If you’ve ticked off San Fran’s big ticket attractions, like Alcatraz and Fisherman’s Wharf, what would you recommend for a repeat visitor?
It’s the watery delights around San Francisco Bay that I think are great fun to explore. The waterfront has been progressively redeveloped since the quake of 89. Of course a legacy of the sailing is America’s Cup Park, which is the city’s newest waterfront park, along the Embarcadero. And the America’s Cup Village at Marina Green. Given the idyllic backdrop for the event, and the close proximity to the action for spectators, I think it’s a great mystery that San Fran hasn’t hosted the America’s Cup before now.
Where’s the best place to hire a bike from, to cycle over the Golden Gate bridge?
Bay City Bikes has four outlets around Fisherman’s Wharf, and it’s a great starting point, because there is a dedicated cycle path through Marina District all the way to the Golden Gate Bridge, and across it. Continuously repainted in that distinctive shade of international orange, I reckon biking across the bridge is one of the city’s unparalled experiences.
So many blockbusters have been shot around the city. What are some of your favourite movie locations?
If you are a movie nerd, you could swallow up several days checking out some iconic locations, from the big screen. Top of my pick list is the Mrs Doubtfire family home. Make sure you walk into the lobby of the Hyatt Regency, a salute to 1970s wow-factor. With its glass elevators and lush furnishings, you will recognize it straight away. It was the location for that disaster movie, The Towering Inferno. And just north of San Francisco, take a quick trip to Bodega Bay You will feel like you’ve walked into a horror movie set, because the entire bay, and its heritage buildings featured in the Hitchcock classic, The Birds. There are guided movie location tours across San Fran, and there’s more info on my website.
How easy is to get to Yosemite, from the city? Can you do it as a day trip? I did it in a day a couple of years ago, and it’s utterly spectacular. Abe Lincoln was the visionary who protected this special pocket of nature as a national park. Now, you’ve probably heard about The Rimfire. It was started by a lightning strike igniting a single fir tree in May, but it has not stopped access to the main attractions. The top sights including that iconic granite monolith, El Capitan. This 3000 feet high vertical cliff is considered the holy grail by abseilers. Better them than me. The granite mountains are like totems to sculpted beauty. And the park is also home to North America’s tallest waterfalls, which you’ll want to check out.
What about Napa and wine country?
The prized wine region is in easy reach of San Fran, once again as a day trip.
There’s fancy-pants Napa, but also the Sonoma Valley, its folksy, down-to-earth neighbour, that specialises in boutique wineries and far less pretence than Napa. Have a swill or two from both valleys. Tastings are cheaper in Sonoma and the small-scale wineries are staffed by personable locals. A great Sonoma stop is the Madonna estate. The Napa is renowned for its majestic cabernets, fairy-tale chateaus and top-end culinary scene. In between the valleys, keep an eye out for the mansion that featured on Falcon Crest. Robert Mondavi is the powerhouse of Napa. The pick of the bunch for me in Napa – V. Sattui winery, with its gorgeous Tuscan character and the gracious Sutter Farm winery.
Two quick tips, if you’re travelling with kids. The Walt Disney Family Museum and the Exploratorium.
The museum was opened by Walt’s eledest daughter, Diane Disney-Miller, to showcase his legacy. Don’t expect theme park rides here, but the museum is loaded with technology and interactive exhibits to showcase his remarkable life. Highly recommended. www.waltdisney.org
And also on the waterfront, just past the finish line, check out the shiny new Exploratorium. A cutting-edge interactive science museum with over 600 hands-on exhibits for the whole family. www.exploratorium.edu
For further travel insights, tips and advice, check out the website of New Zealand’s premier travel magazine, For the Love of Travel. http://www.fortheloveoftravel.net.nz