Winter in Northern California means cool, bright days and crisp, chilly evenings. It also means always having a great excuse to duck into someplace cozy for a pick-me-up. From fire-lit bars, to brick-oven-warmed bakeries, to restaurants chock-full of cozy ambiance, we asked the staff at our seven Norcal hostels for their favorite local spots to warm up. Read on for their picks, and get ready to settle in for the winter.
Food + Drink
The first time you take a stroll through the Tenderloin, the San Francisco neighborhood surrounding HI-City Center, you might feel a little disoriented: you thought you were in San Francisco, right? So what’s with all the Vietnamese signs, restaurants, and markets?
It’s a typical Tuesday afternoon at Café Franco: the hiss of steaming cappuccino milk muffles the crooning of Sam Cooke. There's a low murmur coming from over in the corner, where friends are catching up over peanut butter cookies at a long, reclaimed-wood table. Behind it all, the click-clack of laptop keys keeps an erratic beat.
These sounds do not combine to make up what most people would call “typical hostel noise” – and that’s exactly the way Café Franco likes it.
"I'm not going downtown," the bus driver calls over the intercom. I'm aboard the N Judah -- one of San Francisco's Muni Metro light rail lines -- and downtown San Francisco is exactly where I'm heading. I'm making the trip to go ice skating in Union Square, but that's the only set plan.
We've got flavor -- lots of it. The San Francisco Bay Area has long been a home for dreamers, nonconformists, and creative souls who embody a rich legacy of diverse cultural influences. It's no surprise then, that a wealth of goods, ideas, foods and philosophies can sport a Made in the Bay label. In this, the first article in our newest ongoing blog series, we'll share the fascinating stories behind Bay-born edibles. From breakfast foods to desserts and everything in between, there's sure to be something on our list that gets your mouth watering. There's nothing quite like experiencing the unique flavors of a new place, so while you're here, roll up your sleeves and dig into these Bay Area delicacies. Bon appetit!
Are you a wine-lover seeking an alternative to the standard Napa and Sonoma scenes? The tasting rooms and urban wineries flourishing in Sacramento might be just what you're looking for. Sacramento County's vineyards -- all 27,000+ acres of them, as of 2012 -- have established the region as a wine destination, and now you can imbibe the tasting room experience without ever leaving metropolitan Sacramento.