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Okay, w're going to let you in on a little secret. If you’re in San Francisco and need a spa day, there’s no better place to get your Zen on than at Kabuki Springs & Spa. The Japantown retreat offers a slew of spa services, but it’s the communal baths that made it a Friday ritual when this contributor lived in S.F.; it's still a must-stop whenever I’m in town.
Airport Security / Terrorism / Travel News / Airline Security / San Francisco Travel / SFO / San Francisco / Congress / Travel Politics / Politics Travel / → All Tags
This is a downer of a Friday story, but it's already getting some traction on travel sites. Plus it's going to be airport security news for the next few weeks. Plus it's probably going to affect your actual, physical airport experience. So you might as well get it on your radar now.
The short version - and you can read longer takes with details and videos here and here - is that the spring issue of Al Qaeda's lead magazine Inspire had a picture of the SFO AirTrain, which they captioned "Stand up, pack your tools of destruction, assemble your bomb, ready the detonation." You can understand why some people are talking about this.
Zoo Travel / Nature Travel / California Travel / Summer Travel / California / Los Angeles Zoo / San Francisco Travel / Los Angeles / San Francisco / → All Tags
Summer travel means zoo travel which, for the purposes of this week, means giraffe travel. We'd argue that it should also be giraffe travel for the purposes of every other week, but we're content to use what time we have together right now to urge you to go see baby giraffes in various zoos up and down California.
In case you can't - and we feel badly for you, genuinely - we've embedded some videos at the bottom for you to look at. View, and be jealous.
San Francisco Travel / California Travel / San Francisco / Travel Snapshot / Eco Travel / → All Tags
We already knew San Francisco was worthy, green and eco-friendly – but we didn’t realize just what happy little green things they were until our most recent visit.
There we were walking down Nob Hill when we looked closer at the line of saplings planted along the street and saw that each had not only a little placard saying what they were, but also an inspirational quote about the importance of trees.
Here’s a nice one from JFK:
The great French Marshall Lyautey once asked his gardener to plant a tree. The gardener objected that the tree was slow growing and would not reach maturity for 100 years. The marshall replied, ‘In that case, there is no time to lose; plant it this afternoon!’
San Francisco Travel / California Travel / San Francisco / Gay Travel / Civil Rights Travel / → All Tags
It was as we were in San Francisco the week before last, strolling the Castro, chuckling at the names of places like Rock Hard the shop, the Sausage Factory restaurant and Hand Job (the nail salon) that we got ourselves a little jolt of history.
At 575 Castro Street (next to Hand Job, in fact) is the center for the Human Rights Campaign of San Francisco. It also happens to be the former premises of Castro Camera, the shop belonging to Harvey Milk.
Milk, of course, was assassinated in 1978, having being elected to San Francisco’s Board of Supervisors as America’s first openly gay man in public office.
The HRC center has a little bit of everything – from striking campaign stats by the front door of state by state views of same-sex marriage, adoption, and housing laws, and a timeline of gay rights in San Francisco, to various items of clothing and souvenirs of San Francisco – all to a jaunty soundtrack of Madonna.
No sign of Laura Palmer here
We may not have had such good luck with the Golden Gate Bridge on our recent trip to San Francisco, but going up here more than made up for it – this is the view from Twin Peaks.
It’s not as easy a place to reach as, say, Coit Tower, but, as we discovered this visit, it’s a much, much better vantage point. From Twin Peaks, get 360 degree views of the entire city, taking in the four bridges of San Francisco – from the Golden Gate, past the Richmond-San Rafael and the Bay Bridge right down to the monster San Mateo.
Of course, you also see the Pacific, Alcatraz, Sausalito and the city of San Fran itself. And from this angle, looking down at the buildings, scattered over all the hills, is actually as fascinating as staring at the bridges themselves.
A grubby lagoon and some fog, right? But that’s some very special fog there – because it’s fog that’s almost entirely blanketing the Golden Gate Bridge.
Yes, if you’re anything like us, you’ll have listened to San Franciscans moaning about the fog, warning you that you might not be able to see the Golden Gate Bridge on the date of your choosing, and thought, fog, schmog.
And then you’ll head out there and wonder where the bridge is.
Luckily for us, in this game of peekaboo that we had the week before last, the bridge decided to stick a bit of its arch out to let us at least know in which general direction it stood:
Gay Travel / Wedding Travel / Destination Weddings / California Travel / Laguna Beach / Palm Springs / San Francisco / → All Tags
Now that Prop 8 is overturned, it's time to throw a party. And we're not talking just any old party, but a big fat gay wedding. Same-sex lovebirds can flock to California to make it official, so we scoped out places for you to get hitched.
Check out our top three three gay-friendly spots where you can finally—and now legally—tie the knot.
Travel Tips / Tourists / Tourism / Public Transportation / San Francisco / San Francisco Travel / → All Tags
First off, it's important to understand the difference between the the iconic vintage cars that run on three routes in San Francisco and the trolleys on Market Street. They are easily and frequently confused, but what we're discussing is the formerthe cable cars like the pretty open-air ones featured in Rice-A-Roni commercials.
Of course TV shows like Full House helped too, since the cable cars were only restored to safe operating conditions in the late 1980s. These days, you won't find the Olsen twins on one, but you will join a load of tourists all jostling for the best photo position as the cars climb the hills and go from Chinatown to Fisherman's Wharf.
The Guide to Taking the SF Cable Cars, after the jump
Travel Snapshot / San Francisco Travel / Holiday Travel / Shopping Travel / Ice Skating / San Francisco / → All Tags
As we learned the hard way last Friday, the day after Thanksgiving earned its ominous nickname for good reason. We decided to brave the crowds in San Francisco's Union Square on the busiest shopping day of the year, only to be shoved and given the occasional dirty look by those supposedly bubbling with the spirit of the season.
The madness was due in part to some of the bargains to be had, and the tree lighting ceremony that took place that evening. News vans, families, and tourists from all over elbowed their way past each other to secure a viewing spot, but by 6:30 that night, most decent vantage points were taken and onlookers had to settle for a place on the sidewalks across the street. Standing at the intersection of Powell and Geary that night, our only thought was, "This must be what hell looks like."
Check out the pictures, after the jump!
Holiday Travel / Thanksgiving Travel / Los Angeles Travel / San Francisco / San Francisco Travel / → All Tags
We witnessed eerie calm at LAX yesterday, but will it stay that way?
This Thanksgiving, story after story about poor economic conditions and travelers' hermetically-sealed pocketbooks have flooded the newswires, and we're wondering if this miserly attitude is affecting your Thanksgiving air travel on the West Coast and beyond.
Quite honestly, we're not sure what to think given some conflicting reports. Outlets like Voice of America claim that Americans are being more fiscally conservative and opting for train and car travel, while The San Francisco Chronicle cites AAA as saying that, at least in California, travel will be up by eight percent from last year by car, train, and plane.
Only in San Francisco would a house with a tree that shoots fire be considered a future museum site. That is, if saw player extraordinaire and former hotelier Bob Pritikin has his way. According to a report in the San Francisco Chronicle, Pritikin, who often throws lavish fundraisers at his residence—sort of an adult's fun house with kitschy memorabilia strewn throughout—is hoping to "pay the bills, make a nice contribution to the community and have some daytime visitors" by transforming his mansion into a museum. He originally suggested the less-than-humble "Only in San Francisco" name for the prospective museum site, though his hopes were dashed after learning that the city's Convention & Visitors Bureau already owns said URL.
The visiting groups would be relatively small, limited to 20 people per day, six days a week, says the Chronicle. Pritikin's idea, if realized, would place his home in the esteemed, eccentric company of one of the Bay Area's other homes-turned-tourist attractions, the Winchester Mystery House. This isn't Pritikin's first hubris-driven campaign on behalf of his home, having previously lobbied for it to have it turned into San Francisco's mayoral residence in 2004. That plan predictably never took off, and handsome politico Gavin Newsom is dwelling elsewhere these days.