Luxurious Destinations
California
Destinations Within California

California Trip Itineraries

Lewis-SF

Destination(s): San Jose

Twin Peaks

Twin Peaks

  • 501 Twin Peaks Blvd.
  • San Francisco, 94114

These two mountains located in San Francisco's geographic heart offer stunning panoramic views of the Golden Gate Bridge and verdant Marin County to the north, the Bay Bridge winding toward the hills in the east, Silicon Valley sprawl to the south, the sparkling sea to the west, and the undulating cityscape below. The best time to go is dusk, when sunset casts a mauve glow in the sky and the city lights start to twinkle. Visiting Twin Peaks is a romantic must as well as a photographer's dream. read more about Twin Peaks

Coit Tower

Coit Tower

  • 1 Telegraph Hill Boulevard
  • Telegraph Hill
  • tel:(415) 362-0808
  • Visit website
  • San Francisco, 94133

The landmark Coit Tower was built in the 1930's as a tribute to the city's firefighters, at the behest of eccentric local celebrity Lillie Hitchcock Coit, an honorary firefighter herself. Today, Coit Tower stands proudly on the northeastern edge of the city in the scenic Telegraph Hill district. Although Coit Tower is accessed by an entirely uphill climb, visitors who brave it are treated to unparalleled views of the Bay and its bridges, Marin County, the East Bay, and the undulating San Francisco cityscape. Plus there's an incredible Art Deco mural that covers the entire circumference of the tower's interior ground-floor walls. Painted by 26 artists, this masterpiece depicts many aspects of '30's California industry and labor. Remember, the walk back is all downhill; head southwest into the nearby Italian-American enclave of North Beach for a cappuccino and gelato and some fabulous shopping on Grant Avenue. read more about Coit Tower

Hess Collection Winery

Hess Collection Winery

  • 4411 Redwood Rd
  • Napa
  • tel:+1 707 255 8584 / +1 707 255 1144
  • Visit website
  • Napa, 94558
Winchester Mystery House

Winchester Mystery House

  • 525 South Winchester Boulevard
  • tel:+1 408 247 2101
  • Visit website
  • San Jose, 95128
Santana Row

Santana Row

  • 3055 Olin Avenue
  • Suite 2100
  • tel:+1 408 551 4611
  • Visit website
  • San Jose, 95128
Ocean Beach

Ocean Beach

The massive beach stretches the length of the city's Pacific Ocean frontage from Seal Rocks all the way down to Daly City. Popular with surfers, kite flyers and families, it's San Francisco's main city beach. Although it can often be foggy and/or windy, on sunny warm days it's a joy. Swimming isn't advisable, as currents and waves can be extremely rough. A trip to Ocean Beach at sunset, followed by dinner at Beach Chalet (make sure you have a pint of the beer they brew on site) is just about a perfect evening. Or, enjoy a bonfire on the beach after dark, per NPS regulations.
read more about Ocean Beach

Beach Chalet

Beach Chalet

  • 1000 Great Highway@Ocean Beach
  • tel:(415) 386-8439
  • Visit website
  • San Francisco, 94121

The Spanish colonial-style structure, architect Willis Polk's last design, was built in 1925 after his death. A wraparound Federal Works Project mural by Lucien Labaudt depicts San Francisco in the 1930s; the labels describing the various panels add up to a mini-history of Depression-era life in the city. A three-dimensional model of Golden Gate Park, artifacts from the 1894 Mid-Winter Exposition and other park events, a visitor center, and a gift shop that sells street signs and other city paraphernalia are on the first floor as well. On a clear day, the brewpub-restaurant Beach Chalet upstairs (notice the carved banister on the way up) has views past Ocean Beach to the Farallon Islands, about 30 mi offshore. Park Chalet, on the ground floor, has a stone fireplace and glass ceiling, offering indoor-outdoor dining facing a lawn, garden, and Golden Gate Park. read more about Beach Chalet

California Academy of Sciences

California Academy of Sciences

  • 55 Music Concourse Drive
  • Golden Gate Park
  • tel:(415) 379-8000
  • Visit website
  • San Francisco, 94143

Renovated and reopened in late 2008, the California Academy of Sciences has a lot to boast about. With a four-story tropical rainforest, an aquarium housing over 38,000 species of fish, the deepest coral reef exhibit in the world, an impressive all-digital planetarium, and a host of other exhibits that take visitors on a tour of the natural world, it's no wonder tourists and locals alike are lining up every weekend. The building is an attraction in and of itself. A gem of sustainable architecture, it features a living roof made of solar panels and 1.7 million species of native plants, uses recycled denim for insulation, and has floor-to-ceiling windows that give visitors a seamless view of surrounding Golden Gate Park greenery. Underscoring its hip, green image, the California Academy of Science's café serves up decidedly healthy, yummy dishes that even kids could like (and that's no small feat). read more about California Academy of Sciences

de Young Museum

de Young Museum

  • 50 Hagiwara Tea Garden Dr
  • (Golden Gate Park)
  • tel:(415) 863-3330
  • Visit website
  • San Francisco, 94118

Renovated in 2005, de Young Museum's ultra-modern design stirred up quite the controversy in San Francisco when it was first reopened. However, locals warmed to the sleek, angular exteriors once they experienced the museum's indoor wonders. Perhaps San Francisco's most eclectic art museum, the de Young features permanent collections of American art, indigenous art and artifacts from around the world (including masks from Oceania, basketry from Africa, and pottery from the Americas), crafts and textiles, and graphic arts. And then there are the rotating special exhibits, which have proven to be the not-to-miss art events of the season, featuring the likes of ancient Egyptian relics or 20th century fashion designer retrospectives. read more about de Young Museum

Golden Gate Bridge

Golden Gate Bridge

  • Lincoln Blvd & Hwy 1
  • Hwy. 101 N
  • tel:(415) 921-5858
  • Visit website
  • San Francisco, 94129

Perhaps the most iconic bridge in the country, if not in the world, the rusted-orange expanse of the Golden Gate Bridge is a not-to-miss sight while in San Francisco. Connecting the city and neighboring Marin County to the north, the Golden Gate Bridge also serves as a gateway between the San Francisco Bay and the Pacific Ocean. Although you'll be treated to glimpses of the bridge throughout the city, the best way to experience it is to walk or bike across, starting in the Presidio. You can then spend a serene afternoon strolling around the quaint Marin seaside city of Sausalito. If you prefer a gentler route, you can take a ferry from the San Francisco Ferry Building or from Fisherman's Wharf to Sausalito or Tiburon (another beautiful Marin town full of great restaurants and nearby walking paths), gazing at the majestic Golden Gate Bridge, plus sailboats, kite-surfers, and the gorgeous Bay views along the way. read more about Golden Gate Bridge

Lombard Street

Lombard Street

  • Between Hyde & Leavenworth streets
  • Above Ghirardelli Square
  • tel:(415) 391-2000
  • San Francisco, 94133

Famed as the "crookedest street in the world," the swath of Lombard Street between Hyde and Leavenworth streets in San Francisco's Russian Hill district is indeed full of twists and turns. Lombard Street was designed as a series of switchbacks in order to make its steep grade navigable by automobile. Today, you'll almost definitely see Lombard Street congested with cars making the celebrated drive down. Therefore, we recommend hoofing it—you'll be able to admire all the more slowly the lovely, brightly-colored houses flanked with bougainvillea and all manner of flowers, as well as the gorgeous view of North Beach, Telegraph Hill, and the bay. After winding down Lombard Street, head east to nearby North Beach for serious Italian eats, or north to the maritime delights of Fisherman's Wharf and Ghiradelli Square. read more about Lombard Street

Monterey Bay Aquarium

Monterey Bay Aquarium

  • 886 Cannery Row
  • (at the corner of David Avenue)
  • tel:(831) 648-4888
  • Visit website
  • Monterey, 93940

The Monterey Bay Aquarium is a world class facility located in the heart of Cannery Row, housed (somewhat ironically) in a repurposed sardine and squid cannery at the ocean's edge. The exhibits are mesmerizing, engaging, entertaining, and simply beautiful. The interactive areas (touch pools, under-the-sea themed play area) are a huge hit with children. This is a must, especially for families. To avoid long lines and heavy crowds, buy tickets in advance (to queue in the "have tickets" line) and visit during the fall and winter months (other than holidays) between 2 and 6 P.M. During peak summer months, mid-week is best. To save money, find on-street parking around Foam St. and David St, and pack a lunch for the aquarium's picnic area. For an extra $10, get a behind-the-scenes tour. If you are visiting during the holidays, don't miss the New Years Eve black-tie gala. read more about Monterey Bay Aquarium

Golden Gate Park

Golden Gate Park

  • Stanyan & Fulton Sts
  • (Great Highway at Fulton St)
  • tel:(415) 831-2700
  • Visit website
  • San Francisco, 94118

Spanning three miles from the edge of Haight-Ashbury all the way to the Pacific Ocean, Golden Gate Park contains so many mini-universes and attractions you'll want to (literally) stop and smell the roses on several occasions. Die-hard nature lovers can check out the Rose Garden, the Conservatory of Flowers, or the famous Japanese Tea Garden, featuring a classic pagoda, cherry blossoms, and landscaping straight out of the Land of the Rising Sun. Golden Gate Park's natural highlight, however, is the San Francisco Botanical Garden, which features a horticultural trip around the world (don't miss the redwood grove and succulents section).
Don't miss Golden Gate Park's two world-class museums, the California Academy of Sciences and the De Young Museum. Both were completely rebuilt in their original locations in the past decade, and are worth a visit for their architecture alone. The park is also the perfect place to get active. There are tons of walking paths, several public tennis courts, an affordable pitch and put nine-hole golf course, sport fields, and picnic grounds. You can even rent a boat and head out for a delightful row on Stow Lake. Spring, summer, and fall bring a number of events to Golden Gate Park, including bluegrass, rock, and hip-hop concerts and Shakespeare in the Park performances. read more about Golden Gate Park

Marin Headlands Loop

Marin Headlands Loop

  • Lincoln Blvd & Hwy 1
  • Hwy. 101 N
  • tel:(415) 561-4700
  • Visit website
  • Mill Valley, 94965

Accessible via a long bike ride from the city over the Golden Gate, but starting from Tennessee Valley Rd. cuts to the chase. This mega-loop (which can be broken up into two separate loops, one with two variations) is the definitive Marin Headlands experience, containing two of the only legal singletrack sections left in the area (one uphill only). Ride up from the east edge of the parking lot at the end of Tennessee Valley Rd. to a height of land, then descend to the bottom of Miwok Trail. An aerobic switchbacking fire road ascent puts you at the top of an ocean-view vista. Slightly past this point, veer to the left onto singletrack for your high-speed reward all the way back to the parking lot. If you still have some energy to burn, continue on the Mega Loop by veering west out of the parking lot along the Tennessee Valley Trail. Climb up the Coastal Trail (painfully steep) and begin following the ascending ridgeline. From here, you again must ask "Am I feeling lucky today?" If yes, bomb down the steep Coastal Fire Road to Muir Beach and follow it up with a great singletrack ascent (bikes allowed uphill only) back to the ridgeline. Then it's a meandering downhill down the Miwok Trail back to by now your favorite parking lot. read more about Marin Headlands Loop

Alcatraz Island

Alcatraz Island

  • Embarcadero and Powell St
  • (Pier 39)
  • tel:(415) 705-5555
  • Visit website
  • San Francisco, 94133

"The Rock," as Alcatraz is known locally, has a formidable past. Most people don't know it served as a lighthouse, military outpost, and military prison before becoming the notorious federal prison that held the likes of Al Capone, George "Machine Gun" Kelly, and Robert Stroud, a.k.a. "The Birdman of Alcatraz." The tiny island only miles from the San Francisco shore was considered the perfect detainment spot due to the surrounding shark-infested, frigid waters. Today visitors can safely enjoy guided tours of Alcatraz, including various cells, the mess hall, the exercise yard, and the surprisingly beautiful natural features of the island. Tour guides are extremely knowledgeable and relish regaling visitors with quirky stories of prisoners past. The truly brave can get locked up in a darkened cell for several minutes—all the more exhilarating considering the penitentiary's claim that all 14 escape attempts in the prison's 29 years of operation failed! read more about Alcatraz Island

Sausalito

Sausalito

Sausalito is a quaint, Mediterranean-style waterfront town that serves as the ideal gateway to outdoors adventures galore in Marin County—or as the perfect après-activity haven. From window-shopping at eclectic boutiques to grabbing some scoops at Lappert's Ice Cream and savoring them by a Spanish-style fountain in the sun-splashed plaza, Sausalito certainly has its charms, not to mention its fair share of top-notch dining. And then there are Sausalito's views of San Francisco twinkling across the bay and the surrounding Marin hills dotted with gorgeous homes. Sausalito is also home to a vibrant community of artists, who open their galleries and studios on the second Wednesday of every month during an Artwalk in the Caledonia Street neighborhood. In addition, the renowned Sausalito Art Festival takes place in the center of town every Labor Day weekend. read more about Sausalito

Fisherman's Wharf

Fisherman's Wharf

  • The Embarcadero
  • Fisherman's Wharf
  • tel:(415) 956-3493
  • Visit website
  • San Francisco, 94133

Fisherman's Wharf, San Francisco's historic waterfront, is at the top of every visitor's muse-see list—and we mean every visitor (locals tend to avoid it). Despite abundant souvenir shops, Fisherman's Wharf still has plenty of appeal. Families shouldn't miss the aquarium and sea lions sunning outdoors at Pier 39, nor Fisherman's Wharf's novelty museums, including Ripley's Believe It or Not! Museum, the Musee Mecanique, and the Wax Museum at Fisherman's Wharf. History lovers can explore the area's maritime past at an anchored submarine, a WWII ship, and an array of old-time vessels. Shopaholics can find more than just souvenirs on Jefferson Street and at Ghiradelli Square, an outdoor mall featuring (you guessed it!) the city's signature chocolate. Fisherman's Wharf is also an unbeatable dining destination, whether you prefer only-in-Cali burgers at In-n-Out or premium fish and seafood. If you're in town during November through February, you're in store for a harvest of Dungeness crab, a local specialty. Try clam chowder in a sourdough bread bowl for a year-round Fisherman's Wharf culinary delight. read more about Fisherman's Wharf

Cable Cars

Cable Cars

  • 401 Van Ness
  • (between Golden Gate and Grove Sts) Admin Offices
  • tel:(415) 673-6864
  • Visit website
  • San Francisco, 94102

You just might not be able to stop yourself from singing the old Rice-a-Roni jingle each time you ride a gleaming, red San Francisco Cable Car. Although it's mostly tourists who ride these iconic streetcars, even locals who live near the cable lines get in on the action just because it's the most fun way to experience the hilly, roller-coaster ride that is San Francisco topography. Hold on tight and boldly lean outside the Cable Car for unparalleled views of the cityscape and the Bay rising and fading. For the best Cable Car ride the city has to offer, brave the line at Powell and Market and take the Powell Street line up some of the city's steepest hills, all the way to its terminus at Fisherman's Wharf. For an alternative, take the Hyde Street line to the top of twisty-turny Lombard Street. The California Street line takes you through the Financial District to the more elegant residential turf of the Nob Hill district, home to some of the city's most luxurious hotels. read more about Cable Cars

Chinatown

Chinatown

  • Bush St. and Kearny St.
  • tel:+1 415 391 2000
  • Visit website
  • San Francisco, 94108

Red lanterns waving in the breeze. Incense wafting out of small temples. Esoteric medicinal herbs dangling in shop windows. Some aspects of San Francisco's Chinatown, the oldest in America, hardly seem worlds apart from the motherland and haven't changed much from when the neighborhood was first built in the mid-19th century. Enter at the dragon-flanked gate on Bush Street at Grant Avenue and get lost in a wonderland of bustling produce markets, touches of ancient Chinese architecture, quirky gift and houseware shops, art galleries, clothing stores, dim sum eateries, and serene tea houses, the densest concentration of which are on Grant Avenue and Stockton Street. Some hot spots are Portsmouth Square, where you can admire the graceful movements of Tai Chi practitioners and the strategy of elderly chess players, and the Chinese Culture Center of San Francisco, where Sinophiles can take in art exhibits, be led on an informative, guided Heritage Walking Tour (excellent for those wishing to pick up on the area's rich history), or take a brush painting or traditional Chinese music workshop. read more about Chinatown

Crissy Field

Crissy Field

  • Old Mason Street
  • off Marina Blvd.
  • tel:(415) 561-4700
  • Visit website
  • San Francisco, 94123

This 100-acre park blends into the surrounding urban landscape. It features a 20-acre tidal marsh, huge meadow, sand beaches and thousands of restored native plants. Bikers can cruise down a designated path, launching from a board-sailing site, or quietly muse about while peering into the depths of the tidal pond. read more about Crissy Field

Beach Blanket Babylon

Beach Blanket Babylon

  • 678 Green St
  • At Club Fugazi, Beach Blanket Babylon Blvd., between Powell St. and Columbus Ave
  • tel:415/421-4222
  • Visit website
  • San Francisco, 94133