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Your Local Guide
Greetings fellow Travelers! Like many of my colleagues I’m a native Californian. I grew up in Berkeley in the 60’s, and live today in my cozy house in Oakland, across the Bay from San Francisco. I’ve lived and worked in many places, including 3 continents, 8 countries, 3 Canadian provinces, 2 Mexican states, and 33 US states, but I always come home to my “beautiful city by the Bay”, San Francisco. I’m so happy to be able to share Northern California with you, from the fabulous Monterey Bay to the majestic redwoods of Muir Woods, and the legendary city in the center, San Francisco. My passions are history, architecture, food, the natural world of flora and fauna, and always, people. That’s where you come in, and I can’t wait to meet you and show you my beautiful state!
Trips Guided by Amanda
- 1) Drive to Stinson Beach, park in the northernmost lot and take the path a short way through the dunes. Start your walk there, and continue north as far as your legs will take you. When you’re tired and hungry, spread a blanket in the sand and have a picnic lunch. Wrap up warmly, this is not a tropical spot. But the sky and the ocean are simply magnificent, and you’ll meet any number of joyful dogs, children, lovers, families, and the occasional rider out with their horse. A day at Stinson is guaranteed to blow the cobwebs out of your brain.
- 2) Explore San Francisco’s hidden POPOS (Privately Owned Public Open Spaces), including secret rooftop decks with fabulous views, sculpture gardens, landscaped plazas, and restful spots all over SOMA and the Financial District that are open to the public, if you know where to look. Get a map from the San Francisco Planning Department and go on your own Where’s Waldo expedition.
- 3) Visit the Conservatory of Flowers In Golden Gate Park; if you’re especially lucky the Corpse Flower might be in bloom. It looks like rotting meat and smells like a dead rat. What could be more thrilling? People all over the world track Corpse Flower blooms like Hurricane trackers follow storms. Ours is the best, housed in a 140 year old glass palace that somehow survived the Great Earthquake in 1906.
- 4) Take in a performance of the San Francisco Opera. The Opera House itself is as thrilling as the show, and the show is world class melodrama bigger and more brilliant to look at than anything Netflix has to offer. Plus, they sing, oh how they sing!
- 5) Treat yourself to Afternoon Tea at The Rotunda inside Neiman Marcus, looking out on lovely
Union Square. Look up at the glorious stained glass dome above your head, a delicious fragment of San Francisco’s past when it was an ultra-chic city of world-class fashion and destination shopping.
- 6) Plan to be at Grace Cathedral at sunset, when the stained glass windows turn to liquid fire in the
setting sun. Take a moment for reflection in the heart of this bustling city, in this gracious cathedral that welcomes all. For a special treat, go to Thursday Evensong at 5:15, sung by The Cathedral Choir of Men and Boys, an exceptionally talented church choir.
- 7) Drive to Point Isabel Regional Shoreline in Richmond, part of the East Bay Regional Parks District, where the dogs and their humans go to see and be seen. Walk along the water’s edge and look west for a grand view of three bridges, three islands, and the skyline of San Francisco floating like the Emerald City off in the distance. Be prepared to laugh, as dogs of all shapes and sizes go zooming past on their way to play and wrestle and roll down the grassy knolls
beside the walking paths where their (usually) more sedate humans promenade. Have an espresso at the Sit & Stay Cafe, and simply relax and take it all in.
- 8) Tour the working Port of Oakland on a boat of the Blue & Gold fleet. See the container cranes up close that may or may not have inspired the AT-AT Walkers in The Empire Strikes Back . Learn about the Port, its operations, and its economic impact on the region. In the late 1960s, it was the first major port on the West Coast to build terminals for the then-revolutionary container ships, becoming the second largest port in the world in container. Today, it is the fifth busiest container port in the U.S., handling 99% of all containerized goods in Northern California. This tour is close to my heart: my father designed the original container cranes for the Port of Oakland.
- 9) Splurge a little on “Spirits in the Sky” cocktails on the 40th floor of the Loew’s Regency, the best outdoor rooftop bar and view of the bay. Or if you prefer to go where the locals go, take in the cosmopolitan scene at Charmaine’s rooftop bar at the Proper Hotel on Market Street.
- 10) Book an appointment to view the collection at Pier 24 Photography, a non-profit museum located directly under the San Francisco-Oakland Bay Bridge. The organization houses the permanent collection of the Pilara Foundation, which collects, preserves, and exhibits photography. For photography enthusiasts, this place is like going to church. Entirely free, but you must book in advance.