Great Escapes

Keeping up with the abundance of San Francisco restaurants, from tried-and-true to start-ups, is a fulltime job, but every few months I'm motivated to share a list of finds for visitors and locals alike. This latest round of suggestions was inspired by the "fooding" trip of my brother/chef Steve Johnson of Rendezvous Central Square in Cambridge, who is a true "food creative" and Bay Area food fan. Read more →


The more than 670 inches of snow that has accumulated this winter in Squaw Valley and the Lake Tahoe region is hard to imagine -- but it is equivalent to a five-and-a-half story building. And more is on the way. Reportedly some homes across the Lake Tahoe region are nearly buried. So what does that look like anyway? We found one view... From the San Francisco area, Squaw Valley is a popular day trip -- a drive of 2.5-3 hours, and everyone is taking advantage of it. Rainstorms having been bugging us for weeks, actually months, in the Bay Area; that translates to tons of snowstorms in the Sierra mountains. The auto tire chain rules are strict, and blizzards fueled by high winds can throttle the mountain passes, and I hear from friends that the chain enforcers are truly weary. Two Christmases ago my son and I spent Christmas at... Read more →


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... Read more →


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. Read more →


Split, Croatia, is a boisterous new-world presence signifying dramatic old-world Roman conquests. Croatia's second-largest city is southeast of Venice across the eastern Adriatic Sea. Its old town is dominated by the early 4th-century Diocletian Palace, built as a massive "retirement home" for the reformist Roman Emperor Read more →


Corfu, Greece, or Kerkyra, lies just southwest of Albania, the southernmost country of the Balkan peninsula. Corfu is one of 100 Greek islands that stretch from the Aegean Sea to the Baltic countries, an Ionian Island just off the Adriatic and Mediterranean seas and a natural bridge between Europe and the Middle East. The Venetians discovered its particular appeal passing through Corfu in their commercial trading ventures and leaving vestiges of their distinctive architecture in Corfu Town. Read more →