A San Francisco city tour would not be complete without visiting the Palace of Fine Arts. Of course, there’s no royalty in residence. However, the architecture is fit for a monarchy, with a style that borrows freely from Bernini’s (1598-1680) neoclassical Saint Peter’s Square.
The Palace is introduced with a lagoon, fountains, swans and a processional colonnade, in a generous welcome to visitors. The rotunda was inspired by a Piranesi engraving that featured a Roman ruin reflected in a pool. According to Bernard Maybeck, the architect who designed it in 1915, this ruin existed not for its own sake but to show “the mortality of grandeur and the vanity of human wishes.”
This fascinating work of art, in its own right, was designed for an exhibit at thePanama Pacific Exposition,held in 1915, to celebrate the restoration of the city after the devastating 1906 earthquake and the opening of the Panama Canal.
Some wineries are “barn conversions” that fortify and add onto the original structure, which makes for an interesting setting for a Napa Wine Country winery. There are other wineries that start from the ground up, with a unique design that seems almost to have always been there. . .
Topping the first hill inNapa wine countrya chorus of soft “Oh’s!” escapes from travelers taking in the panorama of graceful hills and valleys blanketed with neat rows of trellised grapes, running in uncooperative directions, that define one vineyard from another.
“So serene,” said one of the women, sighing, “I could die here.”
“But full of life,” said her friend, “I’d rather live here.”
“Let’s stop and take some pictures,” a pragmatic husband suggested.
Their guide (from A Taste of San Francisco and Beyond) was smiling when he said, “The best views are just ahead.”
The San Francisco wine tour that follows the scenic drive through the hills of Napa Wine Country, is simply Old World charming and the first winery tour is an experience that goes up in the not-to-be-forgotten list. The aging caves are the best thing on the tour, where you are stunned by the sight of so-many-to-count barrels of wine as they line the walls, appearing as though they go on forever.
The caves really are caves, hollowed out of the hillside and lined with gunite, the same material used to form swimming pools.
The cave-room you share with A Taste of San Francisco and Beyond fellow visitors to this winery is spectacular. Splendid chandeliers, crystal and candelabra with glass globes that look antique and, once more, an Old World ethos charms the senses. Elegant, tables hold trays of bread and cheese to bring out the ultimate experience in traditional wine tasting. So very proper for your Napa Wine Country tour.
Journey with us on one of our wine tours San Francisco through a landscape that begs to be captured for posterity on your trip.
The hills appear around the road one by one as the sun burns off the highest fog. Driving through the Napa wine country hills and into the valleys is a magical experience. It is a kingdom unto itself with rows and rows of vines growing across the slopes, not perpendicular as you might imagine. From the air it’s as if Prometheus’ comb has run its teeth through the ground making rows so perfect, with exact distances between them, at once seeming to be an engineer’s topographical mapping and an artist’s sensitive hand on the land.
Napa wine country holds such an attraction for some that it must be included in one of life’s premier events… the wedding. What is more romantic than getting married in a vineyard? All sorts of connotations are there to give a marriage a good start. Fruitful, is one, sweet as wine, another. You get the idea, so we won’t go on. The aroma of the grapes fills the air, lending a grace note to the occasion. Not to be soon forgotten, this wedding.
Taking the Alcatraz San Francisco tour won’t really land you in prison. You will, however, enter the mammoth building through its “impressive gate system.” The feeling of confinement is almost overwhelming. “Escape from Alcatraz” was said to be impossible. Even so, its history is rife with fabulous escape attempts by daring prisoners. Average success was something like 0 for 14 attempts. Numbers 4-14 had to have been a little slow in the brains department. It’s role as a prison began somewhere in the 1850’s, as a military prison. Stands to reason that as a military installation it must have been designed as a secure building.
It actually began as a military fortress, protecting the Bay to the tune of 100 cannon bristling on sea sides. Can you remember San Francisco ever being threatened by a 19th century invasion from the sea?
I’m closing my eyes, as our guide talks and picturing Muir Woods as they might have looked, smelled and sounded thousands of years ago.
Brighter or darker? Darker, I think. They would have been more dense. A “something-saurus” trumpets her presence, perhaps calling her babies and shaking the ground as she hunts for them.
Breath-stopping odors! Eeue! Disgusting! (Nothing like today with the clean, delicious scent of green and sequoia wafting around.)
And the humidity back then was dreadful. 24 hour-a-day sauna! No wonder nostrils were so big around here. You would have needed a nose-full to get oxygen where it could have done any good. Oh, large lungs in large bodies. I get it. They needed to be large to survive the climate.
Friends had just pulled into the driveway and were unloading a trunk-full of fresh produce. We gawked and oohed and ahed over the gorgeousness of all this bounty. Guess our drooling made them take pity on us and they found a bag—a big bag, at that—and generously filled it to the brim.
“We had you in mind,” they said.
“Where did you get all this?” we asked.
“Thought we told you we were taking a little Napa wine country tour this week-end.”
“A tour? What tour?”
“A Taste of San Francisco and Beyond—and they weren’t kidding! Napa-Farmers-MarketTurned out we went through Napa and stopped at their Farmer’s Market. It was wonderful. Everything looked so delicious and, of course, the armomas were irresistible.
What should I see and do when I visit San Francisco?
San Francisco is both old and new, a blend of classic architecture and fresh energy, situated on a Pacific peninsula and filled with wonders to delight travelers of all sorts. The ‘City by the Bay’ is compact, yet contains many distinctive and vibrant areas within its central core. A San Francisco city tour will help orient you as well as show you a taste of many different districts. You’ll have a full day of sights and activities included, yet you’ll go away feeling ready to continue your explorations as to experience San Francisco is to want to experience it deeper.
When considering a day trip from wine country, the options can be overwhelming. Should you go to Napa Valley or Sonoma County? How will you travel from winery to winery? The easiest and most stress-free way to experience California’s wine country is through an organized tour. Your guide will take you right to the best wines, and perhaps offer the opportunity to explore other activities that the region has to offer.
What are the best wineries to visit in Napa? With over 400 to choose from, it can be difficult to narrow it down. Located just one hour from the city, Hagafen Cellars is a great place to begin any wine tour from San Francisco to Napa Valley. Nestled in a lovely garden, the tasting room is intimate and the staff knowledgeable. It is also unique in that it is one of just two kosher wineries in Napa Valley. Odette Estate Winery, a charming boutique winery located just ten minutes down the road from Hagafen, is also a great site for wine tasting in Napa and home to an award-winning Cabernet Sauvignon.
Where are the best places to visit in San Francisco? The options are virtually limitless: there is plenty of city sightseeing in San Francisco, but many options for day trips as well. This guide will help you decide where to find the best sightseeing in San Francisco.
1. The Embarcadero: On this scenic walk along the water, you’ll find the San Francisco Ferry Building. There are a couple San Francisco day trips you can take from here. One great San Francisco getaway is Sausalito, which boasts beautiful walks along the water and great restaurants. You can also check out the Ferry Plaza Farmers Market, which is filled with all kinds of organic goodies.
2. Twin Peaks: Eureka Peak and Noe Peak, otherwise known as the Twin Peaks, offer one of the best views of San Francisco. It’s not only a great place to take pictures, but also to enjoy some tranquility away from the city center.