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Bay Area: Hometown Favorites

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Delightful experiences gathered from my Highlights and those of AFAR travelers, with destinations from the far southern reaches of the Monterey Bay (OK, not officially Bay Area, but worth the trip) to the northerly dreamlands of Sonoma and Napa wine country. And lots of San Francisco good times!
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220 Clement St, San Francisco, CA 94118, USA
For a dose of culture, head to Park Life in the Inner Richmond. The goal of this gallery-cum-retail space is to feature today’s most engaging contemporary art. Located in a 1,400-square-foot former furniture store, Park Life showcases 10 exhibits...
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Fort Cronkhite, California 94965, USA
This dog friendly hike above Rodeo Beach in Marin County is a stones throw from the city. It's a great place to unwind and the views are incredible on a clear day, and the best part is that you can get there for $2 on the 76 Muni Line!
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Jenner, CA 95450, USA
17 miles of sandy beaches, arched rocks, and thundering waves makes the drive from Bodega Bay to Jenner one of California's most scenic attractions. Sonoma Coast State Park is divided by cliffs and headlands that make up several different beaches...
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579 Hayes St, San Francisco, CA 94102, USA
Inspired by the real-life adventures of two Northern Californian sisters in Krakow, Vienna, Paris, and Brooklyn, Two Sister Bar and Books is a coffee bar, restaurant, and community space in Hayes Valley. The cozy interior and good food makes for...
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Tomales Point, California 94937, USA
At the north end of Point Reyes is the Tomales Point tule elk reserve. You can get there from San Francisco in about an hour and a half, but it's far more scenic (especially for a new arrival to the West Coast, like myself) to drive of Sir Francis...
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601 Murray Cir, Sausalito, CA 94965, USA
Located on the grounds of Fort Baker, a former Army post, Cavallo Point Lodge has taken great pains to preserve its historic roots. Half of the rooms and suites are meticulously restored officers’ residences with views of the hillside...
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20063 Cabrillo Hwy S, Half Moon Bay, CA 94019, USA
San Francisco is a great starting point for a road trip. Drive north or south on the HWY 1 and you're bound to find fun towns, beautiful winding roads and gorgeous coastal scenery. This cave is about an hour drive south of San Francisco, and then...
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24 Pier, San Francisco, CA 94105, USA
Pier 24 Photography is a wonderful photography space with a vastly beautiful collection. The space is large and wonderfully lit, but you have to make an appointment to view the art. Their current exhibit focuses on traditional portrait photography...
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214 Healdsburg Ave, Healdsburg, CA 95448, USA
After a day spent floating down the Russian River, happy hour at Mateo's hit the spot. We grabbed seats at the colorful bar and ordered tacones stuffed with olive oil guacamole and black bean puree with homemade chorizo. I paired the food with a...
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16090 County Road 43, Guinda, CA 95637, USA
If you're still holding a hoe, and I'm not sure why you would be, put it down. This past weekend was Full Belly Farm's annual and beloved and still slightly under-the-radar Hoes Down festival. Somewhere between a harvest fest, Burning Man and...
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7800 Eastside Rd, Healdsburg, CA 95448, USA
Last year Copain Winery in Sonoma started hosting guest chef dinners at its tasting room as part of a Supper Club Series. Copain's winemaker, Wells Guthrie, reaches out to some of his favorite chefs and sommeliers, like Bobby Stuckey and Lachlan...
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Point Reyes Lighthouse, Inverness, CA 94937, USA
I practically got "blown away" at the Point Reyes Lighthouse because it was so incredibly windy the day I visited. In fact, this is the windiest place on the Pacific Coast and the second foggiest place in North America, making it very dangerous...
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202 Stage Rd, Pescadero, CA 94060, USA
Duarte’s Tavern in sleepy Pescadero, half way between Santa Cruz and San Francisco, has been serving hungry and thirsty customers since 1894. Pescadero is a one-street town nestled between coastal redwoods and the ocean, with weather worn houses...
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San Francisco, CA, USA
A new pizzeria being named for being one of the top 5 pizzas in San Francisco is not unusual, but the fact that this top-ranked pizza is coming from a food truck may surprise you! This mobile pizzeria housed in a twenty-foot transatlantic shipping...
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Potrero Hill, San Francisco, CA, USA
This food truck is special. Not only do they serve a damn good falafel and rather addicting sweet potato fries, but the experience you have from order to bite is exceptional. The owner of this particular food truck makes all the difference in the...
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560 Divisadero St, San Francisco, CA 94117, USA
At the restaurant Nopa in San Francisco's Western Addition, the long bar and communal tables are perfect places to perch on a weeknight. Go early, order an elderflower gimlet or a sparkling, minty Old Cuban (both off-menu). Don't miss the Mission...
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1170 4th St, San Francisco, CA 94158, USA
Casey's Pizza serves New York-style, locally-sourced, and mostly organic pizzas from a truck. The owner, a East Coaster, spent a lot of time trying to replicate the pizza of his youth and has added the West Coast mandates of local and organic...
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525 Laguna St, San Francisco, CA 94102, USA
For traditional German food in a cozy setting reminiscent of a traditional Bavarian Wirsthaus, you can’t beat Suppenküche in Hayes Valley. Owner Fabrizio Wiest, who was born and raised in Germany, worked as a graphic designer before he moved to ...
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1 Point Reyes-Petaluma Rd, Inverness, CA 94937, USA
The craggy-rock view from the top of the staircase out to the Point Reyes National Seashore looks just fine from the top. But you didn't drive all this way to stand at the top while everyone else descends to see the historic Point Reyes...
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610 1st St #22, Napa, CA 94559, USA
Napa Valley has so much to offer that as a local, sometimes you find hidden gems within your own backyard. On our way out of the valley and into SF last night we decided to stop by the Oxbow Market in downtown Napa until traffic subsided. We were...
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75 Hagiwara Tea Garden Dr, San Francisco, CA 94118, USA

While Japanese gardens have come to be an expected feature of many botanical parks around the world, the Japanese Tea Garden, which opened in 1894, was the first public tea garden in the United States. The original plot consisted of less than half...

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CA-1, Bodega Bay, CA 94923, USA
Many car commercials have been filmed along this stretch of the iconic California road. The hairpin turns and switchbacks make it a wild ride for some, but the views to the west (the ocean) and the east (Northern California's inimitable green...
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80 4th St, Point Reyes Station, CA 94956, USA
This is another place I immediately return to when I'm in the Bay Area. It's a cheese lover's temple! I loved this salad pictured that I had. It was also my first picture of San Francisco! I must say that the Mount Tam is one of my favourite...
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Pacific Grove, CA, USA
Ice plant knows ways to conquer the dryness of sand and brings subtle visual richness to the already spectacular blue - green lanscapes of Pacific Grove, California. At every step, remember Steinbeck, and not only because this trail is at the end...
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100 John F Kennedy Dr, San Francisco, CA 94118, USA
The Victorian-era glass and wood structure, which looks like a sugar-coated castle atop a grassy slope, is Golden Gate Park's oldest building. It's also one of San Francisco's most splendid historic sites. Wander through five different galleries...
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23240 California 1, Marshall, CA 94940, USA
Since I’m still relatively new to San Francisco, I’m still discovering all of the amazing places just outside of the city. Every weekend I try to hop in a car and explore. My latest discovery is Nick’s Cove, a restaurant and cottages located in a...
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2400 London Ranch Rd, Glen Ellen, CA 95442, USA
The hike through Jack London State Historic Park to the top of Sonoma Mountain runs through redwood groves, meadows, and vineyards. Vigorous blackberry bushes provide some sustenance -- but bring water, because it gets hot up there in the summer....
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Dolores St & 19th St, San Francisco, CA 94114, USA
Mission Dolores Park, aka Delores Park, is one of the most popular parks in San Francisco, especially when the sun is out and the mercury is up. On a sunny weekend, you'll be hard pressed to find a patch of green to plant yourself on, but that's...
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475 25th St, Oakland, CA 94612, USA
On the first Friday evening of every month, Art Murmur takes over the streets and galleries of downtown Oakland, from Old Oakland to Uptown. The epicenter is 25th Street, between Telegraph Avenue and Broadway, where this bubble man, viewed from...
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Vallejo & Taylor, San Francisco, CA 94133, USA
"What do you think?", asked the stranger standing at the top of the stairs, looking ahead at the vast expanse of water, sky, buildings and flowers. The truth flew away from my lips: "Amazing!". Adding to the beauty is the fact that you can walk...
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150 Stockton St, Level Four, San Francisco, CA 94108, USA
For a chic stop on a San Francisco tour, take the Neiman Marcus elevator to the fourth floor and dine at The Rotunda. The lunch menu is varied and contains "light" options for the ladies who lunch. Travelers can revel in a quiet respite just off...
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1 Muir Woods Rd, Mill Valley, CA 94941, USA
It's hard to believe that I had lived in Marin for 13 years before learning about the Tourist Club on Mt. Tam. This past weekend my friends and I hiked from downtown Mill Valley, starting on the Dipsea Trail and following it to the Sun Trail,...
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Twin Peaks, San Francisco, CA, USA
The best views of San Francisco are from the top of Twin Peaks, the two hills that are located in the geographic center of the city. Only from Twin Peaks can you get a 360-degree view of the entire city. If you are lucky, on a clear day you can...
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Pacific Grove, CA, USA
Creatures from another world are here at the aquarium, giving you a feeling of awe and amazement.
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155 Columbus Ave, San Francisco, CA 94133, USA
A San Franciscan watering hole since 1907, Comstock Saloon serves up classic cocktails (think Negronis and Manhattans) in the buzzing North Beach neighborhood. The bar is run by the bartending duo of Jeff Hollinger and Jonny Raglin, previously of...
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17380 Sonoma Hwy, Sonoma, CA 95476, USA
This tiny market on the way to or from Sonoma Wine Country is the perfect place to stop for a meal on the go. El Brinquito is Spanish for a small jump, or a leap, and the Market is just a short hop outside of downtown Sonoma. The everyday fare is...
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What I love about Sonoma County, California is its dramatic contrasts. That one moment you're sipping on wine in a cozy tasting room on the square in Healdsburg Plaza and the next you're hiking around Lake Sonoma with views like this. The overlook...
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Chinatown, San Francisco, CA, USA
You normally wouldn't expect to hear bagpipes at a small Italian fish and seafood restaurant in North Beach, but in actuality anything goes at the very fun Gigi's Oysteria.
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355 11th St, San Francisco, CA 94103, USA
If their New American–style brunch and dinner menus don’t tempt you to Bar Agricole, in SOMA, maybe their recent James Beard Award nomination for Outstanding Bar Program will. Cocktails run at $11 across the board, and head bartenders Thad Vogler...
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3431 19th St, San Francisco, CA 94110, USA
Can't beat a buck for an Oyster! Hogs and Rocks is a great happy hour haunt in the mission. Super lively and fun. I shouldn't be telling you all this!
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2015 Fillmore St, San Francisco, CA 94115, USA
Bun Mee recently opened near my house. Their Vietnamese sandwiches are just spicy enough, with the right amount of filling and at the right price. They also have great salads and sweet potato fries with curry aioli sauce. I've been having their...
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104 Montgomery St, San Francisco, CA 94129, USA
This museum does so much more than tell you about Walt Disney's life—it reminds you of the struggles that all creatives face throughout their careers. The experience is unexpected, interactive, and current for kids and adults alike. The view onto...
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754 Post St, San Francisco, CA 94109, USA
This place is tiny, but it's one of my favorite places in my neighborhood. The menu is small so there are only a few choices, but no matter what you get, you'll be happy. Make sure to try the iced coffee. It's made with chicory, the way it's done...
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San Francisco, CA, USA
There are so many fabulous places in the city that you can go to see and photograph San Francisco and the entire bay area. Some of these are open for the public while others may only be available to guests staying at that particular hotel. So if...
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Golden Gate Park, San Francisco, CA, USA
Golden Gate Park was formed out of an expanse of sand dunes to the west of the city in the nineteenth century—a history that is still discernible in the rolling topography of much of the park’s more than 1,000 acres. Over 13 million...
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3674 18th St, San Francisco, CA 94110, USA
18 Reasons is a new type of community center—one that connects San Franciscans to food and food to community. The goal is to they teach San Franciscans how to cook and eat together. Run by the locally famous Bi-Rite organization in the heart of...
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6126 Silverado Trail, Napa, CA 94558, USA
This Napa Valley winery is the only structure in the United States designed by the famed Austrian artist, architect, and ecologist Friedensreich Hundertwasser (1928-2000). The building's playfulness will put a big smile on your face, and best of...
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6725 Washington St, Yountville, CA 94599, USA
This venue is temporarily closed for renovations, 10/2018. Ma(i)sonry Napa Valley is a well-curated art gallery and wine tasting room set amidst an eclectic sculpture garden. At this Napa Valley tasting room, originally built in 1904 as a private...
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Monterey, CA, USA
Fisherman's Wharf in Monterey is a touristy hell, where cotton candy grows like kelp and soup only comes in bread bowls. But just beyond the madness is a beautiful little bike path that goes all the way to Cannery Row and the aquarium. There's a...
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25 Swanton Rd, Davenport, CA 95017, USA
Swanton Berry Farm is a u-pick farm along the coast just north of Santa Cruz. In the winter it's kiwis; other seasons provide opportunities for picking ollalieberries, blackberries, and strawberries. It's a great, kid-friendly afternoon activity....
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Lands End Trail, San Francisco, CA 94121, USA
Land's End in San Francisco is an easy hike with huge payoff. This labyrinth sits just below the Legion of Honor parking lot and the Lincoln Park golf course. You can then scramble down to a beautiful rocky beach.
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3 Embarcadero Center, San Francisco, CA 94111, USA
This little storefront in north beach is now home to both a Cajun popup and a ramen popup; a mini food court!
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768 Sansome St, San Francisco, CA 94111, USA
Just a little highlight of my day, and not related to exotic foreign travels: the Reveille truck serves great espresso. The hordes of North Beach tourists will miss this hidden spot, and that's too bad (for them).
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Presidio, San Francisco, CA, USA
A few blocks east of Goldsworthy's more prominent Spire is this installation of fallen trees snaking through the still standing ones. Wood Line is located within the cypress grove near the intersection of Presidio Boulevard and West Pacific...
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3940 Judah St, San Francisco, CA 94122, USA
They do their own blend of beans called Elbow Grease, and it’s high-octane stuff.