Trip Coach: March 25, 2008
Nick Edwards, co-author of "The Rough Guide to the USA," answered your questions about San Francisco and Northern California.
Nick Edwards: Greetings all! This is Rough Guide author (various bits of USA, Greece and India) welcoming you to our chat from chilly Pittsburgh. Please feel free to send any further questions on northern CA.
Delray Beach, Fla.: I will be flying in from West Palm Beach to San Francisco on May 15 returning on May 18 as my son exhbits his art and sculpture work and receives his master's degree from the San Francisco art institute. other family members will be flying in from San Diego. I would like to know where in San Francisco I can find a bakery or cake artist that would design a specialty cake or a restaurant that is capable of doing this for a celebration.
Nick Edwards: Check out butterflycakes.com
Boston, Mass.: We will be visiting SF in April. We want to drive some of PCH but are not sure where to start and how far to go. We can dedicate a day, but not an overnight to this. Question is where does PCH start in San Fran and how far should we go and what should we see before we turn around?
Nick Edwards: : As you no doubt know, the Pacific Coast Highway is Rte-1 and you have the choice of heading north or south for a day trip. Hard call 'cos both directions are beautiful.
Going south, Rte-1 leaves straight out of South SF and the first decent stop is Pacifica (good snack/meal choices). There are then a series of lovely beaches and the quaint seaside town of Half Moon Bay. You could certainly aim to reach as far as Ano Nuevo State Reserve (around 50 miles from SF), where there might still be some elephant seals hanging out after mating season. Santa Cruz is not much further.
On the north side, via the Golden Gate Bridge (US-101), you can bear west and hug the Marin Headlands, then skirt through a couple of beaches to the extremely impressive Point Reyes National Seashore. Beyond that Rte-1 itself hugs the shore, passing Bodega Bay (where Hitchcock filmed "The Birds"), Jenner and Fort Ross en route to Mendocino, though the latter is a bit far for a day trip.
Silver Spring, Md.: I used to live in the Bay Area, so I know my way around as far as driving a rental car. To save money on ticket prices, should I use San Francisco airport or Oakland airport?
Nick Edwards: There's really very little to choose between SFO and OAK in practical terms for arrival. Different airlines offer deals to both, so it's a case of doing some online research for the dates you want.
San Francisco, Calif.: I am a huge fan of trolley cars. Do the trolley cars still run on Market Street on the weekends?
Nick Edwards: The three cable car lines all operate daily and two of them have terminals on Market St. If you're an enthusiast, you won't want to miss the dedicated museum, near to Ferry Building: see streetcar.org.
Philadelphia, Pa.: My extended family will be attending a wedding in San Francisco in August. Do you have any suggestions of rental apartments? Thanks!
Nick Edwards: I'm afraid we don't deal with long-term stays in our listings. The best I can suggest is to look at Craig's List or put an ad in a local SF paper.
Bellingham, Wash.: Is the Bay to Breaker's Race fun to watch? If so, where is the best vantage point?
Nick Edwards: I'm always in Greece in May so haven't witnessed this event but I reckon the most pleasant place to watch would be anywhere in the Golden Gate Park. You can check the route at baytobreakers.com.
Tempe, Ariz.: My wife and I (60's) will be driving from San Francisco to Newport, OR, starting on May 31. I have not had time to research the areas or scenic items we might miss if we simply drive up the highway. We are staying in Crescent City, CA, on the night of May 31. After about ten days in Oregon, we leave Bend, OR, drive to Redding, stay overnight, and then back to San Francisco. We need your advice. Sherman
Nick Edwards: It's definitely nicer to avoid the main highways if you have time. It would be good to travel up the coastal route, using Rte-1 as much as possible. The first part is mentioned in a previous answer (to Boston, MA). Highlights further up are Mendocino, the old town of Eureka and, most of all, the stunning Redwoods National Parks. There are miles of them to choose from. Coming back south through the interior, the standout places to visit in CA are Lava Beds, Mt Shasta, the Shasta-Trinity-Whiskeytown Lakes and Lassen Volcanic Park.