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California Wine Country
California WIne Country

Dust off your sense of adventure and go explore.

Step out your door and discover the beauty in your own backyard—like we did. Bayside strolls, an urban retreat, the best shops, and where to dine. Read our easy-to-digest Inside Track tips on the San Francisco Bay Area.

Architecturally Speaking

Architecturally Speaking

San Francisco’s City Hall, the site of this photo, has been called the most beautiful public building in America. Built in 1914, it’s in the Civic Center District, an area rich with beaux-arts architecture. A great way to see it: Rick Evans’ Architecture Walking Tours. architecturesf.com

Breakfast Best: San Francisco Ferry Building

Breakfast Best

Arrive by car, ferry, or one of the vintage streetcars from cities around the world. Grab breakfast at Boulettes Larder, a favorite of in-the-know locals. This hidden gem offers gourmet delights and stocks hard-to-find ingredients for obsessive cooks. Not to be missed: Sunday brunch and hot beignets with rosemary scented raspberry sauce. bouletteslarder.com

Shoreline Stroll

Shoreline Stroll

One of our most beloved S.F. walks is the footpath in Crissy Field, where you can stroll along the water’s edge and get an up-close view of the Golden Gate Bridge. Be sure to stop for a snack at the Warming Hut Café and bring a light jacket—the wind picks up midday. crissyfield.org


Take to the Highway

Take to the Highway

Head out of town and across the Golden Gate Bridge to Marin. Drive about 45 minutes to the Point Reyes area, where you can browse the charming shops of Point Reyes Station, take to the trails, or explore more than 110 sq. miles of shoreline. See our Point Reyes insider tips at travelsmith.com/travelcenter.


North Beach Bound

North Beach Bound

San Francisco’s North Beach is renowned for its Italian cafés and restaurants. Try the North Beach Restaurant (northbeachrestaurant.com) for classic Italian fare and a lively sidewalk café, or visit one of our favorites: Da Flora, an intimate eatery specializing in Venetian cuisine. A must-try: the sweet-potato gnocchi. Reservations recommended. 701 Columbus St. 415-981-4664.

Perfectly Polk Street

Perfectly Polk Street

Located in the Russian Hill neighborhood, Polk Street is filled with trendy restaurants and boutiques. Our favorites: Interior Visions, a colorful mix of fine antiques and affordable finds from owner Carol Coleman, and right across the street, Swallowtail, where high design melds with eclectic French fleamarket treasures. theinteriorvisions.com

Quaint Meets Gourmet

Quaint Meets Gourmet

When it opened in 1876, the Olema Inn was a gathering place for farmers and ranchers in Northern California’s Point Reyes Olema Valley. Today, this beautifully restored building is home to one of the area’s finest luxury inns and a gourmet restaurant that features organic, seasonal fare. Insider tip: try to book room 3, one of the quietest. theolemainn.com

Roman Retreat at the Palace of Fine Arts

Roman Retreat

Originally built in 1915 for the Panama-Pacific Exposition and restored in the late ’60s, this Roman rotunda, with its manicured greenery and lake, is one of our preferred places to unwind and escape in San Francisco. Insider tip: notice the statuesque women holding up the pillars. They are meant to symbolize the melancholy of life without art. palaceoffinearts.org

On Our Map – Schein & Schein

Schein & Schein

Specializing in historical maps of San Francisco, this small shop is just a few minutes’ walk off Broadway in San Francisco’s North Beach. Stocking fine engravings and antique maps from the world over, owner Jimmie Schein is the unofficial source for S.F. history. Stop by – it will change the way you see the city. scheinandschein.com

Go the Way of the Elk

Go the Way of the Elk

Pack your sturdy shoes and hike the Tomales Point trail in Point Reyes. This stunningly scenic 9 1/2-mile trek has ocean views and plenty of wildlife. On weekends in September, docents set up binoculars and telescopes so you can get an up-close view of the Tule Elk herds strutting their stuff and clashing antlers. For more info, go to nps.gov/pore.

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