San Francisco Foodie Alert: 2 Noteworthy Spots Are Open in Chinatown

Broccoli Char Siu Combo at China Live, San Francisco
(Courtesy China Live) Try the Broccoli Char Siu Combo.

The stretch of Waverly Place connecting Clay and Sacramento streets in San Francisco’s Chinatown provides a quiet parallel to Grant Avenue, a lively lane of gift shops, clothing stores and cafes to the east. When Brandon Jew brought his first solo venture to the former Four Seas Restaurant space, he moved the main entrance from Grant to an understated Waverly Place storefront. He then refurbished ornate lotus chandeliers from the old Four Seas, and outfitted the airy, updated dining room with custom tables, Chinese pottery, potted palms and pops of jade green.

Jew opened Mister Jiu’s in April 2016. Just six months later, the soft-spoken chef earned a Michelin star.

Baby bok choy with scallops and prosciutto at Mister Jiu’s, San Francisco

“Chef/owner Brandon Jew has brought some of the sparkle back to Chinatown with this contemporary treasure,” reads the Michelin review, “[putting] a modern Californian spin on the Cantonese classics that once made the neighborhood a national dining destination.”

Jew, who grew up in San Francisco’s Sunset district, chose Chinatown for his cocktail bar and kitchen because of personal connections to the neighborhood.

“It’s exciting to be in the old Four Seas space. My uncle got married upstairs, and there were lots of celebrations here when I was a kid,” he said. “With our restoration, we tried to retain as much of the building’s original soul as possible.”

Mister Jiu’s in Chinatown, San Francisco

Tradition informs both the design and the menu at Mister Jiu’s. Jew mixes classic flavors and modern techniques learned through his culinary experiences in Italy, Shanghai and San Francisco. Inspired by his work with respected local chefs like Quince’s Michael Tusk and Judy Rodgers, the late chef-owner of Zuni Cafe, Jew also puts a global spin on seasonal, Bay Area ingredients.

“I felt like it was time for someone to serve California elements in a Chinese context,” he said. “It’s how my grandma shopped for dinner, going to seven or eight stores looking for one special thing. It’s about relationships, and knowing where to find the best ingredients.”

Filet Mignon at China Live, San Francisco

“In Chinatown, people shop the markets in the morning and cook those ingredients at home that night. Why can’t we do that with Chinese restaurants?” said George Chen, founder and executive chef of China Live. His Chinatown food hall opened on Broadway in early 2017, complete with a market-driven cafe, beverage bar, tea counter and culinary retail shop, plus an upstairs cocktail lounge and fine dining venue.

Chen and his wife, Cindy Wong-Chen, explored Asia in search of sustainable, humanely produced goods and equipment for the 30,000-square-foot, Eataly-inspired space. The ground-floor Market Restaurant and Bar Central seats diners at tables and chairs made from reclaimed Northern Chinese elm. Hand-painted blue and white tiles in the Oolong Cafe reflect a style of ceramics popular in 14th-century China. Illustrated posters and rice sacks gathered during the Chens’ travels adorn the walls.

Oolong Café at China Live, San Francisco

From a bright chrysanthemum salad sprinkled with star fruit vinegar, to slow-simmered broth crafted in an imported ceramic cauldron, the menu spotlights what George Chen calls “traditional recipes with a San Francisco twist.”

“We change our menu daily, and we named this destination ‘China Live’ because we wanted to create a vibrant platform where people can try new things,” he said. “With San Francisco booming and Chinatown being right here in the heart of the city, the time was right for this project.”

Chrysanthemum salad at China Live, San Francisco

Three to Try at China Live

The China Live retail market carries sauces, spices, noodles, cookbooks, kitchenware and a number of other culinary goods. These three items are among many noteworthy options.

Retail market at China Live, San Francisco

  1. Bay Area chocolate maker Karen Urbanek worked with Cindy Wong-Chen to create a special selection of Flying Noir chocolates for China Live.
  2. Extra Virgin Camellia Tenuifolia (Tea) Oil is a mild alternative to olive oil that works well in Asian dishes and non-Mediterranean recipes.
  3. Tea mugs and teapots designed for China Live make it easy to properly seep, strain and sip the perfect blend. Loose-leaf teas are also available for purchase.

Chef Brandon Jew's Chinatown

Chef Brandon Jew of Mister Jiu’s, San Francisco

What are your favorite childhood memories of Chinatown?

 On weekends, my grandma would take me shopping in Chinatown. She was really particular about where she bought things. We went from one place to the next as fast as we could, so that we could get home and get cooking. That kind of energy still exists in Chinatown—it’s very busy, very bustling, and I love that about this area.

Where in the neighborhood do you like to eat?

Golden Gate Bakery has an egg custard tart that’s so good, especially when it’s hot. I’ll sometimes go to City View for dim sum, and I sometimes have lunch at Hon’s Wun-Tun House. I love the counter and the people who work there. It’s great how a bowl of wonton is so simple and satisfying.

What makes Chinatown a fit for your business?

There’s a lot of inspiration in this neighborhood. We’re just trying to continue the legacy of this building and make it a place where people celebrate. I wake up every day thinking about how we’re doing and how we can do it better.

Find out why China Live and Mister Jiu’s should be on your dining itinerary.

15 Reasons Why Sacramento Should Be on Your Stateside Bucket List

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Sacramento with Tower Bridge
©Octavio Valencia
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Mural in Sacramento
©Robert Couse-Baker/Flickr, Creative Commons
Murals

Colorful murals bring Sacramento's vibrancy into the streets. The 2016 inaugural mural festival was so popular, it's blown up to become Wide Open Walls, which will bring an influx of new artists to Sacramento.

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Sacramento's Craft Beer
©Visit Sacramento
Craft Beer

There are more than 60 breweries in Sacramento. Beer enthusiasts can download the Beer in Sac app to find their favorites, and also get information on beer-centric events. 

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Bike Friendly Sacramento
©Visit Sacramento
Bike-Friendly Sacramento

The playful nature of bike-friendly Sacramento can be seen through bike racks with personality. A number of bike tours can be found throughout the city, but among the most popular is brew biking.

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Outdoor Dining in Sacramento
©Visit Sacramento
Outdoor Dining

Sacramento's temperate climate makes outdoor dining a favorite year-round activity. As America's farm-to-fork capital, you'll find locally sourced ingredients practically everywhere you go.

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Harlow's Restaurant & Nightclub, Sacramento
©Visit Sacramento
Harlow's Restaurant & Nightclub

Sacramento's nightlife scene sizzles, thanks to modern-day supper clubs such as Harlow's, which pair dining with DJs and bands.

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Land Park in Sacramento
©Visit Sacramento
City Parks

Home to gorgeous city parks such as Land Park, Sacramento's lush green spaces provide jogging and bike paths, basketball courts and softball fields to get the blood pumping.

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Sacramento's state capitol building
©Visit Sacramento
Capitol Building

Sacramento's favorite free attraction, the Capitol building is packed full of contemporary art, portraits of California's governors and rare flags. Free tours and films take place daily. 

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Golden 1 Center, Sacramento
©Visit Sacramento
Golden 1 Center

Sustainability is the name of the game at the Golden 1 Center, home to the Sacramento Kings and the music world's biggest stars. It's the world's only 100 percent solar-powered and LEED platinum-certified arena. 

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California State Railroad Museum
©Visit Sacramento
California State Railroad Museum

The heritage of the state's train system is brought to life brilliantly in the Smithsonian-affiliated California State Railroad Museum. Witness 150 years of history through locomotive displays and high-speed simulators. You can also take a ride along the Sacramento River.

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Aerospace Museum of California
©Aerospace Museum of California
Aerospace Museum of California

Celebrate the state's exploration of flight at the Aerospace Museum of California at a four-acre air park that houses more than 50 historic aircraft. You can even make like Tom Cruise and explore a "Top Gun" F-14 Tomcat. It'll take your breath away.

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Old Sacramento
©Visit Sacramento
Old Sacramento

A 28-acre National Historic Landmark District, a visit to Old Sacramento is to step back into the time of the Gold Rush. The city's first retail district is a direct throwback to the prosperity of that era. 

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Delta King Hotel Sacramento
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Delta King Hotel

The majestic Delta King once shuttled commuters between Sacramento and San Francisco. Today, it's a restored hotel and restaurant, and one of Sacramento's unique experiences.

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Sutter's Fort in Sacramento
©Visit Sacramento
Sutter's Fort

The journey of land owner and farmer John Sutter is one of California's greatest examples of pioneer spirit. Explore the camp California settlers once flocked to, and experience life in the 1840s.

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Crocker Art Museum in Sacramento
©Visit Sacramento
Crocker Art Museum

Crocker Art Museum has been open longer than any other art museum in the West. Its gallery building is connected to another masterpiece: founder Edwin B. Crocker's Italian-inspired mansion.

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Sacramento National Wildlife Refuge
©Visit Sacramento
Sacramento National Wildlife Refuge

A bird-watcher's paradise, the Sacramento National Wildlife Refuge is home to approximately 300 species. Visitors have also reported seeing red foxes, black bears and mountain lions on the complex.

More people made their way to Sacramento in 2016 than ever before. It's no wonder, given the number of microbreweries, farm-to-table restaurants and health-conscious attractions popping up in this lively but laid-back city. And from the new Golden 1 Center to a number of new hotels on the horizon, Sacramento is only continuing its upswing. Here's what you don't want to miss.

How to Have Your Own Summer of Love in San Francisco

"Jim Marshall's 1967" at San Francisco City Hall.
(©Jim Marshall Photography LLC) The Grateful Dead perform in San Francisco in the summer of 1967.

In 1967, over 100,000 people from all over the United States gathered in San Francisco's Haight-Ashbury neighborhood and Golden Gate Park for concerts by the likes of the Grateful Dead and Janis Joplin, in addition to social experimentation and revelry. Called the Summer of Love, the period went on to become synonymous with hippie culture.

San Francisco is celebrating the 50th anniversary of the Summer of Love all year long with concerts, exhibitions and a variety of special events. Here are a few of the happenings that we're most looking forward to. 

Concerts

American Conservatory Th eater presents “A Night with Janis  Joplin” (through July 16), a Broadway musical celebrating Joplin’s career and influences, which include Aretha Franklin, Etta James, Nina Simone and more. The performance features many of Joplin’s hits, from “

Beach Blanket Babylon, San Francisco’s pop-culture musical revue, is also celebrating the anniversary. The cast now includes the Beatles, Hippie Gal and other groovy characters, while 1960s anthems “San Francisco (Be Sure to Wear Flowers in Your Hair)” and “Sgt. Pepper’s Lonely Hearts Club Band” round out the set list.

July 21, San Francisco Botanical Garden hosts a sing-along featuring hits from 1967, including “Somebody to Love” by Jefferson Airplane, “Respect” by Aretha Franklin and “All You Need is Love” by The Beatles. The following day (July 22), a multi-media musical history tour called “The San Francisco Sound” kicks off in the Nourse Theater, featuring Rock and Roll Hall of Fame inductee Joan Baez accompanied by rising young Bay Area singers. 

August 6 brings Jerry Day, the annual celebration of Grateful Dead frontman Jerry Garcia held at the Jerry Garcia Amphitheater, which is located in Garcia’s childhood neighborhood. 

Beach Blanket Babylon performs a Summer of Love segment in San Francisco

Exhibits

“Hippie Modernism: The Struggle for Utopia” at the Berkeley Art Museum and Pacific Film Archive showcases a mix of art, architecture and design from the 1960s counterculture movement.

In San Francisco, the de Young Museum presents “The Summer of Love Experience: Art, Fashion and Rock & Roll.” The exhibition features more than 300 cultural artifacts of the time, including rock posters, photographs, costumes, ephemera, films and more.

Curated by Grateful Dead biographer Dennis McNally, “On the Road to the Summer of Love” at the California Historical Society explores the historical context of the Summer of Love, largely through a variety of rarely seen photographs by photographers including Gene Anthony, Jerry Burchard, Lisa Law and more (all month).

“The Summer of Love Experience” at the de Young Museum, San Francisco

Tours

Learn about the art, music and fashion of the hippie movement as you stroll through the neighborhood where it all began on the Haight Ashbury Flower Power Walking Tour. Relive the '60s on wheels with the Summer of Love 50th Anniversary Magic Bus Experience, a two-hour journey featuring a blend of theater, film, music and sightseeing. Wild SF Walking Tours offers The Free Love Tour, which is also free of charge. Your guitar-toting guide will take you to the former home of the Grateful Dead and Janis Joplin’s pink apartment.

Piedmont Boutique costume shop

Concerts, exhibitions and special events celebrate the 50th anniversary of the Summer of Love.

The Best Michelin Restaurants in San Francisco

Chef Srijith Gopinathan puts the finishing touches on a dish at Compton Place.
(Courtesy Campton Place) Chef Srijith Gopinathan puts the finishing touches on a dish at Campton Place.

If New York is the king of foodie cities, San Francisco is definitely the queen.

In 2017 the Bay City matched the Big Apple in number of three-star Michelin restaurants—six each—when Quince got a bump from two to three stars. These are the brightest of San Francisco's Michelin-starred restaurants.


Thousand Year old Quail Egg Dish, Benu restaurant

Benu, Three Stars

The Michelin Guide inspectors lauded Chef Corey Lee's sleek, slate gray dining room as much as the masterpieces parading from the kitchen. The menu has Asian influences and has included dishes like the thousand-year-old quail egg on ginger cream.  


Sea urchin dish at Quince restaurant in San Francisco

Quince, Three Stars

Michael Tusk's sophisticated take on traditional Italian fare earned the guide's highest award this year. The tasting menu changes daily, but may feature tortellini with umami and red kuri squash, a ricotta-filled favioli in butter sauce, or savory sea urchin.


Dish from Saison restaurant in San Francisco

Saison, Three Stars

The atmosphere at Chef Joshua Skenes' Saison is elegant with a prix-fixe menu that can feature upward of 20 courses with obsessive attention to detail.


Daylily Soup, The Restaurant at Meadowood

The Restaurant at Meadowood, Three Stars

Take a drive out to Napa Valley for dinner at The Restaurant at Meadowood. The Michelin Guide inspectors describe the restaurant's atmosphere as "wine-country chic" with each course vying to outdo the last. The 950 wines available offer perfect compliment to the creative dishes.


Dining room at Manresa restaurant in San Francisco

Manresa, Three Stars

A meal at Manresa might begin with savory petit fours, move to black cod filet with Brussels sprouts, finishing with pumpkin puree with chocolate crémeux and sherry vinegar. Chef David Kinch expertly blends European traditions and American ingenuity at this Los Gatos restaurant where he collaborates with local farms to get the best ingredients daily.


Alaskan King Crab Boudin, The French Laundry restaurant

The French Laundry, Three Stars

Chef Thomas Keller's Napa Valley restaurant is notoriously difficult to book with good reason; booking at least two months in advance is recommended to experience this legendary dining experience, one of the world's best for more than 20 years. Choose from two nine-course, seasonal tasting menus or a vegetarian option.


Chef prepares a dish at Lazy Bear restaurant in San Francisco

Lazy Bear, Two Stars

The dining experience at chef David Barzelay's Lazy Bear is a dinner party; he cooks and entertains guests while personally presenting the courses. Guests—seated at two communal tables—sample delectables like lightly seared Miyazaki rib-eye with Asian pear and bone marrow-pumpkin pureé. 


Pine nut herb crusted rack of lamb at Acquerello restaurant in San Francisco

Acquerello, Two Stars

Dinner at this old-school Italian restaurant is a formal occasion. Each prix-fixe menu comes with a well-crafted wine selection; choose three, four or five courses. Savor the pasta with a tableside shaving of white truffle and finish with a decadent dessert like almond milk-panna cotta topped with crushed almonds. 


A first course at Atelier Crenn restaurant in San Francisco

Atelier Crenn, Two Stars

"Poetic" is a word often used to describe Chef Dominique Crenn's culinary style. The world's first two-star Michelin chef—a title she earned in 2016—presents dishes that are as pretty as they are delicious, ordered from menus that read like poems. The Michelin Guide inspectors hailed her talent with seafood as "otherworldly," particularly the lobster swimming in tangy and citrusy shiso broth.


Baumé, Two Stars

Chef Bruno Chemel serves up an eight-course, seasonal tasting menu of traditional French dishes in creative interpretations. Think ice cream dropped in kabocha soup and cauliflower mousse garnished with tiny broccoli bouquets.


Spice Pot, Campton Place

Campton Place, Two Stars

At Campton Place—inside the Taj Campton Place Hotel—chef Srijith Gopinathan blends Californian and Indian cuisines served on charcoal-glazed ceramics. "The Spice Pot," a traditional street food, is the signature dish and features buttermilk foam, tamarind chutney, chickpea crackers, English peas, spiced potatoes, mint snow and fried quinoa.


Dish from Commis restaurant in San Francisco

Commis, Two Stars

Chef James Syhabout's unassuming restaurant stays packed for the chef's sophisticated eight-course tasting menu. The menu might include scallops with créme fraîche, roasted abalone with artichoke heart or slow poached egg in alium puree with dates.


Colorful dish at Coi

Coi, Two Stars

This modern seafood restaurant in North Beach offers one tasting menu for dinner. Chef Matthew Kirkley uses classic French influences to create an exquisite eight- to 12-course menu featuring dishes like Dungeness crab with grapefruit, champagne and bay leaf and carrots roasted in coffee with mandarin, roman mint.

San Francisco has one of the hottest food cultures in the country and these are the stars of the show.

Airstream Glamping Has Arrived at Yosemite

Yosemite Pines Resort expands its glamping options with a retro Airstream trailer.
Classic Airstream trailer
All in for a throwback vacation? A classic Airstream, like this, is available at Yosemite Pines Resort. (©Steve Walser/Flickr, Creative Commons)

Break out your halter tops and pedal pushers; you can now experience camping near Yosemite National Park in the retro glory of a 34-foot Airstream trailer.

It's available at the family-friendly Yosemite Pines Resort, a scant 22 miles from Yosemite's western gate.

The Airstream recalls the heyday of the American road trip, when families took to the open road, making merry in their aluminum house on wheels. The restored "Silver Bullet" is chock full of amenities: a linen awning that creates a "front porch," a sofa sleeper, range, retro-style coffee maker, bathroom with shower and flat-screen TV with Blu-Ray player. 

Retreat to Lake County, San Francisco's Low-Profile Northern Neighbor

The Tallman Hotel in the quaint Old West town of Upper Lake, California
(Courtesy Tallman Hotel) The Tallman Hotel in the quaint Old West town of Upper Lake, California

San Franciscans can spend their free days out and about in the city or opt to explore the quiet towns and wilderness surrounding it. If you're in town and plan to take the latter approach—and are set on avoiding tourists and trends—consider a getaway to Lake County.

This rural agricultural area bordering Napa’s vineyards and Mendocino’s redwoods contains the largest natural freshwater lake located entirely in the state of California. Visit its tiny communities, no-frills wineries and hiking trails—all devoid of crowds, and often reliable cell service—to discover yet another side of Northern California.

Clear Lake State Park

Spend Time Outside

Follow the Dorn Nature Trail loop (1.6 miles) at Clear Lake State Park in Kelseyville for lake views and magical moss-covered boulders. Or take a Saturday morning guided nature walk through the wetlands and oak woodlands of Rodman Slough Preserve on the north end of Clear Lake, home to blue herons and other wildlife.

Naturally, much of the area’s recreational activities revolve around its lakes. You can rent a kayak or electric boat; fish for bass, catfish and trout; or even take a pontoon boat tour.

Gyro lunch special at the Saw Shop Gallery Bistro

Enjoy a Meal in Lake County's Best Restaurants 

In Kelseyville, stop at Saw Shop Gallery Bistro for a seasonal lunch or dinner with table service or grab a sandwich for breakfast or lunch from Studebakers Coffee House. In Lakeport, try Park Place Restaurant right by Clear Lake or Chalerm Thai Bistro. Locals also enjoy the pub atmosphere at O’Meara Bros. Brewing Company.

Listen to live music at the Blue Wing Saloon in Upper Lake

Up for an evening out in Upper Lake? Head to Blue Wing Saloon, modeled after the town’s first watering hole from the 1880s, for dinner on the shaded patio and live music often provided by a local blues band. We suggest ordering a burger or the salmon, along with a microbrew or local wine, and fruit cobbler for dessert. If you'd rather call it an early night, the restaurant also serves lunch and Sunday brunch.

Spring in Lake County's Vineyards

Lake County's Tasting Room

Lake County has always sold the majority of its grapes to Napa and Sonoma, but these days the region has over 30 tasting rooms of its own and a reputation for sauvignon blanc and cabernet sauvignon. The rich soil by Clear Lake and the volcanic sediment in the higher elevations make for grapes with amplified flavor profiles. Your best chance of trying the local harvest is at a tasting room since most of the wineries don’t produce enough bottles to distribute beyond the county.

We suggest tasting the several excellent varietals made by Gregory Graham, the eponymous founder of the Lower Lake winery and the former head winemaker at Napa’s Rombauer Vineyards. At Boatique in Kelseyville, you can admire the owner’s classic boat collection while you sip. Then mix it up with an olive oil and wine tasting at Chacewater Winery & Olive Mill, where tastings are best finished with the blood orange olive oil poured over a scoop of vanilla ice cream—a treat likened to an orange creamsicle—that's enjoyed outside by the olive grove.

If you fancy antiquing, the old-fashioned towns of Upper Lake, Lakeport and Kelseyville are full of stores like Oliveira Antiques that stock eclectic finds. 

Veranda Room at the Tallman Hotel

Stay the Night

The nicest place to stay in the area is Upper Lake’s elegant Tallman Hotel, first founded by 19th-century pioneers on a Wild West stagecoach line. The building was abandoned for 40 years until Bernie and Lynne Butcher took a gamble and purchased it in 2003. The San Francisco couple devoted the next three years to a painstaking restoration.

Today, it's a 17-room boutique property best recognized by its two-story gleaming white veranda. Guests check in at the sunny parlor lobby, sleep in Victorian rooms decorated with hand-painted accents and toile prints and take breakfast in the period-furnished dining room. If you like the idea of soaking in a Japanese ofuro tub on a private patio, make sure to book a lower garden room.

Find plenty to do in a relaxing, stress-free environment.

The Top Summer Concert Series in the Bay Area

Wente Vineyards summer concert series
(Courtesy Wente Vineyards) Wente Vineyards hosts a summer concert series drawing big-name acts.

Bay Area wineries and parks become prime destinations for live music in the summertime. Here are some of our favorite spots that combine great music, fresh air and (often) wine in beautiful natural settings, from downtown San Francisco to Saratoga.

Green Music Center: Renowned jazz and contemporary artists play at this Sonoma venue throughout the summer.

Montalvo Center for the Arts Summer Concert Series: This historic Saratoga venue features diverse musical acts throughout the summer. 

Wente Vineyards

The Concerts at Wente Vineyards: This Livermore winery has offered music under the stars—and big names like Diana Ross and Lynyrd Skynyrd—for 30 years. 

Golden Gate Park Band: Sundays in Golden Gate Park are bustling with show tunes, concert bands and opera—all free public concerts during the summer months. 

Yerba Buena Gardens Festival: The annual festival presents more than 100 free performing arts programs from music, poetry and dance to theater, circus and children’s activities.

Stern Grove Festival

Stern Grove: In its 80th year, this free outdoor Sunday concert series in the city features diverse musical performances.

Rodney Strong Summer Concert Series: Acts like Huey Lewis and the News play at the winery’s outdoor summer concert series

Opera at the Ballpark: Head to AT&T Park for a free performance of “Don Giovanni” simulcast live from the War Memorial Opera House.

Fillmore Jazz Festival

Fillmore Jazz Festival: San Francisco’s historic jazz district, once known as the Harlem of the West, hosts this weekend-long festival each summer, attracting more than 100,000 revelers.

Greek Theatre: Catch multiple Grammy Award winner Beck at U.C. Berkeley’s outdoor amphitheater July 14, Jack Johnson July 26-27 and Willie Nelson Aug. 19.

Jerry Day: This annual celebration of Grateful Dead frontman Jerry Garcia is held at the Jerry Garcia Amphitheater in McLaren Park, which is located in Garcia’s childhood neighborhood.

Hardly Strictly Bluegrass

Hardly Strictly Bluegrass: As the festival’s name suggests, HSB presents plenty of bluegrass along with folk bands, singer songwriters, blues, soul, country and more.

Outside Lands: The foodie music festival Outside Lands returns to Golden Gate Park with a packed lineup of performers and about as many local food and drink vendors.

Broadway Under the Stars: Named one of the top outdoor concerts in the country by USA Today, this concert series features established Broadway stars.

Summer of Love Sing-Along: San Francisco Botanical Garden hosts a sing-along featuring hits from 1967, including “Somebody to Love” by Jefferson Airplane and “All You Need is Love” by The Beatles.

Catch a concert in a beautiful winery or park.

Take a Walk: Exploring Wine Country on Foot

Girl walking through vineyards
(©Jennifer Whalen) Every visit to Wine Country should include a walk through the vineyards.

World-famous wines, gorgeous landscapes, sunny days...getting to know Sonoma County and Napa Valley Wine Country is a highlight of any Bay Area visit. You’ll find opportunities to get up close and personal with the grapevines—the real stars of the show. Step right into the vineyards on these walks providing wine lovers with an appreciation of the source of Mother Nature’s gift.  

Follow the Vine Trail starting at Cru @ The Annex, the newest, most stylish wine tasting venue in downtown Napa, ideally located beside the popular Oxbow Public Market. If you’re up to walking or biking four miles, follow the trail to Whetstone Wine Cellars, a renovated authentic 19th-century stone chateau nestled under ancient cedar and oak trees. 

Woman walking in vineyard

Walk beside more stunning vineyards along the next eight miles of the Napa Valley Vine Trail from south Napa to Yountville. This section of trail is now complete as stage one of the new 47-mile-long hiking and biking trail system that will connect the entire valley from Vallejo to Calistoga. 

One of the California’s best and oldest producers, Beaulieu Vineyards offers tours of its original 1885 winery building and its first vineyard, aptly named by founder Fernande de Latour, translating to “beautiful place.” These signature Cabernet Sauvignon vines produce private and reserve quality. No appointment is necessary.

The grounds at Francis Ford Coppola Winery in Geyserville

Splash into the basics of California winemaking. Bring the family to wander along creeks and among rows of grapevines to have a look at sustainable farming practices at Francis Ford Coppola Winery before taking a refreshing swim in the estate’s outdoor pool. 

The gardens at Jordan Winery in Healdsburg

Just south of Francis Ford Coppola Winery, Jordan Winery offers a vineyard hike experience on select dates throughout the year. The three-mile guided journey begins with a continental breakfast at the highest hilltop on the property and takes you across hills, valleys and vineyards. You’ll also pass lakes, olive orchards and gardens, in addition to an apiary and cattle ranch. The experience concludes with a charcuterie picnic and wine tasting.

A sunset stroll through the vineyards

As a biodynamic certified winery, visiting Quivira Vineyards is like exploring a cheerful mini farm. Your guided property tour explains how clucking chickens, munching cows, spawning Coho salmon, Steelhead trout, a greenhouse, beehives and small lake contribute to the natural balance. Reserve ahead.

Spend time outdoors at some of Napa and Sonoma's most scenic properties and trails.

Chicago’s Newest Park Brings the Cool Factor [Slideshow]

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People crossing a bridge at Maggie Daley Park in Chicago
Courtesy Maggie Daley Park
The Park Is Free

We can’t stress this enough: Maggie Daley Park is a free-admission Chicago attraction. Amenities like picnic groves, tennis courts, the cancer survivors’ garden—a beautiful, hidden treasure in the city—and kids’ play garden are all available for free.  

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Climbing wall at Maggie Daley Park
Courtesy Maggie Daley Park
Climbing Wall

The park’s 40-foot-high climbing wall—with 19,000 square feet of climbing space— is open from April to October and offers options for mountaineers of all skill levels, including bouldering and belaying.  Afraid of heights? Certified instructors are available to help visitors complete their climbing certification—one-time fee of $29—or for private lessons. Heads up for brave teens: Climbers under 18 need a waiver from a parent or guardian. 

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Mini-golf course at Maggie Daley Park
Courtesy Maggie Daley Park
Mini-Golf Course

The 18-hole mini-golf course pays homage to the city with cute versions of local landmarks like a six-foot Willis Tower and a replica of Picasso’s famous untitled sculpture. General admission, $11. 

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Play garden at Maggie Daley Park
Courtesy Maggie Daley Park
Play Garden

The park is best known for this three-acre wonderland that is designed to ignite the imagination with colorful structures and wacky architecture. Kids can play pirates on a giant metal ship or explore an enchanted forest of upside down trees—there’s a tea party table hidden in there—while parents mingle.

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Skating ribbon at Maggie Daley Park
Courtesy Maggie Daley Park
Skating Ribbon

During warm months, this quarter-mile track twists and turns to offer roller bladers an interesting workout over inclines and declines in a twisty track. During the winter, it transforms into a fabulous ice rink and popular proposal spot. Roller blade rental, $12; scooter rental, $8; ice skate rental, $12 M-Th, $14 F-Su.

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Cancer survivors garden at Maggie Daley Park
Courtesy Maggie Daley Park
Cancer Survivors' Garden

Take in views of Lake Shore Drive, Lake Michigan, the Field Museum and Chicago’s skyline in this quiet garden tucked away in the park. In addition to quiet meditation, this spaces serves for bespoke event rentals.

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Yoga at Maggie Daley Park
Courtesy Maggie Daley Park
Events at Maggie Daley Park

From an Easter egg hunt to marathons and fundraisers, mini-golf, Yoga in the Park events, monthly climbing nights and more the park hosts community events throughout the year that are a destination unto themselves.

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Santa skating with a little girl
Courtesy Maggie Daley Park
District Programs at Maggie Daley Park

The park hosts Chicago summer camps for kids, tennis programs for all ages, family-focused holiday programs—think daddy-daughter dances for Valentine’s Day and “Skate With Santa” nights in the winter—fitness programs for adults and even fashion shows and other arts events. Admission prices vary.

Chicago summers are some of the best in the country while its winters are harsh, but there’s a hotspot geared for all seasons just east of Millennium Park. 

The 22-acre, sprawling Maggie Daley Park—named for the city’s former first lady and philanthropist—offers an outdoor adventure land year-round with multifunctional attractions that work bathed in sunlight or blanketed in snow.

This free-admission downtown oasis is the perfect outing for families, groups of friends or a solo adventure. Here, we spotlight some of the park’s best features. 

 

What You Need to Know About SF Pride

San Francisco Pride Parade
(©SF Travel/Scott Chernis) San Francisco Pride Parade

The SF Pride Celebration returns to downtown San Francisco June 24-25, attracting hundreds of thousands of revelers for the annual parade and festival. Now in its 47th year, SF Pride is the largest LGBT gathering in the nation, and this year the theme is "A Celebration of Diversity." In addition to the main celebration, dozens of events kick off in neighborhoods around town, including, of course, the city’s historic Castro District, home to SF’s queer community since the 1960s.

San Francisco Pride Parade

Civic Center Plaza Park at the foot of City Hall will host the main festival (noon-6 pm Saturday, 11 am-6 pm Sunday), where you’ll find over 200 exhibitors and more than 20 stages and venues. Sunday’s parade of more than 240 contingents and floats will make its way from the Embarcadero through the heart of downtown San Francisco to the Civic Center festival. Dykes on Bikes, a longtime parade staple, celebrates its 41st anniversary this year with a fleet of nearly 400 riders. This year also features the San Francisco Gay Men's Chorus as well as local activists recognized for their contributions to the LGBT community as the parade’s grand marshals.

Rainbow float at the SF Pride Parade

The Castro District, the historic home of San Francisco’s LGBT movement, will be celebrating Pride all month with a variety of special events. The GLBT Museum is the only one of its kind in the U.S., and is home to a must-see collection of posters, photographs and artifacts, including a display of Harvey Milk’s personal belongings. Speaking of Harvey Milk, be sure to stop by the Human Rights Campaign Action Center & Store at 575 Castro St. The building is the former site of Milk’s Castro Camera shop, where he also lived and organized his political campaigns. As you walk the streets of the Castro, you’ll notice the Rainbow Honor Walk, a series of bronze plaques honoring LGBT heroes. You can follow the sidewalk tribute from the heart of the Castro down Market Street, and on the way, rainbow crosswalks adorn the intersection of Castro and 18th streets.

San Francisco’s LGBT movement

The Castro is home to some of the city’s top eateries and bars. Twin Peaks Tavern, known as the “gateway to the Castro,” was the first gay bar in the country to feature huge glass windows, an important first step in bringing the gay community out of the closet. The Lookout is the Castro’s most popular bar and features an almost always packed balcony overlooking the intersection of 16th and Market streets. Perhaps the most acclaimed Castro restaurant, Frances is a neighborhood gem serving up modern California cuisine that changes with the seasons. Another neighborhood gem, the Michelin-recommended Anchor Oyster Bar has been a top seafood destination since 1977.

The Lookout balcony crowd

DATEBOOK

-Frameline, The SF International LGBT Film Festival

The historic Castro Theatre and other Bay Area venues host the longest-running and largest LGBTQ film event in the world. June 15-25

-SF Gay Men’s Chorus Presents “The Gay Kitchen Sink”

The SF Gay Men’s Chorus performs LGBT anthems from across generations, including Holly Near's "Singing for Our Lives" and Lady Gaga's "Born This Way" at the Nourse Theater. June 16-17.

-Annual Pink Triangle Installation and Commemoration

Volunteers install a giant pink triangle on top of Twin Peaks starting at 7 am, followed by a commemoration ceremony at 10:30 am. June 24.

-LGBT Night at AT&T Park

Tickets to the game include a special LGBT-themed Giants scarf and admission to a pre-game party from 5-7 pm. June 26.

 

How to navigate the largest LGBT celebration in the nation.

Three Adventures, One County: The Ultimate Mendocino Road Trip

Point Arena-Stornetta coastal monument
(©Bob Wick) Point Arena-Stornetta coastal monument, federally protected and open to the public.

Wild and diverse, Mendocino could be appreciated as a quick getaway from San Francisco or as an extended, epic summer road trip. At nearly 4,000 square miles, the county is bigger than Delaware. Here's a guide to exploring the area's three defining landscapes: coastline, redwood forest and wine country.

Mendocino State Beach

Along the Coast

A portion of scenic Highway 1 leads drivers along the Mendocino shoreline. Point Arena-Stornetta coastal preserve, protected as the newest portion—and the only land-based segment—of the California Coastal National Monument, lies near the starting point. These two miles of untouched coastline contain hiking paths, picnic spots, the Point Arena Lighthouse and prime spots for whale and seal spotting. At nearby Bowling Ball Beach, low tide reveals spherical sandstone formations millions of years in the making arranged in striking chains.

Downtown Mendocino's Main Street

About halfway up the Mendocino coast is the artsy town of Mendocino with a population of less than 1,000. Stroll the bluff-top coastal trails running parallel to its downtown and go inland to browse the shops and galleries. Unwind with an artisanal cocktail at the Victorian-era MacCallum House’s small bar or stop for fish and chips at Patterson’s Pub, which locals consider the best in the county. The Mendocino Music Festival (July 8-22) brings genre-spanning concerts to a massive white tent pitched right on a cliff overlooking the Pacific.

Brewery Gulch Inn

Just below the town of Mendocino, the Brewery Gulch Inn overlooks the Mendocino Bay. It’s the sort of place where guests might linger for a day or even a weekend, lounging and reading by a fireplace or in a rough-hewn Adirondack-style chair on the back lawn. The complimentary, made-to-order breakfast and wine hour buffet are served in the cozy lobby with vaulted, reclaimed-redwood ceilings and massive windows.

Wine Hour Buffet at Brewery Gulch Inn

If you’re up for an adventure, rent a kayak or canoe to get up close to the wildlife—river otters, harbor seals and so many birds—on the lazy 8.3-mile Big River estuary, which flows into the Pacific just south of town. For dinner with a waterfront view, book a table at the Little River Inn Restaurant’s main dining room, where repeat diners start with an order of the Dungeness crab cakes and end with the olallieberry cobbler (we recommend the bouillabaisse in between).

South of Fort Bragg on the Mendocino coast

Continue up the coast to the little city of Fort Bragg, home to the only coastal botanical garden on this continent, the Mendocino Coast Botanical Gardens. Follow the paths winding through its 47 acres of forest, canyons and bluffs where rhododendrons, camellias, dahlias, magnolias, succulents, begonias and conifers flourish. In town, order a homemade candy cap mushroom cone at Cowlick's Ice Cream

On the city’s headlands, follow the new Noyo Headlands Fort Bragg Coastal Trail loop, winding from rugged ridge tops with majestic views down to sandy beaches. The property was blocked from the public for the more than 100 years that it was used as a lumber mill site.

Inn at Newport Ranch

Ten miles north of Fort Bragg is a rare new addition to the Mendocino oceanfront, the Inn at Newport Ranch. This passion project of now-retired Wall Street exec Will Jackson was years in the making. All rustic luxury made of wood and stone, the seven-room inn sits on a working ranch with 150 grazing cattle, encompassing a staggering 2,000 acres—most efficiently explored via an ATV tour that travels along ocean cliffs, into thick forest and up to hillside views. A full-time gardener feeds guests with the fruits of her labor.

Inn at Newport Ranch

Into the Redwoods

If you’ve dreamed of wandering among California’s famous soaring ancient redwood trees, head inland toward Mendocino’s wilderness.

Deep in the Coast Range at remote Montgomery Woods State Natural Reserve you’ll find yourself surrounded by some of the world’s oldest living things. Their hushed, noble presence is humbling. A two-mile loop takes hikers through lush fern forests to grove after grove of coast redwoods (one rises over 367 feet) that survived both wildfires and the 1800s logging frenzy. For a longer walk, follow the three miles of the shady and scenic Shakota Trail on Lake Mendocino’s western shore, alternating between looking up to spot bald eagles and gazing down to appreciate the abundant wildflowers.

Montgomery Woods State Natural Reserve

The California Western Railroad, nicknamed the Skunk Train, carries passengers on the same Redwood Route from Fort Bragg inland to Willits that it’s followed since 1885. The train got its name in the 1920s from the powerful fumes produced by its motorcars, fueled by gasoline and heated with crude oil.

Engine 65 of the Skunk Train in the redwoods

Ukiah might be Mendocino’s largest town, but its population only clocks in at 16,000. The rich surrounding farmland supports small organic operations, and Mendocino Brewing Company runs a large scale facility in town (taste the local fruit at the Ale House). Named for the number of Buddhas in its temple, the community known as City of Ten Thousand Buddhas welcomes visitors to its vegetarian cafe and gardens.

City of Ten Thousand Buddhas in Ukiah

Experience Ukiah’s legacy of hydrotherapy at the natural springs hidden in its redwood forests. The Pomo tribe used them for thousands of years before European settlers came across them in the 1800s and marketed them as a retreat for city dwellers. Day passes are available for soaking in the carbonated, alkaline waters of Vichy Springs Resort, a California Historical Landmark, and in the secluded, clothing-optional waters of Orr Hot Springs.

Boonville in the Anderson Valley

Down in the Valley

Highway 128 winds through Anderson Valley wine country, tunneling through old-growth redwoods and passing rolling vineyards and green hills dotted with grazing sheep and faded barns. The valley is so isolated that starting in the 1800s, one of its towns developed its own linguistic jargon called Boontling. It’s no surprise that the vibe is casual at the many tasting rooms lining the route.

Roederer Estate tasting room

At the unassuming Lula Cellars, you’ll likely be greeted by Honey the dog and served by her human, tasting room manager Dan Reed.

At Roederer Estate, the French Champagne house marking Louis Roederer’s foray into California sparkling wine, savor a tasting on a patio overlooking the manicured grounds. Pinot drinkers should stop at Toulouse Vineyards & Winery, semi-hidden in the forest despite its location on the highway.

Anderson Valley vineyards

On a hot day, you’ll find locals at the Hendy Woods State Park swimming hole. Cars parked along the highway often signal an unmarked swimming spot nearby.

Continuing south, Pennyroyal Farm plays host to tastings of its goat and sheep cheese and at Anderson Valley Brewing Company, you can buy a six-pack and stick around to play a round on the 18-hole disc golf course. There's no need to rush in Mendocino.

Spectacular coastline, majestic redwoods, prime wine country—why choose? Mendocino County packs in all the West Coast highlights.

A Guide to San Francisco's Mid-Market Neighborhood

The Strand Theater
(©Bruce Damonte) The Strand Theater

You won’t find any of San Francisco’s quintessential features—cable cars, hills, Victorian homes, piers, grand bridges and views—in the central Mid-Market neighborhood. But if you’re the sort of traveler who's not turned off by grittier, evolving urban corners or if you just happen to find yourself in the area, consider sticking around awhile to experience another side of San Francisco life. You’ll eat and drink well, find no shortage of arts and culture and share the streets with employees of some of the world’s most powerful tech companies.

The Market in the Twitter building

Where to Shop

Just a few years ago, the Mid-Market neighborhood was neglected and full of vacant storefronts, but it’s slowly been coming into its own, a process accelerated by the arrival of the Twitter, Dolby and Uber headquarters. Today you can grab groceries, sundries or a to-go meal at the gleaming Market located in the first floor of the Twitter building, shop for a new pair of wheels at Huckleberry Bicycles and get a trim at the stylish barbershop Fellow Barber.

Things to Do

One contributor to the up-and-coming neighborhood’s transformation story is the reopened Strand Theater. Built in 1917, the former derelict theater is now a striking red, state-of-the-art performance space for the American Conservatory Theater and operates a cafe in its sleek lobby. Nearby is the Asian Art Museum, housed in a striking beaux-arts-inspired building containing one of the world’s largest collections of Asian art. Market Street is flat, pedestrian-friendly and equipped with well-utilized bike lanes, but you can also travel up and down the city’s main thoroughfare riding one of the restored streetcars (some 150 years old) of the F-Market & Wharves Muni line.

The Best Restaurants in Mid-Market

You can have a fine dinner at the cool Alta CA, owned by California cuisine leader chef Daniel Patterson, order the American burger and fries at the popular Popsons or enjoy live music at a temporary eclectic food market known as The Hall. The new casual spot Kagawa-Ya Udon Noodle Company, specializing in Japanese noodles, is already a lunchtime hit.

Mr. Tipple's Recording Studio

Where to Drink

Start your morning with an espresso at Equator Coffees & Teas, get an afternoon pick-up at Chai Bar—where you can choose from nearly a dozen flavors—or go out for cocktails and live jazz with an underground vibe at the bar Mr. Tipple's Recording Studio. If brews are more your thing, it's all about California beer—with 24 types on tap—at the Fermentation Lab restaurant and bar.

The best spots to eat, shop and explore in San Francisco's emerging Mid-Market neighborhood

The Standout Art Destinations of Napa and Sonoma

Hall St. Helena Patrick Doughtery Installation
(©Mitch Rice) Hall St. Helena Patrick Doughtery Installation

There’s the art of making wine and then there’s the winemakers’ art collections. Throughout Napa and Sonoma, spectacular museum-quality art enhances stunning landscapes at several estates. Avid wine and art lovers, combine your passions and enjoy!  

World-Class Sculpture

The Donum Estate installed the “Circle of Animals” by esteemed artist Ai Weiwei, representing 12 bronze animal heads of the traditional Chinese zodiac. Other well known artists’ installations include Zhan Wang, Arturo Di Modica and Fernando Botero

Ai Weiwei sculptures at Donum Estate

A Welcoming Giant Shiny Rabbit

Artist Lawrence Argent’s leaping “Bunny Foo-Foo” is a landmark 35-foot rabbit sculpture in stainless steel located at Hall St. Helena Winery, home to an outstanding art collection. A tour of the estate unveils additional large-scale works that are sure to bring a smile by internationally acclaimed artists such as John Baldessari, Jim Campbell, Nick Cave and Jaume Plensa.

“Bunny Foo-Foo” at Hall St. Helena Winery in Napa

A Focus on the Whimsical and Eccentric

Quixote Winery is a treasure, as the only Friedensreich Hundertwasser-designed building in the United States. The famed visionary 20th-century Austrian architect, philosopher, painter and environmental activist was not a fan of straight lines or rigid edges.

Contemporary Art Museum

See the Hess Art Collection admission-free or follow a docent on a museum walk with a wine tasting experience to follow. Vintner Donald Hess has personally assembled the collection since 1966, obtaining prized works by acclaimed artists. Among those on view are Robert Motherwell, Robert Rauschenberg, Frank Stella, Andy Goldsworthy and Gerhard Richter.  

 Hess Art Collection in Napa, Califorina

Sprawling, Art-Filled Grounds

With more than 2,000 works of art by 800 artists collected over six decades and spread over 200 acres, di Rosa in Napa is both a winery and a museum. One of the Bay Area’s most significant permanent modern collections, it features works by Mark di Suvero, Deborah Butterfield, Paul Kos and Viola Frey. Explore on your own or take a guided tour. 

 di Rosa in Napa

Where to stimulate your brain's pleasure centers with the heady combination of art and wine.

Why Scenic Pescadero Should Be on Your Radar

Bean Hollow State Beach
(©Brittany Shoot) Bean Hollow State Beach

If you ask Bay Area residents about what they love about living here, most of them will mention its proximity to so many diverse landscapes: wine country, redwood forests and epic coastline. One of our favorite places to experience the latter two is the tiny coastal town of Pescadero, located just over an hour’s drive from downtown San Francisco in San Mateo County. Take scenic Highway 1 south for about 50 miles to find yourself surrounded by working farms, towering redwoods and rocky beach coves. 

Pescadero State Beach

Immerse Yourself in Nature

For a quiet hike, head out to the under-visited Butano State Park, a hushed canyon with mature redwood trees, a soothing creek and 40 miles of trails (watch your step—this is banana slug territory). Make sure to pull over at the stunning Bean Hollow State Beach for an afternoon picnic or sunset stroll around the otherworldly rock formations. To get an up-close look at massive elephant seals, visit the dunes and beaches of Año Nuevo State Park. On the way, stop at the cliff-top Pigeon Point Lighthouse—built in 1871—for a photo and keep an eye out for sea lions and whales. At 115 feet, it’s the tallest lighthouse on the West Coast and continues to assist Coast Guard navigation.

Butano State Park

There’s No Excuse for Leaving Empty-Handed

Park the car and walk down the town’s short main street, a strip called Stage Road, to browse the small shops like Slowcoast Pescadero, which sells eco-conscious, handmade gifts and vintage flannel from a rustic shed. Around the corner is Harley Farms Goat Dairy, where you can take a tour of the restored 1910 farm or just watch baby alpine goats romp around. Pick out award-winning chevre and fromage blanc and goat milk lotions and soaps at the on-site shop. Make a trip out to the Pie Ranch barn—owned by a non-profit, educational farm that happens to be shaped like a pie—to buy fresh local produce and a slice of pie.

Slowcoast Pescadero

Don’t Go Hungry or Thirsty

You can get a tasty, filling and affordable lunch at the gas station-joint Mercado and Taqueria de Amigos (cash only). Perk up at Downtown Local with a Sightglass Coffee drink or kombucha (on tap). The tiny shop plays vinyl and sells quirky antique items. You’ll regret leaving town without a warm, fragrant loaf of famous garlic herb artichoke bread from Arcangeli Grocery Company, although you have more self-control than us if you can make it far before devouring it. 

Herding goats in the Harley Farms Goat Dairy pasture

Where to eat, drink, shop and explore in Pescadero.