When Bay Area locals talk about getting away for a weekend in Monterey, they’re usually referring to the Monterey Peninsula and its sister cities of Monterey, Pacific Grove and Carmel. Visitors to the area typically bounce between one highlight to the next (mostly in Monterey), and may not pay much attention to differences. But believe it or not, each of these bordering towns has a distinct character about them. Monterey is the big sister with the most activity and biggest attractions, while Carmel is the old-money sophisticate with rows of high-end shops, galleries and wine bars on its leafy main drag.
If you’re looking to spend a weekend exploring Sonoma wine country, consider making Healdsburg your base of operations. It’s easy to get to (minus any traffic woes) just off Hwy 101 about 10 miles north of Santa Rosa, so just enough removed from the small city sprawl, car dealerships and office parks of that area. Yet it still has all the conveniences and amenities you might need, and enough small town charm to make it feel like a proper country getaway from the city.
The biggest reason of all: it’s located at the intersection of three wine regions – the Russian River AVA, Dry Creek AVA and Alexander Valley AVA.
stARTup Art Fair
One of the cooler art events in the city (though that’s something of a tallest pygmy contest with the dearth of art culture in SF), the fair is now in its third year at Hotel Del Sol on Webster St. in the Marina. Over 50 artists participate in the take-over of individual rooms and the courtyard pool area of the hotel, with artists conversations and a seminar on women in art. 4/28-30, Fri 7-10pm, Sat noon-9pm, Sun noon-7pm.
King’s Day Celebration
There’s a Dutch community in San Francisco, apparently. Because each year at this time they gather round the Murphy Windmill in Golden Gate Park to celebrate King’s Day, the biggest event of the year for Nederlanders. Flea market, music, beer garden, food trucks, kid’s games are all part of the fun, as well as typically nice weather this time of year. 4/29, Saturday, noon-5pm.
Dancing in the Park
The 10-day event that is Bay Area Dance Week culminates this weekend with various workshops and free performances. Dancing in the Park is one of the highlights, with some 30 top Bay Area dance troupes and schools performing in the band shell next to the de Young Museum. 4/29, Saturday, noon-4:30pm.
Caesar Chavez Day Parade
The largest event honoring the late labor and rights activist, the parade begins at 11am and makes its way from Dolores Park and ends at a street fair at 24th between Treat Ave. and Bryant St., which features a car show and plenty of food. 4/29, Saturday, 11am-6pm.
“Summer of Love” Block Party
It’s been 50 years since San Francisco became famous for hippies, tie-dye and psychedelic drugs during its famous summer of love in 1967. The festivities for what promises to be a summer of events kick off with a block party on Telegraph Ave. in Berkeley with free concerts from 60s cover bands, food, crafts and kid’s games. 4/29, Saturday, noon-5pm.
There’re a lot of Russians in San Francisco – 10,000 by one count – with a history that goes back as far as the early 1800s. In honor of that past and present, the Russian Center of San Francisco is hosting its annual celebration of food, dance, music and art. Expect big crowds for the stroganoff, blinis and borscht, and the ensuing fun and impressive performances. And of course there’s a vodka tasting. The biggest draw might be the magnificent old building itself, built by SF’s first wave of Russian immigrants. Saturday 1/31 from 11am-10pm, and Sunday 2/1 from 11am-7pm, 2460 Sutter St., SF.
Pancakes & Booze Art Show
This is basically what art and the art world has come to, just one big excuse for a party. “Wait, there’s art here too?” And yet some of my favorite times in LA have been art crawling on gallery nights. And Minna is one of the top galleries in SF. So combine those two, and add in booze, pancakes, and body paint. Oh, and there’s like 50 underground and emerging artists represented too. Saturday, 1/31, 8pm-2am, 111 Minna St., SF.
SF Live Arts: Folk and Bluegrass Music Night
The excellent and innovative music/performance series continues with Patchy Sanders, a six-member band from Ashland, Ore, performing alt bluegrass, or as they claim, noir-grass/neo-folk. Following is duo Misner & Smith, with lovely harmonies and memorable songwriting. Saturday, 1/31, 8-11pm, 2097 Turk St., SF.
Exploratorium Free Day
In celebration of Groundhog Day, the Exploratorium is free all day. Explore and tinker with the hundreds of exhibits. Did I mention it’s free? Sunday, 2/1, 10am-5pm.
Super Bowl L
The list of pubs, sports bars and theaters hosting viewings and parties is long and varied. Pick your favorite spot and chances are they’re having some kind of super bowl soiree. Or, check this list of popular city sports bars. Sunday, 2/1, kickoff 3-ish.
Like everyone else, I was shocked to hear the news of Robin Williams’ death. But more than that, like a lot of people I was also surprised at how moved I was, as if someone just told me a personal friend had passed. Continue reading The richest man in town
This is one of those things I love about the Bay Area. You can be in the midst of urban snarl somewhere on 101, or the concrete expanse of outer Mission, and in less than 40 minutes you’re so deep in countryside you can almost hear the banjo music. Well maybe not, but at least you can trade in your city stress for plenty of quietude and nature. That’s just part of what the idyllic Hidden Villa farm and wilderness preserve offers. Continue reading Hidden Villa: old MacDonald’s farm, and much more
According to Yelp, there are 555 donut-serving establishments in the city and east bay. And while an unknown number are cafes, coffeeshops and Chinese cafeterias, it’s obvious the Bay Area is not lacking in sugary fried dough substances. Some are good, some suspect, but generally we do a passable donut product here (not like the sad state of our bagels and pizza*). I thought it was pretty much like that, until I came across a thing so rare I was unaware it actually existed until sinking my teeth into its still warm, perfectly textured (not too dense, not too fluffy), generously iced dough, and was transported to a land of rainbows and unicorns and dancing Homers. And I’m not even a big donut fan. Continue reading Holy O’s!
The windswept coast along Point Reyes National Seashore offers some of the most austerely beautiful scenery in the entire scenery-rich Bay Area. Standing atop the 300-foot cliff that overlooks Point Reyes Lighthouse, sunlight dances off ocean swells while waves crash into the rocky beach extending north along the coastline. If you can’t take a frame-worthy photo here, your camera must be broken. That, or the fog. Oh right, the fog. Did they not mention the fog before you embarked on the 40-minute drive from sunny Point Reyes Station? Or the fact that the lighthouse is the second foggiest place in North America (and the windiest on the west coast)? That’s not to say it’s still not scenic, just scenic in different way…moody and cinematic. Continue reading The fog that ate Point Reyes Lighthouse
You may have read the article a few weeks ago on KQED.org, on the minimum annual income a family of four in San Francisco needs for a “secure yet modest living standard.” It’s $84,000. Assuming Suzy and Billy (or rather, Emma and Ethan) get their own bedroom, a quick unscientific survey of craigslist shows that if you want a 3bdrm for less than $4k per month, you’re gonna have to live in the outer edges of the city, you know, in the fog: Bayview, the Outer Sunset, the Outer Richmond, Visitacion Valley. Even then, it’s a lot of dough. Continue reading $84k to live in San Francisco? So that’s why there’s no kids
Personally, I prefer Thanksgiving at home, where all I have to do is cook and eat, or just eat, lazing around in my old socks and watching movies on Netflix. The idea of getting dressed up and going to a nice restaurant for dinner seems like a lot of work, plus I tend to feel bad for the poor stiffs who have to work that day. Continue reading Where to go for Thanksgiving dinner in the Bay Area