Bike San Francisco
September 2006: If you haven't already, rent a bike the next time you are in San Francisco and ride across the Golden Gate Bridge. From the Fisherman's Wharf area, you can rent a bike at Bike and Roll. They will give you directions and a map for a nine mile loop that goes from the Wharf, along the bay front, across the famous bridge, and concludes in Sausalito where you catch the ferry across the bay back to the Wharf.
Hopefully, the fog will burn off for a beautiful day with amazing views. You can stop as often as you want on the bridge (there is a separate pedistrian/biker lane). In Sausalito, we had lunch at Bridgeway Cafe with a great view of the bay and the San Francisco skyline. The owners are from Iran and have amazing kabobs! You get more great views of the skyline and Alcatraz on the ferry ride.
Of course, the other great way to see the town is via the world famous cable cars. A Muni pass (available for one, three or seven days) will give you unlimited rides on the Muni, buses, trolleys and cable cars!
I tried out two hotels during my stay. The Hotel Triton (a member of the Kimpton Group) is near Union Square, so it's very convenient to all the shopping and Chinatown. It's a hip hotel with earth-friendly practices. They have a great French Bistro next door (Cafe de la Presse).
The new Hotel Vitale (downtown on the Embarcadero Waterfront) is fabulous. It's the flagship hotel for Joie de Vivre Hospitality, a collection of about 30 boutique hotels in California. I was lucky to get upgraded to a Circle Suite, with panoramic views of the bay - from the restored Ferry building to the Bay Bridge. Their restaurant, Americano, is outstanding. For dessert, try their Inside-Out S'mores Ice Cream Sandwich AND the Chocolate Caramel Hazelnut Tart with hazelnut gelato.
For one of the most beautiful drives on the planet, rent a car and drive down the Pacific Coast Highway to Big Sur. (Read more.)