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7 San Francisco Standouts

7 San Francisco Standouts
Restaurants with Michelin star power

With the abundance of the Pacific directly to the west and the bounty of farmlands in all the other directions, the San Francisco Bay Area is rightfully known as having one of the nation’s hottest food scenes. It’s no surprise then that local chefs are dedicated to the three tenets of California cuisine: organic, local, and sustainable, and these seven Michelin-starred restaurants celebrate that trio in stellar form.

First up, Berkeley’s Chez Panisse. Since 1971, Chef and farm-to-table pioneer Alice Waters has been the driving force behind this celebrated—and much lauded—restaurant. Here you can expect rustic, refined cuisine, expertly prepared using the freshest in-season ingredients. How fresh? Much of the produce grown at Petaluma’s Green String Farm, less than an hour’s drive from Berkeley. 

Across the bay, some of the region’s finest restaurants can be found in San Francisco. Gary Danko has held the standard for high-end dining at his eponymous restaurant since 1999. Dramatic, contemporary lighting sets the stage for an intimate experience that screams “special occasion that you’ll never forget.” Save room for an end-of-meal visit from the legendary cheese cart.

Downtown, celebrity chef Michael Mina serves up Japanese-French-California fusion with unparalleled sophistication at his eponymous restaurant. Insider’s tip: the Mina line of restaurants runs deep in the Bay Area, so you can also check out his expert oversight at Bourbon Beef, Pabu, and several others located throughout the region.

At Coi, in the city’s lively North Beach neighborhood, chef Daniel Patterson dreams up artfully inventive plates with lesser-known local ingredients, like a wintertime offering of live Santa Barbara sea urchin, Meyer lemon, radishes, and kohlrabi. Chef Joshua Skenes consistently impresses critics and diners at his seafood-centric Saison. 

For a visual feast that also happens to taste amazing, book a table at Atelier Crenn, where gifted chef Dominique Crenn creates magic on a plate. Micro-greens, edible flowers, and dabs of sauces and foams elevate dishes from just-plain-dinner to undeniable art. 

About an hour’s drive south of San Francisco, executive chef David Kinch brings French and Catalan influences to his modern menu at Manresa, in Los Gatos. Produce is grown exclusively for the restaurant at Love Apple Farms in the nearby Santa Cruz Mountains and is harvested each morning for the night’s meal. In nearby Saratoga, ask for a tour of the glass-encased 1,800-bottle wine cellar at Plumed Horse. Situated at the foot of the Santa Cruz Mountains, this classic is the gem of the Bay Area’s secret (and amazing) wine country. Contemporary California cuisine by chef/owner Peter Armellino is top notch. 

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Harriot Manley/ Sunset Publishing

Northern California

Discover the San Francisco Bay Area

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10
December
Average (°C)
Dec - Feb
16°
High
5°
Low
Mar - May
23°
High
8°
Low
June - Aug
27°
High
14°
Low
Sept - Nov
26°
High
7°
Low

A crimson bridge, cable cars, a sparkling bay, and streets lined with elegant Victorian homes—San Francisco is undeniably one of the world’s great cities. Located along the Northern California at the state’s distinctive bend in the coast, the region has an alluring magic that stretches beyond the bay to diverse cities with nightlife and trend-setting cuisine.

"I left my heart in San Francisco, High on a hill, it calls to me."  –singer Tony Bennett

The Bay Area is also home to some of the world’s finest wine country, including Napa Valley and Sonoma, plus waterfront towns, dramatic beaches, and the tech-savvy southern end of the bay known as the Silicon Valley, where lunchtime ideas at Google, Facebook, and Apple, turn into the next brilliant innovation. 

Plan your California getaway via San Francisco with these great deals!

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Schofield Images/Getty Images

Benicia

Immerse yourself in the Golden State lifestyle by seeking out fashion-forward independent retailers and local brands

Amid the hustle and bustle of San Francisco’s North Bay, the quiet waterside burg of Benicia...

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Courtesy of NPS Photo

Port Chicago Naval Magazine National Memorial

Tour this military memorial that honors soldiers killed on the World War II home front and pays tribute to Concord’s role in civil rights history

California’s smallest national park service outlet covers a mere 2000 sqm in Concord on San Francisco Bay’s east shore—but it tells a very big...

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Erica Davis/Getty Images

Half Moon Bay

This delightful little beach town possesses serious surf DNA and is just a short drive from San Francisco

Half Moon Bay is situated 45 minutes south of San Francisco on Highway 1, but it might as well be half a world away. Home to the world-famous...

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Vacationland

4 Awesome Wine Country Resorts

Luxurious spas, farm-to-table dining, and easy access to dozens of wineries—these Napa and Sonoma resorts offer the indulgent getaway you need

Ready for some “me time” in Wine Country? Reserve your spot at one of these spectacular Napa and Sonoma resorts.

Farmhouse Inn,...

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San Francisco's cable cars are the only mobile National Monuments.
San Francisco itself is art, above all literary art. Every block is a short story, every hill a novel. Every home a poem, every dweller within immortal. That is the whole truth.
William Saroyan
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Thomas H. Story/ Sunset Publishing

Golden Gate Bridge

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See one of the world’s most famous landmarks, spanning an elegant bay

With towers soaring 746 feet/227 metres into the sky, its span arcing across the mouth of San Francisco Bay, and all of it painted bright red-...

May

Rock rolls into the wine country with this three-day event in Napa that features 2019 headliners Imagine Dragons, Neil Young, and Mumford & Sons. With more than 80 performers in the May 24–26...

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Jessica S./Flickr
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San Francisco has only one drawback - 'tis hard to leave.
Rudyard Kipling
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Kid-friendly fun zones, special kids' menus & amazing wine for the grownups

Sure wine country is romantic, but now it’s a surprisingly great destination for families too, with a growing number of vineyards trading in elegant tasting rooms for kid-friendly fun zones that...

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John/ Flickr
July

Get the Spanish spirit at this colourful event. Stroll the grounds of Gloria Ferrer Caves and Vineyards with a glass of bubbly, and take in a whirl of passionate music, flamenco dancing, and food...

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Gloria Ferrer Caves & Vineyards
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SPECIAL FEATURE
Taste the delicious dishes from these amazing California chefs

From a candy-coloured pastry shop to Michelin-starred dining rooms, top restaurants run by celebrity chefs dot the Golden State. And even if you don’t know these chefs from the TV...

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World-class accommodations in world-class locations

Head to the heart of California’s cities for luxurious stays at world-class accommodations. From San Francisco’s historic hotels to celebrity hot spots in Hollywood and Beverly Hills, California’s...

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Lynn Gately/Flickr
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Farm-fresh produce, culinary adventures

Juicy heirloom tomatoes and just-picked strawberries. Super-sweet peaches shaped like mini UFOs. Artisanal cheeses, emerald-green olive oils, local wildflower honey—California’s farmers’ markets...

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Laura Flippen
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From Gold Rush history to 8th wonders of the world, visit these favorites

If there was ever a box of chocolates—and all of them delicious—it’s the rich collection of natural treasures, fascinating...

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Amy Meredith/Flickr
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Make memories at some of California's family-favorite beaches

Sand, water, and kids—it’s a natural combination for easy family fun. This sandy dozen offers appealing, family-friendly features, such as calm water for new swimmers, tide pools for intrepid...

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Alex Farnum
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Courtesy of San Jose International Airport

Spotlight: San Jose

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Tech savvy, international flair

The first hit of this city’s unmistakable techy-ness starts right off the bat—if you get here by plane. Meet Space Observer, a 26-foot/7.9-metre-...

May 11 - May 20
May

America's largest and most prestigious cycling event brings many of the world’s top riders to the Golden State. The 8-stage race changes it up every year, with new courses connecting cities and...

Amgen Tour of California
Amgen Tour of California
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It's simply a very romantic place. Just one look at any of those streets, and you couldn't be anywhere else -- it's so beautiful, and there's that location, and the sense of the free spirit. ... Who couldn't become ravenous in such a place?
Julia Child
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Sample ultra-fresh, hyper-local, and downright amazing

When you come to California, come hungry. This is a state that seriously knows how to cook. Amazing and innovative chefs sprinkled with Michelin stars work with local farms and artisanal food...

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George's at the Cove
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Old-fashioned fun in the Golden State

Historic oceanfront playgrounds, classic city-park charmers, boisterous adventures—smaller theme parks and attractions offer an array of ways to play. These smaller parks offer old-...

Safari West
Tai Power Seeff
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According to legend, Winchester Mystery House's maze of passages and building oddities were designed to confuse the ghosts of those killed by Winchester rifles.
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Kids get an inside look at wildlife, space, and more

From cool ways for your kids to learn about wildlife, to an insider’s look at a space station, to a chance to walk through a rainforest or learn about the night sky, there’s a bumper...

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Peter Alfred Hess/Flickr
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Check these amazing experiences off your bucket list

Kiss a beluga, see cool movie props, and learn about Walt’s secret hideaway on exclusive and behind-the-scenes tours at California’s theme parks and attractions. Here’s a roundup of worth-the-...

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Photo by Michael Saechang/Flickr
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Where to release your inner fashionista

Shopping is an art form in California. Whether you're in search of the perfect cocktail dress or an authentic Mexican piñata, you'll find it here. Want to sample fresh produce? Try our farmers...

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South Coast Plaza
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Tai Power Seeff

Livermore

Ranches, vineyards, and relaxed appeal east of San Francisco

With warm sun and wide open spaces cradling vineyards, ranches, and wine country estates, the Livermore Valley makes an appealing destination just...