Bay Area Sightseeing

The Bay Area consists of the nine counties directly surrounding the San Francisco Bay – though technically Napa County touches the slough separated from the Bay proper by a strip of Solano County.  See Northern CA Sightseeing for activities in the 39 counties outside of the Bay Area, Bay Area Restaurants for dining in the Bay Area, and Bay Area Food and Bay Area Chocolate for food production and appreciation activities in the Bay Area.

Alameda / Oakland / Berkeley / Greater Alameda County

Culture, Nature, Science

  • Crab Cove
  • USS Hornet
  • Ferry ride
  • Rosie the Riveter:;;; – Richmond; free
  • SS Red Oak Victory – Richmond; $10 + $5 docent tour; Tu, Th, Sa, Su 10am – 3pm
  • Oakland Museum – 10th and Clay in Oakland, parking garage under museum
  • Chabot Space and Science Museum – Oakland Hills
  • Lawrence Hall of Science
  • UC Berkeley Art Musuem, Pheobe Hearst Museum, BAMPFA, Bade Museum of Biblical Archaeology (1798 Scenic Ave, 849-8272)
  • Judah L. Magnes Museum, 2911 Russell, 549-6950
  • UC Botanical Gardens – halfway up the ridge above Berkeley and the UC campus,
  • Don Edwards SF Bay National Wildlife Refuge:

Alameda Murals

  • East side of 1619 Webster.
  • Northwest corner of Lincoln and Webster.

The Rosie the Riveter WWII Home Front National Historic Park is in Richmond, CA at the preserved Kaiser Shipyards.  Housed next door is the SS Red Oak Victory, one of the 142 Victory Ships produced in Richmond from mid-1944 to 1946.  (The other two museum Victory Ships are ported in Los Angeles and Tampa.)  Nearby Alameda houses the USS Hornet (built in Newport News), one of four Essex class WWII era aircraft carriers preserved as a museum, and Liberty Ship SS Jeremiah O’Brien (built in Richmond) is housed in San Francisco.  The infamous Port Chicago (Concord, CA) explosion occurred 70 years ago on July 17, 1944.


City Limits, art gallery, 300 Jefferson St (Jack London Square), Oakland; Saturdays 1 – 5pm (and by appointment).


Oakland Chapel of the Chimes – Built in 1909 as a railway depot.  Redeveloped by Julia Morgan beginning in 1928.


  • Movies and pizza at The New Parkway
  • Salsa dancing
  • Oakland All-Star Banjo Band on Thursdays, 7:30 – 9:30pm at Porky’s Pizza Palace, 1221 Manor Blvd, San Leandro, 510-357-4323
  • Woodminster Amphitheater in the Oakland Hills’ Joaquin Miller Park,
  • Eli’s Mile High Club,, 3629 Martin Luther King Jr. Way, Oakland – originally a blues club, currently a punk (as in the music genre) dive bar


  • Telegraph Ave in Berkeley – T’s into Bancroft and UC Berkeley campus: Amoeba Records (2455 Telegraph), Rasputin Records, Moe’s Books (2476 Telegraph), Cody’s Books, Norikonoko (homestyle Japanese restuarant with great ramen), Slurp
  • Title 9 Sports (1374 10th St off of Gilman), REI, North Face, Smith and Hawkins, Travel Smith – sports clothing and equipment; housewares and garden; travel clothing
  • Nolo Outlet, 950 Parker
  • Mr. Mopp’s, 1405 MLK Jr. Way – toy store

San Francisco

The possibilities include foodie delights including the Boudin Bakery Museum next to Fisherman’s Wharf (which gives a great overview of San Francisco history) and the factory tour at TCHO Chocolate; engineering marvels at the Cable Car Museum; architecture and art at the Contemporary Jewish Museum and the de Young Museum; and dinner at the Plant Cafe Organic at Pier 3 or the Slanted Door at the Ferry Building with a view of the Bay Lights (a light show on the Bay Bridge programmed to mirror tidal flows).  Other options include Japantown for a lunch of shabu shabu, riding a cable car, and the history tour at Pier 1.

One day SF Sightseeing Tour

  • Ride BART to the Embarcadero Station and buy a 1-day SF Visitor Passport ( )  (Consider a City Pass if you’ll be spending more days in SF)
  • Take the Cable Car up California Street to Grant Avenue
  • Walk up Grant Avenue (North) through Chinatown with a detour to the Golden Gate Fortune Cookie Company at 56 Ross Alley (and the gallery at 41 Ross Alley)
  • Continue on Grant Avenue and detour to the City Lights Bookstore at 261 Columbus Avenue (the hangout of the Beat Poets) – also note Vesuvius next door
  • Continue up (Northwest) Columbus to Washington Square / North Beach (the Italian part of town) and have a jacuzzi mug of java (at a cafe like Caffe Trieste at 601 Vallejo (at Grant Avenue)) or check out one of the popluar restaurants like Moose’s at 1652 Stockton
  • Catch a bus or walk up to Coit Tower, and be sure to go inside to see the WPA murals
  • Head down to Pier 39 to see the sea lions and to do the tourist thing; Angel Island and Alcatraz ferries leave from the nearby piers
  • (Head further down The Embarcadero to TCHO Chocolate, and further down to the Ferry Plaza Marketplace)
  • Walk down The Embarcadero toward the Golden Gate Bridge to Fisherman’s Wharf, stop in the Boudin Bakery Museum (2nd floor), and get a crab snack from a sidewalk vendor (pop into The Cannery – original home for Dole Foods – for more stores)
  • Continue along the waterfront to Ghirardelli Square to get ice cream sundaes
  • Catch the Hyde Street Cable Car (optional – stop at Lombard Street) to the Cable Car Museum at Washington and Mason
  • Take the Powell Street Cable Car down the hill to Union Square (shopping mecca) and stroll along Maiden Lane to the Frank Lloyd Wright building at #140, and Gump’s at 135 Post Street and Britex Fabrics at 146 Geary Street are both entertaining stores to browse … or continue on the Cable Car to the bottom of the hill at Market Street and browse the San Francisco Shopping Centre with the big Nordstrom with the circular escalators
  • Take the Muni Streetcar (trolley) or walk down Market Street and to 3rd Street, and walk down to SF MOMA (Museum of Modern Art)
  • Walk back to Market Street and take BART or the Ferry home

Other Tours

North Beach Food and History Walking Tours with Blandina Farley.

Culture, Nature, Science


Open on Mondays:;;;;;

SF City Guides free walking tours

Presidio Tunnel Tops, Adam Goldsworthy.

SF muralsDiego Rivera mural at the Diego Rivera Gallery at the SF Art Institute (800 Chestnut Street) and Pan American Unity mural at City College;

ChinatownChinese Culture Center, 41 Ross Alley, Chinese Historical Center of America,

San Francisco Botanical Gardens, Conservatory of Flowers


Alameda County

  • Crab Cove – Sharks
  • Pinball Museum –
  • Children’s Fairyland
  • Oakland Museum of CA
  • Habitot Children’s Museum
  • Hall of Health
  • Junior Center of Art and Science
  • Museum of Children’s Art
  • Chabot Space and Science Center
  • Lawrence Hall of Science
  • Museum of Paleontology – includes one room of dino bones; UCB, 1101 Valley Life Sciences Bldg
  • Campanile Tower, M-F 10am – 3:45pm, bells at 7:50am, noon, 6pm; elevator + short stairs
  • Hayward Shoreline Interpretive Center
  • Niles Canyon Railway,
  • Niles Essanay Silent Film Museum,
  • Ardenwood Historic Farm
  • Freight and Salvage
  • Ashkenaz
  • Berkeley Walks – self-guided walking tours of Berkeley
  • La Pena Cultural Center
  • Books Inc
  • Emeryville Public Market

San Francisco

  • Exploratorium: Piers 15 and 17.  Interactive science experiments.  After-hours, 18+ every Thursday 6 – 10pm.
  • Ponchione’s Foucault Pendulum at CA Academy of Sciences

Contra Costa County

North Bay and Beyond

(See North Bay Travel.)

San Mateo County

Devil’s Slide Trail – 1.3 mile stretch of what used to be PCH just south of Pacifica; on the weekends buses connect Pacifica with the northern trailhead.  Nearby is the Old Pedro Mountain Road that traverses up into McNee Ranch State Park.

Try to time your trip to stop at the James Fitzgerald Marine Reserve near Moss Beach (only a 38 minute drive from Fisherman’s Wharf) at a reasonably low tide (Half Moon Bay tidal chart); the best viewing is when the tide is below 1′ on the way down or back.  Piggyback a short (~30-minute) visit to the Point Montara Light Station with the Reserve (1 mile south on PCH).

Point Montara is one of the five light stations turned over by the Coast Guard in the ’70s to the State of CA to be converted into a hostel.  The cast iron lighthouse is still operational but now has an LED light and is fully automated.  A series of plaques next to the lighthouse explain the history of shipwrecks, bootlegging, fog whistles, and fog lights at the location.  The Point Montara Hostel has very reasonable rates for its shared dorm and private rooms.

The Reserve’s tidepools are almost as good as those further south in Point Lobos but the crowds are much smaller and access is free – it’s a San Mateo County Park.  The Reserve also has a 350 member Harbor Seal pod and a cypress grove on the bluff overlooking the water.

North Bay /Wine Country

(in order of making a loop starting at the Golden Gate Bridge, up through Point Reyes on Highway 1, Freestone, Sebastopol, Healdsburg, then down 101 through Fulton and Santa Rosa, over to the Saint Helena, Napa, West to Sonoma, then down to Petaluma, then down 101 to China Camp, San Rafael, and Mill Valley):
Golden Gate National Recreation Area (GGNRA),
Fort Point,
Nike Missle Site,
Golden Gate Raptor Observatory (Hawk Hill),
Bay Model (and Bay Area Discovery Museum), Sausalito,
Muir Woods and Muir Beach,,,
Point Bonita Lighthouse,
Bolinas Ridge,
Bolinas Lagoon Preserve and Audobon Canyon Ranch – only open mid-March through mid-July (egret nesting season),
PRBO Conservation Science field station in Bolinas
Point Reyes,
Cowgirl Creamery, Point Reyes Station and a second factory in Petaluma, tours in Petaluma on Wednesdays for $30, 415-663-9335,
Tomales Bay Oyster Company, Tomales Bay,
Sonoma Coast State Park, Bodega,,,
Inn at Occidental (lodging and breakfast), Occidental,
Osmosis (Japanese enzyme bath and blanket wrap for $75), 209 Bohemian Hwy, Freestone (near Occidental), 707-823-8231,
Wild Flour Bread, Freestone (across the street from Osmosis),

  • Sebastopol Apple Fair
  • Patrick Amiok Junk Art
  • Bohemian Creamery
  • Charles M. Schulz Museum, 2301 Hardies Lane, Santa Rosa
  • Redwood Empire Ice Arena
  • The Barlow
  • Rubicon Adventures

Jelly Belly Factory, 707-428-2838,

LOCALS (independent wine tasting room with over 10 wineries represented), Geyserville,
Relish Culinary Adventures (cooking classes and foodie tours), Healdsburg,
Jimtown Store, Healdsburg,
Wine Country Bikes,
Dragonfly Floral, 6-acre organic flower farm,
Healdsburg Museum & Historical Society,

Kendall Jackson Winery, Fulton,

Woodhouse Chocolate, St. Helena,
Terra Restaurant (adventuresome restaurant), St. Helena,    (  )
Rutherford Grill (moderately adventuresome restaurant), Rutherford,   (  )
Mustards Grill (high end restaurant), Yountville,
The French Laundry (very high end restaurant), Yountville,
Copia, the American Center for Wine, Food, & the Arts (including Julia’s (as in Childs) Kitchen for cooking classes), Napa,
Napa Valley Wine Train, 800-427-41224,
Oxbow Public Market, Napa,
Oak Hill Farm,
Cornerstone Gardens,
Jacuzzi Family Vineyards,

Sonoma Cheese factory (cheese), 2 Spain St, Sonoma,
Vella Cheese, Sonoma 800-848-0505,
Ramekins (cooking school and Bed & Breakfast), Sonoma, 707-933-0450,

Rouge et Noir Marin French Cheese Co, 707-762-6001, Petaluma,

China Camp State Park,
Marin County Civic Center (Frank Lloyd Wright designed building complex), San Rafael,,
Sweetwater Saloon, Mill Valley, – reopening early 2008

Rancho Nicasio (a restaurant and live music venue, near Skywalker Ranch), Nicasio,

Sonoma food tours,

Western Hills Rare Plant Nursery, Coleman Valley Rd, Occidental, 707-823-3710, call ahead
Wishing Well Nursery, 306 Bohemian Hwy, Freestone (near Occidental), 707-823-3710, call ahead

One yelper’s winery list:
And another:

Boonville Hotel (and restaurant), The Pottery Inn, the Apple Farm (orchard and cooking school), Lauren’s, Hendy Woods State Park, Horn of Zeese, Boont Berry Farm, Buchorn Saloon, Anderson Valley Brewing Company,


In San Francisco

1-day SF Visitor Passport ( ).  Consider a City Pass if you’ll be spending more days in SF.

San Francisco to Haight-Ashbury

BART or Muni to Civic Center; transfer to outbound N Judah Muni (one level above BART, one level below Market Street; get your transfer before exiting the BART gates); exit Muni at Carl @ Cole; walk down Cole to Haight Street; turn left on Haight and walk down to Golden Gate Park.

San Francisco to Alameda

Via BART: call ahead for a pick-up from West Oakland BART; enter the BART station; buy a ticket; follow the signs and take a train headed any direction except to SF / Colma / Daly City / SFO; and exit at West Oakland (first East Bay stop).  (To 12th Street Oakland City Center BART station, take a train headed to Pts Bay Point, Concord, or Richmond; get off at the 12th Street Oakland City Center station; exit at 11th Street and Broadway; and wait opposite the Marriott hotel (at the bus stop).)

Via Ferry: Get to the Ferry Building: take BART or Muni to the Embarcadero Station and walk two blocks down Market Street, or take the streetcar.  Board the ferry to Main St Alameda (usually the first stop) / Oakland – Jack London Square at Gate E on the south side of the Ferry Building.  Buy tickets after boarding.  Exit Main Street Alameda.

Via Bus: Transbay Bus line O or W from Transbay Bus Terminal.



  • 917.9461 BING 2010 Lonely Planet “San Francisco City Guide”
  • 917.9461 DOWNS “Walking San Francisco”
  • 917.9461 PETROCELL “Off the Beaten Path”
  • 720.9794 GUIDE… “Architecture in San Francisco and Northern California”
  • Armistead Maupin, Tales of the City





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