This is a continuation of my out-of-print guidebook--WEEKEND ADVENTURES IN SAN FRANCISCO & NORTHERN CALIFORNIA. It features travel destinations throughout Northern California and presents them in small, easy-to-digest chunks along with plenty of photos so you get the picture. Even more great weekend adventures await you at my BERKELEY AND BEYOND website at www.berkeleyandbeyond.com.
To speak the name of the dead is to make them live again. --ancient Egyptian belief
King Tut is back and this time he's brought along his royal relatives. Mystery, intrigue, and history are all part of the show. The boy king ruled more than 3,000 years ago; he died at age 19. The last Tut show here was 30 years ago, in 1979. It was the most successful museum tour of the 1970s, and more people attended it here in San Francisco than at any of its other venues. The current exhibit setting provides the ambiance of stepping into an actual tomb but is far more spacious. Don't miss exhibit #18, an amazing set of nested fetus coffins and a fetus funerary mask. Dr. Zahi Hawass, the secretary general of the Egyptian Supreme Council of Antiquities and an Indiana Jones of sorts, has made sure that this time a portion of the proceeds go back to Egypt for use in antiquities preservation and restoration and to build new museums. Runs through march 28, 2010.
(BTW, it hard not to notice how much the carved image on this canopic stopper resembles the late Michael Jackson.)
Set within a converted 1870 vintage building, this colorful Mexican restaurant’s seating spills out onto a plaza-like, brick-paved front yard. Sitting there amid a sea of blue iron chairs, with a view of the town sign spanning Main Street, is primo in warm weather. It is at its romantic best in the evening when the lights wrapping the trunks of two giant palm trees are turned on. Meals being with thin housemade chips and three flavorful sauces. The extensive menu presents the expected burritos and enchiladas as well as some excellent chicken-stuffed taquitos and a variety of house-specialty shrimp dishes.
Bacar 448 Brannan St./3rd St., South of Market, (415) 904-4100. D M-Sat, SunBr; $$$-$$$+. Reservations advised.
Diners entering this subdued, sophisticated retreat pass a dramatic 3-story “wall of wine” holding 1,000 bottles. Wines are sophisticated and pricey. Meats are particularly good, and sometimes the special is a 32-ounce steak--recently at $99--that is best shared by three or four diners. For desert, the coconut rice pudding is a winner.
Pizza Nostra SFCLOSED 300 DeHaro St./16th St., Potrero Hill, (415) 558-9493. L M-F, Sat-SunBr, D daily. No reservations.
Diners at this inviting, casual spot have a choice of sitting in an oversize wood booth that can squeeze in perhaps 8 people, at smaller tables, or at a counter overlooking the open kitchen. A recent visit spotted tattoos a plenty, mixed with dreads and kids, and Shakira shook things up with her music. A great meal here can be composed of an unoily fritto misto (this night it was calamari, sea bass, and celery hearts) served with aioli dip, a beautiful beet salad with orange-mint dressing, and a thin-crust, Neapolitan-style calabrese pizza topped with salame and onion. A focaccia hamburger and several pastas are also options. The perfect conclusion is a to-die-for espresso panna cotta with fig vin cotto accent. Outdoor seating is available in good weather.
Aerospace Museum of California 3200 Freedom Park Dr./Watt Ave., off I-80, in McClellan Park, in McClellan, (916) 643-3192. M-Sat 9-5, Sun 10-5. $8, 65+ & 13-17 $6, 6-12 $5.
Opened here in 2007 on the former McClellan Air Force Base, this gigantic structure seems a cross between an airport terminal and an airplane hangar. It houses 5 retired military and civilian aircraft inside, and over 30 more outside. Aircraft range from a 1932 one-of-a-kind B-14-B speed wing biplane to a C-53 Sky Trooper that participated in the Normandy invasion. A Morphis ride simulator is available for an extra fee, and the museum participates in the free Young Eagles flight program for kids age 8-17. On open cockpit evenings, visitors can climb inside the planes for a fantastic photo op; admission for everyone then is $5.
Le RivageNOW A WESTIN 4350 Riverside Blvd., (888) 760-5944, (916) 443-8400. 100 rooms. Some fireplaces. Pool; fitness center; full-service spa. Restaurant; room service. No pets. Self-parking free; valet parking $21.
This elegant Tuscan-style resort hotel is right on the Sacramento River and just 10 minutes from downtown. Yachtsmen particularly enjoy coming here because of its dock and 25-slip side-tie marina, and small-plane owners can fly into nearby Sacramento Executive Airport. A variety of celebrities have stayed here, including Sarah Jessica Parker, Clint Eastwood, and Quincy Jones. Bedding is Italian posh, and each bathroom has a modern clawfoot soaking tub and separate glass-wall rain shower. The Grand Lounge common space off the lobby offers an oversize fireplace and leather sofas, plus a stocked game cupboard and table. Activities include a bocce ball court, bicycle rentals (a bike trail runs past the property), and water sports, and riverside fire pits are the place to be on a balmy summer evening.
Espetus Churrascaria 710 S. B St./7th St., (650) 342-8700. L-D daily; set price $23.95-$49.95; drinks and desserts additional.
More spacious than the San Francisco mother ship, this is a worthy clone and serves up the same delicious array of salads and meats. Skewers of meats cooked over an open fire are brought around to each table by skilled carvers and sliced onto diners’ plates. The salad bar is a cornucopia of delights and includes typical Brazilian side dishes. For more description, see San Francisco location.