California Travel

New Mural Exhibit at Presidio Tunnel Tops

Red Adirondack Chairs line up cliffside for a panoramic view of the bay.Story and Photos by Lee Daley.

New adventures await at the San Francisco Presidio Tunnel Tops Park with a recent large-scale mural installation of creatures like coyotes, monarch butterflies and colorful exotic birds.The exhibit is now on show at the Outpost Courtyard overlooking Chrissy Field. Strolling the Cliff Walk to reach the exhibit is my favorite route. Along the walk, San Francisco immodestly showcases some of her most prized glories with stunning views of the Golden Gate Bridge, breathtaking bay views and farther along, the glistening visage of the city skyline punctuated by the dome of the Palace of Fine Arts. You will soon arrive at The Outpost, a two acre children’s play area. Just beyond it, look for the Field Station building. Here, you’ll come upon an entry area transformed by large scale botanical and wild-life themed murals. It’s a must see, a wonderful addition for children and adults. as it adds to the spectacular views.



Traveling the Road with Jimmie Dale Gilmore

Rancho Nicasio concert with The Flatlanders, Jimmie Dale Gilmore, Butch Hancock, country rock.Story and Photos by Lee Daley.

I first ran into Jimmie Dale Gilmore while on a writing assignment in Cambridge, MA, when a friend excitedly told me the singer, composer and guitarist was performing that evening at a local blues venue. That was twenty years ago and while the club is long gone, the legendary Gilmore is still rocking out blues, rock and country tunes and I’m still following him here and there to be transported by his heartfelt tenor voice and versatile guitar skills.


Indulge in a Getaway to Mendocino County.

The magnificent Mendocino County Coast taken from the Little River inn, California.Story and Photos By Lee Daley.

Now is the time to indulge in a getaway to Mendocino County. It’s all there, breathtaking beauty, surf, sand, a rocky coastline, world-class botanical gardens, and an oceanfront artistic village. A destination worth flying to from anywhere in the US, Mendocino County offers an idyllic interlude within a three-hour drive from  San Francisco.


San Francisco’s Top of the Mark Celebrates 50 Years

San Francisco skyline view of Transamerica Pyramid from Top of the Mark, Nob Hill, San FranciscoStory and Photos By Lee Daley

San Francisco Top of the Mark atop the Intercontinental Mark Hopkins Hotel is now celebrating the hotel’s 50 year anniversary.. The iconic 19th-floor sky lounge  has updated its live music roster to include acclaimed local musicians such as Nick Rossi and his Swing Four. Celebrate Easter Brunch with live piano music and unlimited Bellinis surrounded by spectacular views of the City and the Bay.



Celebrate Holidays in the Hills at Claremont Club & Spa

Golden Gate bridge view, Limewood Bar and RestaurantBy Lee Daley
Claremont Club & Spa: Create memories to treasure with a celebration of this year’s Holidays in the Hills at the Berkeley-based Limewood Bar and Restaurant’s outdoor dining deck. Here is where you’ll find stunning sunset views of San Francisco, the Golden Gate Bridge, and Mount Tamalpais. Or choose the inside dining room and convivial bar, equally memorable. Look for farm-to-table dishes at this “castle on the hill” sitting at the base of Claremont Canyon Regional Preserve. A longtime favorite, Limewood is part of the Claremont Club & Spa whose amenities boast an impressive spa, and tennis courts. a seasonal skating rink, fitness center, and more. I recently visited the Limewood and found the views, the cuisine, and the ambiance the perfect setting for a romantic and relaxing interlude. Perfect to celebrate the holiday season, it’s long been a popular local destination as well.



The Redwood Room in San Francisco

Redwood Room, San Francisco, CaliforniaReview by Lee Daley.

San Francisco’s Redwood Room at the Clift.

Welcome to the Redwood Room—an unforgettable San Francisco destination just steps away from downtown Union Square. Whether at the bar, crafted from an 800-year-old redwood tree. or seated in the extended seating area with its magnificent Klimt artwork display, you can expect superb service in an elegant and intimate setting. It’s almost a rite of passage for locals and visitors to take in the Redwood Room vibe with its soaring redwood walls, subdued art deco lighting, and welcoming servers.  On a recent Thursday evening visit, my spouse and I found vocalist and pianist Josh Gelfand holding court as he fielded musical requests from fans.



Calaveras County: A Place for all Seasons

Photographers flock to the tree-lined garden path at Ironstone Vineyards in Calaveras CountyStory and Photos by Lee Daley.

When it comes to year-round activity, Calaveras County, a 2.5-hour drive from anywhere in the San Francisco Bay Area, has it all. Truly a place for all seasons, this is where outdoor activities, wine tasting, fine dining and just plain “fun in the sun” thrive. Here in the Sierra Nevada Foothills, you’ll find more ways to unwind than you can shake your bathing suit at. And to unwind any time of day, the county’s prize-winning wineries beckon. One thriving community with the unique moniker of Murphys boasts more than two dozen wine tasting venues along its downtown promenade. Take in its art galleries. Attend live theater events. Or stroll through its green community park with its bridge-covered creek and shaded picnic tables. Add in free summertime concerts in the park. Calaveras County beckons.


Alice Neel “People Come First” Exclusive Opening at the de Young Museum

Alice-Neel-"Pgregnant-Maria-exhibit-de Young-San-FranciscoStory and Photos by Lee Daley.

“For me, people come first. I have tried to assert the dignity and eternal importance of the human being.” – Alice Neel.  Throughout “People Come First”, Alice Neel’s paintings reflect both her radical personal ideology and her quest to capture the dignity and importance of her subjects. Neel (1900-1984) spent most of her adult life in New York City where, beginning in the 1930s, she lived through the rise of communism, the ensuing Great Depression, and the eventual civil rights and feminist movements. Deeply immersed in the society around her, she described her artistry as a form of history painting in which she portrayed fellow activists, artists, and neighbors as fellow human beings struggling to navigate political change and unrest.



kitchen-Limewood-Bar-BerkeleyStory by Lee Daley.

Update: Date night Winemaker Dinner to go: Executive Chef, Joseph Paire of Berkeley’s Limewood Restaurant, in partnership with leading winemakers, will present a series of unmatched 4-course wine-paired dinners for two to-go. Get your Valentine’s groove going on this Friday, February 12, 2021 when the perfect pre-Valentine’s date-night evening will begin with a 30-minute Zoom session featuring the dynamic duo, Chef Paire and Winemaker Ryan Zopaltas of Copain Wines. These Limewood Restaurant chef-designed date nights have been so successful, two more will follow. Details of two more dates to follow.

Chardonnay & Croquet at Sonoma Cutrer Winery

Chardonnay & Croquet, Sonoma Cutrer Winery, Expansive patio and professional croquet lawns grace entry, Russian River Valley, Sonoma, CaliforniaStory by Lee Daley with Photos by John Sundsmo and Lee Daley

Sonoma County is known for its excellent Chardonnay wines and those produced at Sonoma Cutrer Winery are no exception. Tucked away on a lush hillside in Windsor, Sonoma Cutrer may be one of the few places in Sonoma where you can play croquet and indulge in a picnic on beautifully manicured tree-shaded grounds all in the same day



Gypsy, A Musical Fable

Mother Rose pushing her two daughters in "Gypsy" the play now at Alcazar Theater, San Francisco, CaliforniaReviews by Carol Canter and Lee Daley. (Review by Carol Canter) “Curtains up, light the lights, you got nothing to hit but the heights!” Well, everything did come up roses opening night for Bay Area Musicals’ fabulous production of Gypsy, which director and choreographer Mathew McCoy calls “the ultimate showbiz fable.” And that it is — a fable bursting with all the glitz and glitter, hilarious humor and heart-wrenching pathos of the ultimate show biz mother, Rose Hovick, as she pushes her two daughters — hard, very hard — to live out her own dreams. This 1959 fable of the last days of vaudeville is based loosely on the 1957 memoirs of Louise, the overlooked daughter who seizes the spotlight as Gypsy Rose Lee, the famous striptease artist.  (Review by Lee Daley) Coming out of the Alcazar Theater after the performance, the lyrics and musical score of GYPSY resonated repeatedly in my head. It was a heady performance. Drama, humor, anguish and victory all play their part in this roller-coaster ride through the metamorphosis of meek little Louise’s transformation into the legendary striptease artist Gypsy Rose Lee. The musical score with lyrics by Stephen Sondheim brings the performances alive as the characters, especially Rose, embody the lyrics.



Lake County: Northern California’s Sweet Spot

Lake County: A Sweet Spot Getaway north of San Francisco, Olive Groves at Chacewater Winery and Olive Mill,Olive Groves at Chacewater Winery and Olive Mill, Kelseyville, CA, Lake CountyStory and Photos by Lee Daley     Drive a few hours north of downtown San Francisco and a different world awaits. On a recent weekend getaway, my city stress lessened and lessened, almost in layers, and finally just plain disappeared once my ramble north landed in the land of lakes, aptly named Lake County. With dormant winter chill now giving way to warmer, sunnier days, I found a haven of rolling hillsides and emerald green valleys nestled in the grandeur of mountainsides. Grape vines and trees are just starting to open their buds, lake fishing looks good and goats in the valleys are having their kids.

A mythological wine tasting with Georgós Nu Wines

Georgós Nu Wines, Greek red wine, organic, hand harvested, Georgós Nu Wines imports grapes from Greece where they are shipped to the US and blended, then bottled in Sonoma, CA. Some of the grapes are grown here in Santorini on ancient, old-growth vines. vinesStory and Photos by Lee Daley     “Come. Taste my wines and experience the glory of Greece.” So said Georgós Zanganas, company founder of Georgós Nu Wines. And so our small group of wine lovers gathered in San Francisco to listen to the myths and taste the wines made from grapes organically grown and fermented in Greece on family land. We dined on complimentary bites accompanied by tastings of his five premium varietals, each symbolically named for iconic Greek islands and gods. I was fascinated with the homage given to the gods of Georgós homeland as much as I savored the uniquely palatable tastings.

Palm Springs Indulges The Senses

Palm Springs, Heart sculptures at the Palm Springs Art Museum patioStory and Photos by Lee Daley     Approaching Palm Springs, that desert oasis nestled between two mountains–the Santa Rosa to the south and the San Jacinto to the west—I knew a treat was in store. The scent of sagebrush carried on the wings of clean desert air stimulated my senses. Feeling calm and rejuvenated, I soon realized this destination deserved many more returns. Whether in search of sybaritic spas, outdoor adventure, night life, art and culture, fine dining or a resort pool, Palm Springs seems to cover it all. After spending a day in the desert and another at the magnificent Palm Springs Art Museum, I explored the lively dining scene in town.

Road to Death Valley Meditation

Story and Photos by John Sundsmo.     Symbolic of new beginnings and new life, wild flowers are just beginning to be seen in the deserts of California. While experts don’t expect another super-bloom like 2016, the heavy winter rains will undoubtedly bring abundance of color late into April. No place is more emblematic of life resurrected than Death Valley where blooms are already showing in the southern regions of the national park. To dodge the wild flower traffic, my wife and I visited the park in December and collected some tips.

Death Valley Meditation

Zabriskie Point, Death Valley National Park, nature's palletteStory and Photos by Lee Daley     It’s early morning and I have spent the last 10 minutes admiring the light and shadows on a small brave bush somewhere alongside the road to Furnace Creek in Death Valley, a place my husband and I have come to de-stress and transition into the new year. This is a mystical place that has long inspired artists and awe. Driving through the valley’s lunar landscape, we find ourselves slowly banishing thoughts of schedules, appointments and deadlines. What seemed like an impending crisis back home now feels like a ridiculously insignificant issue in the grandness of this other-worldly moonscape. “Oh goody,” I say, as I send one more of these annoyances out into the universe.

Pacifica: The Beaches Are Only the Beginning

Pacfica,, CA, Rockaway Beach "Watchin' the tide roll in.", Sunset golden reflections on the waves, Taken about 5 p.m. as the sun was descending into the horizon.Story and Photos by Lee Daley     I’ve always known Pacifica’s coastline boasts just about the best and most diverse five-mile span of beaches in Northern California. I thought I knew it well. Until I extended my usual day-trip to two nights and three days in this quintessential surfer haven beach town, I had no idea how much I was missing. I soon discovered the beaches are only the beginning.

Downtown Napa: Sipping and Savoring

Angele Restaurant, rustic French fare in an old boathouseStory and Photos by Lee Daley    If you haven’t checked into Downtown Napa’s vibe for some time, you’re in for quite a treat.  The city is experiencing a thriving renaissance with an explosion of new restaurants, wine tasting rooms, nightlife and trendy shops. For good measure, add in the Napa River walk, outdoor sculptures, expanded walking and biking paths and you’re spoiled for choice.

Story by Lee Daley with Photos by John Sundsmo and Lee Daley.     Napa Valley’s Carneros AVA adds another winery to its map with the opening of Liana Estates. The winery fulfils a long cherished dream of its founders, Lisa and Ariana Peju of the Peju Province Winery family. Liana Estates is an experience-focused winery providing visitors with immersive experiences that embrace each of the five senses. The focus will be on offering an ever-changing selection of high-quality wines and bubbly while connecting visitors to the breathtaking scenery of Napa Valley and San Pablo Bay. This fall, several immersive experiences will include wellness activities like yoga, culinary classes and chef-centric vineyard dinners paired with wine selections. While these experiences are growing in popularity in Wine Country, Liana is eager to offer guests unique all-inclusive experiences that both stimulate and soothe the senses.