Cultural bohemianism, counter-culture activism, techie innovation, and a reputation for all-American romance (think Marilyn Monroe and Joe DiMaggio), San Francisco's history has rightfully earned its colorful reputation. One of America's most gorgeous cities, it is famous for building code construction that allows the ground to move 20 inches in any direction during an earthquake and beatniks from the Haight-Ashbury district of San Francisco who espoused "make love, not war" and coined the phrase "flower power" in their peaceful, albeit noisy, opposition to the Vietnam War which set the stage for civil rights and progressive thinking. Before the 1960's hippies, the 1970's cultural food revolution led by the Bay area's own Alice Waters, the dot.com explosion (and subsequent implosion) of the 1980's, and Steve Job's cutting edge iPhone of 2009, San Francisco had already made its mark as a place for creative thinking. It was in this landlocked bay that Levi Strauss began making jeans for gold miners and amassed a fortune far greater than nearly every gold digger, the United Nations Charter was drafted and ratified in 1945, and the city survived the stock market crash of 1929 without a single San Francisco bank failure.
Take a good pair of walking shoes and a step tracking device. This is a city that requires stamina and rewards step counters. Waking up to a California Pacific Ocean view sunrise is a bucket list experience. All the better with the Golden Gate Bridge in the background. Start a brisk three mile hike from Marina Green, stroll over the iconic bridge, and arrive at Vista Point to revel in the quiet beauty of the morning San Francisco skyline and bay. Sixteen miles north of the Golden Gate is the closest place to visit 275 foot trees. The scent of the ancient coastal 1,000 year old redwoods is reason enough to plan a three hour excursion to Muir Woods. Go as early as possible, get a head start, and listen to the sounds of the forest before the crowds arrive.
After working up an appetite in the fern and fungi redwood forest, meet up with EDIBLE EXCURSIONS for their Gourmet Ghetto tour of Berkeley and experience for yourself the holy grail and roots of America's food movement. An altogether different yet equally satisfying food excursion requires little more than curiosity and a trip to The Ferry Building. Taste your way through this haven for sustainable and local food artisans, and engage the folks behind the counter to really understand what drives California cuisine. Taste Miette's macarons, Humphry Slocombes "secret breakfast" ice cream (think whisky and corn flakes), salumi cones from Boccalone Tasty Salted Pig Parts, low-sugar pastries made from fruit grown at Frog Hollow Farm, organic freshly-squeezed California grown Sow Juice, and a wedge of Red Hawk from Cowgirl Creamery to go with the freshly baked Acme baguette--yes, we tried all of this. For the truly culinary curious, a sampling or two of Spicy Superworms (no kidding) from Kitchen Incubators may be saliva inducing, but texture experiences can also be found at the glorious old-fashioned Rancho Gordo heirloom bean shop and the mushroom stall.
Jay Gifford's VICTORIAN HOME WALK offers a discussion of the distinctive majesty of San Francisco's Victorian elegance. During a 2.5 hour walk through Pacific Heights, Jay illuminates the architectural differences among the Gothic Revival, Edwardian, Queen Anne, Victorian Stick, and Victorian Italianate homes. He shares the story behind the accidental Haight Ashbury hippie influence on the Painted Ladies, and weaves together the history of San Francisco from the Gold Rush to the present day. This one man tour guide operation delivers in a way only a thirty year native of the city can.
Hands down the most unexpected and delightful surprise of this northern California excursion was a hands-on Sonoma cheese-making class with wine country chef and culinary educator Sheana Davis of THE EPICUREAN CONNECTION. In two hours, the secret to making three pounds of deliciously creamy fresh cow's milk cheese was unlocked and insight into the twenty year American farmstead cheese movement shared. The afternoon vineyard tours were all the merrier with a picnic basket outfitted with Sheana's cheese, homemade preserves, and crackers.
GOLDEN GATE HIKE (morning)
LAND'S END HIKE
One Ferry Building # 3, San Francisco, CA 94111
373 Columbus Avenue, San Francisco, CA 94133
HUMPHRY SLOCOMBE ICE CREAM