There is nothing like a perfect afternoon in Napa Valley, but the bonus was a farm-to-table view of the provisioning for Thomas Keller's restaurants outside the French Laundry as we walked to Bouchon for our elegant lunch.
If you can visit the the spectacular Shanghai exhibit at San Francisco's Asian Art Museum before it closes on September 5, it's a must-do. I finally stopped by in the nick of time this week and was fully absorbed by the exotic and complex beauty of Shanghai, as seen through its art in many forms. For more than a century Shanghai artists have been documenting its images and its changes through ink and oil paintings, Shanghai Deco furniture, revolutionary posters, silk fashion and more. The cross-cultural influences and tugs between Western and Eastern culture are dramatically illustrated in the visuals and the story -- and provide important insights to the historical influences on today's East-West relations. The exhibit is relatively compact in four large rooms and you can travel through time in an hour; the free personal audio guide also brings more depth to the tour. Having never been to...
Who doesn't love a train? The Golden Gate Railroad Museum poses that question in its 2010 guidebook, noting there's something "truly amazing" about trains -- and we couldn't agree more. We took the inaugural 2010 "Spring Steam Weekend" excursion through Niles Canyon, about 45 minutes east of San Francisco. Now's your chance to participate in this exclusive ride on a steam engine-powered train on the new two exclusive outingsthis year -- Memorial Day Weekend (on May 29 and 31) or Labor Day Weekend (on September 5 and 7). It takes quite an effort to make this happen by some tremendously dedicated volunteers, so it doesn't happen every day. The train was built in 1914 and restored in 1940 the first time, then again just last year. Its last service occurred in the early 1960s, before the train was retired to become a tasting room at the Charles Krug winery in...
For San Francisco dining, add these to your palate/palette of the best but exceptional and affordable San Francisco dining. Let's face it, the embarrassment of riches in San Francisco makes it easy to settle for less. Here are some of our recent top pix where from an insider's view you'll do far better than the ordinary.
Carmel, California, is not what it used to be -- but it is still Carmel (or its proper name, Carmel-by-the-Sea). After all, Clint Eastwood was mayor for a while and he is nothing if Mr. Integrity. Just because I knew it one way (back when) doesn't mean that you can't make it your own now.
Pleasanton, California, is perfectly named and its Rose Hotel is a womantraveler's blend of luxury, ease and convenience.
Cooking classes at Napa Valley's Culinary Institute of America at Greystone (the other CIA) are a terrific way to enjoy food -- and wine -- in Napa Valley wine country.
Solo womentravelers can walk in to some of San Francisco's most famous restaurants -- like Zuni Cafe and Hayes Street Grill -- if you're willing to eat in the bar and smile a lot, patiently. It's worth it.
Downtown Sonoma's Cottage Inn and Spa is my home away from home. Great for romance, relaxation and rejuvenation, it's architecturally inspired beauty is a special find in California's wine country. And it's a convenient location to venture out to next-door Napa Valley's Mustard Festival through March.
Splurge for the best room, one of the Vineyard View Cottages, at Napa Valley's Carneros Inn and find a truly private any-season getaway.