Written by suzharle on 25 Jul, 2002
San Francisco is certainly a world-class destination city, and many people who have chosen to visit here are now residents. I myself tumbled into this category 20 years ago, but after living in SF for a year, I discovered its real draw. The true beauty…Read More
San Francisco is certainly a world-class destination city, and many people who have chosen to visit here are now residents. I myself tumbled into this category 20 years ago, but after living in SF for a year, I discovered its real draw. The true beauty of SF lies in its beholding, the vision of it from across the water, and the anticipation of what adventures we will have there upon crossing the Bay into its cool and sometimes foggy arms.
There are a few waterfront towns that overlook SF, but my favorite is Tiburon, located straight across the Bay to the north. It’s a little gem of a place, with the quintessential Main Street, which is about a block long and lined with small shops and cafes as well as choice waterfront restaurants.
Further up the tree-lined street rests Ark Row, where the shops are situated in former houseboats, each one with its own bit of local history to tell. To learn more about the history of Tiburon (like how it was a sizeable shipping/rail point to the north bay before the Golden Gate Bridge was built) and these arks, don’t miss taking the Tiburon Historical Walk, either self-directed or with a docent guide.
It’s a well-heeled town, this Tiburon. After all, it’s located on one of the most expensive pieces of land in all the US. One of the fun things to do while walking around this town is to head up Belvedere Island, adjacent to Tiburon and fawn over the opulent homes. Here multimillion dollar mansions are perched cliffside, all straining for the best views the bay area has to offer: the San Francisco skyline, the Golden Gate Bridge PLUS, the Bay Bridge. If you walk up Beach Road, there is a small bench at the top and a few parking places. This bench offers one of the best vista points around. I have celebrated birthdays up there with a pre-dinner bottle of wine, my sweetie, and the unstoppable view.
Equally as good tho, is the view from my hotel, the new Waters Edge Hotel, located smack dab on the water -- so true to its name! As a nearby resident, I was thrilled to see it open and offer the only waterfront accommodation in this town. I arranged a mid-week night at the Water’s Edge Hotel through the Travel Club, and was very pleased to see what a charming boutique hotel it is and all the extras that were included (a CD and video player, entrance to a local athletic club, and complimentary wine in the late afternoon). The room was large and beautifully decorated, and included a fireplace and a small deck (where we ate our luxurious continental breakfast served right to our room at our appointed hour -- fantastic! And newspaper too). The bed was too comfortable for its own good; we could barely get out from under the goosedown duvet!
Outside the large communal sundeck, which is off the 2nd floor and where we spent the entire first night sipping wine and eating nibblies, is a carpet of bay and boats. To the right is the Corinthian Yacht Club, looking as if it came straight from the Mediterranean with its white façade and blue trim. It is here, if you play your cards right, you can sail for free! It’s very easily done. All one has to do is arrive on a Friday during the summer race series (and Saturday/Sunday mornings too). If you turn up on the docks about 5:30 or 6pm, all the boats are preparing for their races. Most boats do have a spot for one or 2 extra people, and if you ask around, some will be very happy to see you, especially if all their crew didn’t turn up. You don’t have to be an expert sailor either, many times they just need ‘rail meat’, some weight on the rails. So, sit back and enjoy the wild and woolly ride!
Once you’ve gotten sufficiently whipped by the wind on the Bay, you might need a drink or two, so walk down Main Street where you can imbibe on the famous gin fizzes at Sam’s Anchor Cafe (which is THE hangout spot on a sunny weekend). Sam’s is where the local SF people head to since its accessible by ferry and bike (and boat of course!, there is a visitors dock right out front). I love their fried calamari, it’s a meal in itself. If Sam’s is too crowded, then Guyama’s, Servino’s and the Swenden House Bakery would also have waterfront dining. The Sweden House is a coffee shop bakery tho, so best for breakfast and a mid afternoon pick me up. Guyama’s (Mexican) and Servino’s (Italian) are more upscale and both offer extremely tasty food and views. Rooney’s, another restaurant on Main Street is perfect for the ladies-who-lunch set. It’s always a busy place and the food is why ("where on earth do they get their bread" divine). It may be a little pricey, but when you’re in Tiburon, hey, who’s counting pennies!
If you really feel like spending a little more and have a heart-stopping view, the The Caprice Restaurant, just a short walk down the waterfront on Paradise Drive, is a sweet spot perched on stilts right over the bay, and wall to wall windows showcases the unmistakable skyline of San Francisco. Ask for the corner table -- it’s popular.
San Francisco is a Blue and Gold ferry ride away. One can either travel to Fisherman’s wharf, or, if departing during commute hours, the ferry takes you to the Ferry Building where you’re just a F-Market street car ride from Union Square, which has now reopened (after being closed for 18 months) into a beautiful public space, with amphitheater, a café and seating. The same F-Market line will take you all the way to Fisherman’s Wharf too.
Of course, we locals rarely go to Fisherman’s Wharf, and I wouldn’t recommend anyone stay there either, especially when for the same price of a touristy chain hotel at the Wharf, you can spend the same amount and be lavishly treated in Tiburon at the Waters Edge Hotel. Business people are catching onto this idea as well, smugly knowing they can take a ferry into the Financial District from virtually outside their hotel door, and arrive 1/2 hour later, refreshed, not stressed. Actually that word sums up the whole Tiburon experience: refreshing!!!