Saturday, December 7, 2013

The City By the Bay - San Francisco Exploring

It's almost winter break, I am super excited to head back to San Francisco Bay Area to see my family and friends and enjoy everything the city has to offer. I love SF so much that I wanted to put together a list of my favorite things to do.

If you a are planning to visit SF these are some things that you cant miss.

1. Academy of Sciences San Francisco
With an indoor tropical rain-forest an albino crocodile you cant miss this wonderful and educational experiences. The best part is that every Thursday they have Nightlife for those of you who are over 21. You can walk around the aquarium and explore the jungle biodome with drink in hand. You can enjoy the DJ while trying out an earthquake simulator. Even outside of Nightlife the Academy of Science will awe all ages, don't forget to check out the living roof. When you are done with the Academy of Science, explore the surrounding Golden Gate park, which is just as memorizing with its butterfly sanctuary and botanical gardens, it free blue grass concerts, and the mystic wooden windmill. 

2. John Muir Woods
California has many amazing national parks, one of which is only 20 minutes outside San Francisco. Enjoy walking below tower redwoods over bridges and through winding paths. Just across the golden gate bridge is a serene escape from the craziness. California has the oldest trees in the world (bristle cone pines) and the largest ans tallest trees in the world (red woods). In John Muir you can enjoy the tower giants. Their beautiful red bark and evergreen leaves make is a perfect adventure all year-round. 

3. Sonoma Valley
Did someone say wine? Sonoma Valley is home to many small and large wineries. If you enjoy trying new wines or strolling through the vineyards this is the place for you. Explore the Sonoma Valley wineries by horseback, foot or even in a hot air balloon. Its only 30 mins from the city and there are always wine tour deals on Groupon and Living Social. Make sure to wrap your expensive wine correctly before going to the airport, they are very strict. I have a friend who worked for Virgin and she enjoyed very expensive wine very often, if you catch my drift.

4. Walk the Golden Gate
As a girl scout in SF its a proud moment when your cross the Golden Gate bridge to celebrate
advancing through Girl Scouts. Its just as nice to walk across the bridge as a tourist. The Golden Gate Bridge has been rated one of the most beautiful bridges in the world, and its probably one of the most well known. The views of the Pacific Ocean on one side and the SF bay area on the other. Make sure to bring a sweater and a jacket, it can get cold and windy even in summer.

5. The Mission
The Latin district of SFis best known for its nightlife especially in the hipster crowd. With some of the most interesting bars, including Elbow Room, Noeteca, Butter, Lol√≥, Amelie, Velvet Cantina, The Phoenix Bar & Irish Gathering House, Nihon Whisky Lounge and much more. During the day its a very different scene. The streets are filled with fresh produce markets and Spanish fills the air. I remember going to the Mission to practice for a Spanish class. Stepping into the mission is like stepping into another country, but not sure which one. You can hear all the different dialects of Spanish from the smooth lisps of the Spaniards, the harsh -po endings of the Chileans, and the -tica's of the Colombians. If your not so good at Spanish, the mission is also great for art, small studios pop up all the time not to mention the beautiful murals that line Clarion Alley and Balmy Alley. 

6. Architecture
From towering modern buildings to rainbow painted vintage wooden homes its an architects dream. For the rest of us that might not know how to use CAD software, its art. The modern SF Federal Building was rated International The Outstanding Building of the Year in 2012. Its Eco-freindly design and exercise promoting elevators make it one of the most interesting buildings in SF. At the opposite side of the spectrum, the Painted Ladies, featured on Full House wow visitors with their colorful and detailed exterior. Don't forget to visit the City Hall, especially at night during the holidays to see a beautiful marble roman style building beautifully lit with colorful flood lights. From the historic Coit Tower to the multi-million dollar lofts in the Millenium Towers make the architecture of SF very varied and a sightseeing adventure in itself.

7. The Castro
You don't have to be gay to visit the Castro, you just have to be open-minded. The Castro boasts
some of the best restaurants and the funnest dance clubs in the city. Its perfect for a daytime stroll and lunch in Doloris Park. Maybe an evening movie at the Castro Theater, one of the historic cinemas in SF. After the movie get some grub at Sushi Zone and a cookie and some cute undies at Hot Cookie. Then stop by the Cafe to dance the night away.

8. Berkeley

Just across the bay is a town with a famous university . Berkeley is known for tie-dye and nobeloriates. It smells like urine and weed, but it known by the locals as the gourmet ghetto. With almost any food imaginable (vegetarian soul food, chilean food?) and prices that will rival any place in the SF bay area you are sure to find one of your favorite meals in Berkeley. While you are there grab a fro-yo (frozen yogurt) or a bubble tea and walk through the eclectic campus of UC Berkeley. End the day by walking up "Fire Trail" to the top of the hills of Berkeley and enjoy the sunset over the city of San Francisco and the Golden Gate Bridge.

9.Twin Peaks
You cant leave SF with out getting a birds eye view of one of the most beautiful cities in the world. This moderate climb to the highest point in SF is worth it for the view or just drive up if your lazy. Just make sure its not a foggy or rainy day before you attempt the climb. Bring some friends to share the moment Enjoy the view of the rolling SF hills, the high rise buildings and colorful houses that are scattered across the slopes. From the top you can enjoy views of the ocean, the golden gate bridge and the Transamerica building, some of SF's most famous land marks.


10. Ocean Beach Sunset
Being on the East Coast, I miss the sunsets that turn the sky orange, red, pink and purple over the Pacific Ocean. I remember many good memories at Ocean Beach. Late night bonfires, photoshoots at the Sutro Baths, and a good (and expensive) meal with my family at the Cliff House restaurant, perched on the rocky cliffs looking over the Pacific Ocean and Ocean Beach. I loved cuddling on the sand dunes with a blanket and a bottle of wine. It can often get windy and cold even in summer so as a person from NorCal always says, layer up.

The list can go on and on...but I have studying to do.

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