For most of us that have lived in the Bay Area our entire lives, we may feel like we just live in a suburban plain surrounded by some mountains. To the people outside of the Bay Area, they may think we live in small townhouses like those in the SF region.
But fear not, we can convince ourselves and the people from outside that this is indeed a great and wonderful place to live. Here's a more nature-focused trip I did recently with my friend Vic, which she seemed to thoroughly enjoy.
You will need a car for this though, and be comfortable driving in the mountains.
day 0: in n out
Not much was done today, I just picked her up from the airport and got some In N Out on the way home. Pretty chill start to this adventure!
day 1: san francisco part 1
- Japanese Tea Garden
- Bison Paddock
- Land's End
After withstanding a gauntlet of "-le" games (guessing games that are similar to hit game Wordle), Vic and I set out to a breakfast spot that will not be named due to the sad decrease in quality it's had in the past years, but I will recommend Tom's Depot.
From our unnamed breakfast spot in Los Altos, we headed North to San Francisco along the snaking highway 280 spotting the famous Flintstones House and the glittering Crystal Springs Reservoir before diving into the clouds of San Francisco.
Note on the weather: we were slammed by fog and clouds our entire trip. Be smart and use fog.today to figure out if there's fog in the Bay Area. Also August is generally a foggy time in SF.
We made our first stop at the San Francisco Japanese Tea Garden in the Golden Gate Park. There is an entry fee and — to no one's surprise — parking near it on a Friday was rough. Either way, it's a nice little walk, but may not have been my cup of tea.
Our next stop in Golden Gate Park was the Bison Paddock. Bison! Like the animals that were almost hunted to extinction in the 1800s. Well there are a few relaxing in the Golden Gate Park, and we had a good time hanging out with them.
For dinner, we headed over to this nice dumpling shop in upper Sunset called Yuanbao Jiaozi. Another parking hassle, but those reading this may have already suspected it. Check out both their normal dumplings and their soup-bathed dumplings (different from the xiao long bao of Din Tai Fung fame).
Post-dinner, we headed to Land's End where we were yet again confronted by our worst enemy: fog. Still, seeing the trees in the fog makes for some very wild and somehow Scottish vibes.
day 2: stanford and sf.
- Fu Lam Mum
- Stanford University
- Biking the Golden Gate Bridge
- Noodles for dinner
I started the day by yet again trying to guess words, countries, flags, angles and whole Wikipedia articles. I guess I was starting to absorb some of the P.h.D. candidate smarts, but I was doing pretty well.
Brunch was held at Fu Lam Mum, a dim sum spot in Downtown Mountain View, where we were joined by my roommates Randy and Patrick. The food was pretty good, as was the walk around Downtown Mountain View afterwards.
On our way north from Sunnyvale, we stopped at Stanford University to take a look around. Honestly, it's probably pretty cool to look at on the first try, but I really wasn't feeling it that day — maybe it was the power of the sun beating down on me.
We then drove up to San Francisco, found parking (miraculously), and rented some bikes for a few hours to bike over the Golden Gate Bridge. As always, the fog persisted around us.
Biking to the Golden Gate Bridge from the Marina is a mostly a cake-bike, with the exception of one extremely steep slope that will lead you to the underbelly of the bridge. Riding through the Presidio, you'll be able to witness the towering orange steel girders of the bridge in most of its glory before experiencing this brief moment of pain.
Again — cannot stress this enough — check if it'll be foggy before you go. Or else you'll get this strange soul-searching experiencing as you attempt to pedal through the thick mist, with approximately 20 feet of visibility.
The bike is around 3 miles long round-trip, with extremely windy portions especially as you round the supports. Walkers are meant to be on the left side of the bridge, while bikers are to be on the right.
We ended the day with some delicious noodles at Chongqing Xiaomian in Chinatown, and also took a walk around the district. We happened to go at a time when many of the roads were blocked off due to an early celebration of the Mid-Autumn Festival.
day 3: pacific coast highway
There's a lot to do on the famed highway 1, and honestly I would just suggest you drive the road and stop when you see a nice beach. The few we went to included Bean Hollow, San Gregorio, Pescadero, and Shark Fin Cove.
Just take a look at these pictures, and maybe look at this Youtube video.
One of my favorite parts of driving down the highway is the feeling of being on the edge of the country — kind of like a border. Looking out over the ocean gives a strange sense of being at the edge of the world, especially with the wind blowing in my face. It's easy to forget about the stresses of life and just enjoy being surrounded by nature.
It might not be as gentle as the Hawaii coastline or even someplace in LA, but the Northern California beaches have their own cute charm. Looking out over a cliff at the ocean during the sunset really gets my mood up after a long week.
We ended this particular day — though — in Capitola, where a nice old man gave us his parking spot and even paid for the parking until 7 p.m. I still think about him today, at the time of writing. I hope you're doing good, dude.
day 4: muir woods and berkeley
sxdzcccccccccccccccccccc (input from my cat)
Muir Woods is a pretty magical place. Though some may find it to be a little curated for their tastes (the path to the redwood grove is lined by a raised wooden path), it can be a thoroughly enjoyable and a wonder to walk through. The biggest caution with Muir Woods is that parking spots fill up quickly and reservations are required. So log on and buy your tickets on the official website BEFORE driving up the miles of winding mountain road unlike the unfortunate European tourists who were driving ahead of me.
I didn't walk along the sunshine trail, but the Bootjack Trail is enough to get a sweat going and to lose yourself in nature.
On the way back from Muir Woods to the South Bay, I recommend stopping in Berkeley to take a look at the University and walk around. Park under the RSF (I think that's their rec center), where it's cheap and much safer than parking on the street. I was a fan of Ike's Sandwiches and Asha Teahouse though Asha is more of a controversial recommendation than Ike's.
And that is how I spent four days being a tourist in my hometown and showing my friend Vic around! Let me know if you have any suggestions by leaving a comment below, or send me an email.