Introducing our teenage children to the pleasures of the city by the Bay.
by artslover on November 17, 2008
We did a lot of searching on the internet before choosing this hotel. There's a lot of choice in San Francisco and this combined what we wanted. First was location. We wanted to be in the Union Square area since this was a first visit for our children so it put us in the area we most wanted to be for sight seeing, shopping and restaurants.Second, we wanted a boutique hotel. Not too many rooms, and clean modern looking.Third was price. The hotel website provided a good rate for two rooms so we opted for one deluxe and one suite. The rooms were spacious and comfortable. We were lucky with the weather and even had to use the air conditioning but could also open the large windows to enjoy the smells and sounds of San Francisco in the busy Union Square area.The service from the staff at the hotel were excellent. We arrived early but one room was ready so we were able to use it right away. They showed us around the room and the various amenities - internet, CD player, premium channel and pay movies on the tv. There was room in the mini bar bar for our own drinks. The bathrooms were smallish as most boutique hotel bathrooms seem to be but had luxury products. The beds were very comfortable and lots of room for all of us in the junior suite when we wanted to lounge around together.The hotel restaurant, Cortez, was very good for breakfast. We also enjoyed the complimentary apples and drinks, which varied depending on the time of day. The lemonade was particularly refreshing in the warm afternoon.There is no spa and no fitness centre but we had our own workout routine as we climbed up and down the hills of San Francisco.We would definitely consider returning to this hotel for our next stay in San Francisco.
We had dinner at Boulevard, which according to Google maps, was 1.5 miles from our hotel near the Embarcadero waterfront. The sun had set by the time we walked to the restaurant and we enjoyed the street lights and lively crowds on the streets in the Union Square area. Closer to Boulevard, it was quieter as the office towers were empty and there were fewer people walking outside. Boulevard is located in the 1889 French-style Audiffred Building one of the few buildings spared from the 1906 earthquake. Its interior is Paris Belle Epoque with a long narrow room, hand-blown art nouveau glass light fixtures, pressed tin, steel girders and artisan ironwork throughout. The look is warm and stylish.We were seated near the Steuart Street end of the restaurant where we could see the lights on the Bay Bridge. We really enjoyed the ambiance of Boulevard, busy and friendly staff, and the interesting decor. My husband and I had dinner at Boulevard twice before in the past year and loved it so much we wanted to return with our children. We were not disappointed. The emphasis is on fresh seasonal and local products to provide exceptional taste, French in cooking style but without an overly fussy preparation. Quite Californian in my mind. The menu has a good range of choices and the hardest part is making a selection. Our meals were outstanding (see the photos) and service very good. They have an excellent wine list and even though we felt we had splashed out, the total bill was slightly less than Farallon. It was our last dinner in San Francisco and we thoroughly enjoyed it. We found San Francisco to be a marvelous place to eat and were glad we did enough walking and other activities to offset any guilt about how much food we ate.
We had dinner at Farallon, which is barely two blocks from Hotel Adagio in the Union Square area. We made a reservation online at Open Table before we traveled to San Francisco. The restaurant was recommended for seafood or as the restaurant call it, coastal cuisine.The under the sea decor is very unique. The Oyster Bar is in the front next to the reception area and has jelly fish chandeliers. It very much sets the rather fantasy like look of the place. Next is the Nautilus Room with six booths surrounding a sea pillar and the main dining area called the Pool Room has a mosaic ceiling featuring mermaids and sea urchin lights. The overall effect is rather charming and comfortable.The menu features seafood with some good choices for those who are not seafood lovers. The menu changes seasonally. A preview can be found on the Farallon website: www.farallonrestaurant.com. The food was very good with the sole and vegetables particularly melt in your mouth; but the desserts were truly memorable. The wine list has a good range of choice and prices. The price of the dishes was not the most expensive in San Francisco but it was not cheap either. The restaurant is a special occasion kind of place; not quite my favourite but very enjoyable.
We have been to SF Museum of Modern Art a number of times so thought we would try looking at some other museums. Since we were walking along Market Street near the Civic Center, we decided to take a look at the Asian Art Museum. The exhibits in the museum cover a number of countries and civilizations in Asia over a great span of time. There is way too much to see in one visit. We toured most of the Japan, China, India and Java exhibits and the special exhibit on the Ming Dynasty in China but it was a lot to absorb. Everything from statutes from Indian temples, very unique and somewhat scary knives from Java, ethereal water colours from China, and exquisite gowns from Japan with so many other items and works of art. Two hours was not nearly enough to even see half of what the museum contains. Admission was $12 for adults and $7 for students and well worth the visit – the original building itself, which used to be San Francisco’s main library, was especially fascinating to look at.
Biking across the bridge if the sun is shining or at least, no rain is falling, combines exercising off some of the calories everyone puts on as they enjoy the bounty of San Francisco cuisine, an opportunity for great views of the Bay, a close up of the Golden Gate Bridge, and a stroll around Sausalito.Blazing Saddles is one of many companies offering bike rentals but they seem to have the most numerous locations. When we went to lock our bikes in the bike rack at Sausalito, it looked like a Blazing Saddles rental location. But I’m getting ahead of myself. Renting a bike is quite painless. We went to one of the many locations at the piers. Fill out the form, pay and they outfit you with the right size bike, helmet and bike lock. You can either pay by the hour or for the day. We didn’t need to pre-book on the Friday we decided to cycle across the GG bridge.The ride from the waterfront to the bridge is very picturesque with a few steep but mercifully short hills. Once on the bridge, the trick is to manage the crowds. Soo many people wandering along, three bodies wide, oblivious to those of us on bicycles coming from behind them or trying to squeeze past baby carriages and bikes that have stopped to enjoy the views.The route that day was on the east side, so with the clear skies, the view was outstanding. We stopped along the way to watch dolphins. I don’t like heights so was not certain I would enjoy the bridge crossing but found it no problem at all as long as I didn’t stop next to the railings and look down, way down. We had another warm sunny day and were fortunate we had put on sunscreen before we set out.The trip does not take long. We left Pier 41 about 10 a.m. and were in Sausalito by about 11:15 a.m. Once in Sausalito, there are a number of shops to explore and numerous restaurants on the waterfront. As mentioned earlier, there are bike racks to lock your bike to if you can find the room among all the other Blazing Saddles bikes. We had lunch in Sausalito at Horizons restaurant which is situated along the waterfront. We sat on the patio under an umbrella and cooled off while still enjoying a beautiful view of the water and San Francisco skyline in the distance. We all had salads which were fresh and tasty. Service was good and we were finished our meals before 12:30. We strolled into a few shops then caught the 1:20 p.m. ferry back to Pier 41. As we were waiting on the ferry, we could see the fog rolling down towards the GG Bridge and into the bay. It was a very dramatic sight for us who are landlocked in a dry climate and even more fascinating to ride the ferry through the fog which took us from very warm sunshine to cool damp air, then back out again to sunshine as we approached Pier 41.
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