Any adventure in the Bay Delta should start or end with some time in San Francisco. There is so much to do that you have to be focused on your interests and plan your trip to make the most of your time. I love that Google Maps gives you the option of directions for walking, bicycling or transit. These are all viable options in San Francisco.
There is also a time honored tradition of seeing San Francisco in a day by following 49 mile drive.
Recently I had a dear friend stop in San Francisco on her long flight from London to Auckland. She had never seen anything of San Francisco. We were staying at the fun and funky Ocean Park Motel in Sunset District. I had sent her a link to a website planner: http://www.jdvhotels.com/things_to_do. We mainly wanted to talk, talk, talk; however, we could do that as we saw some sights. She prioritized Japanese Tea Gardens, Palace of Fine Arts, and Fisherman’s Wharf. The 49 mile drive takes you to all of those places and more.
We set off from Sunset District and headed along the coast towards the Presidio. We realized after a short while that there is a “right direction” for the 49 mile drive and we were driving it backwards. So the signs were all facing the other way. Undeterred we had a blast driving a few miles and then stopping and seeing something up close or grabbing a coffee or bite to eat. There was fog in the morning but that burned off by afternoon and it was a beautiful day (first weekend of June). We had seen the Presidio, Golden Gate Bridge, Ghiradelli Square, Maritime Museum, Palace of Fine Arts, and Fisherman’s Wharf. About 2:00 p.m. we stopped at the Ferry Building for lunch (and to stock up on Cowgirl Creamery cheese). The Giants were playing a game that evening, so rather than tangle with the traffic we began to use the 49 mile drive as a “suggestion.”
Eventually over the next day and a half we saw Coit Tower, drove Lombard Street, cruised Chinatown, stopped at City Hall to see the large red water lily by the same Korean artist who created the floral chandelier in the Auckland Art Gallery, and strolled through the Japanese Tea Garden. Sarah did NOT like the steep hills (lots of eyes shut), so we did not ride the cable cars or go to Twin Peaks. We did attend church at Grace Cathedral (11 a.m. choral Eucharist service).
We enjoyed ourselves thoroughly and I saw San Francisco with fresh eyes. It really is a great City.
On the first truly hot day of summer in Sacramento I got a late start on my bike ride. At 10 a.m. and 98 degrees there was still over a hundred bicyclists, joggers, and walkers enjoying the jewel of Sacramento. The American River Parkway is 23 miles of trails stretching from Old Sacramento to Folsom Lake. It makes Sacramento a great place to recreate. Check it out.
Most people are pedaling road bikes and dressed in full riding togs like they are training for the Tour de France. I was wearing capris and a tank top and riding Gidget, my trusty beach cruiser, and I enjoyed it just as much. Maybe more because I was moving at a pace where I could see the bunny rabbit hop across the trail and stop by the edge of the verge.
I stopped at a bench and wrote a letter to a friend in New Zealand (hey Beverley!). This was my view.
If you are bike enthusiast, then a visit to the Delta should include a long ride along the American River Parkway. If you are staying in downtown Sacramento, then hop on light rail with your bike and ride to Folsom ($2.50 fare per person). Hop off and ride back to downtown Sacramento and then enjoy a cold one at one of the great pubs in Sacramento (bike racks plentiful). Next day ride the Amtrak train to Davis, check out the US Bicycle Hall of Fame in downtown Davis, and then cycle through the countryside to Winters for breakfast.
The Sacramento Valley is relatively flat between Folsom and Winters, so all level of rider will enjoy the experience. Watch out for the intense sun June-September. Wear sunscreen and drink lots of water. The dry heat can fool many a person from more humid climes.
For more information about the parkway: http://www.msa2.saccounty.net/parks/Pages/RegionalParksDetails.aspx?pn=American%20River%20Parkway
There are so many fun things to do in San Francisco that it can be overwhelming. (Also see blog on 49 mile drive) If you love messing around on boats and the weather is not cooperating or you have landlubbing friends you need to spend time with, then spend part of a day at Fisherman’s Wharf and walk toward Ghiradelli Square and see the Maritime Museum.
A good afternoon could start with clam chowder and sourdough bread at Fisherman’s Wharf (Boudin’s anyone?) and then a stroll through the Maritime Museum (wharf first). As you continue west toward the Golden Gate Bridge you can see more of the Maritime Museum at the Bathhouse Building.
This building was constructed as part of the New Deal during the depression (Works Progress Administration). The Aquatic Park Bathhouse was designed in the Streamline Moderne style to resemble an ocean liner. The exterior and interior of the building contain many beautiful and unique works of art created by artists employed through the Federal Arts Project. Carefully restored in 2006, you can see the mosaics on the outside by a prominent black artist Sargent Claude Johnson. Inside you can enjoy the colorful murals by artist Hilaire Hiler.
I hope you have worked up a wee appetite because it is just a half block to Ghiradelli Square where you can indulge your sweet tooth. (You have to try the dark chocolate with caramel, salt, and peanuts.) There are several cafes where you can buy hot chocolate and other treats and a store with every kind of chocolate bar this fine San Francisco institution creates.