Description - From bustling cosmopolitan cities to quiet coastal retreats, the San Francisco Bay Area is incomparable. First-class attractions, celebrated wineries, cultural diversity, remarkable skylines and breathtaking views make this region one of the world's most popular destinations.
- This region encompasses a variety of landscapes: sheltered coves, and tidal marshes lead to redwood forests traced by hiking and horse trail. A vital breeding ground for northern elephant seals points the way to the site of a world-renowned monarch butterfly migration.
The San Francisco Bay Area features Point Reyes National Seashore, Golden Gate National Recreation Area, an array of state park sites and outstanding regional parks provide attractions well beyond what one might expect to find in such close proximity to urban areas.
San Francisco is California's Casablanca, a bubbling bouillabaisse of exotic ingredients, from the rainbow nation of the Castro district to the vibrant counterculture in Haight-Ashbury to the young and glamorous tech survivors in their South of Market lofts. Beyond their distinctive neighborhoods, all of these people peacefully coexist in the city's many public places. Just steps away from the dot-commers, for example, is the stylish Museum of Modern Art and an urban oasis called Yerba Buena Gardens. Other city residents seek out the meditative azalea garden in Golden Gate Park, jog along the Marina, or prowl the fresh produce stands in Chinatown.
To the south of the city are Santa Clara and San Jose, the anchors to the "Silicon Valley." Lest you think that the valley is all business, though, spend a day at Paramount's Great America, delve into the wonders of technology at the Tech Museum of Innovation, or explore the Winchester Mystery House. Along the coast is the college community of Santa Cruz, best known for its beach boardwalk, where riders scream as they ride a historic wooden roller coaster.
The East Bay also has its share of thrills. Livermore Valley is home to one of California's oldest wine regions. Established in 1849, it's one of the wine world's best-kept secrets. In Oakland, jazz frequently rocks historic Jack London Square. North of the square is the college town of Berkeley, where upscale shops and restaurants along Fourth Street somehow blend perfectly with the street vendors on Telegraph Avenue who hawk handmade jewelry, pottery, and tie-dyed sarongs. Still farther north of this street theater, in Vallejo, is the unique Six Flags Marine World.
On the other side of the Golden Gate Bridge from San Francisco, life is genteel. If you prefer not to drive, a short ferryboat ride past Alcatraz Island lands you in quiet Tiburon, a bayside bookend to bucolic Mill Valley with its boutiques, candlelit restaurants, and subdued bars. Meanwhile, on Bridgeway, Sausalito's main drag, families and couples drop in and out of art galleries or dine at any number of restaurants that look out on San Francisco Bay. A short drive north and east gets you into the Napa wine country, home to dozens of well-known vintners in Rutherford, Yountville, and St. Helena, which lie right on Highway 29. Sip and swirl to your heart's content here or at any of the wineries along a parallel route called the Silverado Trail, home to Stags' Leap and Clos du Val, to name but a few.
Recreation - One of the most unique features of the San Francisco Bay Area is accesibility of outstanding outdoor recreation to the urban areas. Some of the most popular outdoor recreation activities in this area include: swimming, boating, fishing, surfing, horseback riding, climbing, hiking, road biking, mountain biking, picnicking, and camping.
Climate - Climate in the San Francisco-Bay area varies greatly with elevation and the amount of coastal influence. Areas with more coastal influence experience moderate temperatures year round with fog likely from June through mid-August. Plan your coastal visit in the late summer or fall to ensure the best conditions for viewing the scenery. Also, occasional clear days between winter and spring storms are incomparable. Areas further inland experience greater temperature extremes, with relatively cooler winters and hot summers. Inland areas often receive frost on winter nights. As throughout most of California most of the precipitation comes in the winter months, with April through October normally very dry.
This region includes the greater San Francisco Bay Area in northern California. It reaches from Santa Cruz to Tomales Bay along the coast, and inland to Walnut Creek and Mount Diablo.