Cruising San Francisco Bay Aboard Bay Voyager

Wednesday May 21, 2014 at 11:11 AM | 3 Comments

The dismantling of the old span of the Bay Bridge, Oakland, CA.

The dismantling of the old span of the Bay Bridge, Oakland, CA.

I have logged many hours cruising around the San Francisco Bay. Two of my good friends live on a houseboat at Pier 39 and take us out on their wooden sailboat “Lola” and I worked for years as a bartender on a beautiful charter yacht called “Compass Rose” out of Alameda. I also have a good friend who is a ferry captain on the Blue & Gold fleet.

But, never have I experienced the Bay the way I did aboard the Bay Voyager!

Parker and Captain Charles Jennings of the Bay Voyager.

Parker and Captain Charles Jennings of the Bay Voyager.

Captain Charles Jennings is extremely affable and knowledgeable about the Bay, and his banana yellow rigid inflatable boat is, how shall I say, super fast!

I was invited recently to go out to test the waters with my nine-year-old daughter, Parker. It was one of those picture-perfect San Francisco days, made all the better by riding the waves on this amazing 300hp, 12-passenger vessel.

Capt’n Charles is meticulous about safety and even though it was balmy on the dock, he had all of us suit up in full waterproof jackets, pants and safety gear.

Since it was a light crew, we skipped circling Alcatraz (been there, done that) and headed out of the Golden Gate where the currents are strong and the view is unparalleled. Parker and I couldn’t wipe the perma-smiles of our faces!

We circled back, ducked under the first stretch of the Bay Bridge and took a look at the construction in progress on the second span. Here we could see the piece of the old bridge that is being taken down in pieces. An amazing sight.

Next we dipped into McCovey Cove just before game day at the San Francisco Giants’ stadium. We crossed the paths with some party boats — one already in full swing with bikini-clad ladies chugging champagne from the bottles. Good times.

During the cruise, Capt’n Charles peppered us with interesting facts about the cities (San Francisco, Oakland and Berkeley) and articulately answered all of my pesky copy 3

This is, by far, one of the best ways to experience the San Francisco Bay.

If You Go:

Bay Voyager
Captain Charles Jennings
Bay Voyager
Pier 39 Gate “C”
San Francisco, California 94133
(510) 542-4200

Post and photos contributed by Lisa Crovo Dion of I was a guest of the Bay Voyager.

San Francisco Golf: TPC Harding Park

Friday May 16, 2014 at 7:07 AM | 0 Comments

The fairway bunkers at TPC Harding Park golf course, San Francisco

The fairway bunkers at TPC Harding golf course, San Francisco

I live in the east bay, near Walnut Creek, 20 miles east of San Francisco and have been playing a different local public golf course nearly every weekend for 15 years.  There are tremendous public golf opportunities within a 40 minute drive from Napa (north) to Brentwood (east) to Livermore/Sunol (south.)  There are literally dozens of golf course choices.  With that in mind, I rarely consider the City when it comes to golf. My son, Evan, and I and another father son twosome, Tim and Brian Repp, had the opportunity to play  TPC Harding Park golf course in San Francisco on the Saturday of the Masters weekend. We were fortunate to score a 9:30 a.m. Saturday tee time.  The advice ‘Go West young man’ is still very sound when it comes to golf.

Golf at TPC Harding Park

When playing a golf course for the first time, I have found it advantageous to ride in a cart rather than walk.  One can check out the blind shots in a cart and still keep pace. Many golf courses require carts and distances from greens the next tee box are often extended.  I prefer to walk a golf course whenever I have the opportunity. Fortunately for me, our group decided to walk TPC Harding Park. (it is cart path only at Harding for and you can get a pull cart both are included in the green fees).

"TPC Harding" golf

TPC Harding Park #9 Fairway

TPC Harding Park golf history

TPC Harding Park was built in 1925 before golf carts were a part of golf.  This golf course was meant to be walked and is a classic course; meticulously maintained with new greens and bunkers this year. It is a wonderful walk, spoiled only by the things that make golf fun and frustrating at the same time….one’s own golf game.  The first nine holes are in the center of the golf course with the back nine wrapping around the perimeter.  There are no condos, roads or bike paths on the golf course; perhaps a few San Franciscans wondering with small dogs on number 18 as you approach the club house, but otherwise the golf course is lined by cypress trees with amply wide fairways and beautiful hole after hole of challenging but straight forward golf.  It is a par 72, the white tees play at 6405 yards (71.1/122).  At one point our own shadows startled us while putting on the back nine, but the sun quickly retreated as it does in San Francisco.

"TPC Harding" golf

TPC Harding Park Cypress and Lake Merced

We played our round in four hours and ten minutes, a treat to never have to wait as this is not always the case on some public golf courses.  Chris in the pro shop gave us sound advice “the new greens run true.”  TPC Harding Park has a full driving range and range balls are included with the green fees. The dining facility at TPC Harding is very nice and they have a good selection of beers with outdoor tables overlooking the lake.  Across Lake Merced, which borders several holes on the back nine and over the hill, is the Olympic Club where the 2012 US Open was held.  Just across Lake Merced is the Pacific Rod and Gun Club. Established in 1934, it is the last facility of its kind in a major metropolitan area.  I mention this fact because you may experience the sound of shot guns as you play the back nine. The gun club opens at 11:00 a.m. on Wednesday, Saturday and Sunday.  They close at 5:00 p.m. so you could fit in a round or two of skeet after golf with an early tee time.  ($40 a round of skeet including steel shot that you have to buy there.)

I played Lincoln Park Golf Course a long, long time ago and remember the views of San Francisco’s Golden Gate Bridge. The Presidio Golf Course is on my list to play and it is known for its tight fairways. I will come back to TPC Harding Park as it was a premier golf experience with excellent facilities, friendly staff and an outstanding golf course.

"Evan D. Brown" "TPC Harding"

Evan D. Brown drives it home from TPC Harding Park 18th tee

Insider Tip

Did you know that TPC Harding Park is an ADA accessible golf course? For ADA program access, the accessible route to teeing grounds, putting greens and other playing areas is via the accessible golf cart. The accessible cart at Harding Park Golf Course is available for use with 24 hour notice. For additional insider tips follow Luxury Travel Writer Nancy D. Brown on Twitter @nancydbrown and TPC Harding Park on Twitter for golf tips @TPCHarding.

If You Go:
TPC Harding Park Golf   (415) 664-4690

99 Harding Road
San Francisco, CA 94132

Related Post

Golfing at Half Moon Bay Golf Links

Article and photos by Cory Brown who was a guest of TPC Harding Park.


Morro Bay: Things to Do

Friday May 9, 2014 at 7:07 AM | 8 Comments

"Nancy Brown" "Morro Bay" kayak

Travel Writer Nancy D. Brown kayaking in Morro Bay

Are you visiting Morro Bay for the first time? Below is a list of “Insider Tips” for things to see and do in Morro Bay.

When I have a visitor from out of town the first place they want to see is the Embarcadero for shopping, dining and water adventure, but I also take them to the Bayside Café in the Back Bay Marina for lunch and great views – for a more local, authentic experience.

When I want to escape the tourists, my favorite place to visit is Morro Strand State Beach in North Morro Bay for horseback riding or a quiet beach day and shell hunting.



"Morro Strand State Beach" horseback riding

Horseback Riding Morro Strand State Beach

Morro Bay outdoors

If this is a romantic trip, I recommend Morro Rock, Morro Strand State Beach in North Morro Bay, or Black Mountain State Park hikes for kissing with a sunset view over the bay.

The best place to walk the dog is North Morro Bay dog beach on Hwy 1 on the way to Cayucos, or down the Embarcadero at Tideland’s Park.

Seeing a lot of seals and sea otters? Morro Bay is home to a National Estuary and is best known for the wildlife that lives in and around the bay. There is even a Heron Rookery in the Back Bay next to the Morro Bay Museum of Natural History, which offers new state of the art displays focused on the ecology of the Morro Bay Estuary.

When you come to Morro Bay, get your picture taken with Morro Rock in the background, either from the Embarcadero, the beach, a kayak, or a boat. The opportunities are endless.

The best vantage points are taken by walking to the top of the steps at the giant chess board on the Embarcadero. The steps take you up to Market Street where you can see Morro Rock, all of the bay and the Embarcadero. My favorite vantage point is from the bay, where you can see the quaint seaside town of Morro Bay from the water, while being up close and personal with the wildlife.

Museums are wonderful, but if you are traveling with kids, you’ll want to visit Farmer’s Kite Shop on the Embarcadero. It’s great fun for families to rent kites and a surrey; pedal out to the rock for kite flying on the beach! Don’t miss the annual Kite Festival every spring.

In Morro Bay outdoor enthusiasts will want to Paddle board, horseback ride on the beach, kayak, surf, go deep sea fishing, birding or whale watching, and hike and bike. Morro Bay is an outdoor lovers paradise.

Looking for a little exercise? Walk the path along the Embarcadero and out to the Rock or go hiking in Montana de Oro State Park. Or kayak out to the sand spit and hike around the beach.

California's central coast, beach

Outdoor activities abound on California’s central coast


Cayucos & Morro Bay Food

If you are looking for typical Morro Bay cuisine, nothing beats fresh seafood and it can be found at restaurants and fresh fish markets all up and down the Embarcadero. A few suggestions: The Galley, Tognizzini’s Dockside, Giovanni’s Fish Market or Windows on the Water – they have Oyster Tuesdays!!

The best place to go for coffee & a breakfast treat is Dorn’s or Frankie & Lola’s. Dorn’s has the best bloody Mary and weekend brunch. Frankie & Lola’s has the best house cured corned beef hash and cinnamon rolls – everything is made from scratch!

Looking for cheap food in Morro Bay? Go to the Bayside Café in the Back Bay state park marina, the Hofbrau or Tognizzini’s Dockside, Too bayside restaurant and fish market. Hofbrau is known for their hand carved French dip sandwiches and Tognizzini’s for fresh fish tacos. Bayside Café is on the marina and has amazing salads, seafood, sandwiches, soups and Mexican food.

For an expensive, yet quality meal, go to Window’s on the Water or Shawn’s on Main. Both restaurants offer classic California wine country cuisine using the farm to table experience and seasonal menus. The T Pier offers great views and the food and wine tent is the best place to watch or experience the Annual Harbor Festival on the Embarcadero – the first weekend in October every year. From the five stages featuring renowned performers, to sand castles and fine art, this event is fun for the whole family.

"Hoppe's Bistro" cayucos

Hoppe’s Garden Bistro in Cayucos, California

Best of Morro Bay

If you are a museum lover, Morro Bay’s best museum is Morro Bay Museum of Natural History.

Looking for a little night life, go dancing at Otter Rock.

The Bay News Community paper and the Telegram Tribune will keep you posted on what’s happening in Morro Bay and San Luis Obispo County.

You can tell a lot about Morro Bay from watching the Holiday Boat Parade every December. The waterfront is bustling with crowds who gather to watch local fishermen, sailors, kayakers and boaters cruise up and down the waterfront with their decorated boats. It’s a special event loved by tourists and locals alike that celebrates the waterfront culture in this small seaside town.

In the spring you should attend the annual kite festival that takes place every April on the beach at Morro Rock.

In the summer you should attend the 4th of July Celebration at Tidelands Park. With bands and entertainment all day long, it is the best place to watch the 4th of July Fireworks over the bay.

Did you know that Morro Bay is known for the Harbor Festival? Plan a visit to this two day event that celebrates the history of this fishing village. Come to Morro Bay for for the Winter Bird Festival, attracting bird watchers and photographers from around the world.

"Morro Rock" "Morro Bay"

Morro Rock at sunset

Insider Tips: Check out the often over-looked Old Town district in Morro Bay. Just up the hill from the Embarcadero, I bet you didn’t know  it is home to a Saturday afternoon farmers’ market. My last insider tip is to book a massage at Serenity by the Sea. This day spa is housed in a non-descript wood building on Main Street (545 Main Street) but the deep tissue massage I received was outstanding!

Just outside of Morro Bay you can visit Cayucos; have lunch at Hoppe’s Bistro, with gorgeous gardens and fabulous cuisine inspired by local farmers. Stop by Schooner’s Cove for a seafood, burgers and salads overlooking the beach. If this is a romantic weekend or celebrations I highly recommend dinner at The Cass House. Fabulous!

What are your favorite things to do on California’s Central Coast?

Article, photos and YouTube video by Travel Writer Nancy D. Brown. Thanks to the folks at Wine Coast Country for assistance with this post. I was a guest of Wine Coast Country, however, all opinions are my own.

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