Introducing Marin County & the Bay Area
A huge, densely populated metropolitan area surrounds San Francisco, but the Bay Area is not your typical complex of suburbs and bedroom communities. Many of the cities and towns around the bay draw inventive and creative people from around the world. The area is also rich in beautiful undeveloped lands with their own microclimates, making it possible to get out of San Francisco and into the sunny outdoors in a matter of minutes.
The Bay Area’s prime outdoor playgrounds are in Marin County, north of San Francisco via the Golden Gate Bridge. Within an hour’s drive of the city, Marin offers some of Northern California’s superior coastal hiking and biking excursions. Many of the small towns in the county are quaint refuges with highly refined tastes. A strenuous day of outdoor activities can always be rewarded with a fine meal or a night in an exquisite B&B.
The Bay Area’s reputation for political activism comes not so much from San Francisco as from Berkeley, the college town across the bay. California cuisine originated just blocks from the UC Berkeley campus, and travelers head to the East Bay to eat in the fine restaurants.
In many ways, the South Bay is an independent entity. Tech industries set up shop in Silicon Valley towns from San Jose to Palo Alto and launched an economy that often outshines any industry in San Francisco. Stanford University gives the area an intellectual cache, and the Palo Alto community around it enjoys a relaxed prosperity. San Jose, actually greater in area and population than San Francisco, is nevertheless a cultural satellite. But the area puts its own modest spin on things while offering an array of museums and attractions.
Cheese travel: tips from a cheesemonger
Gordon Edgar is the cheese buyer for San Francisco’s famous Rainbow Grocery Cooperative (rainbow.coop), a store that is well-known by Bay Area food-lovers for having an amazingly well-stocked and diverse cheese selection.
Marin County & the Bay Area destination guides
Grab your coat and a handful of glitter, and enter the land of fog and fabulousness.
Exploring the quiet side of California Wine Country
Blooming orchards under azure skies, vivid mustard flowers beneath budding vines, and rocky hillsides wrapped in fingers of fog – it’s no wonder California’s Wine Country receives millions of annual visitors.
Alcatraz and San Francisco City Tour
Combine a San Francisco City Tour and guided visit to Alcatraz for the ultimate introduction to San Francisco! You'll enjoy the beauty and attractions of everyone's favorite city, in addition to a scenic ferry ride to Alcatraz Island for an audio walking tour. Likely to Sell-out! Alcatraz regularly sells out weeks in advance. Book ahead of time to avoid disappointment.
Yosemite National Park and Giant Sequoias Trip
Take time out for a day trip into the wild beauty of Yosemite National Park from San Francisco. Enjoy the beautiful countryside and discover the raw beauty of California's most famous national park. Your journey begins with a drive through San Joaquin Valley and into the Sierra Nevada range.
On the Road: following Kerouac across the US
The USA is a big country, and whenever anyone’s tried to define it – be they a Charles Dickens, a Mark Twain or a Stephen Fry – they’ve hit the road. So did the Beat Generation in the 1940s. They’d skip class to dig jazz and debate their place in Cold War America.