Despite its proximity to tourist traps such as Fisherman’s Wharf and Ghirardelli Square, the former United States army post of Fort Mason, is a bit of a hidden gem as far as non-residents are concerned. But it repays an hour or two of anyone’s time. Its historic buildings include art galleries, museums, an excellent café cum second hand bookshop and one of the best vegetarian restaurants in the country, Greens. The views across the Marina to the Golden Gate Bridge and back towards Alcatraz are marvellous. I hope the photographs below entice any readers who have not visited the site to include that on their next itinerary.
Posts Tagged ‘Alcatraz’
Posted in Photo Gallery, San Francisco, tagged Alcatraz, Fort Mason, Golden Gate Bridge, Marina, Marina San Francisco, Photographs, photography, San Francisco, San Francisco Bay, Tony Quarrington on April 6, 2013 | 2 Comments »
Posted in Photo Gallery, San Francisco, tagged Alcatraz, Bay Bridge, Coit Tower, Filbert Steps, Golden Gate Bridge, murals, New Deal, North Beach, San Francisco, Telegraph Hill, Tony Quarrington, Transamerica Pyramid, Work Projects Administration, WPA on March 18, 2013 | 4 Comments »
Pending the imminent return of full-blown articles on aspects of San Francisco, I am posting a series of photo blogs on different neighbourhoods. The first subject is Coit Tower, perched atop Telegraph Hill with wonderful views of the “necklace of bridges, Alcatraz and the bay on one side, and North Beach and the Financial District on the other. And there is another treat inside – the marvellous murals produced under the New Deal in the thirties.
If you want to learn more about the woman whose generous bequest funded this much loved San Francisco attractions, read my article at:
Posted in San Francisco, tagged academy of sciences, Alamo Square, Alcatraz, Beach Blanket Babylon, Cable cars, Castro San Francisco, Chinatown San Francisco, Cliff House, Club Fugazi, Coit Tower, de Young Museum, embarcadero, Ferry Building, Fisherman's Wharf, Golden Gate Bridge, Golden Gate Park, Haight-Ashbury, Japanese Tea Garden, mission san francisco, painted ladies, Palace of Fine Arts, San Francisco, San Francisco-Oakland Bay Bridge, Tony Quarrington on October 27, 2011 | 7 Comments »
2. Brunch at the Cliff House
You’ve already read about this. After our first night’s sleep in the city we always head out next morning to the to the Pacific Ocean to have brunch at the Cliff House, the former centrepiece of what used to be a great seaside amusement park and elaborate public baths (though little else of it remains now). There are two restaurants there with the most fabulous views of famous Seal Rock (I think the name speaks for itself), and miles of golden but windswept beach stretching south and past the western edge of Golden Gate Park. You may have to wait for a table but, when you do, get a seat by the big picture windows (you will be directed to one anyway) and enjoy. The Crab Eggs Benedict is to die for!
3. Painted Ladies
You will possibly already be familiar with the famous scene of the six colourful Victorian houses with the modern cityscape behind them. The “Painted Ladies” (I don’t think I could afford one even after a triple rollover on the UK lottery!) are positioned on the southern edge of Alamo Square in the Lower Haight neighbourhood, which has the added advantage of being a perfect spot for a picnic (and dog watching!).
4. Golden Gate Park
One of the largest urban parks in the world, you could spend several days exploring the Park, but here are a couple of highlights:
a. Japanese Tea Garden
Glorious setting with beautiful trees, winding footpaths, curved bridges, still pools with enormous carp swimming in them and a massive bronze Buddha – you could almost be in Japan. Enjoy a range of oriental teas and snacks whilst giving your feet a well earned rest.
b. California Academy of Sciences
Planetarium, rainforest, aquarium and other displays in one stunning building. Opposite is the highly acclaimed de Young Museum.
Plenty of other attractions such as Stow Lake, the Buffalo Paddock, Dutch Windmill and the Conservatory of Flowers, and facilities to enable you to undertake every possible physical activity and sport.
5. Beach Blanket Babylon
This musical revue, performed in Club Fugazi (pictured), is the longest running in the world, another of our must do activities on every trip to SF – we never miss. Uniquely San Franciscan, it follows Snow White (who hails from SF of course!) on her travels round the world to find the man of her dreams – she has to do this because most of the men in her native city are gay!). She meets dozens of familiar and, to a non-US resident, perhaps some less familiar, characters and…..well, I won’t spoil it for you. It is an hour and a half of sheer fun, fast-paced, absolutely hilarious, lots of extravagant costumes and you can have a bottle or two at your seat to supplement the mood!
The oldest, and one of the largest Chinese communities in the States, it is virtually a city within a city, a vibrant, densely packed 24 blocks crammed with gift shops, market stalls (you need a strong stomach to look too closely at some of the produce!), restaurants and even a fortune cookie making factory. And you cannot go to SF without having at least one meal there. We would recommend the R & G Lounge and the Great Eastern.
7. Golden Gate Bridge
If I needed any proof that these selections were not necessarily in order of favouritism it is the fact that I have left this to number seven. You must drive it, bike it or walk it of course. After you have done so, there is a scenic spot that the tour buses use to take their photos looking back at the bridge or across to the city. But the stellar views of the bridge with the city and Alcatraz in the background come from crossing the main road (it is signposted from the aforementioned car park) onto the Marin Headlands. There are several wonderful spots there, the best being just before you return to the main road. You can’t miss it.
8. Palace of Fine Arts
Built for the 1915 Panama-Pacific Exposition, designed to showcase the remarkable recovery of the city since the great earthquake and fire nine years earlier, this remains one of the most beautiful and tranquil locations, especially at dusk when swans, geese and ducks glide serenely on the lagoon whilst young children run after balls on the perimeter.
9. Ferry Building Marketplace
Ferry embarcation point for Oakland and Alameda, the building also houses a superb collection of upscale eateries and produce stalls, all providing the freshest ingredients. On Tuesday, Thursday and Saturday the front – and, on the latter, the rear too – plays host to the wonderful Farmers’ Market, one of the best in the U.S.A. You may even have your lunch prepared by one of the city’s top chefs as they advertise their creations here too.
Unreconstituted and fully paid up member of the Woodstock Nation that I am I could not complete my list without recommending that you take a look at the Haight-Ashbury neighbourhood. The centre of flower power in 1966-67 it still retains some of that independent, colourful streak and there’s some interesting shops and cafes along the main drag. The architecture of the area, principally Victorian, is very attractive too and you are only a few minutes walk from Golden Gate Park.
I said at the beginning that this was my personal “best of” collection. There are, however, plenty of other places and experiences that we enjoy greatly in the city. I haven’t mentioned the tourist honeypot that is Fishermen’s Wharf not because I don’t like its carefree, festival atmosphere, its one of a kind gift shops, seafood restaurants and hilarious sea lion colony, just that there are places I’d rather spend my time.
And then there’s Alcatraz – no (first) visit is complete without a trip to the island just a mile and a half offshore. Admittedly, there are thousands of tourists streaming back and forth across the bay from dawn to dusk, but there is no doubt that it is an awesome and moving experience. Even better if you do the Alcatraz by Night tour when you are on the island at sunset, very atmospheric and quite scary.
Coit Tower, with its views and delightful steps leading up to it on all sides is another favourite, provided I have trained sufficiently for the climb! The panoramic scene from Twin Peaks is worth being run over by tour buses for too. And how could I forget the awesome, 8.4 mile long Bay Bridge which is currently getting a makeover following the part that was destroyed in the 1989 earthquake.
Posted in San Francisco, tagged Alcatraz, Angel Island, AT & T Park, Beach Blanket Babylon, Berkeley, Bodega Bay, Carmel, Castro Theater, City Hall San Francisco, Cliff House, Coit Tower, de Young Museum, Expoloratium, Golden Gate Bridge, Golden Gate Park, Grace Cathedral, Haight, Half Moon Bay, Mendocino, Monterey, Palace of Fine Arts, Point Reyes, San Francisco, San Jose, San Jose Sharks, Santa Cruz, SF MOMA, Singalong Wizard of Oz, Tiburon, Tony Quarrington, Transamerica Pyramid, Twin Peaks on February 16, 2011 | Leave a Comment »
In my recent post California Dreamin’……and of Nevada too, I promised, or rather threatened, to burden you with my plans for the San Francisco leg of our upcoming trip.
We have rented an apartment in NOPA (North of the Panhandle) for a fortnight this time, hiring a car for the first week and buying a City Pass, which includes a seven day MUNI passport, for the second. This will be our eighth trip, the first few of which were only for a few days, so the temptation to revisit the same haunts was strong back then.
But now we are more experienced visitors, and whilst I suppose we cannot shake off the tourist tag, we aim to “live like locals” as much as we can. We will, of course, still frequent favourite spots such as Golden Gate Park, Haight-Ashbury, AT & T Park, Golden Gate Bridge, Beach Blanket Babylon and the Cliff House, but the emphasis is increasingly on new places and experiences as well as return trips to attractions we have not been to for some years.
With the car we intend to take the opportunity to venture beyond the city to Berkeley, Tiburon / Angel Island and Santa Cruz / Half Moon Bay, none of which we have done more than drive through in the past.
Time permitting, we would also like to explore part of the northern coast, for example Point Reyes and Bodega Bay (Mendocino may be a little too far). Given that we will be experiencing our first NHL game between the Sharks and the LA Kings, we will give downtown San Jose a look in too. Monterey / Carmel, the Napa Valley and Alcatraz (by day and night) have seen enough of us in the past, so we will spare them this time.
Back in the city the focus will be more on revisiting sites we have missed on recent trips such as Twin Peaks, Coit Tower and the Palace of Fine Arts / Exploratorium. In addition, there are places that we have, shamefully, bypassed before that we must visit this time, including the Grace Cathedral, City Hall and the redwood grove at the Transamerica Pyramid amongst others.
New cultural experiences will include seeing our first show at the Castro Theater (Singalong Wizard of Oz?), visiting SF MOMA (Museum of Modern Art) and the de Young Museum, none of which we have done before.
I am sure I will be adding to the list over the next four weeks but these are the “must-dos” at present. Whether we succeed in meeting the challenge will be revealed in the daily blog I hope to maintain during the trip.
In the meantime, if anyone has read this and thought “yes, that’s fine but you have just got to go to………….” please let me know.
Posted in Photo Gallery, tagged Alamo Square, Alcatraz, Aquatic Park, AT & T Park, Cable cars, City Hall San Francisco, de Young Museum, Golden Gate Bridge, Golden Gate Park, Haight-Ashbury, Japanese Tea Garden, Palace of Fine Arts, San Francisco, San Francisco Bay on January 21, 2011 | 1 Comment »
Below are 20 of my favourite photographs taken on various trips to the City by the Bay over the past decade. You can view a much larger image just by clicking once on the picture.