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searched boards but still have San Francisco area question

searched boards but still have San Francisco area question

Mar 13th, 2005, 06:28 PM
Original Poster
Join Date: Jun 2004
Posts: 42
searched boards but still have San Francisco area question


My husband and I will arrive in San Francisco (city proper, not airport) late Monday morning May 16th, and we fly out on Saturday morning the 21st. There's a bunch of stuff we'd like to do, but smack in the middle we have a baseball game on Tuesday night in Oakland, and that is a non-negotiable item (although it is possible it could be switched to Monday night.

We're thinking we'd like to spend some time getting to know San Francisco (mostly walking different neighborhoods); I'd very much like to go to Muir Woods, Point Reyes, and perhaps Sausalito; and he'd very much like to spend at least one full day doing wineries, we're thinking in Sonoma from what people have said.

We're trying to figure out, given the above, which would give us a more sane pace:

1)stay somewhere in San Francisco as our base the whole time, driving out to the other places as day trips; or

2) explore SF Monday and Tuesday, then after the game stay in either Berkeley or drive to Sonoma and stay there, do wineries on Wed. and stay in Sonoma that night, drive to Pt. Reyes and do that and Muir Woods on Thurs., and either stay somewhere there, and then go back to the city Friday late morning/early afternoon, or head back after Point Reyes/Muir Woods to the city on Thursday night, to have 2 nights at the end back in the city.

3) other options?? or suggestions on if we're trying to do too much in our time allotment? We do like to have time for unplanned discoveries, not feel like we're completely planned and moving on to the next thing.

Thanks for any help!

Oh, and we'll have come up the coast from having spent the prior week visiting family south of L.A., so we'll have already done Monterrey/Carmel (and even San Jose, as we have more family there).

lauracohenromano is offline  
Mar 13th, 2005, 07:08 PM
Join Date: Jan 2003
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Personally, I'd say you only need a car for the North Bay stuff. You can easily take BART to the baseball game (in fact, I'd recommend it). So do your in City stuff, then rent a car for a couple of days to do the Marin Woods, Point Reyes, and head on up to maybe Healdsburg. Stay there one or two nights to do your winery tours. Then head back to SFO.
Grasshopper is offline  
Mar 13th, 2005, 07:23 PM
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I think that keeping San Francisco as your base would mean a lot more driving and your time is limited. I assume you've been to San Francisco before and have already done many of the highlights there. Your idea of driving to some of your destinations and staying there would be more restful. Driving to Sonoma after the game would mean you could spend two nights there which reduces the packing and unpacking. Your Point Reyes/Muir Woods day would be quite busy and you could either opt to stay near there or return to the city. Have a great trip!
KathrynT is offline  
Mar 13th, 2005, 07:48 PM
Join Date: Oct 2003
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Agree completely with the above two posters.

Staying near Healdsburg will place you in the middle of the Sonoma County wineries. It would be best to stay locally after all that wine tasting.

Also if staying in SF, you will have hotel parking fees of $20/more a night.

Best to plan some kind of circular trip.

BTW: go to Pt Reyes in the afternoon, it may be foggy along the coast in the morning.
easytraveler is offline  
Mar 14th, 2005, 02:18 PM
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Thanks for the responses...we will do a circular route! Which leaves me with a couple follow-up questions:

About how long would you think it would take us to drive from the baseball park in Oakland to the Healdsburg area? And about how long from the Healdsburg area out to the Pt. Reyes lighthouse?

Also, when I look at the map, I see Healdsburg puts us right near something called the Armstrong Redwoods State Rs., which I've never heard of. Would this be as good a place to stop and see redwoods as down by Muir Woods?

Finally, I've only been to SF once, about 20 years ago, and my husband never has been. Does this change anything you'd say...I know one of you assumed we'd been to SF plenty before.
We figure we have most of Monday, all of Tuesday, and most of Friday to do the city proper. No illusions that that will suffice, but he loves wineries and I've always wanted to see Pt. Reyes and also the redwoods, so that's how we came up with our plan. But open to suggestions! Thanks again.
lauracohenromano is offline  
Mar 14th, 2005, 03:07 PM
Join Date: Jan 2003
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I'm sorry Laura, I wasn't very clear. I'm suggesting that you stay in SF Mon-Wed. or Thurs. You could go to Oakland from SF on BART in about 1/2 hour. Then get a car and head north, visiting Muir Woods and Point Reyes on Wed. (or Thurs.) and end up in Healdsburg that night. You can spend Thurs. and Friday in the wine country, driving back to SFO either Fri. night or Sat. morning. Healdsburg to SFO is less than 2 hours. SF to Healdsburg is only about an hour.
Grasshopper is offline  
Mar 14th, 2005, 03:17 PM
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No way would I try to drive to Healdsburg after the baseball game. I assume you mean an A's game and not a Cal or High School game. They get over about 10:00pm, which would put you in Healdsburg after midnight. I would take BART and then when you get back to SF after the game, take a taxi to your hotel from the Hyatt Embarcadero, or walk to your hotel in Union Sq from the Powell station, if you are staying in the Union Sq area.

It's been a while since I posted this, but here is my suggestion for a Pt Reyes, Muir woods, Wine country trip:

Head north across the Golden Gate Bridge. Just past the bridge, take the Alexander Av. exit towards Sausalito. When you get to the stop at the end of the freeway off ramp, turn left & go under Hwy 101. Continue on like you are going back across the bridge to SF, but take the road to the right that goes up-hill, just before actually getting on 101. There will be a sign that says you are entering the Golden Gate National Recreational area. Continue up on this road. You will see what is (in my opinion) the best views of San Francisco – The GG Bridge in the foreground & The City behind it.. This area was formerly a military area that is still laced with bunkers, gun turrets, underground tunnels etc. It was opened up in the ‘70s. The views of The City, the Bridge, and the Golden Gate are breathtaking. You can see all the way down the San Mateo Coast from up here. Go all the way to the top and you hit a much smaller one-way road. On the way up, get out & enjoy the sights. The kids will love the bunkers & gun turrets. At the top where the main road ends, there is the largest gun turret, where you can climb up to for an almost 360 degree view. This view is best in the evening when the sun is in a better position to light up the bridge & highlight downtown. If you plan to pass this way again later in the day, skip this venue now & do it later. If there isn’t any fog, perhaps do it now because you never know when the fog will roll in & make viewing impossible.

Return the way you came up to this area. When you get to the junction just past the tunnel under 101, head straight to Sausalito. Just follow your nose (bearing right whenever possible), until you end up on Bridgeway – the main road along the bay in Sausalito. Drive along Bridgeway, enjoying the views back to the City. Sausalito has gotten a little tacky in the last few decades with all it’s mediocre art shops & cheap souvenir stands, but the setting is lovely & there’s some nice architecture. Continue North on Bridgeway until it joins 101 North again (towards San Rafael).

Take the Blithdale exit off 101 to Mill Valley. M.A.S.H. fans will recognize this place as the hometown of B.J. Hunnicut. Keep following Blithdale as it worms around a little in some not-so-picturesque areas before it reaches the center of Mill Valley (you’ll know when you get there). Turn left & park the car where you can. Walk around the area – there are some interesting shops. There’s kind of a central square in town (a good place for a latte if you’re ready for one). The south-west side of the square is Miller Ave. When you’re finished browsing, take Miller Ave. South. Shortly after the double road section of Miller Ave ends, take a right on Shoreline Highway – this is also the famous Ca Highway #1. Follow this to Muir Beach & Stinson Beach. This is a pretty drive. After a couple of miles past the Miller/Shoreline junction, there is a turnoff to Panoramic Hwy and the Muir Woods redwood grove. If you want to visit Muir Woods, do so but remember that it gets overwhelmed with day trippers from SF in the summer.

Continue on Shoreline (Hwy #1) past Muir Beach & on to Stinson Beach. There are some nice views of the ocean along this route. There’s a lookout over Muir Beach.

Stay on Hwy #1 past Stinson Beach. You will start to see a large land mass to your left (ocean side) This is Point Reyes National Seashore, where you could spend several days exploring the wildlife & natural beauty of this area. Drake’s Bay, on the west side of Pt Reyes, is where this Northern California area was first discovered – long before San Francisco Bay was discovered by Spanish explorers. Hwy #1 will go past a long lagoon (Tomales Bay). Just past the lagoon, Hwy #1 will turn inland.

Continue on Hwy 1 past Valley Ford. When it intersects the Bodega Highway, turn right (inland/east) & go to Bodega. This is where Alfred Hitchcock filmed several scenes from “the Birds”, including the schoolhouse scene.

If you are touring in the summer, there is a very good chance that you will be inundated by fog & not much of the coastline will be visible. If you have had enough fog, continue east on the Bodega Highway to Sebastopol. This is actually a nice drive (at the beginning). At Sebastopol, head north on #116 toward the Russian River. Just before Forestville, stop at Kozlowski Farms (on your left) if you want to pick up a sandwich. They have a large selection of jams, jellies, vinegar & other gourmet delights. Continue on #116 until it hits the Russian River at Guerneville (somewhat of an interesting town). Turn right & proceed east along the Russian River on River Road. I will continue to describe the remaining drive in the Wine Country section.

Back at Bodega, if the fog isn’t so bad & you want to see some more coast, stay on Hwy #1 to Bodega Bay. Continue north on #1 until it reaches Jenner. At Jenner, you can go north on #1 to Fort Ross to tour an early Russian fur trading fort – it is quite interesting. After visiting Fort Ross, return to Jenner & head east along the Russian River to Guerneville.

Wine Country
From Guerneville, head east along River Road. Stay on River Road as it crosses over the Russian River just past Hacienda – which will still be River Road. About 4 miles past crossing over the river, turn left on Wohler Road. You will start to see some vineyards now & there are some cute B&Bs close by. Stay on Wohler Rd as it crosses the river (again) on a very narrow 1 way bridge. Just past the bridge, turn right on to Westside Rd towards Healdsburg. You will see lots of vineyards on the way to Healdsburg.

You are now in the Sonoma County Wine growing area. In contrast to it’s more famous neighbor to the east (Napa), you will find the Sonoma wineries more inviting & less hectic – I actually like them better. In the Napa Valley, there are very few wineries where you can take a picnic lunch & spread out on the lawn. In Sonoma, they seem to go out of their way to invite you to use their facilities. On Westside Road, stop at Rochioli (one of the best Chards in Calif), Hop Kiln to see an interesting former kiln turned into a winery, and perhaps Armida, or Mill Creek. Just past Mill Creek winery, Westside Road will turn right (east) to head into Healdsburg just in front of the Madrona Manor. Turn left into the Madrona Manor Hotel, park the car & explore the lovely gardens & the exterior of this fantastic Victorian manor house. Go inside & poke your nose into some of the common rooms & pick up a brochure for your next visit to this area. It has a lovely dining room with excellent cuisine. It’s a popular wedding spot. Exit Madrona Manor and turn left and head north on West Dry Creek Road (not straight to Healdsburg).

You are now in the Dry Creek appellation of Sonoma County & it’s my favorite area in the wine country. Continue north on West Dry Creek Road (there’s a Dry Creek Rd which you will follow later). Stop at Lambert Bridge winery – this is one of the wineries that “invites” you to picnic on their lawn (they have lots of picnic tables). Just past Lambert Bridge winery, turn right on Lambert Bridge Rd & proceed a couple 100 yds to Pezzi King Winery. Stop & explore this winery too (great Zins). Return to West Dry Creek Rd & head north again. Continue on this road until you see a sign for Preston Vineyards. This is another winery that “invites” you to picnic. It has very pretty grounds – explore the outside bread oven, boules court, vegetable garden, flowers, and cats. The tasting room is quite nice – my wife likes their Rose wine. Return to West Dry Creek Road & continue north until the road ends. This is a pretty drive – would you like to own one of the houses near this dead-end? Turn around & head south. Turn left on Yoakim Road & then turn left (north) where it dead ends at Dry Creek Road. Proceed north on Dry Creek Rd & stop at Ferrari-Carano winery. This is the most "extravagant" winery in this area – it received a lot of criticism from locals (we know a few) when it was built. However, it is quite impressive. It has lovely gardens, a large “Tuscan” type villa, and a pretty tasting room (good Sauvignon Blanc). Exit Ferrari Carano & turn right (south) on Dry Creek Road towards Healdsburg. This is another pretty drive.

Healdsburg is our favorite town in the wine country – including anything in Napa. When you go under the freeway (on Dry Creek Rd) turn right when you hit Healdsburg Blvd & continue south until you see the town square – it’s obvious. Park the car & get out & explore. Tour the square & several blocks north & south of the square on Healdsburg Ave. There is a produce market Saturday morning west of the big hotel. This is a wonderful town to spend the night in. There is a new (overdone, in my opinion) large hotel (expensive) on the west side of the square – it’s called Healdsburg Inn. There is also a B&B on the south side of the square & there are other B&Bs scattered throughout town. For dining in Healdsburg, we like Ravenous, Bistro Ralph, and Charcuterie which are all very popular with the locals. We also like Manzanita. Madrona Manor is less than 5 mins away, by car.

Day 2

If you’re staying near the square in Healdsburg, go to the Downtown Bakery (on the east side of the square) early in the morning & rub elbows with the (lucky) locals. Have a sticky bun &/or a scone. This bakery is very well known throughout the area. There are benches outside the bakery where the “bench bunch” meets each morning to chew the fat.

On to Napa Wine Country

Here is a beautiful drive that will get you to the Napa Valley. Head out north on Healdsburg Ave and once it gets out of town, it will curve to the right and connect with Alexander Valley Rd & passes Jimtown. This route goes through the beautiful Alexander Valley & Knights Valley. Turn right on Hwy #128 towards Calistoga. This section is lovely. Hanna is a nice winery to visit while driving through this area.

Proceed on to Calistoga.

Most tour books describe the Napa Valley thoroughly. As far as driving through this area is concerned, drive down Hwy 128 from Calistoga to Yountville and then east on Yountville Cross Rd to the Silverado trail & go south to Chimney Rock Winery. Turn around go north back to Calistoga on the Silverado Trail. Oakville Cross Rd, Rutherford Cross rd & the others linking #128 with the Silverado Trail are quite pretty.

There are lots of world famous wineries in this areas. I recommend visiting:

Robert Mondavi for the most complete tour on the grape growing & wine making process. Reserve a couple of days ahead at 707 968-2166 www.robertmondavi.com

Berringer for some lovely grounds & a very pretty Victorian “Rhine House”, but they don’t make wine at this site.

Sterling for the best views, but the line for the gondola ride to the tasting room will sometimes have a long wait.

Domaine Chandon to learn how Champagne (sparking wine) is made and for nice grounds & a lovely terrace to buy & taste some champagne & relax.

Neibaum-Coppola for the best gift shop & movie mementos (Francis Ford Coppola owns the winery) and very pretty buildings & grounds.

Silver Oak to taste the best Cabs (if available for tasting).

Clos Pegas for some unusual art & a lawn where you can picnic.

Silverado Vineyards for another good view of the Valley.

There are scads of great restaurants in the area. I find myself going back to:
Martini House
Tra Vigne to wander around & pick up a picnic lunch (not a real fan of the cuisine). The building & grounds are quite nice. If you are not a “foodie”, this probably be the most fun place for a nice dinner in the Napa Valley.

Reserve at least a week ahead for all the above restaurants – perhaps more than 2 weeks ahead on summer weekends. Serious foodies will like Terra & Martini house the best & they are a little more formal. Families with kids will probably prefer Mustards or Tra Vigne.

Day 3

Perhaps catch a final winery on your way out of the Napa Valley. Mondavi opens at 9:00 and the first tour is a lot more calm & relaxed than later ones.

Go south on #29 towards San Francisco. Where #29 hits #121, go west on #121 (follow the signs to SF). Not long after 121 takes a sharp turn south, there is an excellent antique furniture/decorative items shop in the right side of the road – my wife rarely misses a stop here. A few miles before Sears Point raceway on #121, stop at Via Viansa Tuscan Market & Winery – you’ll be able to spot it. My wife loves to stop here – and unfortunately, so do the tour busses, so arrive early or late or off season. It has nice vistas, picnic area, and gift shop. Connect with #37 & then #101 back to SF.

Stu Dudley
StuDudley is offline  
Mar 14th, 2005, 03:53 PM
Join Date: Mar 2003
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I haven't been to the Armstrong Redwood Grove in a long time but I do remember it as being very pretty - you will get a nice look at the redwoods there. I do know the Muir Woods parking lot can get quite crowded so I would probably opt for Armstrong if it is convenient.

I think Stu is correct that it would probably take two hours to get to Healdsburg as it can take some time to get out of the Coliseum parking lot after a game.
Should the game go very late it is good to keep in mind that BART stops running at midnight.
KathrynT is offline  
Mar 15th, 2005, 05:07 AM
Join Date: Jan 2003
Posts: 569
Two tips from our trip in Aug. '04...

1. Take BART to the game from your hotel in SF. We stayed in Union Square. It was incredibly easy to get on BART to be delivered right to the game--no traffic, no parking, no hassles.

2. Loved Armstrong Woods. We were advised by a friend who lives in the area to visit here as opposed to Muir Woods. It was relaxed and uncrowded.
xxxx is offline  
Mar 15th, 2005, 07:46 AM
Join Date: Dec 2004
Posts: 54
Stu - wow! Hubby & I also wanted to do Muir Woods/Pt. Reyes/Napa (or maybe Sonoma now), and that's quite some tour you have laid out there. Thanks for that.

One question (Stu or anyone): if we decide to stay on 101 and skip Mill Valley (even though I'm quite a MASH fan), how would we get to Hwy. 1? Is there an exit off 101 North that would get us onto 1 North? We'd be getting back onto 101 North from Sausalito (the views sound lovely!).

Thanks for any help!
JerseyGirl1962 is offline  
Mar 15th, 2005, 08:45 AM
Join Date: Nov 2004
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>>>Is there an exit off 101 North that would get us onto 1 North?<<

Yep - you will see it - just before Mill Valley. It's marked.

Stu Dudley
StuDudley is offline  
Mar 15th, 2005, 09:11 AM
Original Poster
Join Date: Jun 2004
Posts: 42
Thanks so much, everyone! All advice very much appreciated.

We will already have a rental car when we arrive, having come up from Southern CA. Turns out, unless we pay more than $40 a night for parking, it's cheaper to keep the car for the week, than to return it and then rent it again for 2 to 3 days! So, we're thinking we'll just keep it parked while we're in SF and use BART as recommended, and then have it to use for the rest. This means I'll be searching other threads as well as tripadvisor.com for places to stay that will keep parking costs to a minimum...but if anyone wants to chime in on that here, that would be most welcome!

Also, we'll be there in mid-May...please advise if that affects the planning as to when it will most likely be foggy.

Thanks again. Stu, I don't think we'll have time to do your whole tour, but it looks great and I'm sure we'll use pieces...and I've no doubt many besides me will be grateful for that post.

lauracohenromano is offline  
Mar 15th, 2005, 09:21 AM
Join Date: Dec 2004
Posts: 54

Thanks SO much! Like Laura, we won't have time for the entire tour, but this will give us a chance to go by some of the lesser known wineries.

BTW, how far (time wise) are the wineries on Westside Road from Pt. Reyes? An approximation, naturally; if we just headed straight there without any stops, would it be about an hour from Pt. Reyes? And then the Dry Creek wineries - are they just a few minutes from the Westside Road wineries?

Thanks for all your help - we're going next month and we can hardly wait to go!
JerseyGirl1962 is offline  
Mar 15th, 2005, 02:36 PM
Join Date: Jul 2003
Posts: 3,857
If you head east from Pt.Reyes over to Petaluma and up Hwy 101 North it will take you about 1-1.5 hours to reach
Healdsburg. Around 2PM the traffic through Santa Rosa is very S_L_O_W.

If from Pt.Reyes you continue North on
Hwy 1 through Valley Ford/Bodega Bay
toward Jenner that will take 1-1.5
hours. Turning east on Hwy 116 at
Bridgehaven will put you into the
Westside Road/Healdsburg vicinity
in another hour.

I do hope you choose the later route as it is far more scenic even if time consuming. And do not rush Pt.Reyes-
a long afternoon will only give you and introduction.

From the wineries on Westside Road
it's about a 15 minute drive up to
Dry Creek Road.

Fog ? Very difficult to predict. I can have fog at my house and it will be sunny in Healdsburg. I can have sun at my house and the coast will have fog. Just go and enjoy !
razzledazzle is offline  
Mar 15th, 2005, 06:12 PM
Join Date: Nov 2004
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If you have a car, I would stay in one of the Lombard St motels that have free parking. If fact, if you do not have a car, I would stay there. It is much more "San Francisco" than the Wharf, and I prefer it to the Union Sq area also. The motels are rathar "basic" compared to some of our more elegant ones in Union Sq & Nob Hill, but I like the neighborhood feel of this district (Lombard St is rather ugly, however). Cow Hollow & the Marina areas are just blocks away where you will find more than 30 restaruants, small boutiques, bars, Victorian Houses (Cow Hollow), and more San Francisco residents than you will find at the Wharf.

Since you have a car, here is an excellent way to get into the city & to the Lombard St area from SFO or 101, along a very scenic drive - especially the Lincoln Blvd section that has fantastic views of the Golden Gate. I posted this a while back. You can cut up this driving itinerary to fit your plans. Also included is a way to get to Golden Gate park & pick up the same scenic drive from there.

SFO to Lombard St Hotel
Get a AAA map of San Francisco. Also the AAA map of Daly City & So. S.F. would be helpful for following this route

Leave the car rental complex, and get on 101 south towards San Jose. In about 5 miles, take Hwy 92 west to Half Moon Bay. 92 will be all freeway until it intersects Hwy 280, but continue on 92 to Half Moon Bay. There will be a stop light just after the “fast” part of 92 stops & becomes a smaller road. This drive gets quite scenic from here on. Continue past the huge reservoir (where SF gets its drinking water), and up over the coastal mountains. Then descend into Half Moon Bay. One block shy of Hwy #1, there will be a stop light (the first one past the light where the fast part of 92 ended). There is a Shell station to the left & an Olympic (I think) to the right. This is Main St. Turn left & proceed into the very cute village of Half Moon Bay. Park the car & walk around – there are lots of cute shops in this area. My wife’s favorite knotting shop is here. If you are hungry, there is an excellent sandwich shop on the north side of the San Benito Hotel. You can eat the sandwich at one of the outside tables, or stop along the coast to have a lunch.

Continue south on Main St and you will join Hwy #1 going south. After about 2 miles you will get fabulous views of the coast. There are several stopping places along the way. Continue south and stop at San Gregorio State Beach. Proceed south again and stop at Pescadero State Beach.

Turn the car around & head back north. I think the vistas are prettier in this direction. You get great views of some white cliffs that you can’t see going south. Continue past Half Moon Bay on Hwy #1 towards SF. It is not real scenic until you get to Montara. Just past a restaurant on the left, the coastal views begin again. After a flat section, you will ascend up to “Devil’s Slide” (appropriately named) and the views will be quite nice (for the passenger, not the driver). After a couple of hundred yards, there will be a parking lot on your right, and an entrance to Grey Whale Cove on the left. This is one of our more popular “swimsuit optional” beaches. It’s foggy most of the summer however.

Continue past Devils Slide to Pacifica and then into Daly City. Notice all the multi-colored identical tract houses in this area – it’s quite unique. Soon, Hwy #1 will hit Hwy #35. Get on #35 north towards SF (not downtown SF) – there will be a sharp clover-leaf to the right. This is Skyline Blvd. Continue north on Skyline, and you will see Lake Merced on your right – you are now in SF. Fort Funston is on your left, which was an old WWII bunker complex. It’s fun to explore. Just when the lake starts to be split by a road to the right and you see a “boathouse”, turn left onto the Great Highway – it will be the first left after you see the lake. Continue north on the Great Highway and look behind you for some great views down the San Mateo Co. coast. You will pass Golden Gate Park and at the Cliff House, you will swerve to the right. Just past Louis restaurant, pull into a dirt lot on the left (or a paved one on the right), and take a look at the remains of the Sutro Bath House. There are markers with explanations on the bluffs overlooking this place. The coastal views are quite nice too.

Leave the Sutro Baths and follow the road and you will immediately be on Geary Blvd going east. Continue east on Geary, and at 34th Ave, turn left. This will take you into & through a golf course and to the Palace of the Legion of Honor. The Legion houses many exhibitions and also has the largest collection of Rodin statues outside of Paris. At this point, get the camera out – you won’t believe the views coming up. Continue past the Legion of Honor, veering to the right as the road curves and on to El Camino Del Mar. There will be a golf course on both sides of you and you will get fantastic views of the Golden Gate, and also the Golden Gate Bridge – hopefully there will be no fog.

Just when the golf course ends and you begin to see some houses, look for a viewing platform down to the left in the middle of the golf course. Park the car & get out for some nice views & picture taking. Back in the car, continue on El Camino into the Seacliff area – probably our most exclusive homes – you’ll be able to see why. Stay on El Camino, but make left turns whenever you can and get on to Seacliff Ave. When you hit the Y where El Camino turns right & you turn left onto Seacliff Ave – immediately in front of you is a house with a hedge around it, and a topiary dragon peeking up over the hedge. This is where Robin Williams lives. At this junction if you always take left turns, you will immediately hit a dead-end – with China Beach to your right. Get out of the car & walk down to this beach. It is quite scenic with views of the Seacliff area, the beach, and the Golden Gate Bridge.

Continue through Seacliff on Seacliff Ave & you will shortly have to make a sharp right. After the right, turn left on to 25th Ave, and exit the Seacliff area (there will be 2 stone pillars as you exit). Take the first left onto Lincoln Blvd & get the camera ready again. You will see more fantastic views of the GG Bridge. Stop & take more pictures. Continue on Lincoln & you will go under the bridge. You will need to make a decision now. The most fantastic views in the entire Bay Area (in my opinion), are on the other side of the bridge - up high from the Golden Gate National Recreation Area (GGNRA). This excursion will take 45 mins or so. You should definitely take it now if the weather is nice. The fog could come in later, and this view is much better in the evening, than in the morning when the sun is in your face. You will have the opportunity to take this excursion in a few days when you head up north into the wine country. If you choose to take it now, immediately after going under the bridge, take a left & go on the GG Bridge. I will not describe this route here – see the description under “North of San Francisco” in my other post.

Continue on Lincoln Blvd, past a cemetery & drive through the parade grounds of the Presidio. This entire Presidio area was still a military base until it was closed in the 80s. It is now a US park, and is being converted into other uses (a long story). Stay on Lincoln, and follow the signs to the “Lombard Gate” - to Presidio Ave & then Lombard St. After you exit the Presidio, you will be in the Lombard St Motel area in two blocks

Scenic drive to Golden Gate Park – Lots of Victorian Houses
From the Lombard St motel area, take Lombard east to Gough St. From the Wharf area, take Bay St west to Gough. Head south on Gough (it becomes a fast 1 way street after some steep climbs). Do not take Van Ness south - it is ugly, full of pan-handlers, & slow. When you hit Lafayette Park, park the car (usually not a problem) & walk up the stairs near Clay St into the park. Sit on the bench at the top of the stairs & look east at the two lovely Queen Ann Victorian houses. My wife leads a walking tour in this area and she has a picture taken in 1906 from this same site, showing these 2 Victorians, with the entire city in rubble (from the earthquake) behind them.

Continue driving south on Gough until it hits Hayes St. Turn right on Hayes. This is a nice/funky shopping area. Continue west on Hayes until you reach Alamo Square Park. At Pierce St, park the car (a little more difficult - there are usually spaces on Steiner St on the east side of the park). Go to the park side of Hayes & Pierce to see perhaps the most photographed site in SF (other than the bridge). Walk into the park a little for the best views. This is "Postcard Row", with the Queen Ann Victorian row houses in the foreground, and downtown SF in the distance. If you want to see some more Victorians, drive north on Steiner (next to the park) and 1 block past the park, turn left on to McAllister. Continue west, and in the second block from 1443 to 1499 McAllister is the longest contiguous row of Victorian Stick Style houses in the City. At the next corner, turn right on Scott, and on the next street, turn right on to Golden Gate (it’s a one-way street). Continue two blocks on Golden Gate and at the end of the second block is the huge Chateau Tivoli – painted 23 different colors. Immediately to the right of it is the Seattle Block – more exquisite Victorians. At the corner, turn right on Steiner, and then right on McAllister to pass the contiguous Stick Victorians again. At the next intersection (Scott) turn left & go south on Scott. Looming on the corner of Scott & Fulton is one of the most photographed Victorians in the City - the Westerfield Mansion. Unfortunately, they have not pruned the tree in front of the house for quite some time, and it somewhat blocks the view. Continue south on Scott (more Victorians across from the park) to Fell & turn right (west) on Fell. This will take you into Golden Gate Park, and there are some lovely houses along the way (and an in-expensive Arco gas station too).

Stu Dudley

StuDudley is offline  
Mar 15th, 2005, 08:55 PM
Join Date: Jan 2005
Posts: 248
Just a couple of comments to add to Stu's outsanding efforts:

Armstrong Woods is indeed an outstanding grove of redwoods and a worthy substttute for Muir Woods, which is probably better known only because it is so much closer to S.F. I would choose to visit it instead of MW if you are going to spend a couple days in wine country, as your day heading north from the City past MW will already be very full. AW is just north of Guerneville, which is mentioned in Stu's description of the drive inland from the Coast to Healdsburg. You could either stop there enroute to Healdsburg, or backtrack easily from Healdsburg during your drives around that beautiful area.

I also second Stu's recommendation of Marina-Cow Hollow as the best area of S.F. to stay in if you must keep a car while visiting The City, and a delightful neighborhood in general. I must like it--I lived there longer than I have lived anywhere else. Be sure not to miss the Palace of Fine Arts and its beautiful lagoon. And since you're baseball fans, be aware that's Joe DiMaggio's house on the Bay Street corner overlooking the Palace. He used to frequent my neighborhood pub, three blocks away. One of his neighbors got misty-eyed on me one night telling me how much he missed being able to look out his window and see Marilyn Monroe sunbathing in the next yard.

And as one who has driven many times between that neighborhood and points in Sonoma County closer than Healdsburg--the estimate of an hour you are given by a poster above between S.F. and Healdsburg is not realistic. It is possible under optimal conditions with fast driving, but will rarely be achieved because there are notorious bottlenecks on US 101 between San Rafael and Novato and from Rohnert Park to north of Santa Rosa, and any other route will take much longer.
JBC411 is offline  
Mar 18th, 2005, 07:37 AM
Join Date: Dec 2004
Posts: 54

Just wanted to say thanks for all your ideas. I talked it over with my DH (he will be doing the driving), and we are going to be doing the longer route you suggested.

It's now under a month until we're in SF! YAY!!
JerseyGirl1962 is offline  
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