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Travelblog Gone with the Wine

Travelblog and lifestyleblog. Life under the Californian sun - Gone with the Wine. Trips, food and wine from all over the world. Solo and family adventures.

Filtering by Tag: Golden Gate

10 Pictures that Will Inspire You to Visit San Francisco

Paula Gaston

San Francisco is much more than just city life. Close by, in San Francisco Bay Area, there are many beautiful beaches, parks and trails. The giant red woods are amazing and the sun set over the ocean wont leave anyone cold. If you don't believe me, juts see for yourself!

1. GOLDEN GATE

The Golden Gate Bridge is the mark of San Francisco and its most famous sight. If you want to see it from somewhere else than from the city, you hike up the hills on the opposite side of the bridge and enjoy some fresh ocean breeze. 

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2. CHINA TOWN

The world's biggest China Town outside of China is colorful and full of life. It's a great place to just walk around, eat or stop in the many little stores they have. 

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3. JAPANESE TEA GARDEN - GOLDEN GATE PARK

In the middle of the city there is a huge park called Golden Gate Park. It hides inside so many beautiful places but one of the most beautiful one is the Japanese Tea Garden. It is definitely at its best during spring with the cherry blossoms. 

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4. SUTRO BATHS

In the 18th century the Sutro Baths used to be sort of a spa and its remains are right next to the famous Cliff House restaurant. It used to be the world's biggest indoor swimming facility but none of the buildings exist anymore. The pools now get filled by the ocean's crashing waves and there are great hiking trails in the area. Sutro Baths is part of the Golden Gate Recreational Area so it is protected and part of the national parks.  

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5. FILOLI GARDENS

One of the most beautiful places in the San Francisco Bay Area is for sure the Filoli Gardens. It is great all year round but especially gorgeous during the spring time. If you get bored of the flowers, you can also visit the mansion which was used in the Dynasty TV show. 

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6. POINT REYES NATIONAL SEASHORE

A little bit north from San Francisco lies the Point Reyes National Seashore. They have excellent beaches, forests and great hiking trails. One of the most visited places at Point Reyes is its old lighthouse. 

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7. POINT REYES SHIP WRECK

This well known ship wreck at the Point Reyes National Seashore is hidden behind a restaurant building, so most times you will be the only one visiting it. Unfortunately, some time ago someone set it on fire, so I am not sure how much is left of it anymore. 

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8. HORSE BACK RIDING IN THIS SCENERY

In San Francisco and close by it, you can find many beaches where you can go horse back riding. This picture is from Drake's Beach. 

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9. THE GIANT RED WOODS OF MUIR WOODS

Muir Woods National Monument is north of the city of San Francisco. The rare coastal red woods grow on this protected area. After a twisty mountain road you will forget city life by walking into a whole different world. The oldest tree in Muir Woods is over 1200 years old.

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10. THE SUN SETS OF CALIFORNIA

Nothing is better than sun sets in California. And you will have plenty of places in San Francisco to see them. The city is surrounded by water, which makes it a special place to watch the sun go down on summer evenings. 

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Everyone should experience San Francisco once in a lifetime!

Mother's Day Under a Bridge - with San Francisco Belle to Golden Gate

Paula Gaston

What kind of Mother's Day traditions does your family have? Do you go out for brunch or do some activities together? When I was a kid, we mostly stayed home and spent time with the family. In the morning we woke mom by singing and taking breakfast to in bed for her. We also always had a mother's day cake and a gift. Later when my brother and I got older, we started taking our mom out for brunch.

This year I am going to spend my fourth mother's day as mom myself. I am not sure what is going to happen this mother's day but I would like to honour all the moms by telling about my mother's day last year. I was lucky to get a gift that I wont forget easily, it was a cruise under the Golden Gate Bridge at San Francisco Bay. Even though it was windy and chilly outside, it was a wonderful day.

Our cruise ship San Francisco Belle was an old fashioned river boat built in Louisiana in 1994. It looks beautiful and is the biggest dining yacht on the West Coast. As we were enjoying the brunch we also saw the city of San Francisco from the water which I had never seen before. San Francisco Belle offered traditional breakfast foods with bottomless mimosas and delicious desserts. Especially I remember the banana-bread pudding, yummy! Food was ok, nothing fancy, but we enjoyed the atmosphere and didn't go home hungry.

The highlight of the cruise was when we reached the Golden Gate Bridge. The ship turned around under the bridge and we got to see how different things looks like from the Bay. We also saw Alcatraz Island close by.

The rest of the cruise went fast since we had a DJ in the house and people were dancing and having some a good time. A lovely day in San Francisco!

Happy Mother's Day to all Moms and to my own mom in Finland!

Must Sees in San Francisco

Paula Gaston

We have all heard about famous sights in San Francisco and seen pictures of bridges and cable cars. If you are in town for the first time, here is the list of these touristy things you most likely want to see and experience. Lot of people say that they like to avoid the most famous places but still somehow they have pictures of them on their photo albums. I like both. I often like to see those places, there must be something there or why would people be talking about them so much! But I also like to see some "real local life" as well, and to me that often means nature. There is a lot about those kind of places on my blog already but here are the must see places in the city of San Francisco:

1. THE GOLDEN GATE BRIDGE

The Golden Gate Bridge is without a doubt, the most famous sight here and the biggest landmark of San Francisco. It is one of the most photographed bridges in the world. My last blog posting was about the Golden Gate Bridge so I wont go into too much detail about it again.  

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2. LOMBARD STREET

This is where I usually start my sightseeing tour with our guests. It's fun to surprise them with San Francisco hills, and then when they are still talking about the horrible uphills, you drive down to this steep, curvy road full of flowers and pretty houses. Lombard Street was done so curvy because it was too steep for many of the cars and dangerous for pedestrians. After you drive the most famous part of the road, you can park your car on the next block, and walk out to take some photos. If you plan to drive, be prepared for crowds and traffic control during weekends. 

3. COIT TOWER

Coit Tower is 64 meters high atop Telegraph Hill. The story goes that a lady named Lillie Coit built the tower in honor of firefighters but the story remains unconfirmed. You can see the tower from Lombard Street, from the Cable Cars, from Pier 39 and from everywhere that other hills or buildings are not in the way. If you want to visit Coit Tower, I recommend doing that during the week since there is only a very small parking lot which is often full. With a few bucks you will be able to take the elevator up and enjoy the best views of San Francisco you can find. 

4. CABLE CARS

Many people know the Cable cars from movies but you have to experience a cable car ride at least once in a life time! They started building cable car lines in 1873 and just like the name says, cars are pulled by a cable running below the street. If possible, go to the ride early in the morning and avoid weekends. There is always a line to get to the cable cars. Then, all you have to do is hope that you are lucky enough to get a good spot in the car. Outside spots are the most popular ones but there are only few of them. There is also a few standing spots on both ends of the car. If you end up in one of those spots, be careful. If you hang too far out from the car, you might get hit by another cable car. 

The easiest place to jump into a cable car is from Ghirardelli Square where they also sell some tickets. This line rides up and down some steep hills, passes Lombard Street and China Town all the way to Market Street. Don't forget that if you want to ride back on the same line, you need two tickets. One ticket costs $7 (2016) but they also take different kinds of multipasses for transportation. 

5. CHINA TOWN

In the middle of San Francisco you will find the biggest china town outside of Asia. It is hectic, colourful and an interesting place to visit. Laundry is hanging form the windows. There is so much noise and smells. Thousands of people bumping into each other on the sidewalks. In grocery shops you can see all kinds of creatures from bizarre looking mushrooms to live turtles. And the food... this is the most authentic Chinese food you will find in America. You should definitely stop by some of the restaurants for lunch, stop in some of the little shops for bargains and definitely move your wallet out of your back pocket. 

6. PIER 39

Pier 39 is the center of tourism in San Francisco. It is on one of the Embarcadero's piers and you can find things like carousels, souvenir shops and restaurants from here. People come here for leisurely strolls and to eat. The view of the city is great, you can see the Golden Gate Bridge, the Bay Bridge, Alcatraz and Coit Tower. Next to this place is Fisherman's Wharf, where fishermen sell freshly caught fish and  seafood. There are also tons of souvenir shops and restaurants close by. If you get tired of the crowds on Pier 39, you can visit the aquarium to see all kinds of sea creatures. 

People also come to Pier 39 to see the sea lions. In 1989 for some unknown reason, they took over some of the pier's wooden decks and at some point the boats had to be moved to other places. Sea lions became famous and they brought more tourists to the pier. They hang out right by the pier and make a lot of noise, and it looks like that they are there to stay. 

7. ALCATRAZ

One of the most popular sights is Alcatraz Island AKA The Rock, which served as a prison from 1933 until 1963. Alcatraz Island is in San Francisco Bay, and on a nice day you can see it from the Golden Gate Bridge, the Bay Bridge or from Pier 39. 

If you would like to visit Alcatraz, you better book your tickets ahead of time. The ferry will take you to the island but with very limited space. Weekends and summer days sell out very fast. At the island, you will get headphones and can do the tour at your own pace by listening to the guide. You get to visit different buildings of the prison and even one of the cells. The atmosphere is gloomy and you feel like you have stepped back in time. The boat to Alcatraz leaves from pier 33 and you can choose the return trip at the island according to how you feel on the tour. 

8. PAINTED LADIES

San Francisco is known for it's victorian houses and "the painted ladies" are a row of colourfully painted victorians. The most famous ones are the ones by the Alamo Square which have been featured in multiple movies and postcards. However, there are other colorfully painted victorian houses in the city as well. These famous houses were build in the 1890's and their facade is full of beautiful decorative details. 

You can find the houses on 710-720 Steiner Street and if you are lucky, you might be able to park right in front of them. If not, try finding a parking spot around the block. 

After seeing all these places in the city, you can truly say that you have seen the most famous spots of San Francisco. Of course there is still plenty to see and many other places that are widely known and interesting, but for more about those you can read later. 

TIPS FOR VISITING SAN FRANCISCO

  • San Francisco is many travellers' dream, so there is always a lot of people in the city. If you want to avoid the worst crowds, be an early bird and don't come on weekends
  • Make all your reservations early
  • Be prepared for lines in restaurants. It might take you over an hour to get a table if you go out at the same time as other people
  • Bring some warm clothes. The weather changes fast in San Francisco and it is often windy. Plan a flexible travel schedule where you can be in the city for the sunny days. Weather forecasts can also change fast so it's better to be prepared with long sleeves.
  • If you want to eat or shop more affordably you should avoid the touristy areas by the piers. Walk a few block into the city and everything is cheaper. 
  • San Francisco is big and distances are surprisingly long. Learn how to use public transportation since parking is extremely expensive.
  • Don't forget to try out the famous San Francisco clam chowder served in a bread bowl, and enjoy the city life!