One of the Great Cities of the
World Is One Hour Away
by Lloyd Kahn
From time to time Im astounded by the beauty of the Golden Gate Bridge. Like, heading into San Francisco around 3 one afternoon in September, going up the Waldo grade in the Marin sun, then down toward the bridge in swirling fog.
Here I was just thinking about getting into the city and doing the things I wanted to do, and I look up to see the tip of the north tower projecting up above the fog into the sun. Its bright orange and stunning. Marin is sunny, the Gate foggy, and SF sunny.
When I go to Santa Cruz these days or anywhere out near the Ocean Beach area I circumnambulate the city (much as I use the Embarcadero for the Bay side of the city). If youre inclined to try a different route, here are directions: Go through the toll gate in the right lane and make the first right turn. Go through the parking lot, stay on the road and take a right at the stop sign Lincoln Blvd. At 25th Ave., it becomes El Camino del Mar. There are signs saying No Tour Buses. Dont turn left on 25th, but follow the no/bus signs. Stay right along the coast. There is one elegant and incredible Spanish style/Mexican roof tile house on the cliffs looking out the Gate to the ocean, and other elegant multi-million dollar San Francisco villas.
Stay on El Camino. Go past 32nd, get on Lands End. As you head down, you can park and look back at the bridge from the southwest theres a parking lot there. A unique bridge view. Point Bonita and the Potato Patch out to the left. Keep going and you come to my favorite city museum, The Palace of the Legion of Honor. It has a wonderful collection of paintings and sculpture, beautifully arranged and lit, a museum you can do in an hour, or even a half hour (if you get there an hour before closing, its free).
Continuing around the city, you go down through the golf course and take a right on Clement. This is one of my favorite parts of the city, broad, sunny streets, with ocean view. (Its not a specifically known area, like Bernal Heights, or Portero Hill or some other cool already-discovered city district.) Go left on 40th, right on Pt. Lobos, heading west, go past the great red brick firehouse (great architecture). At 46th you see the ocean. Theres a garish green building on the left, across from the Seal Rock Inn, a pretty cool SF hotel. Down to Ocean Beach where you can check the surfers out at Kellys cove, and if its lunch time, you can get a Polish and sauerkraut from a good street cart. Or head on over to the Java Beach cafe at the end of Noriega, a funky, soulful surfer/skater/beach lovers coffee house owned by two retired Golden Gate Park gardeners. (Farther south along the coast, at 2690 46th Avenue, is the Ocean Park Motel, the oldest motel in SF. A great place for visitors to stay if they prefer the beach to downtown. Its an art deco structure with a unique garden and great rooms that are cheap for a big city .) Then, if heading farther south, stay on the Great Highway and head for Hwy 1, or Pacifica. If youre heading to Santa Cruz and didnt go for the Polish at Kellys, head into the little town of Princeton where theres a restaurant adjacent to a down-home rock n roll/country music bar and you can get a great steak sandwich and look at the awesome photos of Mavericks waves on the walls. If you want to see Mavericks in action, you head out to the parking lot under the coastal radar domes north of Half Moon Bay, park, walk around the point up to a grassy hill where you look down on one of the scariest big wave spots on earth.