Stay-cations: getting out to learn and have Fun! in our Bay Area
Why pay someone to show you around the Bay Area when you live here?
Because when you drive yourselves, your driver doesn't get to relax, enjoy the views, not worry about directions or parking. We usually travel in a Honda Odyssey minivan--the roomiest of its type, with large windows, comfortable leather seating, and easy access doors.
If someone in your party has limited mobility--for example, s/he gets around in a foldable wheelchair--we've had a lot of experience with that and know the best access to most attractions and where the well maintained restrooms are :-)
Because we'll pick you up at your home (if you're within 90 miles of downtown San Francisco), at your B&B, ship's dock or the airport;
Because your personal tour guide has decades of local experience and so knows where the exciting new places are and how best to approach older, familiar ones;
Because people travel thousands of miles just to experience what we have in our backyard. Some of you are new to the area and haven't yet had a chance to visit our spectacular coastline, ancient forests, antique trains, etc. Some haven't been since their childhood field trips;
Because you want to sit back and enjoy our attractions, not add to your worries.
So what are we talking about here? Let's point out some of the more un-usual yet fascinating places you've yet to see:
our spectacular coast, south to the iconic Bixby Bridge or even McWay Falls... or north to Mendocino or Fort Ross built by Imperial Russia
the 'other' ancient redwood forests--Big Basin (Santa Cruz Mountains) or Armstrong Grove adjacent to the Russian River
the magnificent Filoli Estate, one of the great Italian-style gardens (and Georgian house) in northern California, plus Hakone, the 'other' historic Japanese garden...3X larger than Golden Gate Park's
Silicon Valley's Computer History Museum...we call it 'the Smithsonian' of modern technology and World Wide Web...plus Apple's new Visitors Center and Google's new headquarters building. You can marvel at the innovative architecture of Samsung, Linked In, etc.
the Skunk Train thru a redwood forest at Fort Bragg; the open-air "Suntan Special" train that takes you thru redwoods and over trestles to the Santa Cruz Boardwalk
a half or full day tour of locales from Alfred Hitchcock's "Vertigo" (called by some the best movie made in the English language)...or "The Birds," including a stop by the house from Hitch's personal favorite, "Shadow of a Doubt"
enticing wineries you haven't heard about...FYI even many familiar ones have dramatically changed
the Land's End Trail (San Francisco), the Marine Mammal Center in the Marin Headlands, beautiful places in Berkeley and Oakland that are never crowded
in the past, we've done truly personalized itineraries that had us dropping in on the Sonoma Raceway, the arts shop at San Quentin Prison, SF's Holy Trinity (Russian Orthodox) Cathedral ...in each case a spontaneous choice.
Together let can create itineraries that focus on local LGBTQ, or African-American, or Jewish history
What about a special docent-led tour at the model railroad museum or a ride on an actual antique train, or Safari West (African animal preserve & aviary), or the wonderfully whimsical outdoor sculptures of Patrick Amiot and Brigitte Laurent?
Of course, we'll carry plenty of wipes, sanitizers and masks if still recommended when we go.
"Staying at home for a vacation can be enormously restorative and transformative and fits much, much better into a lot of people's schedules and logistics.” — Kristie McLean, Life Coach (Seattle, Washington)
"I had been writing about San Francisco travel for over 10 years when I challenged Jesse to take me on a day tour of San Francisco, showing me things I'd never seen before. I couldn't believe how many places he knows about that I would never have found on my own.” – Betsy Malloy, Travel Writer for Trip Savvy (San Jose, California)
Wine Country Tours Napa, Sonoma, Russian River, Carmel Valley (Grape-growing Regions) Why spend a day (or 2 or 3) with A Friend in Town in Wine Country? First, everyone in your party (probably of no more than 4/5) wants to taste, so you need a designated driver. Secondly, we know (from 20 years' experience) how to create the optimal itinerary--based on your responses to our exclusive Questionaire--whether you are new to wine tasting, prefer whites over reds, want an intimate tasting experience (safely distanced, of course). You get picked up at your B&B, hotel, ship's dock or the airport. Nine or so hours later you're reflecting on the beautiful scenery, quaint villages and revelatory wines you've enjoyed.
Monterey, Carmel & Big Sur They're far (from downtown San Francisco), and you really don't want to be worn out at the end of a long day of driving. You want to reserve your energy for breathing in ocean air, for exploring the unique village of Carmel-by-the-Sea, and for walking out to the best available views of the Bixby Bridge, or touring the world-class Monterey Bay Aquarium. Maybe you prefer late-afternoon beverages at the Sunset Lounge (Highlands Inn), or dinner at Clint Eastwood's Mission Ranch, or picking up a golf souvenir at Pebble Beach. We meet you up at your B&B, your friends' house, the ship's dock or SFO.
San Francisco, still "Everybody's Favorite City," including Muir Woods & Sausalito Lots to see! Get introduced to major attractions (and secret places) so you'll know where you want to spend more time the next day, and get to the redwoods more conveniently than public transit. You prefer an experienced guide who's a trained historian--not someone speaking from a script--a guide who's studied architecture and knows many of nature's local wonders. So make the most of your day/s. Don't waste time looking for cheap parking, figuring out our steep and one-way streets...and BTW where are the clean public restrooms? You won't need us for Alcatraz...that you can do on your own.