San Francisco: The Golden Gate's other side

By Justine Sharrock
January 27, 2022
Courtesy <a href="">BrianL74/myBudgetTravel</a>

Too often when people visit the Golden Gate Bridge, they walk as far as the lookout, turn around, and go back. I say: Don't be afraid to keep going! On the other side of the bay, there is a plethora of scenic, worthy attractions near the bridge.

Once you get across, you'll be in Golden Gate Park National Recreation Area, at the foot of Mount Tam. You'll spy rocky ocean cliffs and rolling hills, and mind-boggling views. It still impresses me that so close to the bustling city, there is so much open wilderness and dramatic ocean.

So whether you walk, drive, or bike across the bridge, stick around. These lesser-known options are worth a visit.

By car: Point Bonita Lighthouse

Just four miles west of the Golden Gate Bridge, in the national recreation area, is the still-active lighthouse, perched 300 feet above the water, accessed only by suspension bridge. The half-mile walk from the parking lot down to the lighthouse is one of the most sensational coastal hikes in the Bay Area—the rocky cliffs and expanding ocean make you feel like you're at the tip of the world.

Note: The lighthouse has limited hours (Sat.-Mon.12:30-3:30 p.m.), so plan ahead.

Getting there: Take the Alexander Exit right after the bridge, bear right, and follow Alexander Avenue, and turn left on Bunker Road.

By bike: Sausalito

Biking across the bridge is one of the most popular ways to enjoy the route. Once you're across, it's an easy downhill ride to Sausalito, a small upscale town where you can poke around the many art galleries and boutiques. Grab a bite at one of the waterfront restaurants, or better yet, save some money and get a sandwich from Venice Gourmet Italian delicatessen (625 Bridgeway, 415/ 332-3544) to eat on one of the many benches overlooking the Bay. Pedal yourself back to San Francisco, or hop the Sausalito ferry, which serves wine and beer and is considered one of the nation's best ferry rides.

By foot: The Cavallo Point Day Spa

After crossing the 1.7-mile bridge, head down the paved trail that starts at the parking lot of the vista point. The scenic two miles goes past Horseshoe Bay (with more inspiring views of the Golden Gate Bridge) to the Cavallo Point Lodge spa. A day pass ($40) offers access to a heated outdoor meditation pool, a eucalyptus steam room, yoga classes, and a state-of-the-art fitness room. After all that walking, get cozy next to the firepit or just relax in the gardens that have excellent views of the bay. After you're good and relaxed, simply take the spa's complimentary shuttle to the Sausalito Ferry and return home by boat. Monday through Saturday 8:30 a.m.-8 p.m., Sun. 8:30 a.m. - 7 p.m. 601 Murray Circle, Fort Baker, Sausalito, 415/ 339-4767.

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San Francisco: This summer, head out to the ball park

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London: 5 best April values

The buds, birds, and butterflies of spring are waking from the harshest winter in a generation. Londoners, too, are waking&hellip;etiolated maybe, but all set to enjoy the pleasant April weather. Here are 5 ways to join them in having a good time&mdash;without breaking your budget. Bluebell woods, mid-April&ndash;mid-May England's ancient woodlands are bursting into blue bloom and forest floors are carpeted with hundreds of thousands of wild bluebell flowers. This tiny, brilliant hyacinth is a specialty of southern England. The best place to see the floral display is West Sussex&mdash;less than 40 miles south of London., free.x The London Marathon, April 25 The starting gun for the key sporting event of the new season fires at 9 a.m. on April 25, when some 40,000 runners will take to the streets of south London and the city center. The event is one of the World Marathon Majors (a series which also includes Boston, Chicago, New York, and Berlin), meaning that the world's best athletes will be competing alongside thousands of amateurs raising money for myriad charities. Many runners will be dressed in bizarre costumes. See the site for the Virgin London Marathon to find a route map and a table with estimated timings for runner arrivals, gauged by ability., free to watch. St George's Day, April 23&ndash;25 While the Irish, Welsh, and Scots joyfully celebrate their national saints's days, the English have traditionally been more rueful. Celebrations in the capital this year buck that trend, with a host of events on and around Trafalgar Square. These include concerts, English food-tasting (avoid the boiled vegetables and opt for the puddings), cabaret, comedy, and street theater&mdash;all free. Plus, a St. George's day Rugby match at the national rugby stadium in Twickenham., free to watch. The Enchanted Palace, through June 2012 First-time visitors to London may think that the capital's only royal palace is the Queen's residence. But Buckingham is merely one of several. Kensington Palace has been a royal residence since William of Orange moved here in 1689, and Queen Anne and George II lived and died here. More recently, the palace was the erstwhile home of Diana Princess of Wales, and in honor of her fashion-conscious spirit, the palace is now staging a phantasmagorical exhibition of quirky British clothing. Exhibits include "a dress of tears" by Aminaka Wilmont, based on the ancient tradition of collecting tears at times of mourning; an installation of hats by milliner Stephen Jones, inspired by 18th-century busts of great philosophers and scientists; a Vivienne Westwood dress inspired by the spirited Princess Charlotte (1796&ndash;1817); a soundscape of ticking and chiming clocks by Boudicca, accompanied by "dresses the colour of time" circling the room; and an origami dress by William Tempest, which appears to vanish into its surroundings., entrance to the exhibition is included in the admission fee for Kensington Palace, about $18. La Linea London Latin Music Festival, April 22&ndash;30 You'll hear more languages spoken in London than perhaps any other city on Earth. A great way to experience this is to attend the La Linea festival. While you'll find no Luso, Spanish, Italian, or Brazilian acts playing, you'll discover that it's a lovely excuse for watching the city's increasingly numerous Latin-American Spanish-speakers to kick off the winter blues and warm-up with tango, salsa, and meringue. Highlights this year include Kid Creole, the Gotan Project's Victor Villena, and Amparo Sanchez., free. MORE FROM BUDGET TRAVEL Our London City Page


Turin: The Shroud unshrouded

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Rome: Free admission during Culture Week

If you're lucky enough to be in Rome between April 16 and April 25, you'll save some euros on visits to all state-run (and most city-run) museums and archaeological sites. Admission is free at the Mercati di Traiano, the Musei di Villa Torlonia, Centrale Montemartini, and other institutions participating in the 12th annual Culture Week. There are a few notable exceptions to the free rule: the Musei Capitolini, the Museo dell'Ara Pacis, the Planetario e Museo Astronomico, and the Scuderie del Quirinale, host of the buzzed-about Caravaggio exhibit, which still goes for the regular admission price of $13.50 (&euro;10). The Italian Ministry of Culture has also organized free tours&mdash;in Italian only&mdash;of smaller gems such as the 16th-century Palazzo Zuccari, normally closed to the public (011-39/06-699-941), and the Villa dei Quintili (011-39/347-8235-240). A little further afield, the ruins and frescoed homes of Ostia Antica, an ancient port city, are also free during Culture Week and make an easy day trip from Rome (011-39/06-5635-8099).