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Local Finds: The Best of the Bay Area

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My discoveries and things to do in the bay area.
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1170 Tubbs Ln, Calistoga, CA 94515, USA
Some of the best Napa Valley winetasting experiences are to be had in the tasting rooms of the smaller wineries along the Silverado Trail. Envy Wines, just north of Calistoga (the northernmost part of Napa Valley), is a great pick if you want...
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One Ferry Building, #17, San Francisco, CA 94111, USA
The Ferry Building in San Francisco is a must for any food lover, and Cowgirl Creamery is one of my favorite stops. This producer of artisanal cheeses is a place to pick up cheese for a snack or picnic and to ask questions about California cheese....
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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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5655 College Ave, Oakland, CA 94618, USA
In Oakland's Rockridge district, the Market Hall houses Oliveto's restaurant, a specialty food deli, bakery, coffee shop, pasta shop, florist and produce market. I love to stop by the Oliveto café before heading to San Francisco. Known for it's...
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30 Beckett St, San Francisco, CA 94133, USA
Often, when I feel overly strapped to my desk, hankering for a trip to another land, I stroll into San Francisco's Chinatown. Once I'm off the main drags and into the residential neighborhoods or the commercial streets chockablock with shops...
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941 Cole St, San Francisco, CA 94117, USA
You know you are near Zazie's in the Cole Valley neighborhood by the crowd out front. It is big. There is a sign up sheet on the door, put your name on it, and head to the Irish bar next door to wait the hour it'll take to get seated. But when you...
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1725 Haight St, San Francisco, CA 94117, USA
The Alembic’s pink quail eggs are pickled overnight in coriander, allspice, and clove. They’re tangy on the outside, creamy on the inside, and beg for a Sazerac or bitter beer. For more drinking tips, check out our feature "How to...
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580 Lommel Rd, Calistoga, CA 94515, USA
There’s only one way to get into the 157-acre Napa Valley idyll known as Calistoga Ranch: as a guest. Well, you could come as a guest of a guest, but then you wouldn’t be able to lounge about in a decadent spa robe each morning,...
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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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558 Bellevue Ave, Oakland, CA 94610, USA
Looking a place to run while you're in Oakland? Lake Merritt offers a 3.4-mile circumference that takes you past downtown, through Lakeside Park, past the historic Grand Lake Theater, and along Lakeshore Avenue. If you need a challenge, jog up the...
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2301 Monarch St, Alameda, CA 94501, USA
I found a new reason to go to Alameda Point besides the monthly antiques fair and the homeless-helping bike shop, Changing Gears. The Rock Wall Tasting room is also there, pouring a range of wines produced in the old hangar next door. I especially...
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19225 CA-1, Marshall, CA 94940, USA
North of the little town of Point Reyes Station, the Marshall Store sits on the banks of Tomales Bay. I've been coming here for years after hiking or horseback riding or walking on the beach in Point Reyes National Seashore. The place is super...
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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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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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8501 CA-128, Philo, CA 95466, USA
This unpretentious tasting room is set in gorgeous country. Stop for a picnic--and some sips of brut rose--if you're cutting across the Anderson Valley en route to the Mendocino Coast.
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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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40 Pier, San Francisco, CA 94107, USA
When the sky is clear in San Francisco, the place to see the city's skyline and bridges is from a bay cruise. There are many bay cruises, charters and yachts, but I preferred the sailboat. We were out on the bay, maneuvering through the waves, and...
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56 Ross Alley, San Francisco, CA 94108, USA
In the largest Chinatown outside Asia, the Golden Gate Fortune Cookie Factory glows in the somewhat dark Ross Alley. A group of writers from a Trafalgar Guided Vacation enter the building and see the fortune cookies being made. The untainted, non...
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50 Balmy St, San Francisco, CA 94110, USA
The colorful murals in Balmy Alley are the lower Mission’s own version of the better-known Clarion Alley murals. Stroll through the small, pedestrian-friendly alleyway to see public work by local artists, a tradition that began in the mid-1980s in...
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219 Healdsburg Ave, Healdsburg, CA 95448, USA
H2hotel has a playful mix of modern rooms and overall architecture made with an earthy feel and natural materials. The crowning example is their living roof, which can be seen through the large, curving windows on the fourth floor. Each room has a...
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One, Ferry Building, San Francisco, CA 94111, USA
If Chinatown is one of San Francisco’s most historic neighborhoods, continue walking for another ten minutes and you’ll arrive at one of its newest attractions, the Ferry Building. Actually, the building itself is not new, having been completed in...
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3639 18th St, San Francisco, CA 94110, USA
Pickup the best local food products the bay area has to offer at Bi-Rite Market. The Mission was not always the pantheon of San Francisco nouveau cuisine that it is today. Now, the area—especially the block of 18th Street between Guerrero and...
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3049 20th St, San Francisco, CA 94110, USA
A yam sandwich? Yes. I was skeptical too, but now I’m hooked. On certain days, it’s impossible deciding if I’m in the mood for a sweet, sour or savory meal. Even more difficult is deciding whether I’m craving the comfort of something warm- perfect...
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8555 Sonoma Hwy, Kenwood, CA 95452, USA
Sonoma and Napa counties have hundreds of wineries that have tasting rooms set among the golden hills of the area. It's rare to find a winery where you can enjoy this scenery as much as the wine served in the tasting room. At Chateau St. Jean,...
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856 Cole St, San Francisco, CA 94117, USA
There is always time for a cheese plate, especially at Say Cheese. Sample away at cheeses with ingredients like "triple cream" and "made with the finest goat's milk in France." Say Cheese has a cheese cooler packed with all shades of cheese—they...
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This is a very nice local spot where you can find new&used records from all over the world. From Reggae to Rock music. Come here not only to buy, but also sell and trade. Small jukebox and console inside. Nice just only to have a look around.
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478 Union St, San Francisco, CA 94133, USA
Yone has a rare kind of time-capsule-charm. It's a tiny shop you can get lost in for hours—lost in San Franciscan history, lost in slow conversation, and, of course, lost in beads. Mr. Bee, now 90, opened Yone in the '60s and has amassed a...
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These classes are now taught on-line at the Route to India website.After four months of traveling in 2010, I moved to San Francisco and was immediately craving one of my favorite dishes—South Indian dosas. Luckily in San Francisco, Route to India...
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1782 Fourth St, Berkeley, CA 94710, USA
Cafe Rouge is a great neighborhood bistro in the 4th Street shop area that serves French classics such as steak-frites and rotisserie chicken as well as fresh seafood including a nightly oyster happy hour. They have a great meat counter also where...
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428 11th St, San Francisco, CA 94103, USA
Walk around the city and you are likely to stumble upon a food truck that dishes out some incredible grub. San Francisco residents love these modern chuck wagons, including native Carlos Muela, who opened SoMa StrEat Food Park in 2012. Its...
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6711 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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6439 California St, San Francisco, CA 94121, USA
I had driven by Tal-y-Tara many times taking notice of the horse statue out front and knowing I would have to stop there for tea one day. By now I have been there multiple times. They have an extensive and wonderful tea list to please ever tea...
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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.
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Outer Sunset, San Francisco, CA, USA
This store is a unique concept. They have a book rental program (where you can write in the back of the book as part of its history); a lecture series and offer really interesting services like astrological chart reading and decision making. I don...
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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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Lower Nob Hill, San Francisco, CA, USA
Bourbon and Branch is a traditional speakeasy. Their 8 house rules—hushed voices and no cell phones among them—encourage neighborly conversation in a very relaxed setting. It's a great way to meet people if you're traveling alone as...
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442 Hyde St, San Francisco, CA 94109, USA
Despite its tongue-in-cheek name, this sweets shop and cafe located in the gritty Tenderloin district is one of my favorite finds in San Francisco. The salted caramels here melt in your mouth. They also have a good variety of coffees from...
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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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3621 18th St, San Francisco, CA 94110, USA
There's nothing more San Fransisco (or hipster) than buying a margharita (with pepperoni) and taking it to Dolores Park for some prime people watching. It may be easier than getting a seat in the restaurant. Don't forget the chilli flakes! How I...
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919 Kearny St, San Francisco, CA 94133, USA
This is all you need to know about the House of Nanking: If you've never been, the owner will take your menus and just start serving you food. It's an experience I'll never forget! The food is plentiful and delicious! Bonus: it's right around the...
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3870 17th St, San Francisco, CA 94114, USA
Named after Chef Melissa Perello’s grandmother, Frances is a neighborhood fine-dining restaurant where the focus is on simple but elegant cuisine that lets the Northern California ingredients shine. The restaurant is only open for dinner and...
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1192 Folsom St, San Francisco, CA 94103, USA
The Crème Brûlée Cart has three locations in SF, the most convenient location being in the financial district at Market and Sansome. Their first bricks and motar location is on Folsom. The cart also makes appearances at food...
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875 Rutherford Rd, Napa, CA 94558, USA
Wine, as they say, belongs at the table. Yet most tasting rooms offer only the wine. For a richer experience, seek out wineries that offer food pairings or, better yet, an entire meal. At Robert Sinskey winery, cookbook author and Chef Maria Helm...
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5200 Sonoma Hwy, Napa, CA 94559, USA
Yes, Napa Valley is known for its wine, but the Di Rosa Preserve highlights the art of Northern California. Rene and Veronica di Rosa had a personal passion for art and artists. Their home, the Di Rosa Preserve, became the focal point not only for...
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Bodega Head, Bodega Bay, CA 94923, USA
After weeks of increasing stress from the daily grind of work and family responsibilities, I spent one perfect weekend in Bodega Bay, on the coast of California north of San Francisco. The highlight was a walk on Bodega Head, a piece of land that...
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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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1398 Haight St, San Francisco, CA 94117, USA
Head to Magnolia Gastropub & Brewery on any night of the week and you’ll find nothing but Haight locals. For the past 16 years, Magnolia has been brewing their beers in a small space directly below the restaurant, but they’ve recently expanded to...
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560 Larkin St, San Francisco, CA 94102, USA
I crave this caramel-y roasted pork Banh Mi at Saigon Sandwich. The classic Vietnamese sandwich is on a fresh French baguette that is perfectly soft yet crispy, accompanied by fresh carrots, cucumbers, cilantro, and peppers, plus the most...
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Big Sur’s winding roads, plunging cliffs and canyon-spanning bridges may cause nausea but they provide some of the most striking scenery in the country. After miles of lush green forests and sapphire blue oceans, the palm trees and turquoise...
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610 1st St, Napa, CA 94559, USA
Think of the Oxbow like a high-end shopping mall for food and wine. On the east side of the Napa River, the market brings together a number of epicurean purveyors under one roof (well, technically, it’s three different roofs). The result:...
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San Francisco, CA, USA
Even if you live here, exploring San Francisco's eclectic neighborhoods makes a fun day out, and with City Guides, it's also free. Founded in 1978, the nonprofit organization has more than 200 trained volunteers who lead history and...
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2 New Montgomery St, San Francisco, CA 94105, USA
Every Christmas season San Franciscans head to the elegant Palace Hotel's Garden Court to enjoy holiday brunch or tea. This historic Beaux Arts hotel also offers inventive holiday cocktails in their Pied Piper Bar. An annual gingerbread...
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Rohnert Park, CA, USA
Sonoma County Wine Country is located west of Napa Valley, which is world renowned for their exquisite wines and historical wineries. Unfortunately, Napa Valley in a given year can average over a million visitors. A majority of people are unaware...
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Stockton St Tunnel, San Francisco, CA 94108, USA
San Francisco lays claim to the largest Chinatown outside of Asia. A walk through the busy neighborhood bombards the senses with vibrant colors, fragrant smells, and loud chattering. Start your tour at the imposing Chinatown gates guarded by a...
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1 Telegraph Hill Blvd, San Francisco, CA 94133, USA
Such an amazing birthday spent in San Francisco! I walked up the steps to Coit Tower on Telegraph Hill (you will work up a nice sweat). We visited Coit Tower for a bit but there was a very long line to get to the top of the tower & I was content...
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Outer Sunset, San Francisco, CA, USA
When I went back to San Francisco for the second time in August, I ended up staying in the Outer Sunset. A new store just opened there in the summer called Establish SF and I fell in LOVE! They sell and custom make jewelry there as well as sell a...
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449 Octavia St, San Francisco, CA 94102, USA
Miette describes themselves as San Francisco’s most charming pastry shop, and it would be hard to disagree. Bright, colorful, and cheerful, these American takes on classic pastries are some of the best you’ll find in the city. Miette (which means...
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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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15 Lafayette St, San Francisco, CA 94103, USA
One of the things I love most about San Francisco is discovering little out of the way places that you can only find by wandering off the well-worn path of busy streets. Tucked away on a seldom traveled alley way off Mission St is a tiny little...
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151 3rd St, San Francisco, CA 94103, USA
It had been a long wait for modern art lovers, but after a three-year closure and a $305 million renovation and expansion, the San Francisco Museum of Modern Art (SFMOMA) reopened in May 2016, and was it ever worth the wait. A new 10-story...
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200 Columbus Ave, San Francisco, CA 94133, USA
Stop by Reveille Coffee Co and your morning will be instantly better. The light, airy space in North Beach serves up coffee, pastries, and some of the best avocado and egg toast you’ll find in the city. Founded by Christopher and Tommy Newbury,...
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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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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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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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1090 Point Lobos Ave, San Francisco, CA 94121, USA
San Francisco's seven hills and extensive coastline offer plenty of impressive views; why not enjoy them with a delicious meal or bubbly drink? The Burger Bar on the top floor of Macy’s and the Rotunda at Neiman Marcus overlook Union Square....
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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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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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101 Spear St, San Francisco, CA 94105, USA
Most dim sum places in the San Francisco Bay Area are pretty typical of what you can find in Asia, culture and all. And while I love authentic as much as the next person, there is a place that has elevated the art of the dumpling. I am not alone...
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1517 Shattuck Ave, Berkeley, CA 94709, USA
Alice Waters, the mother of the slow food movement and The Gourmet Ghetto on Shattuck in Berkeley has recently celebrated her 40th anniversary of her restaurant Chez Panisse. The ingredients are local with a French influence and well worth the...
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2170 Bryant St, San Francisco, CA 94110, USA
San Francisco gets a lot of great seafood and there are a ton of sushi restaurants, but when it comes to rolls there aren't that many places that knock your socks off. Blowfish Sushi to Die For in the Mission District will blow your mind with...
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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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495 Jefferson St, San Francisco, CA 94109, USA
My idea of experiencing a city and acquiring a sample of its flavor is to try its food. Food is unique to a city, and San Francisco is one of a kind. My first morning in the city was chilly for my island bones, so naturally the first stop was a...
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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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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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490 Pacific Ave, San Francisco, CA 94133, USA
Cotogna is dangerously close to the AFAR Media offices. This rustic sister restaurant to Quince opened last year, and the roomy bar is a cozy place to sit mid-day with a double espresso served neat in a Heath Ceramics cup. The pastas are all...
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633 Battery St, San Francisco, CA 94111, USA
Look for the "Jackson Place Cafe" sign on the Sansome Street sidewalk between Jackson and Pacific. Turn down into the breezeway toward Battery Street and find this secluded, New Orleans-like courtyard. When the summer fog hasn't rolled in, the sun...
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Mono Lake, California 93541, USA
The colors and incredible rocks at Mono Lake draw you in. It is like no place I have ever visited. The rock formations are called Tufa towers which form in a variety of ways at Mono Lake. The most visible formations are the towers on the lake’s...
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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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200 Powell St, San Francisco, CA 94102, USA
When roaming the streets of San Francisco, pray to the angels above that you'll hear a trumpet playing The Godfather theme. Follow your ears and you'll run into Gabriel Angelo. Dressed in an apple cap, bowtie and taps on his shoes, Gabriel is San...
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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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1543 Mission St, San Francisco, CA 94103, USA
Hot. Sweaty. Sexy. Blasting music. Chanting. GO TO RUSTY'S class. Urban Flow is a donation based yoga studio. Rusty Well's class is an experience that can't be missed.
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Local Cafe opened last year, offering a fresh brunch option on a sleepy stretch of Piedmont Avenue. Oakland-based Starter Bakery provides the pastries, which come served with fruity INNA jams. There is a nice, simple selection of egg dishes and...
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Inverness, CA, USA
Explore the natural beauty of West Marin, with plenty of small towns to explore. At Point Reyes Station, stop at the CowGirl Creamery to grab a picnic lunch while exploring the small shops, or head to Point Reyes National Seashore. Later stop in...
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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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3543 18th St #8, San Francisco, CA 94110, USA
Founded in 1971 as the first women-owned and operated community center in the country, the San Francisco Women’s Centers has been working to guarantee a safe space and reliable social services for women and girls in the city. And since 1979, they’...
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5355 Mowry Ave, Fremont, CA 94538, USA
It's a bold statement to make, I know, but the variety of curries, breads, and thalis in unbeatable. Highly recommend a BART trip outside of San Francisco to visit Chaat Bhavan.
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Golden Gate Bridge, San Francisco, CA 94129, USA
Crossing the Golden Gate Bridge into the city from Marin County, I noticed the view from the broken mirror. Fitting, as the exhibit at the Legion of Honor was Partners in Surrealism featuring work by Man Ray and Lee Miller. An astonishing...
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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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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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117 E St, Davis, CA 95616, USA
If you like Thai food and happen to go to Davis, CA then you need to stop by Thai Canteen.Located in downtown Davis, this restaurant has a modern atmosphere. They combine wood, metal and bright colors to create a welcoming, fresh atmosphere. The...
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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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Mammoth Lakes, CA 93546, USA
nothing better than a bush camp by a beautiful river. tasty spot south of Mammoth lakes at dusk. only fly fishing allowed here, do leave your lures at home... easy drive over tioga pass through yosemite. only 45 mins down hey 395 from tioga...
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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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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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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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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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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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601 Vallejo St, San Francisco, CA 94133, USA
Caffe Trieste, in the heart of North Beach just off Columbus, is an authentic San Francisco experience where little has changed since Kerouac's day. The North Beach location, which opened in 1956, is a great place to sit down, enjoy a coffee, and...
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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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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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555 Pacific Ave, San Francisco, CA 94133, USA
I recently signed up for a drawing class with a few fellow AFARians, and I came to this art supply store—near Jackson Square in the Financial District—to stock up on materials. Sporting wall-to-wall color and two floors of pencils, paints,...
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One, Ferry Building, San Francisco, CA 94111, USA
Outdoor markets always tell a story about their city: what goods are for sale, what foods are locally grown and how the residents interact with one another as they buy and sell their wares. San Francisco's Saturday Market at the Ferry Terminal...
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3000 Los Alamos Rd, Santa Rosa, CA 95409, USA
It's no Mt. Hood in Oregon, yet Sonoma's Hood Mountain is one of the area's best hikable mountains because of its views like this across Santa Rosa. The best view being a few miles into the park at Gunsight Rock, which on a clear day, visitors may...
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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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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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24898 Volcanic Legacy Scenic Byway, Burney, CA 96013, USA
only 4 hours up north of san francisco is Burney Falls State Park. The 129 ft falls is a beautiful Oasis set among pristine forest area. There are campgrounds not far from the falls and you can catch Rainbow Trout in the picturesque river..... The...
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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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390 Capistrano Rd, Half Moon Bay, CA 94019, USA
It may be a little cold and foggy on the the patio at the Half Moon Bay Brewing Company. And certainly a pint or two of their microbrew will refresh more than heat your insides. But don't worry, there are heat lamps over the picnic table or a few...
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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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Johnson Pier, El Granada, CA 94019, USA
You came all the way to San Francisco and you're going to let some stranger in a chef's hat cook your dungeness crab for you? Pshaw. There's a little-known alternative, even among locals, that's far more fun: Zip down the coast half an hour to...
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3340 CA-128, Calistoga, CA 94515, USA
When you're driving up from San Francisco, Bennett Lane is the last winery in Napa Valley (meaning that it's the furthest north). The Calistoga tasting room is worth those extra few miles, though, for a couple of reasons. One, the tasting room...
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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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2534 Mission St, San Francisco, CA 94110, USA
The date-night dinner-and-a-movie standard has been taken to a new stylish height at this acclaimed restaurant in the Mission District. Grab a table on the patio under the strings of lights to dine on seasonal California cuisine while...
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1001 Minnesota St, San Francisco, CA 94107, USA
They had me at the yellow building. I love wandering the Dogpatch neighborhood of San Francisco and both Piccino restaurant and separate coffee bar, are lovely places to gather. The coffee bar on 22nd Street serves carefully crafted Sightglass...
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This 7 mile hike roundtrip is suitable for beginners and one worth taking. Easily considered my favorite hike in the San Francisco Bay Area, the beauty of this rare tidefall dropping down to the beach should not be missed. It takes some planning...
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6528 Washington St, Yountville, CA 94599, USA
Oh, Bouchon! Don't let the long line out the door discourage you—these delicious pastries are well worth the wait and the outdoor café tables make for a lovely spot to dig in once you're handed your treats.
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1673 Haight St, San Francisco, CA 94117, USA
Coffee lovers in San Francisco are a hard to please. We don't just want Blue Bottle on our way to work, we expect it. Keep your venti Starbucks to the suburbs, this city's coffee is serious. Stanza Coffee in the Haight, and now the Mission, brews...
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24th St, San Francisco, CA, USA
24th Street in San Francisco (not to be confused with 24th Avenue!) is one of my favorite walks in the city. Hop off BART at the 24th Street - Mission station, and walk the 1-mile length of the street to see what cultural commentators mean when...
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8815 Conn Creek Rd, Rutherford, CA 94573, USA
Before there can be quality wine, or even quality grapes, there needs to be quality dirt. Frog’s Leap Winery is located in one of the most coveted patches of dirt in the Napa Valley — Rutherford. Which is why, when you visit, owner John Williams...
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1425 1st St, Napa, CA 94559, USA
It was my first dinner out in Downtown Napa (the new place to be in Napa Valley), and it set the bar very high for the rest of my stay. My dinner at Oenotri was one of the best I've ever had. From the salad of beets, arugula, and oranges, the...
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730 Howard St, San Francisco, CA 94103, USA
Overlooking Yerba Buena Gardens is a wonderful tea café called Samovar. This is the place for tea connoisseurs as they offer tea varieties from all over the world as well as limited edition teas. Samovar also offers tea and food pairings...
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1 Muir Woods Rd, Mill Valley, CA 94941, USA
Enjoy a beautiful day in Mill Valley at the German Tourist Club built in the secluded redwood forest on Mount Tamalpais. It is a great place to stop if you are visiting Muir Woods. A short hike on the Dipsea, Sun or Redwood trail leads you to this...
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Farallon Islands, San Francisco, CA, USA
If one lovely autumn day you find yourself in the San Francisco Bay Area, here’s how to fall in love with the Golden Gate Bridge all over again (and again), discover ancient uninhabited islands rising from the sea, and, if you’re lucky, have...
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Drakes Bay, California, USA
A lot of people are aware of Hog Island in Tomales Bay, but just a few minutes down the road is Drake's Bay which also offers fresh oysters on the cheap. It may not have as many tables and areas to eat, but it also doesn't have the crowds and you...
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90 Railroad Ave, Danville, CA 94526, USA
This little coffeehouse and kitchen is located in the historic Danville Hotel. I have to say, with so many great places in the San Francisco Bay Area to get local homemade food, this has to be in the top. All the recipes come from the owner and...
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22 Peace Plz #510, San Francisco, CA 94115, USA
I'm a self-proclaimed sushi snob on a mission to discover the best sushi in San Francisco. You know, the kind that melts in your mouth like butter. The bar of excellence: An airport sushi restaurant in Tokyo. I want my sushi to taste like THAT...
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29 E MacArthur St, Sonoma, CA 95476, USA
This lovely little hotel has gorgeous rooms in a garden setting sprinkled with art installations. MacArthur Place is walking distance from the Sonoma town square and it is a great place to stay to while visiting wineries in the area.
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542 A, Mason St, San Francisco, CA 94102, USA
God, I love this place. Like, I seriously LOVE it. Its central location and hip ambiance make it a great destination kind of spot. Grab drinks during happy hour then hit this place up...then grab more drinks! There are plenty of bars in the area...
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813 Main St, Napa, CA 94559, USA
This beautiful three-story restaurant and bar in downtown Napa was a thriving establishment from 1945 until 1974, when an unsolved murder that occurred here led the family to close the doors. The murder was finally solved and after years of...
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1991 St Helena Hwy, Rutherford, CA 94573, USA
Inglenook (previously Rubicon) is the epitome of wine tasting in the Napa Valley. The elegant chateau is owned by the Hollywood legend Francis Ford Coppola (mastermind behind The Godfather Trilogy... but you knew that). The Coppola's have gained...
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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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655 Knight Way, Stanford, CA 94305, USA
Although most travelers would choose to see some of the typical sights in the San Francisco Bay Area, if visiting the place that begat the most Silicon Valley entrepreneurs excites you, visit the Stanford University campus. Not only is it on...
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51 Tamal Vista Blvd, Corte Madera, CA 94925, USA
Book Passage is well-known in the Bay Area for it's annual travel writing and photography conference that happens every August. But that's just once a year. For those who love good travel writing and photography, visit Book Passage anytime and...
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7250 Carmel Valley Rd, Carmel-By-The-Sea, CA 93923, USA
I had been to the almost-too-cute village Carmel by the Sea a few times but never to the neighboring Carmel Valley. On my last trip to the area, I decided to take a drive through Carmel Valley and just explore. As I drove through the hills and...
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19050 Bay St #683, El Verano, CA 95433, USA
One of my favorite things to do in San Francisco is search out the beautiful places that not many tourists would know about. One of those is definitely Kite Hill, hidden in plain sight in the Castro neighborhood of the city. I walked past this...
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3845 Mission St, San Francisco, CA 94110, USA
St. Mary's Pub in the Bernal Heights neighborhood serves the types of spicy Bloody Marys that get the blood flowing. There's a menu of seven flavors, including Southwestern with chipotle and Japanese with wasabi. At the side of the bar, there's a...
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Golden Gate Park, San Francisco, CA, USA
I have an aversion to hills, especially when riding a bike. This is not ideal, because I live in San Francisco and some days it feels like an entire city of hills. This bike ride is one of my favorites not only because it goes right through the...
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600 Divisadero St, San Francisco, CA 94117, USA
The tall white walls are the perfect easel for the bibelots on sale at Rare Device. Whether functional or decorative, each item looks like a work of art that you'll really want in your home. You'll find things like Scandinavian-designed coffee...
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Junipero St, Carmel-By-The-Sea, CA 93921, USA
The Cheese Shop has been here in Carmel since 1973 and is a delightful place for lovers of cheese. They have every kind you can imagine- hard, soft, creamy, cow, goat, sheep, Swiss, French, Italian, beer, truffle, honey, etc. You're bound to...
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2144 Chestnut St, San Francisco, CA 94123, USA
Frozen yogurts spots dot San Francisco like, well, sprinkles on said frozen yogurt. Yogorino eschews the super sweet for frozen yogurt that tastes actually like yogurt. The toppings available are typical - assorted fruits, candies, and crunchies -...
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3406 18th St, San Francisco, CA 94110, USA
Yamo could be a restaurant but it's more a rectangular area with about 10 bar stool seats at the counter...and that's about it. At the counter you are face to face with the open stove that can host anything from curry noodle to chicken to rice...
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5th Ave, Carmel-By-The-Sea, CA 93923, USA
Casanova restaurant located in the downtown area of Carmel by the Sea in California. The food is delicious and they are famous for their spinach gnocchi which is absolutely decadent! I'm sure there are about five sticks of butter in the cream...
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Oakland, CA 94611, USA
Looking for a great afternoon or evening hike, high above the clouds of the East Bay? Need a few good labyrinths and a volcano to make it desirable? It so happens, I've found your place. Located on the border of Oakland and Contra Costa, the...
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12781 Sir Francis Drake Blvd, Inverness, CA 94937, USA
This is a great addition to Tomales Bay (one of my most beloved areas just an hour north of San Francisco). Owner Luc Chamberland raises his own shellfish at his Pickleweed Point Community Shellfish Farm nearby. Local fishermen are encouraged to...
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1754 Polk St, San Francisco, CA 94109, USA
Ok, not everyone is French. But everyone has an accent of some sort. And most of the waiters are good-looking, major plus. Other than that, this place has an amazing wine list and delicious food, not to mention that their happy hour is one of the...
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1 Point Reyes-Petaluma Rd, Inverness, CA 94937, USA
Point Reyes is a special location with hiking trails, historic farms, and the small towns of Inverness and Point Reyes Station with lovely local food finds and little shops. To get to the lighthouse just follow the road signs from Inverness, and...
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61 Front St, Healdsburg, CA 95448, USA
The pace is a little slower and the number of wineries hit in a day may not be all that's on the list, but biking around Sonoma wine country is a free-flowing, active way to wind through these Sonoma country roads and wineries. Start at Wine...
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1603 San Pablo Ave, Berkeley, CA 94702, USA
Using Sightglass coffee, Bartavelle serves the BEST latté in Berkeley! Opened in late 2012 this unassuming café already has a local following. Small place with stand-up only zinc counters inside plus outdoor seating. The small plate menu uses...
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1099 Alcatraz Ave, Oakland, CA 94608, USA
Open five days a week and on the corner of San Pablo Ave and Alcatraz in Oakland, everyone's a winner at Victory Burger. Sal Bednarz of Actual Cafe (next door) is the force behind this new favorite and continues to make this district of Oakland...
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748 Van Ness Ave, San Francisco, CA 94102, USA
I'm a coffee snob. I admit it. And the best coffee I've ever had is at Philz, an SF icon, that brews one cup at a time. My fave is the dark and smoky Ether, ordered medium sweet with light cream.
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736 Divisadero St, San Francisco, CA 94117, USA
You couldn't find a union more perfect if you tried. Bread wizard Josey Baker, who mastered the art of crafting whole wheat flour into complex, delicious loaves of bread, joins Jeremy Tooker of Four Barrel Coffee, one of the city's infamous third...
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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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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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Most people come to Napa for the wine, but the Napa Valley is also an amazing place for people who love nature and the outdoors. Napa Valley Adventure Tours offers hiking, biking, and kayaking trips around the Valley. And of course, in addition to...
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652 Polk St, San Francisco, CA 94102, USA
You'll get a taste of Lousiana in Brenda's cladenstine location which lies in the heart of the Tenderloin District. Worry not, you'll see hungry brunchers congregating outside. Once in, it's all about those beignets (including a crawfish flavour!)...
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904 22nd St, San Francisco, CA 94107, USA
Next time you're in the Dogpatch neighborhood of SF, don't miss the chance to swing by Rickshaw and create a custom bag. Tucked away in your Rickshaw bag you’ll find a tag with their special heart symbol, something called the Rickshaw “PCQ Tattoo”...
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Mission Dolores, San Francisco, CA, USA
A small boutique in The Mission, this store is a combination of three local retailers: home decor supplier Acacia, skin-care product line Heliotrope and clothing label Turk + Taylor's. Although the products aren't cheap, they're responsibly made...
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500 Brannan St, San Francisco, CA 94107, USA
Located in the SoMa neighborhood of San Francisco, Marlowe's is a great little neighborhood spot with delicious burgers and a wide beer selection. But one treat they are known for are their Brussels sprout chips—they'll turn any veggie hater into...
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620 Jones St, San Francisco, CA 94102, USA
This is Jones—home of the best place to sit outside for happy hour in the city! They have excellent food and even better drink specials. Make sure you sit outside or on the second level deck.
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3150 24th St, San Francisco, CA 94110, USA
The Wise Sons Deli menu claims that the Matzo Ball soup is "better than your Bubbies" I didn't have a Bubbie, but I did have this soup and it was...delicious. Savory broth with dill and the big ball had the consistency of polenta. My friend has...
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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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220 California St, San Francisco, CA 94111, USA
With its community tables and small bites, Barbacco serves great Italian food meant for sharing. They have a large bruschetta menu that can make up a whole meal if you try every one—easier to do than it might seem, since it's so difficult to...
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736 Valencia St, San Francisco, CA 94110, USA
While wandering around San Francisco's vibrant Mission district I came upon a small restaurant called Mission Cheese which celebrates artisan American cheeses. I ordered the gruyere and salami sandwich with a nice spicy mustard and crunchy...
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2698 Fremont Dr, Sonoma, CA 95476, USA
Southern comfort food is hardly what comes to mind when thinking about the cuisine of California's Wine Country. Yet, that's exactly what you get at this unassuming diner along scenic Highway 121. Think grandma's recipes inspired by the local...
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370 Linden St, San Francisco, CA 94102, USA
The Streets of San Francisco Bike Tour company is not only a must for any visitor to the city, it's also an ideal way for locals to soak up something special about their own backyard. Founded by former international bicycle tour guides that have...
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225 Bush St, San Francisco, CA 94104, USA
With a coffee shop on every corner in San Francisco's Financial District, how do you choose? Well you do want them to have good coffee, after that it is all about the people and the story. Coffee Cultures has it all. Located in a historic...
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4405 675 Broadway, San Francisco, CA 94133, USA
A San Francisco Chinatown spot that is fast-paced and cash only. They have a good variety of dimsum, but are known for making pretty good shrimp dumpling (Har Gow). The place can be intimidating but for 3 pieces of dimsum for $1.50 it is worth the...
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Hayes Valley, San Francisco, CA 94102, USA
Hayes Valley is a hidden gem of San Francisco from Tourists. It is centrally located and easily accessible by public transit or by your two feet. This is a district not to be missed when visiting San Francisco. You can enjoying an early morning...
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1805 San Pablo Ave, Berkeley, CA 94702, USA
This cute bakery and cafe has been around for a while, and I’ve known the owner since I was little, but for some reason I never got around to going til lately. Boy, have I been missing out on some great barbacoa tacos. The shredded beef is slow...