Archive » November 30, 2007
By Ray Navis, Contributing Writer
There are always great reasons to visit the City By the Bay. Allow me to suggest a few.
The shopping at Union Square is probably the best on the West Coast. As we close in on Christmas, San Francisco’s brisk weather seems more in the holiday spirit, at least for a couple of days.
The sightseeing and sporting opportunities are world class, too. A great location to enjoy all of this is the San Francisco Omni Hotel.
Union Square is just a couple of blocks from the Omni, and I find that walking in the city is very invigorating.
If it is worn and sold, you will find it here. Every major shopping store, as well as a host of boutique shops, can be found within a couple of blocks of Union Square. The big advantages to shopping here are diversity and proximity. The only other place you can do this on such a grand scale is New York, and who wants to go there? The shopping district is home to many art galleries as well.
The San Francisco Omni is located in the financial district. It was built originally to be a bank. That was back in 1926. The unique lobby is adorned with Italian marble, rich fabrics and Austrian crystal chandeliers. The hotel is located on famed California Street, and the cable car stops right out front. The rooms are very elegant and feature all the comforts of a luxury hotel.
There is a large fitness center for guests who don’t get enough of a workout walking up and down the steep hills. Bob’s Steak and Chop House is located on the first floor. This is the place if you are craving a steak -- which I do every once in a while. I had a rib-eye there that was mouth-watering.
The wine list is extensive, and the service is top notch. Damien Holloway, the manager, is in constant view, keeping everything just right. Holloway is from Melbourne, Australia, and moved to San Francisco with his wife, who is a local. For more information on the Omni, visit www.omnihotels.com.
There are many options for the golfer in San Francisco. Closest to the downtown area is The Presidio Golf Club. This historic venue is located adjacent to Presidio Heights, which is the best address in the city.
For most of its life Presidio Golf Club was a private military golf course, but now it is open to the public. The course is operated by Arnold Palmer Golf and is usually in great shape. It is fairly hilly, and it offers some great views of the bay -- if fog is not rolling in. For more information, visit www.presidiogolf.com.
The Presidio Military Base stretches all the way to the Golden Gate Bridge. Speaking of exercise, have you ever walked across the bridge? This is a great experience, and if you are lucky, a big ship will be pulling into the harbor right below.
Closer to the Presidio, Crissy Field is a fairly new park area right on the bay. This is a great spot for short walks and taking in the wonders of San Francisco Bay. The ferry terminals also are within walking distance from the Omni. From here you have a variety of options to see the Bay.
Sausalito is a favorite destination and takes about 20 minutes. On the way you will pass by The Rock, as Alcatraz was known to its residents. The fortress is the world’s most famous prison, although it has been closed for over 40 years.
Angel Island is much more tranquil and is also a great spot for hiking. This natural park will be on your right, and is accessible by taking a separate ferry. Looking back we get a great panorama of the San Francisco skyline, with Coit Tower and the Transamerica Building highlighting the view. For more information visit www.blueandgoldfleet.com.
The cable car ride is, of course, the signature San Francisco experience. From the Omni you can ride up to Chinatown or all the way to the top of Nob Hill. At Powell Street, you can change to another car which will take you as far as Fisherman’s Wharf. Now, if you really want a workout, try walking from the Omni up California Street to Nob Hill. Make sure you have good walking shoes or sneakers.
Most Valley residents probably feel the urge once in a while to visit the big city. In my opinion, San Francisco is the place to go, and now is a good time. This city’s hotels are not overly crowded in the winter. As Christmas approaches, the cool weather, often found here, is welcome and refreshing.