San Francisco - 'The City.'Start your tour with the 49-Mile Drive marked with blue-and white seagull signs. Be prepared to dine well: San Francisco has more than 3,000 restaurants. Most rate from good to terrific, with an emphasis on fresh ingredients - the hallmark of California cuisine.
Union Square/Financial District.Welcome to shopper's heaven. The major department stores around Union Square and scores of specialty shops along Post Street and in the Embarcadero Center will tempt you. For fun plus good views, catch a cable car up Powell Street or California Street to Nob Hill, Chinatown, or Fisherman's Wharf. Or, zoom to the top of the Bank of America Building to see the fog come in beneath you.
Chinatown/North Beach.Here, two ethnic enclaves exist side by side. Stroll Grant Avenue amid Chinese-style buildings, housing, restaurants and shops. North of Broadway is North Beach, known as Little Italy. Explore the cafés and bookstores.
Wharf Area/Telegraph Hill.Stroll Fisherman's Wharf savoring a fresh crab cocktail while you watch the fishermen put their boats in order. Nearby Ghirardelli Square and the neighboring Cannery both offer a myriad of shops and restaurants. Board the numerous historic sailing ships at Hyde Street Pier. At Pier 39, enjoy the sea lions, shops, restaurants, street performers, and a brand-new aquarium. Cruise to Alcatraz to tour 'the Rock,' a notorious former prison. Or, board a ferry to Vallejo and Marine World Africa USA.
South of Market.This redeveloped area includes the Center for the Arts Theater and Galleries at the Yerba Buena Gardens and the stunning new San Francisco Museum of Modern Art. The area is an enclave of trendy restaurants, nightclubs, and theaters, but you can shop the outlets here, too.
Golden Gate Park.This retreat holds everything from museums - the De Young, Asian Art Museum, and Academy of Sciences - to the Conservatory of Flowers, Japanese Tea Garden, Arboretum, and buffalo paddock next to Spreckels Lake.
More Attractions.The Civic Center offers world-class symphony, opera, and ballet performances. The Exploratorium is a children's hands-on science museum. Shop and dine in style on Union Street.
The Golden Gate Nat'l Recreation Area, the largest urban setting park in the world, spans several counties. Its Marin headlands overlook the bay, and Muir Woods Nat'l Monument offers easy paths through groves of redwoods. Mount Tamalpais offers hiking with a view. Take a drive to Point Reyes National Seashore for bird- and whale- watching, hiking, and a lighthouse. Dine in a waterfront restaurant in Sausalito and browse the shops. Relax in Tiburon's waterfront cafés. Farther north, in San Rafael, view the futuristic Marin County Civic Center, the last building designed by Frank Lloyd Wright.
Oakland's Museum of California covers the state's art, history and ecology. Oakland's restored Paramount Theatre is an Art Deco show stopper. Sample the waterfront shops and dining places in Jack London Village. In Berkeley, stroll the U.C. Berkeley campus, and visit the University Art Museum and Botanical Gardens. Livermore offers a number of wineries open to visitors for tours. Top-name entertainers can be seen at the Concord Pavilion in Concord.
Peninsula/South Bay.Watch the fishing boats at Pillar Point Harbor in Half Moon Bay. In Woodside, visit the Filoli estate, the mansion seen on TV's Dynasty. Stanford University in Palo Alto features the Rodin Sculpture Garden with 20 bronze casts.
In San Jose take the family to the Tech Museum of Innovation, loaded with interactive exhibits. Be a kid at Paramount's Great America theme park in Santa Clara. Garlic lovers must stop in Gilroy. At Big Basin Redwoods State Park see tall redwoods and ride through them on a steam train at Roaring Camp in Felton. In Santa Cruz visit the Boardwalk, a classic oceanfront amusement park, and ride the Big Dipper roller coaster.
Gilroy is best known as the "Garlic Capital of the World," and home of the annual Garlic Festival in July. But the City is also known for its peaceful residential environment, its award- winning parks, and golf courses. It is also known for it's extensive outlet shopping center.
Nearby Hollister is the home of the Annual Independence Rally, a motorcycle event which takes place over the 4th of July weekend.