Berkeley restaurants

Get out of town! : San Francisco and the Bay Area

View of the Pacific Ocean from Land’s End in San Francisco. (Photo by Lisa Paredes)

For those of us who reside in Southern California, the lure of the cooler, wetter climes of San Francisco and the Bay Area has long garnered attention for an easy getaway, whether one arrives by plane, train or car. There’s always so much to see, do, and eat in the San Francisco Bay Area.

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We all know the big attractions: Golden Gate Bridge, Fisherman’s Wharf, Golden Gate Park, Chinatown. But for the frequent visitor, the search for new experiences is also essential. We’ve highlighted some highlights from a recent visit to Berkeley and San Francisco.

Two of our favorite dining experiences in the Gourmet Ghetto neighborhood next to UC Berkeley are Tigerlily and La Note. Tigerlily’s delicious Indian cuisine and craft cocktails support the hype around the restaurant. It’s great for dinner, opening at 4:30 every day.

For French/Provencal breakfast and lunch, La Note’s charm and food is wonderful. Open daily at 8:00 a.m., La Note serves perfectly prepared coffees and meals, backed by a rustic cafe atmosphere and a friendly host and servers.

Fish Curry Mahi at Tigerlily in Berkeley’s Gourmet Ghetto. (Photo by Lisa Paredes)

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For hiking and rugged wilderness, there’s Tilden Regional Park, home to a lake, riding arena, golf course and more, located north and east of Berkeley.

Centennial Drive is a beautiful scenic drive winding along the hilltops above Berkeley and offering breathtaking views of the Bay Area, day or night.

For those who enjoy paved paths and sea-level walks, the Berkeley Marina offers some great views. There is also a herd of mature wild turkeys that populate the marina area, seemingly jaded by cars, cyclists and pedestrians.

We hit the big Golden Gate Park draw, because, how not to? There’s so much to do in the park, from biking and walking, to museums, restaurants, concerts and more. We visited the California Academy of Sciences, since we haven’t been there in over 15 years.

The California Academy of Sciences features an amazing indoor rainforest, complete with tropical butterflies, birds, and aquatic creatures. Beneath the Osher Rainforest is the Steinhart Aquarium – a truly magnificent aquarium with all manner of life, from fish, jellyfish and octopus to lizards, insects and snakes. The upper level of the building features the living roof, with plants and paths.

The Morrison Planetarium is a 75-foot digital dome, for educational shows about space. Additionally, the Kimball Museum of Natural History is part of the California Academy of Sciences complex, all of which are located in Golden Gate Park.

Colorful fish and coral reef habitats abound at the California Academy of Sciences’ Steinhart Aquarium. (Photo by Lisa Paredes)

After studying our science, we researched some of San Francisco’s many great restaurants. Our favorites from this visit: Dumpling Time on Division Street, Jijime on Geary in Richmond, and Tony’s Pizza Napolitana near Washington Square.

We enjoyed the Bi Luo Chun, Cucumber Salad, Har Gow, Xiao Long Bao and Pork Gyoza at Dumpling Time, the Curry Croquette and the amazing Grilled Pork Belly Plate at Jijime and the Flowers of fried squash and Cal Italia pizza at Tony’s.

For us, no visit to San Francisco is complete without a stop at City Lights Bookstore. Of course we had to stop at the nearby Caffe Trieste for a quick breakfast and world class lattes.

We tried to get to Benkyodo in Japantown before the legendary mochi and confectionery maker closed its doors for good, but we didn’t have four to five hours to wait in line. There was too much to do.

We traveled to the Daly City area along the Pacific and marveled at the incredibly strong winds that seem to be a constant in Fort Funston. Signage warned that hang gliders frequently landed in the clifftop area, although we didn’t see any in action. We also walked around the Lake Merced area which has a public golf course and boating on the lake.

The Black Cat in San Francisco is the perfect place to see live jazz. (Photo by Lisa Paredes)

We always like to see live music when we travel and this trip we discovered San Francisco’s trusty Black Cat. It is located in the Tenderloin so we easily took a quick ride to and from the jazz club.

Guitarist Marcus Machado, who has collaborated with Anderson.Paak, Robert Glasper and Lalah Hathaway, among others, put on a fantastic set with his band and special guests. Food and drinks are ok and a bit pricey. But when the music is hot, the Black Cat is absolutely the place.

A major tip: For those who park anywhere on the street or in public parking lots in San Francisco or the Greater Bay Area, don’t leave anything visible in the vehicle and, to be very careful, keep the important documents and items elsewhere during your visit.

Carpooling is very accessible throughout the region, as well as many public transport options. Cars, of course, offer faster and more personal transportation, but parking can be expensive and difficult.

Berkeley, San Francisco, and the entire Bay Area are frequent draws to us, and we hope readers enjoy some of our recent favorites on future visits. Get out of the city, Burbank, and visit the beautiful Bay Area!

Editor’s note: Although there’s always a lot going on in Burbank, “Get Out Of Town!” from myBurbank! highlights some of our favorite activities and events outside of the city borders.

The Bay Bridge pierces through the San Francisco skyline. (Photo by Lisa Paredes)