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,, 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 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.

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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)  
TCP 16309-S  

"Go Where You Want To Go!"

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