Posts Tagged ‘San Francisco’


10 Spectacular Sunsets in the City

Whether the sun sets in the east or the west, sunsets offer travel photographers the opportunity to snap  once-in-a-lifetime photos. Here are ten of our current favorites from around the world.

Santorini, Greece

Image: Wolfgang Staudt/Flickr

Stockholm, Sweden

Image: bomb_tea/Flickr

Walt Disney World, Florida

Image: Express Monorail, Flickr

Tokyo, Japan

Image: Guwashi999/Flickr

Sarajevo, Bosnia

Image: jonworth-eu/Flickr

San Francisco, California

Image: arcreyes [-ratamahatta-]/Flickr

Paris, France

Image: Trey Ratcliff/Flickr

Rio de Janeiro, Brazil

Image: iko/Flickr

London, England

Image: PixelLaika/Flickr

New York City, New York

Image: jerryfergusonphotography/Flickr

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Travel + Leisure Names America’s Most Beautiful Neighborhoods

Travel + Leisure has released their list of America’s most historic, charming, and downright beautiful neighborhoods, and folks across the country are bound to have strong opinions about which towns were left off the list. I’m happy to say I’ve personally spent time in four of the ten neighborhoods selected, and the others are now on my short list. I was surprised to see parts of Baltimore, Oklahoma City and Houston on this list, and you may be surprised by some of the other selections.

Check out the article and let us know which ‘hoods you think should have made the list, and which ones you think were deservedly named “Most Beautiful.”

Photo credit: Travel + Leisure / Nik Wheeler/ Alamy

Photo credit: Travel + Leisure / Nik Wheeler/ Alamy

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Every year, summer comes and goes far too quickly—my sunscreen bottle is only halfway empty for crying out loud! Luckily when we all start to get the end-of-summer blues, Labor Day weekend saves the day by giving us one last change to soak up the sun, explore new destinations and say goodbye to everyone’s favorite season in style.

View from Dolores Park. Photo: Loose Charm Productions

View from Dolores Park. Photo: Loose Charm Productions

Vegas Pool Parties
If you feel like getting a little loco this Labor Day weekend, head to Las Vegas for some of Sin City’s infamous pool parties. Labor Day is one the busiest times of year for these pool parties, which isn’t a surprise considering that the temperature is still sweltering. Check out Rehab at the Hard Rock Hotel and Casino on September 5 for strong mix drinks, private cabanas, celebrity guests and incredible DJs. Most of the major hotels in Vegas will have some sort of pool party, so research your favorites to find your perfect pool party.

San Francisco Picnics
Mark Twain allegedly said that the coldest winter he ever spent was a summer in San Francisco. While that might seem to be an extreme statement (unless he lived year round in Hawaii), San Francisco can be quite foggy during the summer. Well, usually (*fingers crossed*) come Labor Day, San Francisco is enjoying some late summer sunshine. To take full advantage, pack up your picnic basket, a big blanket and your favorite lunchtime goodies and head to one of the city’s finest parks to enjoy your Labor Day in true San Franciscan-tradition. Dolores Park has great views and is known for its ample supply of sunshine, even if it’s foggy elsewhere. The park is small and can get crowded—so be sure to get there early so you don’t have to fight the hipster kids for blanket space. San Francisco has an abundance of awesome parks, so be sure to find one that fits your needs.

Chicago Jazz Concerts

Boogie down this Labor Day to Chicago’s 32nd annual Jazz Festival. With four days and three locations to choose from, this year’s event is taking place Sept. 2 through Sept. 5, with shows at Grant Park, Millennium Park and the Chicago Cultural Center—plus admission is free. So get ready to see some national and international acts alongside some Chicago jazz greats.

Cleveland Air Shows
The Cleveland National Air Show takes flight over Labor Day Weekend, so gather the family and head over to the Burke Lakefront Airport on Sept. 4, 5 and 6. This year the Cleveland skies will be filled with the aerial skills and tricks of the U.S. Navy Blue Angels, the U.S. Army Golden Knights, the U.S. Air Force F-15E Strike Eagle and more. With three days to chose from, you can pack some excitement into your long weekend and still have time to throw that barbeque you’ve been mentally planning.

Seattle’s Bumbershoot
One of my favorite parts of summer is rocking out at music and arts festivals, so it’s always a relief to see a few end-of-summer festivals trying to cling to the last days of warm weather and the carefree life. At Seattle’s Bumbershoot, you can  check out musical acts such as Neko Case, Bob Dylan and Weezer; watch indie films; get your jollies at a stand-up show; and peruse the crafts that are for sale.

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Kicking back and sipping a frosty beer is the perfect way to kick off a well-deserved vacation, if you ask me. From lagers to ambers to pale ales, the possibilities are endless and delicious. Next time you’re in a new city and want to imbibe, take a tour of a local brewery to really have a reason to raise your glass. Here are TravelMuse’s top five picks for best brewery tours.

The Anheiser-Busch Brewery in St. Louis, Missouri. Photo: pknitty86

The Anheiser-Busch Brewery in St. Louis, Missouri. Photo: pknitty86

Anchor Brewing Company

Location: San Francisco, Calif.
Hours: Two tours a day Mon. through Fri., by reservation only. Call at least a month in advance.
Admission: Free.

Anchor, founded in San Francisco in 1896, has seen its fortunes rise and fall through the years, but it is firmly established today as a treasured local institution. Touring the gorgeous handcrafted copper brewhouse, where all the beers are handmade, is quite an experience. The walking tour of the brewery lasts about 45 minutes. The guide teaches a brief history of the brewery and walks you through three floors of the building. Afterwards, on to the tasting. Tel. 415-863-8350,


Location: St. Louis, Mo.
Hours: Open daily. Call for hours, which vary with the season.
Admission: Free.
Of note: Tours also are available at the Fairfield, Calif., Fort Collins, Colo., Jacksonville, Fla. and Merrimack, N.H. facilities.

A trip to the world headquarters of “King of Beers” involves visiting the historic Budweiser Clydesdale Stable, Beechwood Lager Cellars, historic brewhouse and Bevo Packaging Facility. You’ll finish up in the Hospitality Room for a tasting. Even if you don’t like beer, it’s a treat to see the famous Budweiser Clydesdales in their stables. An optional tour offered is the “Beermaster Tour” ($25 for adults; $10 for those under 21). More in-depth than the regular tour, you’ll go behind the scenes, plus sample beer directly from a finishing tank and get a variety of gifts. Tel. 314-577-2626,

Boulder Beer

Location: Boulder, Colo.
Hours: Mon.-Fri., 2 p.m. or by appointment.
Admission: Free.

Colorado’s first microbrewery, started in 1979 by two home brewing college professors, doesn’t take itself too seriously. Start your tour of the brewery with a beer in hand, then go to the brew pub to learn more about the beers, and of course, sample them. Of note is that the company was granted the 43rd brewery license in U.S. history. By 2005, there were more than 1,500. Tel. 303-444-8448,

Great Lakes Brewing Co.

Location: Cleveland, Ohio
Hours: Fri., 4 to 8 p.m.; Sat., 1 to 8 p.m.
Admission: Free.

Great Lakes Brewing Company, the first microbrewery in the state of Ohio, was founded by two brothers inspired by travels (and beer) in Europe. The large brewery has six buildings, three of which originally served as horse stables and kegging facilities for the Schlather Brewing Company, which was built in 1878. Fun fact: Bullet holes in the beautiful Taproom are said to have come from “The Untouchable” Eliot Ness. Check out brewing tanks in the brewhouse, dine in the beer cellar, or sample beers in the indoor/outdoor beer garden. Private tours ($50 for a maximum of 30 people) are also available. Tel. 216-771-4404,

Samuel Adams Brewery
Location: Boston, Mass.
Hours: Mon. to Thurs., Sat., 10 a.m. to 3 p.m.; Fri., 10 a.m. to 5:30 p.m.
Admission: Though the tour is free, a suggested $2 donation is encouraged. The money goes to local charities. Kids allowed with an adult.

You’ll get the spiel, almost legend now, of founder Jim Koch’s vision for a better beer in America while you learn about the brewing process. Pick up any number of Sam Adams merchandise at the brewery’s gift shop, open during tour hours. For those going to a Fenway game in the summer on select Friday nights, a special tour treat combines beer, baseball and a free ride; take a tour and get a lift to the game on an Old Town Trolley between 2 and 5:30 p.m. Tel. 617-368-5080,

Based on “Top 5 Brewery Tours” by Kim Foley MacKinnon.

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Trip Photos: Escape from Alcatraz

If you’re traveling to San Francisco, you cannot miss Alcatraz, the island that became a federal prison in August 1934 and is home to the West Coast’s first lighthouse and fort. Thanks to David Paul Ohmer for posting this photo.

Photo: David Paul Ohmer

Photo: David Paul Ohmer

Plan your trip to San Francisco on TravelMuse.

Want to share your recent trip photos and have them featured on TravelMusings? Add your photos to our TravelMuse Flickr group or TravelMuse Facebook page, and we’ll publish our favorites.

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College Visits – Northern California

Trying to pick the right college is difficult; believe me. I was dead set on attending school in Los Angeles . . . until I visited the colleges I was interested in applying to and realized that just because a university looks good on paper doesn’t mean that it’s the right fit. When I stepped onto the UC Santa Cruz campus, I knew immediately that it was the right school for me.

Spring and summer vacations are a perfect for checking out prospective colleges for your future applicant. Whether you’re planning on a quick weekend getaway or an extended (and well-deserved) vacation, there are many ways to integrate college visits into your travel itinerary. The San Francisco Bay Area and South Bay have a multitude of phenomenal institutions to consider—from small art schools to Stanford, one of the most well known universities in the world.

San Francisco State University. Photo: Orin Zebest

San Francisco State University. Photo: Orin Zebest

Day 1: Berkeley and San Francisco
Known as a hub for liberal politics in the 60s, UC Berkeley is one of the finest public universities in the United States. Spend the day strolling down Telegraph Avenue, shopping in the local record stores and dining at Chez Panisse, the culinary icon Alice Waters’ famed restaurant. Be sure not to tire yourself out though, because afterwards you can make your way down to San Francisco, where there is a college on what feels like every street.

If you begin your college-visit trek near Golden Gate Park, you can visit the University of San Francisco (near Haight and Ashbury streets) and the University of California, San Francisco (in the inner Sunset). From there, cruise on over to the outer Sunset where you will find San Francisco State University. If you have an art student in the family, be sure to head out to Russia Hill, where you will find the San Francisco Art Institute.

Day 2: Silicon Valley
Approximately 45 minutes south of San Francisco is Palo Alto, a major focal point of the 1990s high-tech boom. It is also home to the famous Stanford University, one of the leading research and educational institutions in the world.

As you move further south, deeper into the hear of Silicon Valley, you will find Santa Clara University, California’s oldest college. SCU was founded in 1851 on the sight of one of the original 21 California missions. Next on the list, San Jose State is home to more than 30,000 undergrads and grad students. Be sure to explore the city, which is full of culture—a trip to The Tech Museum of San Jose and dinner at Original Joe’s old-time steakhouse is a perfect way to cap off a day of exhausting college visits.

Porter College at UC Santa Cruz. Photo: Peter Alfred

Porter College at UC Santa Cruz. Photo: Peter Alfred

Day 3: Santa Cruz
Unless you’re really alert after your Silicon Valley college visits, I suggest leaving Santa Cruz until day three, because it’s an approximately 45-minute drive from San Jose and lies on “the other side of the hill”—over the windy Highway 17. After the nerve-racking drive, you will be welcomed into the cozy little beach town of Santa Cruz—home to surfers, the Boardwalk, banana slugs and, of course, UC Santa Cruz. The campus is vast and hilly, so be sure to bring a pair of comfortable walking shoes.

Post adapted from “College Visit Guide: San Francisco Bay Area” by TravelMuse Editorial and College Visit Guide: California’s South Bay” by Nicole Fancher.

Plan your Northern California college visit on TravelMuse.

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Social Media Strategies for Travel 2010


TravelMuse is excited to take part in the EyeforTravel’s Social Media Strategies for Travel USA 20010 conference, which will be held in San Francisco from March 24 to 25 at the Hyatt at Fisherman’s Wharf.

We’ll be making a short presentation and participating on a panel focusing on the Best Practices to Get the Highest ROI on Your Social Media Initiatives alongside Henry Harteveldt (Forrester Research), Brandie Feuer (Tropicana Las Vegas) and Yvonne Chen (Facebook).

Last year I attended and presented at the conference and came away armed with lots of ideas, so I am looking forward to this year’s event. The conference is aimed at travel marketers who want to learn more about social media and how to generate leads, drive traffic, boost conversions and ultimately grow sales. Here’s a taste of what will be covered this year:

  • Analyzing the Advancing Social Media Landscape
  • Managing the Strategic Importance of Social Media in Your Business
  • Managing Your Brand Reputation Online
  • Social Media Metrics and Meaning
  • Twitter and the Rise of Micro-blogging
  • What Extent are Travelers Influenced by Social Media?
  • Boosting CRM and Loyalty Results

There’s a wide range of leading industry experts from new and established companies presenting, including Facebook, Hilton, Virgin America, Orbitz, Yapta, Uptake, Tripology, SouthWest and more.

To find out more and register, go to

To receive a 15 percent discount on your conference pass, send an e-mail to Gina Baillie ( and tell her that TravelMuse referred you.

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Who says you have to be a geek to appreciate museum events? At the California Academy of Sciences in San Francisco, Thursday nights from 6 to 10 p.m. (through Oct. 29, 2009) are now dedicated to NightLife, with music, food, cocktails and science presentations for adults 21 years and older.

For only $10 ($8 for members), you can shake your groove thang to hot DJ-supplied tunes or learn something scientific with your drink in hand. Each week, a different part of the Academy hosts the party, but you can still walk through the exhibits to your heart’s content (although some, like the Rainforest and Penguin exhibits, close early).

NightLife is the perfect event for those of us who love seeing kids excited about science, and who also prefer to get in close to see that cool-looking stingray, thankyouverymuch.

So, on your next San Francisco vacation, go to the Academy of Sciences at night—and you can check “spectacular new science museum” and “cool San Francisco nightlife” off your itinerary at once! For more information, visit

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TravelMuse is excited to take part in the EyeforTravel, Social Media Strategies for Travel USA 2009 conference to be held in San Francisco, March 10 to 11 at the Hotel Nikko.

We’ll be making a short presentation and participating on a panel focusing on Social Media Marketing: Why a Holistic Approach Pays Dividends, alongside Jeff Hanson (Marriott International), Jeremy Jameson (Southwest Airlines) and Juston Parker (Parker Hospitality Group).

Last year we attended the conference and came away armed with lots of ideas, so we’re looking forward to this year. The conference is aimed at travel marketers who want to learn more about social media and how to generate leads, drive traffic, boost conversions and ultimately grow sales.

•    Learn how to measure and monetize your social media campaigns

•    Discover how to profit from mega-sites like YouTube, Facebook and Bebo

•    Create a social media strategy that leverages your marketing spend

•    Align your search strategy with your social media campaigns

•    Find out how the semantic Web will impact your business

•    Reach out to specific audiences on niche social media sites

•    Target the business traveler through social networks

•    Appeal to the next generation by utilizing online networks and mobile technology

There’s a wide range of leading industry experts from new and established companies presenting, including OTAs (Orbitz and Priceline), social networks (LinkedIn and Bebo), hotels (InterContinental Hotels and Joie de Vivre) and more (Disney, Lonely Planet, Mobissimo, UpTake etc.).

To find out more and register, go to:

To receive a 20 percent discount on your conference pass, send an e-mail to Helen Raff ( and tell her that TravelMuse referred you!

Hope to see you there!

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Best Fourth of July Fireworks Shows in the United States

Maybe it’s a guy thing, but I really love fireworks. When I was a kid, I always looked forward to the Fourth of July with great anticipation. Sure the barbecues and pool time are great, but it’s the fireworks that really define the Fourth.

Big, small, ornate, booming, choreographed to music or just launched from the neighborhood cul-de-sac, nothing quite says Americana like Fourth of July pyrotechnics (and singed eyebrows).The sights, the sounds, the smells—all combine to create an exhilarating experience.

Following is a list of some of the best BIG shows in popular U.S. vacation destinations. So gather up the family, get the glow sticks ready for the kids, and head out for an evening of oohs and aahs.

10. Lights on the Lake—Lake Tahoe

Lake Tahoe is the perfect place to watch fireworks over a picturesque mountain lake. The show is set to music and lasts more than 30 minutes.

9. Freedom Over Texas—Houston

An all day shindig with country performers and food and brew, culminating in a rockin’ aerial display.

8. Friendship Festival—Buffalo, New York

The Friendship Festival celebrates “nearly 200 years of peace” between the United States and Canada. It’s a week-long celebration that ends in a fireworks display on the Fourth, visible from both the U.S. and Ontario shores of Lake Erie.

7. Go Fourth on the River—New Orleans

Just when you thought New Orleans couldn’t get any better, it does. Live jazz and great food paired with “dueling fireworks barges” on the Mississippi. Yeah, that definitely sounds like fun.

6. Fourth of July Waterfront Celebration at Pier 39—San Francisco

A solid fireworks display to be sure, but what makes this one special is the music of Tainted Love—possibly the world’s greatest ‘80s cover band. Warning: potentially dangerous combination of hair spray and explosives.

5. WaMu Family Fourth at Lake Union—Seattle

Hailed by Time magazine as one of the “Top Five Fireworks Displays” in the country, this free admission, family-friendly celebration is in its 20th year of bringing together the local community for a unique day of commemoration.

4. Welcome America—Philadelphia

What better place to celebrate the Fourth of July than in Philly: the birthplace of our nation, Rocky Balboa and the cheese steak.

3. Central Pennsylvania Fourth Fest – State College, PA

This extravaganza bills itself as “the greatest volunteer fireworks show in the nation. ”Where do I sign up? Central Pennsylvania Fourth Fest combines live entertainment, the Firecracker 4K fun run, food and drink with thousands of pounds of high explosives launched by amateur pyros. Rock on!  []

2. Macy’s Fourth of July Fest—New York City

See one of theworld’s biggest fireworks displays in the greatest city in the world. ‘Nuf said.

1. Fireworks on the Mall—Washington D.C.

Yes, the crowd is insane, and you’ll want to claim your precious patch of real estate on the National Mall way early, but this is a show not to be missed. The fireworks are set against the backdrop of iconic U.S. landmarks and coupled with patriotic music performed by the National Symphony Orchestra. Having grown up in the D.C. suburbs, it’s one of those experiences I’ll always remember.

Happy Fourth of July!

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