For those of us who reside in Southern California, the allure of the cooler and rainier climes of San Francisco and the Bay Area have long held attraction for an easy get away whether one arrives by plane, train or automobile. There’s always so much to see, do and eat throughout the San Francisco Bay Area.
We all are aware of the big attractions: Golden Gate Bridge, Fisherman’s Wharf, Golden Gate Park, Chinatown. But for the repeat visitor, seeking out new experiences is also key. We’ve highlighted a few standouts from a recent visit to Berkeley and San Francisco.
Two of our favorite dining experiences in the Gourmet Ghetto district next to UC Berkeley are Tigerlily and La Note. Tigerlily’s absolutely delicious Indian food and craft cocktails support the hype about the restaurant. It’s terrific for dinner, opening at 4:30 p.m. daily.
For French/Provençal breakfast and lunch, La Note’s charm and food are wonderful. Open daily at 8:00 a.m., La Note serves perfectly made coffees and meals, supported by a rustic cafe atmosphere and friendly host and servers.
Fish Curry Mahi at Tigerlily in Berkeley’s Gourmet Ghetto. (Photo By Lisa Paredes)
For hiking and robust nature, there’s Tilden Regional Park, which hosts a lake, merry-go-round, golf course and more, located north and east of Berkeley.
Centennial Drive is a gorgeous scenic drive winding along the tops of the hills above Berkeley and boast amazing view of the Bay Area, day or night.
For those who enjoy paved paths and sea level walks, the Berkeley Marina offers some very beautiful vistas. There’s also a flock of mature wild turkeys populating the marina area, seemingly blase about cars, bikers and pedestrians.
We hit the big draw of Golden Gate Park, because, how can one not? There is just so much to do in the park, from biking and walking, to museums, dining, concerts and more. We checked out the California Academy of Sciences, since we haven’t set foot in the museum for more than 15 years.
The California Academy of Sciences includes an amazing indoor rainforest, complete with tropical butterflies, birds and aquatic creatures. Below the Osher Rainforest lies the Steinhart Aquarium – a truly magnificent aquarium with all kinds of life, from fish, jellyfish and octopi to lizards, bugs and snakes. The top level of the building showcases the Living Roof, with plants and paths.
The Morrison Planetarium is a 75-foot digital dome, for educational shows on space. Additionally, the Kimball Natural History Museum of part of the CA Academy of Sciences complex, all located in Golden Gate Park.
Colorful fish and coral reef habitats abound at the Califonia Academy of Sciences’ Steinhart Aquarium. (Photo By Lisa Paredes)
After getting our science on, we sought out some of San Francisco’s many excellent restaurants. Our favorites from this visit: Dumpling Time on Division Street, Jijime on Geary in Richmond and Tony’s Pizza Napolitana near Washington Square.
We enjoyed Bi Luo Chun, Cucumber Salad, Har Gow, Xiao Long Bao and Pork Gyoza at Dumpling Time, Curry Croquette and amazing Grilled Pork Belly Plate at Jijime and fried Squash Blossoms and the Cal Italia pizza at Tony’s.
For us, no visit to San Francisco is complete without a stop at City Lights Bookstore. Of course, we had to stop by neighboring Caffe Trieste for a quick breakfast and some world-class lattes.
We tried to get to Benkyodo in Japantown before the legendary mochi and sweets maker closed its doors forever, but we did not have four to five hours to wait in the line. There was too much else to do.
We drove over to Daly City area along the Pacific and were amazed at the incredibly high winds that seem to be a constant at Fort Funston. Signage warned that hang gliders frequently land in the area atop the bluffs, although we didn’t see any in action. We also wandered about the Lake Merced area, which includes a public golf course and boating on the lake.
San Francisco’s Black Cat is the place to see live jazz. (Photo By Lisa Paredes)
We always like to see live music when we travel and this trip, we discovered the San Francisco stalwart Black Cat. It’s located in the Tenderloin, so we easily took a quick ride share to and from the jazz club.
Guitarist Marcus Machado, who’s collaborated with Anderson.Paak, Robert Glasper and Lalah Hathaway, among others, performed a fantastic set with his band and special guests. Food and drinks are decent and a little expensive. But when the music’s hot, the Black Cat is absolutely the spot.
One major tip: for those parking anywhere on the street or public lots in San Francisco or the larger Bay Area, don’t leave anything visible in the vehicle and to be extra careful, keep important documents and items elsewhere during your visit.
Ride sharing is very accessible throughout the area, along with plentiful public transportation. Cars, of course, provide quicker and more personal transport but parking can be expensive and a challenge.
Berkeley, San Francisco and the whole Bay Area draw us back frequently and we hope readers will enjoy some of our recent favorites on their next visits. Get Out of Town, Burbank, and visit the beautiful Bay Area!
Editor’s Note: While there’s always a lot going on in Burbank, myBurbank’s “Get Out Of Town!” highlights some of our favorite activities and events outside the town borders.
The Bay Bridge peeps through the San Francisco skyline. (Photo By Lisa Paredes)