting event this summer is the Rugby World Cup Sevens, which will be held at AT&T Park from July 20 to 22. This is the first time this world championship will be held in the U.S.

Be Festive
 
Nearly every week a neighborhood in San Francisco has a street festival. Each has a unique theme, but you can count on listening to good music, tasting yummy food, and exploring crafts for sale. You can see a good list of festivals by clicking here or here.

One of the biggest events of the summer is the Pride Parade and Celebration on June 23 and 24. The celebration is held in Civic Center Plaza on both afternoons. The parade is on the morning of the 24th. Participants march from Market and Beale Streets to Civic Center. Please note that nudity is allowed in the parade and at the celebration. Also, If you are not going to the parade and need to drive across Market Street on Sunday morning, you will need to drive around the parade route.

Two big music festivals will take place in the next few months. Outside Lands runs from August 20 through 22 in Golden Gate Park. This year's headliners include The Weekend, Florence & the Machine, and Janet Jackson. Dozens of other acts also will appear. Hardly Strictly Bluegrass is a free festival featuring bluegrass and related musical genres. This year's festival runs from October 5 to 8 in Golden Park. The lineup of performers has yet to be announced.

Dine al Fresco
 
On warm, sunny days eating outside is great fun. Fortunately, San Francisco has a good number of outdoor dining opportunities. If you like grabbing meals from food trucks, Off the Grid organizes markets of food trucks where you can enjoy tasty food at reasonable prices in the great outdoors. Their biggest event is the Presidio Picnic held every Sunday from 11:00 a.m. to 4:00 p.m. through October 21 on the Main Post of the Presidio. Hundreds of people gather to picnic on the lawn, enjoy good food and drinks, and listen to music. Off the Grid sponsors daily food truck markets around San Francisco from 11:00 a.m. to 2:00 p.m. Evening markets are held from 5:00 to 9:00 p.m. on Thursdays at the end of Waller Street in the Upper Haight (aka Haight-Ashbury) and on Fridays at Fort Mason Center (lower Fort Mason).

Spark Social has a food truck park at the corner of 4th Street and Mission Bay North in the new Mission Bay neighborhood, just south of AT&T Park. Some trucks are regularly at the park while others come and go. Trucks are open for lunch from 11:00 a.m. to 3:00 p.m. and dinner from 5:00 to 9:00 p.m. on weekdays. On Saturdays, the trucks open at 11:00 a.m. and close at 9:00 p.m. Trucks serve from 11:00 a.m. to 5:00 p.m. on Sundays.

Many restaurants have nice spaces for dining outdoors. Some of my favorites include Hog Island Oyster Co. in the Ferry Building, The Ramp and Mission Rock Resort in Mission Bay, Park Chalet in Golden Gate Park across from Ocean Beach, and La Mar Cebicheria at Pier 1 1/2 on The Embarcadero.

Enjoy the Fireworks
 
San Francisco celebrates Independence Day with fireworks at around 9:00 p.m. on July 4. The challenge in viewing the display is that the fog often obscures the fireworks, so viewers see only illuminated clouds. If the fog is high or the sky is clear, find yourselves a good vantage point and enjoy the pyrotechnics. Hilltops and upper floors of hotels with clear lines of sight to the bay are some of the best places to watch the fireworks. You also get good views from along the waterfront at Fisherman's Wharf. Expect large crowds in the area and don't even think of driving as street parking is prohibited around much of the Wharf during the late afternoon and evening of July 4. Many people enjoy the view from the Marin Headlands on the north side of the Golden Gate. You will need a car to get there. Go early as parking is very limited.

Of course, there is much more to see and do in San Francisco, the Bay Area, and Northern California during the summer; like take a tour with Blue Heron Custom Tours and Travel. Check out back issues of "Rick's Tips" for more ideas.

Blue Heron is on TripAdvisor
 
Blue Heron is on TripAdvisor. Check out Blue Heron's listing or, if you've used Blue Heron's services within the past year, post a review by clicking here

Follow Blue Heron Custom Tours on Facebook
 
Blue Heron Custom Tours and Travel has a Facebook page. Click the "Like" button and you will receive regular updates from Blue Heron's two blogs, "Rick's Wine Country Journal" and "Rick's San Francisco Journal," as well as other information on fun things to do in San Francisco and the Bay Area.
Rick's Blogs
 
If you are not a Facebook member, you can still get more information on sights in San Francisco and wine country, by reading my blogs: Rick's San Francisco Journal and Rick's Wine Country Journal


Blue Heron does not believe in sending unwanted e-mail. If you do not want to continue receiving this free newsletter, just reply to this message and let me know or click here: Unsubscribe. Your name will be removed from our mailing list immediately. If you know someone who you think would like to receive his or her own free copy of "Rick's Tips," either send me his or her name and e-mail address or forward this message and ask him or her to reply directly to me. 

See you on the road, 
Rick Spear  
Blue Heron Custom Tours and Travel 
275 Staples Avenue San Francisco, CA 94112 
(866) 326-4237 (toll free) 
(415) 337-1874 (local) 
(415) 587-7433 (fax)  
www.BlueHeronTours.com  
Rick@BlueHeronTours.com  
TCP 16309-S  

"Go Where You Want To Go!"

Friday, April 13, 2018

"Rick's Tips" - April 2018 - Spring Has Sprung

The April edition of "Rick's Tips," Blue Heron's free newsletter of fun things to do in San Francisco, the Bay Area, and Northern California is now available.  You can read about fun things to do this spring:

Welcome to "Rick's Tips," Blue Heron Custom Tours and Travel's newsletter of fun and interesting things to do in San Francisco, the Bay Area, and Northern California. Whether you are visiting San Francisco or hosting visitors, Blue Heron can provide an unforgettable experience. Visit our website, www.BlueHeronTours.com, to learn more about our private, custom tours.
Spring Has Sprung
 
Northern California doesn't really have four seasons like much of the country. Rather, we have wet and dry seasons. The arrival of spring means that the winter rains will soon come to an end. In San Francisco, summer means cold, foggy weather. Spring and fall are the nicest times of year to visit as the days are warmer and the skies clearer. Spring means different things to different people. For some, spring means their gardens start to bloom. For others, spring means the arrival of the baseball season. Below are some spring activities for you to enjoy over the next few months.

See Beautiful Flowers
 
Wild Flowers

When we have a wet winter, beautiful wildflowers blossom in the spring. This past winter saw below average rainfall. However, heavy rains in March could result in colorful fields of wildflowers this spring. There are many spots to see gorgeous flowers. My favorite is Chimney Rock in Point Reyes National Seashore. A 2.5-mile/4-km. trail will guide you from the parking lot along the bluff overlooking Drake's Bay and the Pacific Ocean. In April and May, thousands of wild flowers are in bloom. Point Reyes juts into the Pacific making it a cold, windy, and foggy spot. If you can visit on a sunny day, you won't be disappointed.  

Daffodil Hill

About 2.5 hours east of San Francisco is the small Gold Rush town of Volcano in Amador County. Just outside of town you'll find Daffodil Hill. If you visit at the right time of year, usually mid-March until mid-April, you'll find tens of thousands of blooming daffodils. This garden is a must-see if you are visiting Gold Country in the spring. Before you go, call (209) 296-7048 to check on road conditions and to see if the flowers are blooming. Admission is free.  

Kruse Rhododendron Reserve

About 20 miles north of the small town of Jenner on the Sonoma County Coast is the Kruse Rhododendron State Natural Reserve. Every May thousands of rhododendrons come into bloom. Visitors can walk a short loop trail through the rhododendrons or a 2-mile/3.2-km. trail through the second-growth redwood forest. The road to the park is narrow and not suitable for larger vehicles or cars pulling trailers.

Enjoy the Great Outdoors
 
Spring is a great time to explore our nearby parks. Rain is less frequent than in the winter. Since fog is not common, spring provides a perfect opportunity to explore the coast.  

Golden Gate National Recreation Area

The Golden Gate National Recreation Area includes park lands in San Francisco, San Mateo County to the south, and Marin County across the Golden Gate. The park is full of historic sites, beautiful beaches (remember the water is ALWAYS cold), and miles of hiking trails. A great hike in the city is the Coastal Trail between the Sea Cliff/Lincoln Park border and the Land's End Visitors Center. Hike about 1.5 miles one way on the Coastal Trail and, if you need to return to your starting spot, come back on El Camino Del Mar, which is paved for about half of the mile-long walk. In Marin County, I love the nine-mile, round trip hike along the Coastal Trail between Tennessee Valley and Muir Beach. If you start at Tennessee Valley, you can have lunch and a pint of Guinness on draft at the Pelican Inn in Muir Beach before returning. Just don't drink too many pints. You'll need a car to get to either Tennessee Valley or Muir Beach as they are not serviced by public transit. Spring is the perfect time to enjoy the views of the Golden Gate, San Francisco, and the Pacific Ocean from Point Bonita Lighthouse in the Marin Headlands. The walk to the lighthouse is about one mile long and goes through a tunnel built by Chinese laborers in the 19th century. The lighthouse is open on Saturdays, Sundays, and Mondays from 12:30 to 3:30 p.m. The Marin Headlands Express (76X) bus services the lighthouse parking lot on Saturdays and Sundays. Point 

Reyes National Seashore

Point Reyes is along the Marin County coast, about one hour from the Golden Gate Bridge. The park offers rugged terrain, beautiful beaches, great hikes, and an historic lighthouse. As the point juts out far into the Pacific, Point Reyes tends to be very foggy. A spring visit minimizes your chance of seeing nothing but the fog. The website has a park cam so you can check out the weather before you go. My favorite hike is the 9.5-mile, round-trip hike through the Tule Elk Reserve at Tomales Point. On a clear day, the trail offers spectacular views of the Pacific, North and South Beaches, and Tomales Bay. You've got a pretty good chance of seeing Tule Elk during your walk. A walk to the Point Reyes Lighthouse offers stunning ocean views. March and April are good moths to see migrating gray whales on their way from Mexico to Alaska. A word of caution, the walk to the lighthouse takes you down 308 steps, which means you have to climb back up them when you finish your visit. The lighthouse is currently open only from Friday through Monday, from 10:00 a.m. to 4:30 p.m. On weekends between December and April, visitors may need to board a shuttle bus at Drake's Beach to get to the lighthouse.

Go Whale Watching
 
While whales can be seen offshore throughout the year, early spring is a good time to see gray whales migrating north from Mexico to Alaska. You can see them off in the distance from Land's End, Point Bonita, the Muir Beach Overlook near Muir Woods, Point Reyes, and Bodega Head in Sonoma County. However, the best way to see whales is to go on a whale watching expedition. Boats depart from San Francisco; Half Moon Bay, about 45 minutes south of San Francisco; Moss Landing, about 30 minutes north of Monterey; and Monterey. In San Francisco, SF Bay Whale Watching and San Francisco Whale Tours offer tours from Pier 39. The Oceanic Society provides tours that depart from Half Moon Bay or San Francisco. A good number of companies offer whale watching tours in Monterey Bay that depart from either Fisherman's Wharf in Monterey or from Moss Landing.

Root for Your Favorite Team
 
Baseball

The arrival of spring means the opening of the baseball season is not far behind. The Bay Area is home to two major league teams - San Francisco Giants and Oakland Athletics, better known as the A's. The Giants open their season against the dreaded Dodgers on March 29 in Los Angeles. Their home opener is at 1:35 on April 3 against the Seattle Mariners. The A's open their season against the Los Angeles Angels at 1:05 on March 29. The Giants often sell out their games while the A's seldom do. Both stadiums are easy to get to from San Francisco. AT&T Park is home to the Giants. The stadium is a twenty minute walk from Union Square and the Financial District. It's also accessible via the E, N, and K/T streetcars. The Oakland Coliseum is about thirty minutes from San Francisco via BART, our subway. Ride a train bound for Fremont, Warm Springs/South Fremont, or Dublin/Pleasanton and get off at the Coliseum Station. The stadium is a five-minute walk from the BART station.  

Basketball

Spring means it's playoff time in the NBA. Of course, the NBA champion Golden State Warriors will be seeking another title. Tickets to Warriors games are the tough to come by. The Warriors are officially sold out for the season, but tickets are usually available through re-sellers on the team's website as well as on independent websites. Expect to pay a pretty penny, especially if you want to go to a playoff game. The Warriors currently play at the Oracle Arena in Oakland, which is next to the Coliseum where the A's play. To get to the Arena from San Francisco, follow the above directions to take BART to the Coliseum. In 2019, the Warriors are scheduled to move to their new home, Chase Center, in the Mission Bay neighborhood of San Francisco. This arena will be accessible via the K/T streetcar.  

Ice Hockey

Spring is also playoff time in the NHL. The San Jose Sharks are the Bay Area's hockey team. While they have never won the Stanley Cup, the Sharks frequently make the playoffs. You can see the Sharks play at the SAP Center in San Jose. The best way to get there from San Francisco is via CalTrain. You can board a train at the San Francisco station at Fourth and Townsend Streets and get off at the San Jose Diridon Station. It's then a short walk to the Arena.

Soccer

Major League Soccer (MLS) doesn't wait for the arrival of spring to start its season. The San Jose Earthquakes played their first game on March 3. You can catch Major League Soccer action at Avaya Stadium in San Jose. To get to the stadium from San Francisco, take CalTrain (see Ice Hockey above) to the Santa Clara station. Then you can walk one mile to the stadium.

Of course, there is much more to see and do in San Francisco, the Bay Area, and Northern California during the spring; like take a tour with Blue Heron Custom Tours and Travel. Check out back issues of "Rick's Tips" for more ideas.

Blue Heron is on TripAdvisor
 
Blue Heron is on TripAdvisor. Check out Blue Heron's listing or, if you've used Blue Heron's services within the past year, post a review by clicking here

Follow Blue Heron Custom Tours on Facebook
 
Blue Heron Custom Tours and Travel has a Facebook page. Click the "Like" button and you will receive regular updates from Blue Heron's two blogs, "Rick's Wine Country Journal" and "Rick's San Francisco Journal," as well as other information on fun things to do in San Francisco and the Bay Area.
Rick's Blogs
 
If you are not a Facebook member, you can still get more information on sights in San Francisco and wine country, by reading my blogs: Rick's San Francisco Journal and Rick's Wine Country Journal


Blue Heron does not believe in sending unwanted e-mail. If you do not want to continue receiving this free newsletter, just reply to this message and let me know or click here: Unsubscribe. Your name will be removed from our mailing list immediately. If you know someone who you think would like to receive his or her own free copy of "Rick's Tips," either send me his or her name and e-mail address or forward this message and ask him or her to reply directly to me. 

See you on the road, 
Rick Spear  
Blue Heron Custom Tours and Travel 
275 Staples Avenue San Francisco, CA 94112 
(866) 326-4237 (toll free) 
(415) 337-1874 (local) 
(415) 587-7433 (fax)  
www.BlueHeronTours.com  
Rick@BlueHeronTours.com 
TCP 16309-S 

 "Go Where You Want To Go!"

Tuesday, February 20, 2018

Mariposa Grove of Giant Sequoias Reopens June 15

If you are planning to visit Yosemite National Park this summer, you will once again be able to walk among the magnificent trees at Mariposa Grove of Giant Sequoias starting June 15.  This article provides all of the details on the recent renovation to the grove and environs.

Mariposa Grove is located about one hour south of Yosemite Valley, just inside the southern entrance to Yosemite National Park.  The closest lodging includes Big Trees Lodge (Wawona Hotel) inside the park, Tenaya Lodge just outside of the park, and The Redwoods on private land inside the park boundaries.

Blue Heron no longer offers tours to Yosemite National Park.  Most tour operators out of San Francisco do not include Mariposa Grove on their tours.  Your best bet is to drive or to take the YARTS bus from Fresno.