City is Golden Gateway to rest of N. California

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SAN FRANCISCO -- This city's appeal is obvious for all to see.

San FranciscoIts museums, its architecture, its elegant hotels and restaurants, its waterfront and the island-dotted bay -- all of these features and more make this hilly, windy city a magnet for tourists.

Not so often remarked upon, but an important factor in choosing it as a vacation spot, is its location, within easy reach of so much of the rest of Northern California. Theme parks, missions, beaches, fun fairs, history and scenery are all easily accessible on day trips using San Francisco as a base.

After the cruise in the harbor and the day in Sausalito, after the Alcatraz visit, after the obligatory ride on the cable car, and after photographing the Golden Gate Bridge and the city skyline from every angle, many visitors look farther afield.

Here, in no particular order, is a brief rundown of what is available.

  • The Wine Country. Primarily the counties of Sonoma and Napa, which are home to about 80 wineries, including many of California's finest, among them Couvaison, Domaine Carneros, Grgich Hills, Clos Pegase, Korbel and Robert Mondavi -- a veritable who's who of the domestic wine industry. All of these and dozens more lie in rolling hill and redwood country, an easy drive from the cosmopolitan splendors of San Francisco. For more information about the area and for sales aids, contact the Sonoma County Convention and Visitors Bureau at (800) 326-7666 or (707) 586-8100; the Sonoma Valley Visitors Bureau, (707) 996-1090, or the Napa Valley Conference and Visitors Bureau at (707) 226-7459.
  • The Peninsula. The area that lies to the south of San Francisco, encompassing Santa Clara, with its Paramount's Great America Theme Park (408-988-1800), Big Basin Redwoods State Park (408-338-6132), the Stanford Museum of Art and Sculpture Gardens in Palo Alto (415-723-4177) and even the Barbie Hall of Fame, also in Palo Alto (415-326-5841). One of Northern California's largest outlet store malls, the Great Mall of the Bay Area, lies on the Peninsula, attracting busloads of visitors every day -- many of them overnight guests of San Francisco hotels.
  • Santa Cruz. Home of the Boardwalk, an old-fashioned beachfront amusement park with a wooden roller coaster, sideshows and fun rides (408-426-7433) and the Roaring Camp and Big Trees Railway, a narrow gauge rail line running through the redwood forest (408-335-4400).
  • Sacramento. The state capital, especially worth a visit because of the photogenic domed capital building, where tours are available daily (916-324-0333), and the magnificent railroad museum in Old Sacramento (916-448-4466), where the state's development is traced through the the history of the growth of its rail system.
  • Marin County. Just across the Golden Gate Bridge, largely a dormitory area for San Francisco. Its attractions include Sausalito, the Golden Gate National Recreation Area, Angel Island, Tiburon and one of the most beguiling of California's wilderness areas -- Muir Woods National Monument, in which escorted nature walks are available (415-388-2070). All within 90 minutes of town.
  • East Bay. The area on the other side of the bay from San Francisco, reached by crossing the other great bridge -- the Oakland Bay Bridge. The East Bay comprises primarily Oakland and Berkeley, with its Jack London Square, an enclave of retail stores and restaurants at the Oakland Amtrak Station and Berkeley's impressive University of California campus.
  • These are some of the local attractions and areas that make Northern California a significant vacation spot -- and San Francisco an ideal home base from which to explore them.

    For more information about the city proper:
    San Francisco Convention and Visitors Bureau
    Phone: (415) 391-2000

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