What: Long stretch of road along the ocean (West Cliff Drive); Breathtaking view of the ocean; Surfing; Walking/Jogging; Surfing Museum; Lighthouse
More Info: There are parking spaces at several spots along the road and parking is free
We parked the car on West Cliff Drive, at one of the parking spots near the lighthouse. Adjacent to the lighthouse is the California's first surfing museum, which has lots of pictures and information that enlightened us about how the Hawaiians introduced surfing to the Californians. To the far left are the Municipal Wharf and the Santa Cruz boardwalk.
The vibe of the people there who were strolling along the ocean, jogging, playing with their dogs, etc was just so energizing. It was beautiful to see the surfers waiting for the waves and surfing near the coast.
We walked down to the beach to get a closer view of a natural hole-in-the-rock formation. The sight of the dogs having so much fun in the beach was certainly entertaining.
What: Fishing, Restaurants and Little Shops
More Info: Free parking for the first 30min; $1/hour parking fee for 4 hours and $2/hour parking fee after 4 hours
We parked the car in the wharf and strolled along it till the end. It was captivating to see the ocean on one side of the wharf and the Santa Cruz boardwalk on the other side. I believe it is also a popular place for fishing as we noticed several people waiting with their fish poles to catch the prey. As we were walking, we heard the barking sound of the sea lions and walked around the Dolphin restaurant at the end of the wharf to see several sea lions and sea otters.
- Japanese gardens
- Fish, Turtles, Duck
- Tea Plantation
- Bamboo Garden
- Marriage/Birthday Events
- $7/person admission fee
- Free admission on Tuesdays
- Credit cards accepted
- Dedicated parking space
- Gift shop
- Guide and map provided at the gift shop
A tapering, steep, half a mile road from Big Basin Way took us directly to the garden parking lot. We bought the tickets from the gift shop and the lady gave us two gold colored coins and a map of the gardens. We dropped the gold colored coins to open the turnstiles at the garden entrance and with the map in our hands, we were all set to explore every nook and corner.
Koi Pond - yelp.com/biz_photos/B3K7…
Our first stop inside the garden was at the Koi pond, where there was a plethora of fish, turtles and ducks. The small, flamboyant turtles basking on the stones made me contemplate whether they were fake, but apparently they were not.
Turtles in Koi Pond - yelp.com/biz_photos/B3K7…
The fish did several somersaults like dolphins and showed off other aerobatic stunts that made me wonder whether I was in my dream world. I believe these fish know that we will never harm them, so they daringly come to the edge of the pond. The fish are so big and they open their mouths so wide that I could even peek into its mouth by bending down a little bit. Kids just love this place!
Fish in Koi Pond - yelp.com/biz_photos/B3K7…
We used the map as a guide to take us around the park, where there are several observation decks, Bamboo gardens, Tea plantations, waterfalls and culturally significant Japanese statues. As the garden is at an elevation, there are a few spots along the trail, where you might be able to spot a panoramic view of the valley.
Waterfalls - yelp.com/biz_photos/B3K7…
The garden is very well maintained and it was soothing to walk among the lush gardens and colorful spring flowers. Unconsciously, the greenery around filled us with tranquility.
Spring Bloom - yelp.com/biz_photos/B3K7…
These gardens are also a popular sight for weddings and to take photo shoots. We noticed several couples dressed up and taking pictures. We will go back again, better dressed up to capture a few good photo shoots here.
Misaki - yelp.com/biz_photos/B3K7…
What: Telescope observatory; Scenic viewpoint of Santa Clara valley; Mountain biking
More Info: Free parking; Free admission to the observatory; Restrooms are available; No food service; Please check the weather and visiting hours before your travel (during winter, roads may be closed due to snowfall); Souvenir shop inside Lick observatory
Have you noticed those white dome structures on top of the mountains while driving on 237E or 280 or 101 freeways in Santa Clara/San Jose area? They are the Lick and Shane observatories atop the 4200 feet Mt. Hamilton. Although the GPS says you can reach the observatory in less than an hour from the Silicon Valley, it takes more time to drive along the 19mile narrow, circuitous roads to reach the observatory. And the drive did make our stomachs a little queasy. We were at ease that we did not drive in the nightfall, it would have been a nightmare with no streetlights.
Mt. Hamilton is also popular among the adventurous mountain bikers.
We reached the Lick observatory in an hour and a half and were captivated to see the view of the Santa Clara valley from atop the mountain. We walked inside the observatory, reading the TV screens that enlightened us about the astronomical facts. There are free tours every half hour during which a guide takes you inside the dome to see the 36-inch Lick telescope and talks about the history of the observatory. Pretty interesting and intriguing!
Check out the little souvenir shop inside the observatory; they have cute stuff.
A short 10min walk from the Lick observatory took us to another observatory which is home to the 120-inch Shane telescope. There are no tours inside the Shane observatory, but there were some TV screens that offered loads of information about the telescope and astronomical feats.
The observatories also have programs during summer when visitors are allowed to view through the telescopes. Check out the events schedule at ucolick.org/public/sumvi…
- ~700 acres estate built by Mr. and Mrs. William Bowers Bourn II in early 1900s
- $15/person admission fee
- Free parking
- Free map at Visitor Center
- Restrooms inside Visitor Center
- Café and Gift shop next to the Visitor Center
- Self-guided and docent led tours available
- No food or water allowed inside
- Plan to spend at least two and a half hours
- Gardens are not well-shaded
One of my colleagues recommended visiting the Filoli and we grabbed the opportunity to go here on a warm Sunday afternoon. After a 45minutes drive from San Jose, the GPS did not take us to the exact spot, but the sign posts on the Canada Road came to our rescue. We drove a couple of miles past the spot where the GPS pointed to and soon we reached the huge parking lot of Filoli.
When we purchased the tickets at the Visitor Center, the ticket attendant shared a map with us and briefly explained the things to see. We started with a 10-15 movie clip inside a small room at the Visitor Center that enlightened us about the history of Filoli. The automated video repeats itself and one has the flexibility to walk in and walk out any time.
In 1906, after the San Francisco earthquake, among the several affluent families that moved to the countryside were Mr. and Mrs. William Bower Bourn II. They constructed this ~700 acres estate and lived here between 1917 and 1936. It was then sold to Mr. and Mrs. William Roth in 1937 who lived here for almost 4 decades before donating it to the National Trust for Historic Preservation. Apparently, Fi-lo-li means Fight, Love and Live!
The House Entrance - yelp.com/biz_photos/c3ru…
With the map in our hands, we went to the opulent House where the families lived. All the rooms in the first floor are open to the visitors and the map has a lot of information about the interior architecture in each room.
Dining Room - yelp.com/biz_photos/c3ru…
Living Room - yelp.com/biz_photos/c3ru…
Library - yelp.com/biz_photos/c3ru…
Grandiose Ball Room - yelp.com/biz_photos/c3ru…
As we went to the Foyer and Cloak Room, Ship Room, Kitchen, Pantry, Dining Room, Drawing Room, Reception Room, Library, Holding Room, Study Room, Trophy Room and the grandiose Ballroom, the intricacy of the designs and expensive furniture threw me in awe. A docent is seated in every room to answer any questions that visitors might have. The second floor is not open to public. The House looked like a mini version of the Hearst Castle (yelp.com/biz/hearst-cast…) in San Simeon.
We exited the House and walked on the well-maintained path in the gardens to see different kinds of flowers. The huge garden also features a swimming pool, which was shimmering in the sunlight. As we were walking through the Cutting Garden, we heard a high-pitched, piercing scream and peeked through the gardens to see the magnificent National Bird of India. Only among the animals can males be more beautiful than females!
National Bird of India - yelp.com/biz_photos/c3ru…
Swimming Pool - yelp.com/biz_photos/c3ru…
After exploring the gardens, we spent some time in the cute gift shop that sold a variety of goods before returning to the car. The Filoli is open only during limited hours and plan to spend at least two and a half hours here. The garden is not well-shaded and it gets scorching during summer; be prepared for it. Apart from that, it is definitely a nice place to leisurely spend a couple of hours.
Garden Flowers - yelp.com/biz_photos/c3ru…
Garden Flowers - yelp.com/biz_photos/c3ru…
Garden Flowers - yelp.com/biz_photos/c3ru…
Garden Flowers - yelp.com/biz_photos/c3ru…
Rose - yelp.com/biz_photos/c3ru…
A beautiful rose - yelp.com/biz_photos/c3ru…
- Annual Dragon Boat Racing in Clipper Cove of Treasure Island
- Lots of fun activities for families and kids
- Free parking in Treasure Island
- Free shuttles from a few places in San Francisco. Click here for more information
- Free admission
- Check out the schedule of events at sfdragonboat.com/index.p…
On a bright Saturday morning in September, we started on our way to San Francisco to watch the annual international dragon boat festival in the Treasure Island. This was also the day we learned our lesson to not drive to the city during such occasions. It took us 3 hours to drive to the Treasure Island and by the time we reached the place and found parking, we were worn out.
Luckily, the bright day with the beautiful view of the Bay Bridge and the San Francisco downtown brought us back to life. This was our first time visiting the Treasure Island and we were captivated by the view of the downtown that one could capture from this artificial man-made island. It is certainly an apt place to come during twilight to see the beautiful city lights.
View of San Francisco downtown and Bay Bridge from Treasure Island - yelp.com/biz_photos/san-…
We found parking a few blocks away from the Clipper Cove, where the festival was held. The place was thronged with folks, primarily college kids waiting for their turn to participate in the boat race. There are plenty of rocks by the shore, where one can sit and watch as the teams race. It was reminiscent of my school and college days when you are cheering the participants.
Boat Race in Clipper Cove - yelp.com/biz_photos/san-…
We then walked around to see all the festival booths and food vendors lined up. There are other fun activities planned for the two-day festival and you can check out the schedule at sfdragonboat.com/index.p….
We spent a few hours here and returned home. We felt it was more of a onetime thing, the festival would not draw us to attend it the following year.
- Take the public transportation to the festival
- Canadian Geese
- Playground for kids
- $6/car parking fee
- Several parking lots in the park and ample parking space
- Restrooms at several places in the park
- Boat rentals are $10 for 30 minutes and $15 for 60 minutes; Credit cards accepted
- No swimming permitted in the lake
- Several BBQ pits and picnic benches in the park
On a warm Saturday afternoon, a bunch of us went to the Vasona Lake County Park. As we were driving on CA 17 freeway, we saw glimpses of the beautiful lake to the right, glittering in the sunlight. After paying at the park entrance, we drove past the playground area for kids and parked the car in the parking lot next to the lake. There are multiple parking lots inside the Vasona Lake County Park.
Vasona Lake, with the iconic bridge - yelp.com/biz_photos/vaso…
Vasona Lake - yelp.com/biz_photos/vaso…
There is a kayak rental place just next to the parking lot and the undisturbed lake was just so beautiful that we couldn't resist the temptation to kayak on the lake. A small island in one corner of the lake is home to several birds.
There are several picnic benches and BBQ pits in the park and the meadows are ideal to relax while enjoying the peaceful lake. The popular Los Gatos Creek Trail runs along the Vasona Lake and one can also walk on the iconic red bridge that runs across the lake.
Creek with Canadian Geese - yelp.com/biz_photos/vaso…
We walked from the kayak rental place to the Oak Meadow Park, which took us about 15minutes. On the way, we stopped at the Creek Lot, where the water is so shallow that one can jump into the water to get his/her feet wet. Several kids were playing around in the creek and all of us jumped into the creek, which was occupied by a gaggle of Canadian geese. It was so much fun!
Billy Jones Train - yelp.com/biz_photos/vaso…
After playing in the creek for a few minutes, we continued walking to the Billy Jones Train Station of the Oak Meadow Park and took the 10min train ride around the park. There is also a carousel right next to the train ticket booth. We snacked on one of the picnic benches nearby, relaxed on the green meadows and called it a day.
- Park the car in one of the parks, either Vasona or Oak Meadow and you can walk to the other one. Separate parking fee for both the parks
- Christmas lights are put up in Vasona from the end of November to the end of December. See here for more information sccgov.org/sites/parks/P…
- Mystery Spot
- Hiking Trail
- Reservation fee via online or phone is $6/adult
- In person admission fee is $5/person
- Car parking fee is $5
- Restrooms, Gift shops, Picnic tables and a Snack bar are available in the Mystery Spot grounds
- Tour lasts for about 30min
I highly recommend making advance reservation to the Mystery Spot, else the wait time during weekends is atleast one hour. There was a time when we came to the Mystery Spot without advance reservations and turned away after learning about the one hour wait time.
This time around, I called them to make a reservation just before I started to Santa Cruz from the Bay Area. The road to the Mystery Spot is windy and is way too narrow in a few places. We reached the Mystery Spot about half an hour before our tour date. This gave us some time to amble inside the gift shop and enjoy a light snack on one of the picnic benches.
Mystery Spot Entrance - yelp.com/biz_photos/the-…
The ticket attendant makes an announcement everytime a tour begins and they accommodate around 15 people for each tour. A tour guide started our tour with a small demo of the uneven surface of the Mystery Spot and we walked up on a steep hill for couple of minutes to reach the small, wooden house.
The house has two rooms and we spent 5 minutes inside. There is a handrail in one part of the room that one can hold on to while walking. This is highly recommended for elderly folks and little kids. There were people who slipped and fell while walking on the slanted floor.
The mysterious wooden house - yelp.com/biz_photos/the-…
The major part of the tour was spent with the tour guide explaining and demonstrating the misalignment in the strange place with us spending just 5 minutes inside the mystery house. He also explained a few theories as to why this place exhibits unusual properties.
At the end of the tour, each of us was given a Mystery Spot bumper sticker for free.
View from the Mystery Spot Interpretive Trail - yelp.com/biz_photos/the-…
While walking towards the car, we noticed a Mystery Spot Interpretive Trail across the Mystery Spot and decided to walk on the trail. The trail is narrow and several plants along the way were named and described in small placards. The trail ascended gradually to keep us sweating all the time until we reached the top of the hill. We noticed a board that marked the end of the trail, hence returned to the parking lot via the same path.
- Make advance reservations online or via phone
- Tour of the island that was once a secluded federal prison from 1934 to 1963
- Make advance online reservations here: alcatrazcruises.com/webs…
- Ferry fares vary depending on the season
- Parking is on the streets; one option is to park the car in Pier 39 parking lot and avail the discounts for some of the restaurants
- Allow at least 3 hours for the entire trip
- Café and restrooms in Pier 33
- Restrooms available near the Alcatraz dock
- No cafes on the Alcatraz island
- Gift shop on the island
- Layered clothing is recommended
- You can take the ferry at anytime to return to San Francisco
Alcatraz underwent a lot of changes and carries a deep history; it was originally used as a strategic point for military purposes, then converted into a federal prison from 1934 to 1963, then occupied by the native Indians for a brief time and is now a popular tourist destination. It is home to several seabirds such as pelicans, snowy egrets, sea gulls, cormorants, etc.
Ferry to Alcatraz Island - yelp.com/biz_photos/alca…
We made advance online reservations to take the ferry from Pier 33. Parking is on the streets we parked the car in Pier 39 parking garage
Approaching Alcatraz - yelp.com/biz_photos/alca…
We took a print-out of the reservation confirmation page and exchanged it for tickets at the ticket booth in Pier 33. We stood in a long line to board the ferry. Keep the tickets handy; they are checked at least two times before boarding the ferry. They also take a picture of you with a picture of Alcatraz in the background. When you return from Alcatraz, you will see the pictures displayed on a board and you can buy them for a ridiculous amount of money.
View of the city from the ferry en route Alcatraz - yelp.com/biz_photos/alca…
As soon as we boarded the ferry, we went to the front and enjoyed a neat 10 minutes ride to Alcatraz island. Beautiful views of the Bay Bridge, Golden Gate Bridge and the San Francisco skyline treated our eyes. When we got off from the ferry, we headed to a room where we saw a video that enlightens one about the history of Alcatraz. Then collected our headphones for the audio tour. Clear signs are placed on the pathways to direct visitors.
Building near the ferry dock - yelp.com/biz_photos/alca…
We started the audio tour inside the Alcatraz cells. The tour takes one through the prison, dining hall, library, recreation yard, administration block and the warden's house.
The cells inside the prison - yelp.com/biz_photos/alca…
A few of the prisoners appeared to possess excellent artistic skills. During their time in the prison, they had drawn a few pictures to keep themselves occupied and these pictures are placed inside the cells. Most of the cells have the gates open, so one can enter the cell, close the eyes and imagine what it must have been like.
Paintings done by Alcatraz prisoners - yelp.com/biz_photos/alca…
Along the pathways, there are placards with pictures and stories of the island's most notorious criminals like Al Capone, Robert Stroud (Birdman of Alcatraz), "Machine-Gun" Kelly, etc. There are also pictures of the police officers who guarded these infamous criminals.
A few "well-behaved" prisoners had access to a library and were also allowed to play baseball. The baseball equipments used back then are also displayed on the walls.
The audio tour clearly portrays the story of the mind-boggling incident of attempted escape of six criminals in May 1946. The crafty plot of these criminals and the officers whose lives were taken while preventing this escape are saddening. The audio is a bit violent with sounds of gunshots; not something I would recommend it for kids.
The audio tour also takes one to the kitchen where food was cooked for the prisoners and the dining hall where the prisoners gathered every day to eat. Apparently the dining room is the most dangerous place inside the Alcatraz because the prisoners had access to forks, knives and spoons.
Lighthouse near Warden's House - yelp.com/biz_photos/alca…
In the famed September 1961 escape, three prisoners escaped through the holes that they had created in their cells using their spoons over a year's time! Having spent a solid 3 hours in the Alcatraz island, we were enervated and took the ferry back to Pier 33.
|A list of upscale restaurants; mostly romantic as well.||Some of my favorite restaurants that I have tried so far! These are places that I return over and over again.|
|My favorite ice-cream, bakeries and frozen yogurt places|
|Travel||To get an overload of coconut milk|
|Yes, Americans do have a cuisine|
|A few places that I go to straight from the bed during weekends|
"Born only to eat"
San Jose, CA, Vereinigte StaatenYelper seit
Dezember 2011Dinge, die ich mag
Food, food and only foodHier bin ich häufig anzutreffen
Some restaurant, trying out new cuisines or different food...Heimatort
One of the most beautiful cities in IndiaMein Blog oder meine Website Wenn ich nicht gerade yelpe, dann ...
I think about what is next on my list to Yelp aboutMeine zweitliebste Website
The biggest search engineMein Lieblingsfilm
Lord of the Rings, Pirates of the CaribbeanErzähl's nicht weiter, aber...
I will not tell anyoneMeine neueste Entdeckung
That I like to blogIch schwärme gerade für
Huh, those days are gone!