San Francisco, CA
San Francisco is the cultural, commercial, and financial center of Norther California. San Francisco’s climate is characteristic of the cool-summer Mediterranean climate of the California coast. Fog is a regular feature of San Francisco summers.
San Francisco has a vast amount of activities and places to see that it may take an extended stay to see all the fascinating sites. The nightlife is a constantly changing scene. The hottest clubs currently are in the South of Market and Mission districts, with live and recorded rock and Latin music. Jazz, blues, swing, and “oldies” music can be found all over town.
Dining in San Francisco is an attraction in itself. Known as America’s best restaurant city, San Francisco chefs excel at combining the freshest local ingredients, authentic international flavors and a touch of creative genius. The top rating restaurants right now are: BDK Restaurant & Bar in Union Square, Nob Hill Club in Nob Hill, Big 4 Restaurant in Nob Hill, Alioto’s #8 in Fisherman’s Wharf, Dirty Water Restaurant and Bar in Central Market, and The Hornblower Dinner Cruises leaving from the Embarcadero/Financial District.
A visit to San Francisco would not be complete without a cultural experience. The city is home to internationally recognized symphony, opera and ballet companies. Playwrights such as Sam Shepherd and Tom Stoppard introduce their works in San Francisco and avant-garde theatre and dance companies dot the city. The San Francisco Museum of Modern Art, the Asian Art Museum, the de Young Museum, the Palace of the Legion of Honor and other museums and galleries are devoted to the finest of classical and contemporary arts. San Francisco is also home to the California Academy of Sciences - the only place on the planet with an aquarium, a planetarium, a natural history museum, and a 4-story rainforest are all under one roof.
Popular sites around the city
Fisherman’s Wharf - is also home to PIER 39, a festive waterfront marketplace that is one of the city’s most popular attractions. A community of California sea lions has taken up residence on the floats to the west of the pier and visitors line the nearby railing to watch their antics. From there it’s a short walk to the Wax Museum, Ripley’s Believe It or Not! and the famous crab vendors selling walk-away crab and shrimp cocktails.
Union Square - is the place for serious shoppers. Major department stores and the most exclusive designer boutiques line streets like Post, Sutter, Geary, Grant, Stockton and Powell. The Westfield San Francisco Shopping Centre houses the largest Bloomingdale's outside of New York and the second largest Nordstrom in the U.S.
Chinatown - at Grant Avenue and Bush Street is called the "Dragon's Gate." Inside are 24 blocks of hustle and bustle, most of it taking place along Grant Avenue, the oldest street in San Francisco. This city within a city is best explored on foot; exotic shops, renowned restaurants, food markets, temples and small museums comprise its boundaries. Visitors can buy ancient potions from herb shops, relax and enjoy a "dim sum" lunch or witness the making of fortune cookies.
Alcatraz - the notorious former prison, is located on an island of the same name in the middle of San Francisco Bay. Some of the United States’ most notorious criminals were incarcerated there. Though several tried, no inmate ever made a successful escape from “The Rock.” The prison was closed in the 1960’s and stories about Alcatraz are legendary. A visit to Alcatraz today is fascinating. Recorded cell-house tours are available, allowing visitors to learn about the prison as they explore the buildings and grounds.
The Golden Gate Bridge - the most famous bridge in the world, manages to impress even the most experienced travelers with its stunning 1.7-mile span. Approximately 120,000 automobiles drive across it every day. A pedestrian walkway also allows the crossing on foot, and bikes are allowed on the western side. The Golden Gate Bridge is said to be one of the most photographed things on Earth.
San Jose, CA
San Jose is positioned in the northern part of the state in the Bay Area and is often known as "The Capital of Silicon Valley”, and is the largest city in the Bay Area and Northern California, the third largest city in the state, and the 10th largest city in America. Downtown San Jose is a mix of offices, shopping, hotels, numerous restaurants as well as a convention center and the South First Area nightclub district. Get outdoors and take advantage of San Jose's invariably sunny weather on the Guadalupe River Trail or in one of the many city parks. You'll always find a wealth of cultural events at theaters, art galleries, and museums.
The Pacific Coast Highway is a nationally famous highway. It goes along the whole coast of California giving off spectacular views of the Pacific Ocean. Many movies have shown this highway in scenes that take place in California, and it is also a main tourist attraction to drive along the coast. Route 1 can take you up to Pacifica which is about 30 minutes north of San Jose. Pacifica is an ocean side residential town that has affordable housing and sit's on hills that overlook the Pacific. The beach here is typical to the Bay Area and has a very rough current.
Less than an hour away is Half Moon Bay beach. This beach sits on the bottom of cliffs with a very rough current. During most the summer months the water is closed to swimmers because of rip tides and massive waves. The Pacific Ocean is typically cold and in half moon bay this is still very true. The sunsets here have been known to lure in travelers and those wanting to rent beach houses. Since Half Moon Bay sits on cliffs, the sunset goes down over the water and seems to create perfect scenery.
San Jose dining and nightlife offers unique experiences and diverse food with everything from five star restaurants to your favorite mom and pop diners. Some of the top restaurants in the area are: Fogo de Chao in San Jose, Le Papillon in San Jose, La Foret in San Jose, and Mezcal in San Jose.
Popular sites around the city
The Children's Museum - a contemporary structure whose purple facade is fairly easy to spot, was designed with three concepts in mind: Community, Connections and Creativity. Indeed, kids and their parents are invited to participate in various interactive exhibits, ranging from technology to the arts. Many of the patrons' favorite exhibit is "WaterWays," an exhibit that teaches about the properties of water and includes a working canal system.
San Jose Heritage Rose Garden - In the heart of San Jose, nestled between Taylor and Spring Streets, is this five-acre rose garden. Dedicated in 1995, it's maintained by volunteers and features more than 5,000 rose bushes and 3700 varieties. If you're looking for a peaceful place to enjoy a lunch break or just to stare in awe at spectacular, fragrant specimens, then scout out one of the benches and do just that.
Paramount's Great America - located just north of San Jose, offers some of the best family-oriented fun in the South Bay area. The park is a great place to spend an afternoon, and you'll find a wide range of entertainment from rides and play areas to games and shows. Great America is the home of such rides as the "Demon," the "Drop Zone," a James Bond ride called "License to Thrill," "Stealth," the world's first flying roller coaster; and an IMAX theater.
Guadalupe River Park and Gardens is a 150-acre natural haven in the heart of San Jose. In addition to being a refuge for migratory and song birds, the three-mile long riverside park offers 2½ miles of scenic walks and jogging trails. Located adjacent are the Guadalupe Gardens, which feature over 3700 varieties of roses. River Park and Gardens hosts several festivals and concerts each year and provides ample picnic facilities for folks with outdoor dining in mind.