A Travellerspoint blog

Living La Vida Loca - California-dreamin'

Best places and hang out spots around and near California

sunny 70 °F

The bay area is just so interesting. Each city offers so many different things to see and do. If you want to find great places to visit, eat, check out, etc - Yelp it! Go to yelp.com and see what other people has to say before you hit the road or open your wallet. Here's my own yelp reviews: http://jocel.yelp.com/

Other places to check out is the 2008 Webby Award Nominee: http://weekendsherpa.com/archives/. Find your next weekend adventure! For international travel or out of state travel, check out the newsletters at http://www.away.com/

Here are some of my favorite spots in the bay area:

  • North part, there's Napa and Sonoma - Cornerstone Gardens, Jack London's house, COPA and downtown Napa, shopping outlets.
  • By the coast: Fort Ross, Mendocino, Fort Bragg, Bodega Bay. I love the campsites at MacKerricher State Park, where you can go tide-pooling and whale watching. The Samuel Taylor campground is also nice and closer to Point Reyes and it's where you can actually see salmon swim upstream. Tomales Bay is the perfect place to go clamming and watch manta rays and tiger sharks swim.
  • Hike to Alamere Falls and jump into the Bear Lake on your way back to cool off.
  • Best places to surf are at Pacifica Beach, Bolinas, and Santa Cruz.
  • On the Marin County side of Golden Gate: Sausalito (bike and ferry to SF), Corte Madera's Ring Mountain, Muir Woods, and downtown Mill Valley.
  • Bike route from San Francisco Ferry Bldg to Sausalito - I look forward to sunny days when I can hop in and Bart to San Francisco and bike my favorite loop/route in the city. Get off Embarcadero and bike towards the Ferry Bldg, where you can shop their farmer's market and arts and crafts booths on Saturdays. Head to Fisherman's Wharf from here. On your way, you'll see Coit Tower and there are steps/stairs trails that can you lead up there. The steps start near Battery Street and across Levi's Museum square. Coit Tower marks the end of Lombard Street. If you decide to drive up to Coit Tower, follow Lombard Street and it'll take you to the some of the favorite spots in SF. The Crooked Road is actually part of Lombard Street, which eventually leads you to the Golden Gate. Just before getting into Golden Gate, you can get off Lombard and check out the Fine Arts, Exploratorium, Crissy Field beach, and the rest of Presidio. My bike route actually passes to this area. Anyway, when you get to Fisherman's Wharf, you can check out the sea lions (which migrate in July-August) and the classic arcade Museo Mechanique and hear the fat lady laugh! Behind this museum are other museums that exhibit submarines and torpedoes. After you get your clam chowder, bike past Ghirardelli towards the marina area where you'll find this small hill. On the other side of the hill is Fort Mason and from here, you can see the Golden Gate bridge. Head towards the Golden Gate bridge. Soon, you will see the Fine Arts' dome and exploratorium across the street and Crissy Field beach on your right. Follow the road adjacent to Crissy Field (entrance to the Presidio). Crissy Field is a good place to rest and watch dogs play as well as windsurfers launch. There's also a good view of the Alcatraz from here. If it's too cold outside and you want to get some coffee and be indoor and still be able to enjoy the view of the water, check out that little museum near Crissy Field (and next to Sports Basement - which I think is the best place to shop for outdoor stuff (backpacks, gears, etc) plus they have a ping pong table where you can play while you wait for your friends to finish shopping). From here, you can continue biking towards Golden Gate bridge (just follow everyone else). There's another hill that you need to climb up to get to Lincoln Avenue where you'll find the trail to the biking area (left side of the bridge) to cross the bridge. Once you cross the bridge, it's all downhill to Sausalito, which is on the other side of the freeway. Enjoy the rest of the day in Sausalito. The last Ferry, where you can take your bike with you back to the Ferry Bldg in SF, leaves at 5PM so make sure you don't miss it and always check the time schedule as soon as get to Sausalito so you can plan your stay around it.
  • If you feel like taking the Bart and Cable car to Fisherman's Wharf from Powell and Market, don't forget to check out Bloomingdale's fancy food court (across Briston Farms) and Westlake Dome at the top floor. Across the street, catch a 3D movie at Metreon and check out the waterfall in the garden and the Jewish Art Museum. Each year, they also have great car shows and exhibits at Moscone Center. Yerba Buena is fun - Ice Skating, Bowling, and more!. There's also outdoor ice skating at Embarcadero andUnion Square during the holidays. Bayanihan Cultural Center (6th and Mission) is the place to go in November for their free holiday lantern workshop. Powell and Market is where you'll find group of people (young and old) playing chess.
  • Inner Richmond: Irish bakery and European food market (as well as Russian Cinderella restaurant) off Geary. Yummy dumplings at Clement St. Philippine Consulate home is just around the corner.
    Golden Gate Park: California Academy of Sciences, top floor of De Young Museum (by the other gift shop), Legion of Honor, Japanese Tea Garden pagoda, and Stow Lake.
  • San Francisco Zoo and the Great Highway - Cliff House and the remains of the bathhouse
    San Mateo Convention Center, surfing at the Museum, South San Francisco target shooting range, El Camino Real Filipino restaurants, and Tanforan mall.
  • Glen Park
  • Daly City Lucky Chances Casino
  • SF Nightlife: 1984 CatClub, sfclubs.org, Mehjool at mission and 20th St. Broadway St. in SF. Boot-town /Little Italy. China town and Japan Town.
  • Eastbay (Concord/Antioch/Walnut Creek): Black Diamond Mines Regional Park, Waterworld, Mt. Diablo, Lindsay Wildlife Museum, Heather Farms, downtown Walnut Creek, Vasco Road caves. For kids, take them to Pixie Land (amusement park) and the Jungle. Indoor rock climbing at Diablo Rock.
  • Berkeley Indian Rock and Rose Garden, Tilden Park and Brazil Bldg.
  • Lake Chabot, Chabot Planetarium, Oakland Zoo, Mormon Temple, Jack London Square, Rockridge, Lake Merritt Boat Club, El Cerrito Plaza and Pool.

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  • South Bay - Hayward to Carmel
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  • iFly, Union City and all the Filipino food (Gerry's Grill)
  • San Jose - Santana Row and Winchester Mystery House. They're right across each other. Santana Row is the perfect place to hang out (but not to shop). Enter Valencia hotel and proceed to the 2nd floor lobby. Next to the elevator is a narrow hallway. On the right side of the hallway is a really nice lounge/bar with a balcony that overlooks the streets of Santana Row. On the left side is a beautiful courtyard with patio seating and outdoor heat lamps. There are also fire pits to keep you warm. The lighted water cascading falls are awesome at night. Then, grab some delicious desert at Cocola (a block away) and challenge your friends to some outdoor chess by the wine bar in the center isle and move that gigantic 2.5-feet pawn with your two hands across that huge floor chess tiles. There are so many places to check out around here, such as the Saturday farmer's market and pet parades.
  • Also, Rosucrucian Egyptian garden and museum (Naples Ave. - couple of blocks from the Rose garden and not far from Santana Row).
  • Nightlife in downtown San Jose - Spend the day at the Tech Museum and the Modern Art Museum and party all night club-hoping and bar-hoping at all these awesome clubs and bars that downtown has to offer.
  • Citybeach, Fremont - the place to be if you want a sporty-gym where you can play sports indoor with family and friends. Try your skills in rock climbing, volleyball, basketball, ping-pong, bouce or just lay back with playing pool/billiards, air hockey, foosball, and another one of those gigantic, floor chess. They also have a grill/bar where you can recharge with some delicious food and drinks.
  • Skyhigh, Santa Clara - trampoline/exhibition gym anyone?
  • Great America and Raging Water
  • Gilroy Garlic Festival
  • Santa Cruz - Lighthouse Beach (best surfing - W. Cliff Dr.), Boardwalk, Mystery Spot, Seabright Beach bonfires.
  • Carmel downtown, Mission Carmel, and the 17-mile road to Pacific Grove and Monterey.
  • Yosemite and Mono Lake
  • Bear Valley and Alpine Lake - outdoor rockclimbing.
  • Also, Saratoga Mountain Winery and Turtle Creek. Gold mining at Sonora. Dead volcanoes and caverns at Volcano, CA
  • Snow is just few hours away at resorts like Boreal, Heavenly, Alpine Lake, Bear Valley, and NorthStar. Then, cross over to Nevada and check out Lake Tahoe and casinos in Reno.

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  • On your way to LA or just outside LA:
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  • Santa Barbara (Old Spanish Days Festival), Pismo Beach
  • Hearst Castle in San Simeon (along highway 1), San Luis Obispo, and Solvang
  • Mission San Fernando, Mission Hills (north 5/405 intersection)
  • Joshua Tree National Park
  • Dana Point whale watching (75 milles south)

    Some of my favorite spots in LA (other than Disneyland, Hollywood, and Universal Studios)

  • Getty Museum in town off 405 (free admission). Cool Tram Ride and great view and gardens!
  • Getty Villa in Malibu (reservations). Also in Malibu, Zuma Beach, Paradise Cove, and Malibu Creek State Park for camping
  • Malibu ocean kayaking (also at Mothers beach - Marina del Rey)
  • Santa Monica 3rd St. Promenade, Boardwalk Pacific Park and Rides, Muscle Beach, Point Dume Beach. Cheap eats at S.M.
  • Segway rentals at Segway L.A. on 1660 Ocean Blvd. Santa Monica, Horse back riding (in the Santa Monica mountains)
  • Venice Beach (you can rent bikes), street performers, muscle beach
  • Beverly Hills Park at end of Rodeo Dr., the City Hall, Beverly Hills Hotel, Polo Lounge
  • Trolley tours of star homes Hollywood or downtown, Baldwin Hills or get a $5 map of star homes (Beverly Hills Rodeo Dr.)
  • Griffith Park and Observatory (reservations now required). The new Oschin Planetarium show is the best!
  • Near that area: Greek Theater, Bird Sanctuary, Los Angeles Zoo (parking site for Griffith Observatory/Hollywood Bowl)
  • Gene Autrey Western Museum + Travel Town (railroad museum)
  • West Hollywood, Walk of Fame/Stars (3 ½ miles round trip), Graumin’s Chinese Theater, and Hollywood Bowl concerts (arrange parking first)
  • Ford’s Theater (across the 101 from the Hollywood Bowl) smaller shows than the Bowl
  • Hollywood Wax Museum and Kodak Theater tour, Ripley’s Believe It or Not Museum (across from wax museum)
  • Mulholland Drive
  • Hollywood Park Race, Forum, horse racing, and casino.
  • Haunted Hollywood Tour
  • Museum of Tolerance
  • Hollywood sign hike and pics, L.A.pics
  • Paramount Pictures Tour (9AM), Hollywood Forever Cemetery, Walk of Fame
  • Studio tours: Universal/City Walk or Warner Bros., NBC, Disney, Dreamworks
  • La Brea Tar Pits and Page Museum on Wilshire @ Fairfax
  • Farmers Market at the Grove. Go to Charley’s Café in the Farmer’s Market. Go the closest booth at Fairfax and W. 3rd.
  • Exposition Park Rose Garden (USC)
  • MOCA (Museum of Contemporary Art) and LACMA
  • Walt Disney Concert Hall (downtown)—stunning architecture!
  • Downtown L.A.-Lummis house, Angels flight
  • China town, Korea town (karaoke), Little Tokyo
  • Dodger stadium baseball game, Home Depot Stadium
  • Lakers Basketball at the Staples arena
  • Huntington Beach Surfing and Surf Museum (they spend a lot of time and money on constant activities)
  • Foose Auto Design (See Overhaul’in TV Show) and Huntington Beach boardwalk
  • Petersen Auto Museum (car “rallys” from Huntington Beach - see the stars cars and the Ferrari collection)
  • Huntington library and gardens (San Marino)
  • Volley ball and tournaments (Huntington Beach)
  • USC and UCLA football, LA Coliseum or Rose Bowl
  • Redondo Beach and Pier
  • Orange County
  • L.A. barhopper mystery bus, L.A. Open at Riviera Country Club, L.A. Equestrian Center
  • Big Bear skiing
  • Palm Springs golf and tram ride
  • River Walk and L.A. River Gardens
  • Citadel Outlet Mall (Commerce, CA)
  • Commerce Casino Club (Commerce, CA) and Bicycle Club Casino (Bell Gardens, CA.)
  • Cerritos Titanium Library
  • Disneyland (Anaheim)
  • Knotts Berry Farm's roller coaster rides, 6 Flags/Magic Mountain
  • Water parks-hurricane harbor, soak city, raging rivers
  • Long Beach: Aquarium of the Pacific and Queen Mary (haunted ship/hotel)
  • Catalina Island, catamaran to Avalon out of Long Beach or Newport beach, concerts and the casino - service now available out of Marina del Rey (Helicopter Service $150. now available out of San Pedro)
  • Hike up Mt. Lee and visit Bronson (Batman) caves
  • Rose Parade in Pasadena
  • Norton Simon Museum (Pasadena)
  • Santa Anita race track, and L.A.. Botanic Gardens -Arcadia, CA.
  • Mt. Wilson observatory-(UCLA astronomy-Cal. Rt #2))
  • Gondola ride at Naples Island (Alimitos Bay)
  • Renaissance Festival
  • Rockwalk at the Guitar Center
  • Graumans Egyptian Theater
  • El Capitan Theater
  • Dominator ship wreck hike
  • Tilmann Japanese garden (San Fernando Valley)
  • San Bernadino Route 66 classic car show (Sept.13-16)
  • Descanso Gardens (La Canada)
  • Brand Park/Glendale library
  • San Antonio and Temecula winery tours
  • Lake Arrowhead

    Other places to check out or for dining:

  • Beach bonfire—monthly specials (free wood and hotdogs)
  • Helicopter tour of L.A, indoor skydiving
  • Fashion district-(11th St. + Santee), L.A. Fashion week (bargains)
  • Melrose Trading Post (Saturdays only)
  • Eat at Pinks, Pinkberry, or In-and-Out Burger. Pink Hotdogs is very popular with all different combinations.
  • Bob Morris’s Paradise Cove Café, Sunday Morning Brunch (North of Malibu maybe 5 miles—look for Paradise Cove signs)
  • Spago in Beverly Hills, great Wolfgang Puck restaurant. You might meet Wolfgang
  • Ivy, Kitson (on N. Robertson), Hotel Marmont,
  • Club at Hyde, Area, Teddy’s, Priviledge, Les Deux, Parc, Mood, Skybar, Roxy, Tryst, Whiskey (a-go-go), The Spyder Club, The Viper Room, House of Blues.
  • Beverly Hilton, Trader Vics, Sparkles
  • Coffee Bean and Tea Leaf + Tito tacos (Culver City)
  • Eat at Mr. Chow’s or Koi or Yamashiro
  • Fred Segal (this is mostly for women and gay guys I guess)
  • Papa Christo’s Thursday Greek Dinner (pico/normandie) - Real Store with restaurant attached. This authentic experience including belly dancer and classes for the ladies won’t last in it’s present shape too long as it is sold out on Thursdays. It’s inexpensive and Chrys’s Daughter graduates from business school next year and if she has any sense will turn this into something bigger. Make sure to make reservations for the Big Fat Greek Thursday Dinner and not just plain dinner.
  • Mel’s diner (Hollywood and highland)
  • Bob’s Big Boy—Toluca Lake-Riverside Dr.-(Friday nights only 5 to 10:00)
  • Marina Del Rey Dinner Cruise-Hornblower Co.
  • Roscoe’s Chicken and Waffles Diner
  • Canter’s Deli or The Pantry
  • Eat at Mortons (Pam is closing at the end of the year)

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  • Trips I'll always Remember:
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  • El Paso Texas and New Mexico: White Sands, NASA Space Center, Rosswell UFO Center
  • Las Vegas and Grand Canyon: free shows and themed sights at Cesar's Palace, Bellagio, Paris, Venitian Hotel, Wynn, and mardi-gras like shows at Rio. Check out the Lion habitat at MGM, the flamingos at Flamingo's, and the tropical fishes and sea horses at Caesar's Palace. The best rides are at New York New York roller coaster and Stratosphere's XScream.
  • Tour of West Grand Canyon: skip Skywalk and head out to Guano Point (see previous blog on Grand Canyon). Camp and see Angels Bright trail in South Grand Canyon.
  • Washington: Tacoma's Glass Bridge and Chihuly's Glass Museum, Seattle's Pike's Place and Smith Tower in the Pioneer Square, Mukilteo Lighthouse and Boeing Tour, Tulalip Resort and Casino by Seattle Outlet stores.

Posted by jptablante 11:27 Archived in USA Tagged tourist_sites

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