Monday, March 12, 2012

Nature's Wonderland

Wonderful thing about living in the San Francisco is that a short drive outside this beautiful cosmopolitan city, you can find even more breathtaking untamed scenery and nature. Home to grazing deer, herds of Tule elk, circling hawks and breaching whales, the natural habitats of the Bay Area provides a wonderful contrast of scenery from the urban living.

Right across the Golden Gate Bridge to the north of San Francisco is the Marin County, one of the most gorgeous natural habitats in California. It’s no wonder that on any day of the year, the area is full of hikers, bikers and just about any type of outdoor enthusiasts.

My favorite is to drive along the bay-view ridgeline of Conzelmen Rd all the way up to the Bonita Cove where you can get a spectacular view of the Bay as well as San Francisco and the Golden Gate Bridge.
A great place to stop for lunch is in Sausalito, a picturesque little town that offers a great view of the Bay as well as a good selection of charming shops, restaurants and cafes. Although most of the places on the main road can be quite touristy and overpriced, our favorite is Fish, a wonderful little restaurant a bit outside of the town that serves wonderfully tasty dishes from fresh and sustainably caught fish. Also, Le Garage offers a great brunch menu and a gorgeous view of the Bay that can’t be beat.

Another wonderful drive is on Hwy 101 north to Hwy 1 and then Panoramic Hwy towards Muir Woods. The Muir Beach Outlook is a must stop if you want the most breathtaking overview of the Pacific Ocean; then, on to Stinson Beach on Highway 1 filled with charming shops and restaurants.
Continue north on Panoramic Hwy, and at the very end of Sir Francis Drake Blvd, jutting 10 miles out into the Pacific is Point Reyes. This wild tip of land endures ferocious winds that can make it feel like the edge of the world.
The lighthouse sits below the headlands at the base of over 300 stairs. Not merely a beautiful beacon site, it's also one of the best whale-watching spots along the coast. Then, for dinner, I like to head towards the town of San Rafael via Red Hill Road to one of the best Puerto Rican restaurants in California, Sol Food.
About an hour south of San Francisco lies Mount Hamilton in California's Diablo Range, in Santa Clara County. Mount Hamilton, at 4,196-foot (1,279 m) is the tallest mountain overlooking Silicon Valley, and is the site of Lick Observatory, the first permanently occupied mountain-top observatory. On a clear day, the views from the high point of Lick Observatory can't be beat, as it provides the most phenomenal view of the Bay.

Also, the 20 mile (32km) drive from the highway to Lick Observatory is a driver’s heaven, especially for those who enjoy a good 'ol fashioned aimless joyride through scenic territory. The road is advertised to include 365 curves, one for each day of the year, and regardless of how gentle the curve may be, the drive up the windy road of the mountain path is nothing short of spectacular.


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