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California dreaming

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45500 CA-1, Big Sur, CA 93920, USA
One of my favorite campgrounds in Big Sur is the big open meadow at Andrew Molera State Park. It's great for large groups and it's one of the best bases for hiking and surfing in the area. More than 20 miles of trails run throughout the park's...
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Yosemite National Park, 1 Ahwahnee Drive, Yosemite Valley, CA 95389, USA
Although a very popular hike in the Yosemite Valley, the hike past Vernal Falls up the mist trail to Nevada Falls is magical in the Springtime. Personally, I think this is the best spot to stop and have lunch. However, Be sure to check the signs...
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3301 Lyon St, San Francisco, CA 94123, USA
Standing out in San Francisco's Marina District, this historic landmark is a leftover from the 1915 Pan-Pacific International Expo and was designed by Bernard R. Maybeck, a student of the École des Beaux-Arts. His vision was to...
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75 Hagiwara Tea Garden Dr, San Francisco, CA 94118, USA
Visit the Japanese Tea Garden in San Francisco for a calming escape from the hustle and bustle of the city. It's located beside the De Young and Academy of Sciences in Golden Gate Park, and offers a variety of snacks to nibble on while enjoying...
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Tenderloin, San Francisco, CA, USA
The artist is unknown, but the Tenderloin National Forest is a wonderful place to visit. Behind a big steel door, and open to the public off and on, the walls of this little alley that has been turned into a park, are covered with murals, and...
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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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Long Ave & Marine Dr, San Francisco, CA 94129, USA
The Golden Gate Bridge is probably the most photographed site in California, but this vantage point never gets old. Explore the hollowed out fort, learn some history, and marvel at the view from the top floor.
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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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Hayes Valley, San Francisco, CA 94102, USA
Consistently ranked in Top 5/10 lists for the best San Francisco Bay Area Food Truck list, Mama's Empanadas is a food truck with a seemingly strange food combination: empanadas and pasta. But Mama—born in Chile and raised in Italy—makes it work....
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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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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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63025 CA-1, Big Sur, CA 93920, USA
Limekiln State Park in Big Sur has it all—beach, woods, and history—and the trails are so short that you can actually see it all. First, follow the half-mile Limekiln Trail along a stream to four metal kilns that once fired limestone rock into...
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55000 CA-1, Big Sur, CA 93920, USA
I was putting my bags in my car, getting ready to leave, when a man came up to me and said, “Is it really time to go?” I smiled and answered, “No.” There was mutual understanding that nobody is ever ready to leave this place, where a feeling of...
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45500 CA-1, Big Sur, CA 93920, USA
Initially, we were going to hike another trail further down the road but when we arrived, the portion we wanted to hike was closed due to a landslide. We headed back north and decided to hike this trail since we pass the trail head often. The...
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52801 California State Route 1, Big Sur, CA 93920, USA
Beautiful McWay Falls at Julia Pfeiffer State Park on the way to Big Sur.
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48510 CA-1, Big Sur, CA 93920, USA

Though I had read a lot about Nepenthe, as it is a "must-see" if you are in the Big Sur area, I still wasn't prepared for just how beautiful the views were. We were planning on setting up camp and then coming back the few miles to eat dinner at...

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47540 CA-1, Big Sur, CA 93920, USA
The Big Sur Bakery and Restaurant serves housemade granola, ginger scones, and seasonal fruit strudels in a cabin built in 1937. Wood-fired pizzas, with toppings such as squash and prosciutto, stand out on the dinner menu, and the blackberry...
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39171 Tassajara Rd, Carmel Valley, CA 93924, USA
In 1967, Tassajara (already a storied hot springs resort) became the first Zen monastery outside Japan. Run by the San Francisco Zen Center, the monastery is open to the public from May through September and closed the rest of the year for...
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71895 CA-1, Big Sur, CA 93920, USA
For such a remote region, Big Sur has more than its share of amazing places to stay. One of the most unique is Treebones Resort, nestled high in the foothills of South Big Sur overlooking the Pacific. The off-the-grid property offers 16 signature...
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50 Hagiwara Tea Garden Dr, San Francisco, CA 94118, USA
The de Young Museum, with its perforated copper facade and spiraling tower in the center of Golden Gate Park, is as dramatic outside as it is inside. Follow the widening crack in the sidewalk into the atrium. It's an Andy Goldsworthy–created...
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California, USA
“We wanted to go to Yosemite, but didn’t have time.” I’ve heard this refrain from several San Francisco visitors and they all have said it with regret. Yes, the reverent national park is outside of a short-drive comfort...
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North Beach, San Francisco, CA, USA
A british street artist and political activist, one of the top street artists in the world. This one is in North Beach, San Francisco
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138 Emerald Bay Rd, South Lake Tahoe, CA 96150, USA
Hiking in the Desolation Wilderness backcountry area around Lake Tahoe is one of my favorite things to do and has been since I was a kid. In September, I took my husband hiking in Desolation Wilderness to show him some of the best places I went...
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47900 CA-1, Big Sur, CA 93920, USA
Described by devotees as the most luxurious, one-of-a-kind lodging experience in all of California, the Post Ranch Inn was purpose-built to blend in with the Santa Lucia Mountains. Opened in 1992, and designed by famed Big Sur architect Mickey...
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3692 18th St, San Francisco, CA 94110, USA
It's no wonder that on any given weekday afternoon, the line for ice cream at this legendary San Francisco establishment goes out the door and wraps around the block. Once you try it for yourself, you'll understand: it's just that good. With...
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62 CA-1, Carmel-By-The-Sea, CA 93923, USA
I've been all over the California coast and Point Lobos is my favorite place to hike. We have hiked every trail in this reserve and never tire of this magical place. You can see many animals, such as sea otters, seals, elephant seals,sea lions,...
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4001 Judah St, San Francisco, CA 94122, USA
Outerlands is an Outer Sunset institution. The small restaurant near Ocean Beach serves local, organic cuisine in a rustic-chic setting. Covered floor-to-ceiling in warm, rough-hewn wood, the interior invites lingering over an artisan cocktail or...
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4519, 261 Columbus Ave, San Francisco, CA 94133, USA

In an age when many independent bookstores have surrendered to the advance of chain stores and Amazon, City Lights is a true survivor. Since it was founded by poet Lawrence Ferlinghetti in 1956, it has served as a gathering place for San...

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Balboa Park, San Diego, CA, USA
Balboa park is a landscape of arts and culture in San Diego, including museums, such as The Natural History Museum, and the Museum of Photographic Arts. The photo above is of the large koi pond outside the botanical garden house. It makes for a...
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California, USA
Late afternoon in Joshua Tree National Park.
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52801 California State Route 1, Big Sur, CA 93920, USA
After five hours in the car, I was more than happy to hop out and hike the 1.4 miles out to Pfeiffer Burns State Park and get the prize of a beautiful waterfall. The water's color is an unreal sea blue/green that I have never seen before. The best...
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100 34th Ave, San Francisco, CA 94121, USA

San Francisco's Legion of Honor, in Lincoln Park in the northwest corner of the city, has stunning views of the Golden Gate Bridge. The building is a replica of the French pavilion constructed for the 1915 Panama-Pacific International Exposition,...

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California, USA
Its a long haul from San Francisco, but so magical when you arrive you almost forget how long you've been in the car.
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8 Mission St, San Francisco, CA 94105, USA
In a city renowned for its "gastro-this" and "fusion-that," it was a surprise that my decadent waterfront meal at the Americano ended with a simple dessert. Simple, I soon learned, only at first glance. What looks like a standard ice cream...
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Treasure Island, San Francisco, CA, USA
Treasure Island is still technically located in the city of San Francisco, but you probably wouldn't venture to the island unless you're making a trip over to Oakland and the east bay. I have often noticed the great views of SF from the bay...
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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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21600 Big Basin Way, Boulder Creek, CA 95006, USA
Upon arrival at Big Basin State Park, the ranger hands you a small piece of paper with check boxes. Each carload needs to check where they will be hiking and list their equipment. The sheet is placed on their dashboard in case the car remains...
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Gibson Rd, San Francisco, CA 94129, USA
Every once in a while, the sun shines bright in San Francisco and every city residents flocks to the nearest park or beach to soak up the sun and day drink. Baker Beach, in the confines of SF, seems worlds away from city life. The view of the...
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55 Music Concourse Dr, San Francisco, CA 94118, USA

The California Academy of Sciences is an unfortunately stuffy name for an institution that is anything but staid. The country's largest natural-history museum includes an aquarium, a planetarium, an enormous rain-forest exhibit under a...

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48603 CA-1, Big Sur, CA 93920, USA
The Henry Miller Memorial Library is a bookshop–cultural center dedicated to the bohemian author who once called Big Sur home. It has become a hot spot for concerts by the likes of Gillian Welch and Arcade Fire and a Thursday night summer...
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375 Valencia St, San Francisco, CA 94103, USA
A key player in the "third wave" coffee movement is Four Barrel Coffee, founded by Jeremy Tooker—who has a particular love for light roasts and the bright, acidic flavors that come with this method. Don’t let that description deter you, though;...
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Mt Shasta, CA 96067, USA
30 feet below the cornice of a narrow crevasse, I’m dangling like a marionette on a 9-mil rope, staring in awe at a rippling splinter of luminescent blue ice—the size of a 10-story building—jutting from a rift in the Hotlum glacier. And what’s...
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16th Ave, San Francisco, CA 94122, USA
The 16th Avenue Tiled Steps Project in the Inner Sunset is a reflection of the city’s creative spirit. Artists Aileen Barr and Colette Crutcher led the initiative to cover a stairway in mosaics inspired by the Santa Teresa Steps in Rio de...
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57 Post St, San Francisco, CA 94104, USA
It doesn't matter how well you think you know a place—there's always somewhere new worth exploring. San Francisco is packed with secret hideouts. One of my all-time favorites has to be the Mechanics Institute Library and Chess Room—and the rather...
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600 Montgomery St, San Francisco, CA 94111, USA
What the Eiffel Tower is to Paris, the Transamerica building at the end of Columbus Avenue defines the San Francisco Skyline. North Beach lies at its feet.
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2211 Mission St, San Francisco, CA 94110, USA
I can only describe the vegan Mexican food of Gracias Madre as a truly unexpected experience of culinary genius. They transformed a wildly famous cuisine of bold, rich, hearty, and heavy flavors into a selection of healthy, earthy dishes that...
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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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Taylor St, San Francisco, CA 94133, USA

Fisherman's Wharf, really a section of the waterfront running from Ghirardelli Square to Pier 35 and not just one pier, is one of San Francisco's oldest attractions. This is definitely a very tourist-friendly version of the old maritime life of...

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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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1004 Point Lobos Ave, San Francisco, CA 94121, USA
While hiking through the Lands End area of San Francisco I came across this gem. Built in the late 19th century as the world's largest indoor swimming pool complex, visitors could take a dip in one of the seven pools or take a stroll through a...
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1 Muir Woods Rd, Mill Valley, CA 94941, USA
Just 12 miles north of the Golden Gate Bridge is Muir Woods National Monument, a 554-acre park; old-growth coast redwoods, the tallest trees in the world, cover 295 of those acres. Peaceful and lush, the forest is ideal for simply communing with...
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4045 St Helena Hwy, Calistoga, CA 94515, USA
Castello di Amorosa is an architectural wonderland right in the middle of Napa Valley. Based on fourth-generation winemaker Dario Sattui’s passion for medieval history, this replica of a 13th-century stone castle, made entirely from European...
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6640 Washington St, Yountville, CA 94599, USA
There was a time when the French Laundry actually washed shirts. Now, that is just a bad joke (as in "They were a bit heavy on the starch; I don't think I'll be going back"). There are those who say Thomas Keller's famous flagship restaurant that...
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1 New Years Creek Rd, Pescadero, CA 94060, USA
Northern elephant seals breed from mid December to the end of March at Año Nuevo SP. Permits for guided walks are required and you can get them here: http://anonuevo.reserveamerica.com I was lucky enough to see huge males fighting, mothers nursing...
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3901 Packer Lake Rd, Sierra City, CA 96125, USA

My wife, Robin, and I have been camping, fishing, and hiking in the Lakes Basin area, near Sierra City, since we met. These days, our usual home base is a tiny log cabin at the edge of Packer Lake, pictured here. From trailheads around Packer you...

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Lombard St, San Francisco, CA 94133, USA
Sometimes all it take to make a road famous are eight, tight hairpin turns. This one way street was designed in this manner to compensate for the steep incline (27 degrees) of the hill it’s on. Traffic on the hairpin area is reserved for eastbound...
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Presidio Blvd, San Francisco, CA 94129, USA
Artist Andy Goldsworthy's Wooden Line meanders its way through a grove of Eucalyptus in the Presidio, inviting all to take off shoes and balance beam through the forest. The sculpture, formed from the trunks of eucalyptus, gently curves its way...
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Inland Ave, Empire, CA 95357, USA
Google as much as you want but you won't find an address for this secret desert diorama in the middle of nowhere Joshua Tree, CA. You will, however, get directions e-mailed to you, but only if you book! Walking into the grounds you enter a...
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1321 1st St, Napa, CA 94559, USA
From chocolate cabernet sauce on ice cream to freshly made brittles and exquisite chocolates, Anette's Chocolate and Ice Cream shop in Downtown Napa is the place to indulge in Napa when you want a little break from wine. The shop is reminiscent of...