Plan a Romantic Trip to San Francisco

Man riding piggyback

San Francisco is the perfect getaway for couples celebrating their honeymoon, anniversary, and other milestones in their relationship. Check out these romantic spots and activities in SF.

  • Enjoy the view from Telegraph Hill

    Nothing will get your heart racing faster than a steep 284-foot climb up Coit Tower on Telegraph Hill with your significant other. Enjoy views of gardens, houses, flowers, and flocks of wild parrots on the way up. Once at the summit, take in the views of the city skyline. Then, get ready to walk back down – on 400 steps. Make your way to the bottom of the hill, and from there, head east to Embarcadero, where you can take the trolley.

  • Watch the Bay lights

    Gaze at more than 25,000 individually programmed LED lights illuminating the Bay Bridge at night. This project, led by renowned lights artist Leo Villareal, is 1.8 miles long and is a wonder to behold. Choose a bench and watch this dreamy art installation project burn through the SF landscape.

  • Go on a sunset cruise

    Hop on board a luxury catamaran and enjoy a lavish four-course dinner while admiring views of the bay. Toast to the sunset and behold the sight of SF landmarks like the bay and Golden Gate bridges.

  • Take a walk through Garden of Shakespeare’s Flowers

    This romantic spot in Golden Gate Park is filled with more than 200 species of plants and flowers mentioned in William Shakespeare’s famous works. Poppies, mandrakes, violets, daisies, lilies, and roses are just some of the vivid blooms that can be seen here throughout the year. Walk to the farthest end of the garden and find a locked box set within a brick wall surrounded by six bronze panels. This box is said to contain a bust of none other than the Bard himself.

  • Visit the Exploratorium after dark

    Visit this art and science museum after dark and immerse yourself in over 650 exhibits with mirrors, dazzling lights, a gigantic kaleidoscope, and more. The late night, adults-only programming features live music, film screenings, guest speakers, and other fun activities.

  • Have cocktails at the View Lounge

    Located on 39th floor of the Marriott, the View Lounge offers delicious cocktails, gourmet small plates, and stunning entrées. The bar’s oversized glass windows command sweeping views of the city, making it one of the most memorable date spots in the city.

  • Enjoy a candlelight dinner

    Book a table at any of SF’s trendy restaurants for a romantic dinner with that special someone. The city’s culinary hotspots include Gary Danko, Chambers, and Foreign Cinema. And the list keeps growing.

  • Tour the wineries

    Go on a tour of SF’s finest wineries, which offer the best wines from Napa, Sonoma, and France. Experience lavish tasting rooms where you can sample wine, cheese, chocolates, and cold cuts.

  • Stay in

    Don’t feel like going out? Stay in bed at any of SF’s luxury hotels. Four Seasons, Fairmont, and the Ritz-Carlton offer plush accommodations and personalized service to couples who want to stay in and enjoy each other’s company.

Keep the spark alive in one of the most romantic cities in the world. For permanent residential options, call Bernard Katzmann at 415 906 6000 or send an email to KatzmannSF(at)gmail(dotted)com. You can also get in touch with Mike Shaw at 415 308 4281 and MShawSF(at)gmail(dotted)com.

February’s Best Bets: Top Things to Do and See in San Francisco

Chinese lantern hanging in China Town San Francisco CA

Coming to San Francisco this February? Don’t miss out on these events!

  1. Chinese New Year Festival & Parade

    February 22-March 3, 2019
    February 23, 2019 (Day of parade)

    Usher in the Year of the Pig in style! This long-running tradition is among the biggest and brightest of its kind in the world. Festivities take place in Chinatown, with colorful lanterns, lion dancers, firecrackers, traditional drums, and a magnificent 28-foot long Golden Dragon. Highlights include the parade, Miss Chinatown USA, a 10K run, and more. Take it as an opportunity to explore Chinatown and to learn about Chinese-American custom and tradition.

  2. Giants KNBR FanFest

    February 9, 2019

    Baseball season doesn’t start ‘til March, but fans can meet their favorite athletes by attending the Giants Fan Fest at AT&T Park this February. Have your photos taken with the Giants, get an autograph, and buy the latest merchandise. While you’re there, explore the ballpark with friends and family! Click here for the Giants’ full schedule for February.

  3. Indie Fest

    January 30-February 14, 2019

    Attend the Independent Film Festival in SF. Past participants include David Lynch and Gus Van Sant. Founded in 1998, the festival is also known for huge and memorable parties like the Big Lebowski Party and Anti-Valentine’s Day Power Ballad Sing-A-Long Party. The festivities will take place at various venues across the city, including Victoria Theater and Roxie Theater. Attendees can look forward to a screening of “Fantasia” with a live-re-score to be performed by The Firmament on opening night.

  4. Mostly British Film Fest

    February 14-21, 2019

    Catch the best films from the United Kingdom, Ireland, and Australia during this annual film festival. Purchasing a festival pass gives you priority seating during screenings, as well as discounts for pass holders who are members of the Fromm Institute, San Francisco Neighborhood Theater Foundation, SFFILM, and those who are 65 years and older. This year’s line-up includes “The White Crow,” “Flammable Children,” ‘The King’s Speech,” and “Elizabeth.”

  5. Salsa Rueda

    February 14-17, 2019

    The 11th installment of this beloved festival takes place in Whitcomb Hotel this February. Salsa Rueda is the most prestigious salsa festival in the West Coast, with live music, dance shows, DJ sets, and social dances. Never danced to salsa before? No problem! There will be a beginner’s boot camp at the festival to help you find your groove and meet fellow salsa fans.

  6. Beer Week

    February 1-10, 2019

    This festival brings you live music, homebrewed beer contests, wing-eating competitions, tasting tours, beer walks that will take you all over Downtown SF, and more activities to please the beer lover in your life. The opening gala will take place at Pier 35.

  7. Experience SF’s most exciting festivals year-round! If you’re looking for a permanent address in the city, call Bernard Katzmann at 415 906 6000 or send an email to KatzmannSF(at)gmail(dotted)com. You can also get in touch with Mike Shaw at 415 308 4281 and MShawSF(at)gmail(dotted)com..

Things to Do at Fisherman’s Wharf

San Francisco, United States - May 5, 2016: Orange vintage Swiss F Market streetcar rolls by large sign at entrance to the tourist attraction of Fisherman's Wharf on the corner of Beach and Jones Street. Horizontal

Located on San Francisco’s northern waterfront, Fisherman’s Wharf is situated on land formed out of the rubble of the San Francisco earthquake and fire of 1906. It’s a testament to the resilience of the city and its people that the Wharf is now one of SF’s biggest attractions.

Lined with shops and restaurants, it’s the perfect place to visit on a sunny day with friends and family. Attractions such as the Aquarium of the Bay and Ripley’s Believe It or Not will give you plenty to do on your trip.

Family-friendly attractions

  • Aquarium of the Bay is home to over 20,000 marine animals, from sharks and jellyfish, to otters and anchovies. Learn about the creatures of the deep and the current state of the world’s ocean. “Under the Bay,” the Aquarium’s largest and best-known exhibit, contains about 70,000 gallons of water and 200 species.
  • Sea Lions Center serves as the home of a colony of California sea lions that come and go depending on the season and availability of food. The center also provides free educational programming on the natural history of these magnificent creatures, and the threats that they face in their natural environment.

    Madame Tussauds San Francisco brings you life-size wax figures of your favorite actors, singers, athletes, and celebrities. Go on stage with Madonna and Adele, and take photos with Michael Jackson! “Alcatraz: Prison Breakout,” one of the highlights of the museum, is a one-hour escape room that requires you to gather clues and solve puzzles before the guards catch you.

  • Ripley’s Believe It or Not features over a dozen galleries that will fill you with awe and wonder. Find your way out of a mirror maze, dodge laser beams, and examine a collection of micro-miniature sculptures and other oddities.

Shopping and dining

  • Cioppino’s serves calamari, red chili shrimp, prawn cocktail, and other delectable dishes. This well-loved Italian restaurant is known for amazing food at reasonable prices.
  • Ben & Jerry’s Ice Cream Scoop Shop brings you sundaes, shakes, smoothies, pints, and ice cream cakes. They also offer ice cream catering for private events.
  • Ghirardelli Chocolate Marketplace is a must-visit for chocolate lovers. This beloved brand brings you an assortment of products, from chocolate bars and squares, to chocolate powder and baking supplies.
  • NorthPoint Shopping Center is a single stop for all your shopping needs, featuring a grocery store, pharmacy, fitness center, bank, spa, and postal office.
  • Macy’s sells brand-name shoes and clothing for men, women, and children.
  • Wattle Creek Winery features a lavish tasting room where you can sample the finest wines from Napa, Sonoma, and France. Club members have privileged access to Wattle Creek and its sister wineries, as well as discounts on wine and merchandise.

Live close to Fisherman’s Wharf and enjoy its finest attractions again and again! Call Bernard Katzmann at 415 906 6000 or send an email to KatzmannSF(at)gmail(dotted)com. You can also get in touch with Mike Shaw at 415 308 4281 and MShawSF(at)gmail(dotted)com.

San Francisco’s Award-Winning Bars

Group of friends clinking glasses while enjoying an evening meal in a restaurant on New Years Eve.

There’s no shortage of hip and happening bars in San Francisco. Here are some of the best night spots in the city.

  • Buddha Lounge

    901 Grant Avenue

    One of the most popular dive bars in Chinatown, Buddha Lounge is known for its dice games – if you lose, you buy the bartender a drink. You win, and your drink is on the house. The crowd doesn’t arrive ‘til late, so make sure to hang around until the party gets started.

  • Redwood Room

    1222, 495 Geary Street

    This historic bar in The Clift Royal Sonesta Hotel has been restored and redesigned as a modern, art deco-inspired nightspot. Known for its gorgeous redwood paneling and digital artwork, Redwood Room bar serves artisanal cocktails and gourmet small plates made with farm-fresh ingredients.

  • White Chapel Gin Bar

    600 Polk Street
    This award-winning bar has the most extensive collection of gin in North America. In addition, White Chapel offers a carefully curated cocktail menu showcasing gin’s versatility. The food menu is no less impressive, with samosas, wings, fried cheese curds, and other delectable dishes to choose from.

  • Benjamin Cooper

    398 Geary Street

    Enjoy the freshest oysters and the best cocktails in Downtown SF. Sip your handcrafted drinks, savor the small bites, soak in the atmosphere. Best of all, admire the skill and friendliness of the bartenders – you’ll have a good time no matter which time of the week you go.

  • The Snug

    2301 Fillmore Street

    The place is known for Instagrammable drinks like the Golden Flamingo, a shareable punch bowl that the whole group can enjoy. Other drinks include Buddha’s Hand and margarita on nitro. The food menu lists pork belly, Korean fried chicken wings, and other tasty treats.

  • Trick Dog

    3010 20th Street

    Trick Dog changes its drinks menu every six months, offering a new experience each time. The bar has an extensive cocktail menu and serves amazing wings, beef tartare, and kale salad. Guests can host private events in the upstairs area, or buy out the whole bar for the night.

  • Forgery

    1525 Mission Street

    Hailed as one of SF’s best new cocktail bars, Forgery makes use of Japanese whisky gin, cognac, and other spirits to create handcrafted cocktails. They also have an excellent selection of wines and beer.

  • Smuggler’s Cove

    650 Gough Street

    The pirate-themed décor will put a smile on your face, while a bevy of exotic cocktails will transport you to the Bahamas. This bar won the Best American Cocktail Bar at the 2018 Spirited Awards, and was named the Best Cocktail Bar in San Francisco in a reader’s poll. The crew is helmed by rum and cocktail expert Martin Cate – so put on your best Hawaiian shirt and make your way to this crowd favorite.

Live close to SF’s lauded bar scene. Call Bernard Katzmann at 415 906 6000 or send an email to KatzmannSF(at)gmail(dotted)com. You can also get in touch with Mike Shaw at 415 308 4281 and MShawSF(at)gmail(dotted)com.

San Francisco’s Nighttime Scene

San Francisco skyline and Bay Bridge at sunset, California

  • Tour Alcatraz at night

    Bundle up, cue the atmospherics, and go on a night tour of Alcatraz. Keep in mind that only one company has permission to bring guests to the island. And only two kinds of tours, namely the Behind the Scenes Tour and Night Tour, allow you to visit Alcatraz after sunset. Moreover, tickets are limited to only a few hundred visitors each night. So, book early. The last boat to Fisherman’s Wharf departs at 9:30 pm.

  • View the city from above

    You can admire the city skyline from these vantage points:

    • Salesforce Park, the rooftop park of the Salesforce Transit Center, is the second highest tower on the West Coast at 1,070 feet and gives you a vista of the city.
    • The Virgin Hotel’s rooftop bar serves up stunning views to go with your small plates and expertly mixed drinks.
    • The Cityscape San Francisco Lounge, a swanky nightspot, has 18-foot-high glass windows that offer views of the bay.
  • Enjoy a Broadway Show

    San Francisco Theater brings you Broadway favorites like “Mary Poppins,” “Falsettos,” “Hamilton,” and more. The theater also hosts world-class dance recitals, concerts, and comedy shows, featuring renowned talents like the Harlem Globetrotters and San Francisco Symphony.

  • Take a sunset or dinner cruise

    Go on a luxury cruise where you can admire views of the Bay and Golden Bay Bridge while feasting on a four-course meal made with seasonal, locally sourced ingredients.

  • Watch a Giants baseball game

    Come to AT&T Park to watch the San Francisco Giants in action! Season ticket holders get to enjoy exclusive access to spring training, non-baseball events, and regular and post season games. They also get a 20% discount on food and drinks.

  • Marvel at Bay Bridge lights

    Designed by prominent lights artist Leo Villareal, this 1.8-mile wide art installation project illuminates San Francisco’s most beloved landmark, and gives onlookers the experience of a lifetime.

  • Experience the San Francisco’s restaurants scene

    SF is known for its culinary scene, from fine dining to rustic, farm-to-table fare. The best time to experience the dining scene is during SF Restaurant Week, a 10-day affair where the city’s finest establishments showcase multi-course menus at fixed restaurant prices.

  • Explore Chinatown

    Go on a self-guided tour of Chinatown, the oldest community of its kind in North America, and the largest outside Asia. Landmarks include the Dragon Gate, Mary’s Square, Mary’s Cathedral, Grant Avenue, various murals, and the statue of Sun Yat-Sen.

  • Visit the Exploratorium

    Expect fascinating exhibits and fun activities to spark your love for art and science at the Exploratorium. Special events like After Dark Thursdays give you the opportunity to explore over 650 immersive exhibits that include a fog bridge and a dazzling lights display.

  • Hang out at North Beach

    Once the epicenter of bohemianism in SF, North Beach retains its laidback atmosphere – this is where locals go for morning tai chi classes and afternoon coffee. Highlights include Washington Square, Telegraph Hill, and Greenwich and Filbert streets.

  • Enjoy a late night museum

    SF is known for its after-dark museum culture, offering art, music, performances, and cocktail parties. Head to the Contemporary Jewish Museum, Berkeley Art Museum & Pacific Film Archive, and Exploratorium for a bit of nighttime culture.

Enjoy these activities throughout the year. For residential options, call Bernard Katzmann at 415 906 6000 or send an email to KatzmannSF(at)gmail(dotted)com. You can also get in touch with Mike Shaw at 415 308 4281 and MShawSF(at)gmail(dotted)com.

Kid-Friendly Things to Do in San Francisco

Family with hands up jumping and having fun on the top of the mountain

San Francisco is a family-friendly destination with plenty of activities especially designed for kids of all ages:

  • Go ice skating!

    Visit the Safeway Holiday Ice Rink at Union Square with the kids. Lace up your skates for a fantastic evening out on the ice. Tickets are $18 for regular admission, and $13 for children who are eight years old and younger. Figure skating and hockey rentals are covered by ticket prices. Get your tickets here.

  • See the Pier 39 sea lions!

    In the aftermath of the 1989 San Francisco Earthquake, sea lions started arriving at Pier 39’s K-Dock lured by the abundant supply of food and protection from predators. The number of sea lions that can be spotted on Pier 39 fluctuates depending on the season, food supply, and migration patterns. The pier also offers striking views of the Golden Gate Bridge, Alcatraz, and the San Francisco skyline. Other activities include sailing, dining, and shopping.

  • Take a tour with on foot

    Free Tours by Foot offers exciting walking tours for every budget. Inquire about kid friendly options. Visit SF’s hidden gems, from charming neighborhoods to new cuisines you want your kids to discover. Most importantly, the company will tell you and your kids the remarkable stories of the men and women who built this amazing city.

  • Take a ferry to Angel Island

    Angel Islandis a designated California State Park and one of the most honored historical sites in the US. To get there, take a ferry and then go on a tram tour of the island. You can also go hiking and biking with the whole family. Foodies will enjoy the Angel Island Café and Angel Island Cantina, which serve amazing dishes and feature live music.

  • Hike the Lands End trail

    In the northwestern corner of ‘Frisco, Lands End offers serene hiking trails around rocky cliffs, over the ocean, and through thickets of eucalyptus and cypress. Get ready to be amazed by views of the headlands, shores, and the Golden Gate Bridge. For more kid-friendly tips on how to best enjoy the trail, go to this link.

  • Watch a Golden State Warriors game

    Basketball fans, head to Chase Center, the new home of the Golden State Warriors. Get the chance to see Stephen Curry and his teammates shoot some hoops. You can also enjoy farm-to-table dining and shop your favorite brands. Click here for season tickets.

  • Consider buying a tourist discount pass

    Make the most of your trip by getting tourist passes, some of which offer up to 60% off on the best San Francisco museums, activities, and tours. You can choose from a variety of packages that include discounted trips to the Aquarium of the Bay, California Academy of the Sciences, and more!

  • Explore Haight-Ashbury

    This iconic neighborhood is best known for the hippies that made it their home in the 1960s. There are remnants of those flower power days, along with other attractions. They include the Painted Ladies, a row of brightly colored Victorian homes at Alamo Square and Buena Vista Park, which offers breathtaking views of the city. Don’t miss the architectural marvels of Delmar, Masonic, and Piedmont streets either.

  • See San Francisco’s Redwood Grove

    Behold the sight of majestic California Redwood trees in one of the most peaceful and secluded area of the Botanical Gardens. Sit on a bench and enjoy the beauty of your surroundings.

Live close to all these fantastic SF attractions and events. Let the agents at Bernie and Mike Homes help you find the perfect property. Call Bernard Katzmann at 415 906 6000 or send an email to You can also get in touch with Mike Shaw at 415 308 4281 and

Where to eat in San Francisco on Christmas Day

Holiday Dinner

Preparing meals for friends and family on Christmas Day can be time-consuming. Why not go out instead and explore the Bay Area’s dining scene, for a change? The following restaurants are open for the holidays, serving a wide array of cuisines.

  1. Zingari Ristorante + Jazz Bar

    501 Post St.

    Zingari is serving meals on both Christmas Eve and Christmas Day. A three-course menu is on offer for only $85. Guests can choose from their regular fare to vegan and gluten-free options.

    To reserve your table, call (415) 885-8850 or book online here.

  2. Sutro’s at the Cliff House

    1090 Point Lobos

    If you want a view of the Pacific Ocean on Christmas Day, there is no better place to dine than Sutro’s, a beautiful restaurant by the bay. They are open for Christmas reservations starting November 25. Book here or call (415) 386-3330.

  3. Biscuit and Blues

    401 Mason St.

    Live blues entertainment will surely liven up your Christmas Day. Biscuit and Blues in Theater District was established in 1995. It is one of the best live music venues in San Francisco.

    On Christmas Day, John Lee Hooker Jr. will be on stage at 7:00 PM onwards to perform funky takes on Gospel Christmas music. Enjoy this performance with Southern favorites, such as corn and shrimp fritters and hot wings.

    Book your table here or call (415) 249-7908.

  4. Cioppino’s

    400 Jefferson St.

    Located at the iconic Fisherman’s Wharf, Christmas Day at Cioppino’s is an undeniably San Francisco experience. Their doors are open on Christmas Eve and Christmas Day with their regular menu featuring fresh, quality seafood on offer.

    Reserve ahead by calling (415) 775-9311 or click here.

  5. Farm at Carneros

    4048 Sonoma Highway, Napa

    Don’t restrict your Christmas Day options to just San Francisco− experience what the whole Bay Area has to offer. Head to Napa Valley for a delicious Christmas Day meal at Farm at Carneros.

    For $105 per adult ($42 per child), guests will be treated to a splendid five-course dinner that marries the holiday spirit and the tastes of Contemporary American fare.

    Call (707) 299-4480 or click here to book your table now.

  6. Sante

    Fairmont Sonoma Mission Inn & Spa, 100 Boyes Blvd, Sonoma

    A Christmas meal at Sante, a Michelin-starred French restaurant housed in the luxurious Fairmont Sonoma Mission Inn & Spa, is the very definition of “treat yourself.”

    On Christmas Day, their tables will be decked out to serve a scrumptious Californian Christmas buffet showcasing classical French techniques from 1:00 PM to 8:00 PM. Meals are $50 for children aged 6-12 and $135 for adults.

    Phone (707) 939-2407 to make your reservation.

  7. Bistro Vida

    641 Santa Cruz Ave, Menlo Park

    Bistro Vida, a French bistro in Downtown Menlo Park, will be serving their regular menu on Christmas Day, for both lunch and dinner services. Dining here will be transporting yourself to the heart of Paris for the holidays.

    View their menu here and don’t forget to make your reservation ahead.

Experience more of the San Francisco area with Bernie Katzmann and Mike Shaw, your go-to San Francisco realtors.

The hottest parties in San Francisco this New Year’s Eve

Having fun on NYE

One of the best ways to celebrate the coming of the new year is to paint the town red. Dress up, take your friends, and go to San Francisco’s best New Year’s Eve parties.

  1. NYE International Ball 2019

    Where: Palace Hotel

    Known as San Francisco’s #1 NYE party, the NYE International Ball is definitely an event you shouldn’t miss. It will take place in Palace Hotel, located in Downtown San Francisco. Tickets start at $95.

    Party-goers will be treated to four different themed rooms. Dance to the beat of throbbing euro and house music in Room #1. Go Latin and sway your hips to salsa, merengue, and pop latino in Room #2. Meanwhile, Room #3 is where you want to be if you love hip-hop and mash-ups. Finally, Room #4 will be dedicated to the Persian and international scene.

    Purchase your NYEW International Ball 2019 tickets here.

  2. EPIC New Year’s Eve 2019

    Where: Park Central Hotel

    Wait for the balloon to drop at EPIC’s NYE 2019 party, which will happen at Park Central Hotel in Union Square. Ticket prices range from $29.95 to $1,999.95.

    Dance the night away in Park Central Hotel’s main ballroom, where two giant screens will be located so you can count down until the very last minutes of 2018. DJs included in the line-up will spin house, Top 40, and hip-hop tracks. Behind the velvet rope, VIP party-goers will be treated to an all-out luxury experience. But best of all, everyone gets to have party favors.

    Don’t forget to get all dressed up. Buy your tickets here.

  3. M.O.A.N.Y New Year’s Eve Countdown to 2019

    Where: The Regency Center

    If you are looking to take your New Year party experience to a whole new level, do not miss out on the Mother of All New Year’s countdown party at The Regency Center. Tickets are now available and start at $25.

    The whole party will take over three different dance floors, with a variety of music and performance stages where top-rated DJs will spin. You can also try your luck in one of the many casino tables that will pepper the event venue. Don’t forget to capture special moments in front of the photo booth with your loved ones.

    For more information about the event (and to get your tickets), click here.

  4. NYE Massive 2019

    Where: The Parc 55 Hilton Hotel

    Once again, the organizers of NYE Massive are taking the party to San Francisco (and in other cities across the country.) The NYE Massive 2019 will be held at The Parc 55 HIlton Hotel, with ticket prices starting at $45.

    The longest running multi-city New Year party, this year’s NYE Massive will feature five dance floors where you can dance ’til you drop. Party favors, along with glow sticks and noise makers, will be distributed. VIP tickets are available at $449 and will include private bartending services, four hours of premium open bar, and access to the VIP room.

    Get your tickets to one of San Francisco’s most anticipated NYE parties here.

  5. San Francisco New Year’s Eve PubCrawl

    Where: Bar None SF

    If you’re looking for a New Year event that’s the opposite of average, check out the NYE PubCrawl. Instead of partying the night away is just one venue, you get to tour different nightlife hotspots and the city with an All Access Pass for only $40.

    This year’s PubCrawl will feature bars and clubs in the Marina District. Registration opens at Bar None SF, starting at 3 in the afternoon and will close at 8:00 PM. This is where you’ll get a wristband that will guarantee you free entry to all participating establishments.

    Grab your All Access Pass here.

Bernie Katzmann and Mike Shaw are your most trusted San Francisco realtors. Learn more about San Francisco real estate with them today.

How to celebrate New Year’s Eve in San Francisco

New Year's Eve Firework at San Francisco

San Francisco is definitely one of the best places in the country to celebrate New Year’s Eve. Make your night even more memorable by checking out any of the following tips.

  1. Watch the night sky light up with fireworks at The Embarcadero.

    The Embarcadero Fireworks Show is a once-in-a-year spectacle you should not miss. At exactly midnight, the show erupts into a fantastic display of lights and sparkles. Come early to secure your spot− they say the best place to view the fireworks is at the end of Market Street.

    Alternatively, you can also watch the fireworks display at the restaurant of your choice. In our previous blog post, we listed down the best Bay Area restaurants where you can enjoy front-row views on New Year’s Eve.

  2. Go on a special New Year’s Eve picnic.

    It is almost a local tradition for residents to gather at Dolores Park for a picnic, which lasts all the way ’til midnight. Crowds start to come in around sundown with baskets filled with food and champagne. While you wait to ring in the new year, feast with your loved ones and enjoy the gorgeous views.

  3. Hop aboard a New Year’s Eve cruise.

    If you want a different vantage point for the spectacular fireworks show that’s about to come later in the evening, consider going on a New Year’s Eve cruise, which is bound to be a unique experience.

    You can wine and dine and dance the night away. There are several cruises that sail around the bay on this special night, such as Hornblower, the Belle of the Ball, Commodore, and Fume Blanc’s Speakeasy New Year’s Eve Cruise.

    Take your significant other with you (or a loved one) for a fantastic New Year’s Eve aboard a cruise.

  4. Dress up and party!

    San Francisco is famed for its long list of New Year’s Eve parties, from upscale events to pub crawls in the Marina District. For instance, there’s the NYE International Ball, EPIC New Year’s Eve 2019, and San Francisco New Year’s Eve PubCrawl. Check our blog for more details about these upcoming parties.

  5. Go kayaking at midnight with the family.

    Are you looking for a totally different New Year’s Eve experience? City Kayak can give you just that. Take the whole family out on an outing, paddle out on a kayak, and enjoy unobstructed views of the city and the fireworks display.

    Take note, however, that the group is limited to only 30 participants, preferably those who are experienced with kayaking. If you have young children in the family, an alternative would be to go picnicking in Dolores Park or ice-skating in Union Square.

Take note of the following places if you’re looking for a place to spend the rest of the evening: Union Square, Financial District, SoMa, Civic Center, and North Beach. These neighborhoods are bustling with activity every New Year’s Eve.

Experience more of San Francisco with your most trusted San Francisco realtors, Mike Shaw and Bernie Katzmann.

Bay Area restaurants with best views of the fireworks

Bay Area Fireworks Show

Are you planning on going out for dinner on New Year’s Eve, but are afraid you might miss the fireworks show? Fret not. There are many restaurants in San Francisco that will guarantee you a front-row seat.

Here are some of the most highly recommended places to check out.

  1. Waterbar

    399 The Embarcadero

    Waterbar at the Embarcadero is rated as one of the best seafood restaurants in San Francisco. Waterbar prides itself for its “sustainably-sourced seafood,” fresh from the West Coast’s waters. Their pastries and desserts are not to be missed as well; check out their menu here.

    Best of all, Waterbar occupies a prime waterfront spot where you can enjoy panoramic vistas of the bay and the city. Dine al fresco for a wonderful dining experience.

  2. Sens

    Promenade Level, 4 Embarcadero Center

    Located in the second floor of Embarcadero Center is Sens, a Mediterranean-inspired restaurant helmed by Executive Chef Michel Adams. You can check out their offerings here.

    Sens’ location is one of the best places to view the Embarcadero fireworks display. It is highly recommended to get a table in the outdoor patio ahead of time− this area is highly coveted during the holidays, so plan early.

  3. EPIC Steak

    369 The Embarcadero

    If you are not in the mood for seafood and instead craving for tender steak, head to EPIC, which is located just right next to Waterbar at The Embarcadero. Like its neighbor, it also offers spectacular views of the bay and the San Francisco city skyline.

    Views aside, EPIC is famed in the Bay Area for its delectable array of steak, as well as their impressive wine selection. A New Year’s eve dinner here will surely be unforgettable. View their menu here.

  4. Americano

    Hotel Vitale, 8 Mission St.

    Housed within the upscale Hotel Vitale, Americano is perfect for your New Year’s eve dinner if you are craving authentic Italian cuisine. Their menu features dishes made with seasonal and locally sourced ingredients. You can rest assured everything is made fresh here. Peek into their menus here.

    Americano also features a circular cocktail lounge where you can chill and unwind. And as the night draws to a close, come outside to the patio, where you can enjoy sweeping panoramas of the San Francisco Bay, and of course, the fireworks show.

  5. Hillstone

    1800 Montgomery St.

    Hillstone might not offer front-row views to the fireworks display. It’s a bit of a short distance away from the waterfront. Nonetheless, its outdoor patio is prime viewing spot if you want enjoy the fireworks, plus gorgeous, sweeping views of The Embarcadero.

    A well-known San Francisco institution, Hillstone specializes in classic American cuisine, cocktails, and wine. Enjoy all of these with the live jazz band playing before you ring in the new year. Check out their dinner menu here.

Celebrating the new year in San Francisco is a memorable experience. Learn more about the city and its housing market by contacting Bernie Katzmann and Mike Shaw, your go-to San Francisco realtors.

5 Top tours operating on Christmas Day

Streets of San Francisco

Christmas Day is a great time to see the sights and experience the thrills of San Francisco. Here are five tours that will show you around the city on this very special day.

  1. Golden Gate Bay Cruise

    There are many scenic cruises in the Bay Area, but none can compare to Red and White Fleet’s original Golden Gate Bay Cruise. It was launched in 1939, making it one of the oldest tours in the city.

    Tickets for the Golden Gate Bay Cruise are $33 for adults and $23 for kids aged 5 to 17 years. Tourists are expected to arrive 30 minutes before this scheduled tour. To book your tickets, visit this page.

  2. San Francisco Golden Gate Bridge to Sausalito Bike Tour

    If you’re looking for a fitness-oriented tour of San Francisco, this one is for you. Take a guided bike tour with Viator. For three hours, you will cycle from the Golden Gate Bridge all the way to Sausalito. Don’t worry− the bike tour will be done at a leisurely and relaxed pace, with plenty of time and options to stop and take pictures. After the tour, you are free to bike around some more− your fee includes bike rental for the whole day.

    This tour starts at $55. You also have the option to rent an electric bike for a more relaxing ride. Click here to learn more.

  3. Self-guided bike tours by Blazing Saddles

    Think you can go on a bike tour on your own? That can also be arranged. Blazing Saddles, a tour company based in San Francisco, offers a multitude of self-guided tour options.

    Take your pick. You can do the classic route (Golden Gate Bridge to Sausalito. Other routes include Fisherman’s Wharf to Golden Gate Park, Union Square to Sausalito and Tiburon, and Union Square to Golden Gate Park.

    You can choose the route you want and book your bike here.

  4. Chinatown walking tour

    San Francisco’s Chinatown is one of the oldest of its kind in the country. Exploring the neighborhood is a must. You have the option to go on a self-guided tour or join a guided tour. The former enables you to have more time on your hands, while the latter allows you to learn about the history of the place.

    Check out these options, which include all sorts of attractions, from historical sites, architecturally significant gems, as well as best restaurants in the area.

  5. GoCAR San Francisco tour

    GoCar elevates city tours to a whole new level. Drive around the city in your rented goCar and learn all about San Francisco. You can choose to tour the city and its attractions, or go all out and explore the wonders of the Bay Area. You’re given free rein to customize the tour− go on a full-day excursion or an exhilarating one-hour tour of the city that covers San Francisco’s most essential spots.

    Learn more about GoCar tours here.

Would you like to know more about San Francisco? Contact Bernie Katzmann and Mike Shaw, your go-to San Francisco realtors, today.

6 Things to do in San Francisco on Christmas Day

To do list on christmas

The holidays make San Francisco more beautiful than it already is. Here are a couple of activities to do on one of the happiest days of the year.

  1. Go ice skating in your favorite skating rink.

    Although San Francisco is considerably warmer than other cities, you are still free to enjoy this delightful winter activity with friends and family.
    There are four ice skating rinks in Downtown San Francisco, so you need not go far:

    1. Yerba Buena Ice Skating and Bowling Center
    2. Embarcadero Center Holiday Ice Rink
    3. The Winter Park at Civic Center (opening on November 30)
    4. Union Square Ice Rink

  2. Greet the sea lions a merry Christmas.

    Are you planning on taking the kids out? Most of Pier 39 is closed for the holidays, but that shouldn’t stop you from paying some of San Francisco’s most famous residents a visit. Take pictures with the sea lions and the giant Christmas tree, stroll along Fisherman’s Wharf, and grab some lunch along the way.

  3. Have Christmas brunch with the family at the Palace Hotel.

    Christmas is all about treating yourself and your family, so why not reserve a table at The Palace Hotel for their brunch service? Spoil the rest of the family to a scrumptious buffet spread. Afterwards, enjoy a nice and relaxing tea time.

    The Palace Hotel’s Christmas Day Brunch costs $155 for adults and $80 for kids aged 5 to 12 years. Click here for more information.

  4. Visit the San Francisco Zoo and Gardens.

    Another family-friendly affair for Christmas Day is a trip to the San Francisco Zoo and Gardens, which is open for the rest of the holidays. This year, their holiday highlight is the Reindeer Romp, which will run from November 17, 2018 until the first day of January 2019. Don’t forget to say hi to the rest of the zoo’s 2,000 residents.

    Zoo members get to go inside free, while ticket prices for regular visitors start at $17. San Francisco residents, however, get to enjoy special discounts. Click here to learn more.

  5. Visit the Gingerbread House at the Fairmont San Francisco.

    For years, the Fairmont’s Gingerbread House has attracted tourists from different parts of the country. This year, the Gingerbread House is going to be even grander. It will stand a total of 25 feet high, featuring approximately 10,200 bricks made of gingerbread, and 3,300 pounds of icing.

    Guests are also open to book a private dining space for a party of 10 inside the Gingerbread House. Call (415) 772-5144 to inquire.

  6. Drive out of the city to Muir Woods.

    Christmas Day is expected to attract large numbers of crowds to San Francisco. To avoid all the people, an alternative would be to drive out of the city and explore the rich outdoor recreation in the Bay Area. One favorite would be the Muir Woods National Monument.

    Famed for its collection of old-growth redwood trees, Muir Woods is sure to provide a welcome escape for the holidays. Call 1-800-410-2419 to make reservations for your group. For more information, visit this page.

Learn more about San Francisco with the best San Francisco realtors, Mike Shaw, and Bernie Katzmann. Get in touch with them today.

5 Events That Will Thrill San Francisco in November

It’s time to mark your calendars for another eventful month. Here are the highlights coming your way in November:

  • Watch live major league sports action with the NFL and the NBA

    November is a great time to catch the NFL season in full swing as the hometown San Francisco 49ers take on the Oakland Raiders and the New York Giants on November 1 and 12.

    Oracle Arena

    Meanwhile, championship-caliber basketball returns to the Bay Area as the Golden State Warriors kick off their NBA title defense with nine home games at the Oracle Arena in Oakland.

  • Get captivated by Cirque du Soleil
    Large Disco Ball

    Cirque du Soleil’s Volta is an imaginative story of self-discovery rendered with the touring company’s signature brand of acrobatics and colorful set designs. Shows run Tuesday to Sunday starting November 16 all the way until the first week of January 2019. They will be staged Under the Big Top, Grand Chapiteau (where the AT&T Park parking area is located).

  • Watch A Bronx Tale in the West Coast

    Broadway returns to the Bay Area as A Bronx Tale opens November 27 at the Golden Gate Theater. The musical, co-directed by Robert De Niro, premiered in 2016 and tells the story of a young man in 1960s New York, who is torn between his love and reverence for his father and his aspirations to become a mob boss.

  • Spend Thanksgiving by the Bay
    Find reasons to give thanks

    November 22 and the days that follow are especially delightful here in San Francisco, thanks to a variety of exceptional ways to celebrate:

      San Francisco Thanksgiving dinner cruises
      Choose between a buffet dinner cruise on the San Francisco Belle or a four-course seated dinner aboard the California Hornblower.

      San Francisco Turkey Trot
      Who says Thanksgiving is just about feasting? This casual fun run/walk at the Polo Fields in Golden Gate Park is sure to make you break a sweatwhile still capturing the lively spirit of the holiday.

      The Union Square holiday tree lighting ceremony
      Let the Thanksgiving pleasantries carry over to the weekend. Head over to Union Square or Ghirardelli Square the day after Thanksgiving to catch the annual Christmas Tree Lighting Ceremony.

      Black Friday shopping spree
      Expect Black Friday to be huge in a city like San Francisco. If you’re ready to brave the crowds, Union Square and the Westfield Shopping Center are the places you want to be at on that day. Pier 39 of Fisherman’s Wharf, Ghirardelli Square, and Embarcadero Center are also going to be loads of fun.

  • Be part of all these lively local festivals

    There’s something for everyone in San Francisco. Just take a look at this lineup of November festivals and expos:

  • Remember, remember, it’s not just November – living in San Francisco is exciting all year round, and even more fun during the Christmas season! Learn about the many excellent opportunities to own a home here with Bernie and Mike Homes. Call us today at 415 906 6000 or 415 308 4281 for inquiries.

    Your Dog Will Absolutely Love Playing in these San Francisco Parks

    Small dog playing with disk

    One of the most appealing reasons to live in San Francisco is its dog-friendly reputation. An impressive selection of parks like these ones listed as the best among the rest and playgrounds dot the city, keeping you and your pet spoiled for choice.

    If your dogs could talk, these are the San Francisco dog parks they would be raving about non-stop:

    • “I wanna see the city – all of it!”

      Corona Heights Park (32 Museum Way) rewards you and your pet with astonishing 360-degree views of the City by the Bay after an uphill climb. Just remember to follow the rules and keep your pup on a leash, at least until you get to the fenced play area.

    • “I’d like to make new friends please.”

      As the city’s biggest and best-known park, Golden Gate Park (38th and Fulton Street) offers plenty of opportunities to satisfy your pet’s urge to socialize. Head over to the fenced Dog Training Area and let your pup run and play around to its heart’s content:

    • “I mean, it already has the word ‘fun’ in its name…”

      Fort Funston Park, accessible via Skyline Boulevard, is practically paradise for your furry, four-legged best friend. You’ll both marvel at the gorgeous beachfront, exhilarating trails, and even a hang glider or two zipping overhead every now and then. Feel free to let your pet roam free around this area, but watch out for horseback riders.

    • “Go enjoy your art while I run around on a piece of history.”

      Located in the Duboce Triangle neighborhood, Duboce Dog Park (along Duboce Avenue) is one of the oldest dog parks in San Francisco. Rarely crowded and perfect for off-leash play, this park guarantees a field day for your pet. Colorful mosaic art pieces are spread across the park, adding a pleasant aesthetic highlight for you to enjoy.

    • “I don’t care if that dog’s bigger than me!”

      If you have an adorable little toy dog that tends to get into trouble with bigger dogs, Rincon Hill Dog Park at 486 Beale Street offers the ideal playground. The park features two large, separate, gated play areas that keep small and big dogs in their distinct play spaces.

    • “I want to run around! Although I do hate it when my paws get muddy…”

      Sometimes it just can’t be helped. Your pup wants to head out after a rainy day. Head to Addison and Farnum for the Walter Haas Park and Playground. Its enclosed, double-gated entrance features a crushed stone surface that’s comfortable for your pet’s paws while also keeping them mud-free.

    • “Let’s go on a picnic!”

      A favorite among dog-owners in San Francisco, St. Mary’s Dog Play Area along 95 Justin Drive in the Bernal Heights neighborhood has an expansive, fenced area where pets can play freely. With plenty of shade thanks to mature foliage all around, it’s a great place to hang out and have a picnic.

    Start exploring opportunities to share the City by the Bay lifestyle with your doggo. Call us at Bernie and Mike Homes for more information on the city and its real estate opportunities. We look forward to hearing from you at 415 906 6000 or 415 308 4281.

    New vs. Old: Which Type of Property is Best for Your Investment Goals?

    Couple in front of their new home

    The demand for housing is at a constant high in the San Francisco Bay Area. This puts investors in a fortunate position – they can simply focus on which type of property matches their investment style and earning goals.

    Let’s take a look at the distinct advantages of both new construction and established homes in terms of investment potential:

    Why new construction makes sense as a real estate investment

    • People have a “new is better” bias

      Potential buyers and renters are easy to attract with new construction. In addition, having zero wear and tear in the property, new appliances and fixtures, and fresh warranty terms allow investors to justify a premium price tag.

    • New construction presents greater value for your investment capital

      While new construction tends to be priced higher than an established home, you can get more for your capital through builders’ incentives. You can negotiate with builders so that they can throw in bonus appliances or premium fixtures (sometimes installed free of charge) at a discount.

    • You can get returns on your investment sooner

      You can begin advertising your property for sale or for lease as soon as you close a deal with the buyer. You won’t have to bother with any maintenance and repair work to spruce the place up because everything is brand new.

    • There is no need to worry about maintenance costs in the short term

      With new construction, you get the benefit of having fresh warranty terms. While you can expect that there will be no serious maintenance or structural issues within the first few years of ownership, if there do happen to be unforeseen problems, these will be fully covered by the builder’s warranty.

    Making the case for established, older properties

    • You spend less capital on a potential-laden asset

      If you’re working with a limited investment capital, an older home is the way to go. Established homes are typically listed at a lower price compared to new construction, which tends to follow the market rates. With an older home, you also tend to get more square footage for your money while also enjoying greater room for negotiation.

    • History and character are strong selling points

      Older homes have more character and, at times, tell a unique story. It could be something as simple as having mature landscaping, a charming array of hand-carved interior features, or the cachet of having been the home of a notable family or individual.

      Because of this, older homes can draw serious interest from sophisticated, high-paying buyers. If you’re lucky, you can even attract a bidding war that can result in greater earnings.

    • Older properties are usually built on larger lots

      For people who value living spaces outside the house as much as inside it, established homes are the more attractive choice. In addition, the larger plot of land also affords investors greater potential for long-term appreciation.

    • You are investing in a sure thing

      Old homes are built in established neighborhoods. This means less guesswork about the community that your buyers or tenants will soon join or the kind of amenities and attractions they have around them. This makes it easier for you to do deliberate, targeted marketing.

    For more professional advice and expert insights on San Francisco real estate, get in touch with Bernie and Mike Homes. Inquire today by calling 415 906 6000 or 415 308 4281.

    Hot and Fresh: Everything You Need to Know About the SF Street Food Fest

    San Francisco Street Food Festival

    Everybody loves to eat, so it’s pretty obvious why an event like the San Francisco Street Food Festival exists. And in a city that takes pride in its social and cultural diversity, you can expect more than just a celebration of flavors and favorites.

    Presenting, all your questions about the SF Street Food Fest answered:

    What can we expect from the SF Street Food Festival?

    Great food, equally great drinks, and a fun crowd. Featuring more than 30 Bay Area chefs and restaurants, the SF Street Food Festival is all that, and then some.

    From Puerto Rican empanadas to Vietnamese noodles, from Slavic to soul food – the diverse range of participating chefs and restaurateurs at the SF Street Food Festival is simply astonishing. You’ll have an entire day to walk around this food fair, but it still won’t be enough to sample everything that this exceptional event has to offer.

    What makes the SF Street Food Festival so special?

    The Festival means more to San Francisco than just a gastronomic adventure. It’s also a feel-good underdog story that every San Franciscan can be proud of.

    The SF Street Food Festival started out as a simple block party in 2009, with the aim of celebrating the City by the Bay’s diverse culinary traditions. It was created by La Cocina, a Mission District-based food startup incubator that helps boost food startups created and run by low-income women, many of whom come from immigrant families.

    The Festival immediately grew a huge following, but nearly ended its run in 2014 – ironically because its success had made it hard to accommodate at its original Folsom Street location. A move to the Dogpatch location in 2015 allowed this emerging San Francisco signature experience to continue making an impact to this day.

    What this continued success means for San Francisco is that more low-income women find opportunities to launch or sustain their food businesses. By creating a festive environment that draws residents and tourists by the thousands, La Cocina places these promising enterprises – products of its incubator program – at the forefront of a globally appealing San Francisco food culture.

    When and where does it take place?

    This year’s SF Street Food Festival happens on October 13, 2018 (Saturday) at The Power Station, located in the Dogpatch neighborhood. It’s just a one-day event, so be sure to block off that date on your calendar!

    The food stalls begin selling at 11 AM and will closeat 7 PM.

    I’m sold! Do I need to buy tickets?

    Yes. General admission to the Festival’s dizzying array of great eats is at $6, although kids 5 years and younger can enter for free. You can also get a ticket and t-shirt package for $35. Buy your tickets in advance here.

    Tickets will also be sold at the door on the day of the event itself for $10.

    The Festival is even more awesome than I thought. Can I help make it more successful?

    Absolutely! The SF Street Food Festival welcomes volunteers! Click here if you’d like to sign up for pre-event setup as early as Thursday, October 11. Several volunteer slots are also available for the day of the event.

    In addition to volunteers, the SF Street Food Festival also accepts donations.

    For more living and real estate tips in San Francisco, contact Bernie and Mike Homes. Our local knowledge will help you make the most of your day-to-day living here in the City by the Bay from the best kid-friendly things to do to visiting San Francisco parks that your dog will absolutely love. Call us at 415 906 6000 or 415 308 4281 for inquiries.

    Take a Bite Out of San Francisco’s Best Seafood Favorites

    Seafood Stew

    Living along the Pacific Coast has its perks – and this includes having an array of places to get your seafood fix.

    Don’t know where to start? Here are three appetizing ideas:

    • The iconic cioppino

      This tomato and wine- based stew with a mix of fish, shellfish, Dungeness crab, shrimp, and squid is widely considered San Francisco’s signature dish. Legend has it that the dish dates back to the late 1800s when Italian fishermen that settled in the North Beach neighborhood put together their daily catch into a communal pot.

      Where to find San Francisco’s best cioppino:

      Sotto Mare Oysteria& Seafood(552 Green Street)
      Tadich Grill(240 California Street)
      Cioppino’s(400 Jefferson Street)
      ATwater Tavern(295 Terry A Francois Boulevard)

    • Crudo, the best fish in season, served raw

      Another notable contribution by San Francisco’s early Italian settlers, crudo is basically thin slices of fresh, raw fish. Whereas Japan’s sashimi uses soy sauce and wasabi to add flavor, traditional servings of crudo only use olive oil, salt, and lemon juice to enhance the inherent flavor of the fish.

      Where to find San Francisco’s best crudo:

      Bar Crudo (655 Divisadero Street)
      Petit Marlowe (234 Townsend Street)
      Sorrel Restaurant (3228 Sacramento Street)
      Credo Restaurant (360 Pine Street)

    • Dungeness crab, the hometown darling

      Abundant along the West Coast, the Dungeness crab is a staple in seafood menus in San Francisco. Meat from this leggy, heart-shaped crab is sweet and succulent, perfect for use in a wide variety of dishes. From being stars in their own right steamed, roasted, or over ice, to being the heart of juicy crab cakes and creamy chowders, the Dungeness crab will have you snapping for a plate of your own.

      Where to find San Francisco’s best Dungeness crab dishes:

      PPQ Dungeness Island (2332 Clement Street)
      Sabella & La Torre (2809 Taylor Street)
      Crustacean Euro-Vietnamese Restaurant (1475 Polk Street)
      The Franciscan Crab Restaurant (Pier 43 1/2, Fisherman’s Wharf)

    5 iconic SF seafood joints that you have to visit

    If our list of seafood favorites has your mouth watering, here’s a bonus: five must-visit destinations to get your seafood fix in the City by the Bay!

    • Tadich Grill
    • Any discussion about San Francisco’s culinary culture is incomplete without mentioning this icon. Built in 1849, Tadich Grill is the city’s oldest restaurant, and truly one that sets the bar for seafood.

    • Swan Oyster Depot(1517 Polk Street)
    • A local institution since 1912, this seemingly unassuming 18-seat seafood counter is remarkable enough to make a huge fan out of the late, great Anthony Bourdain. There’s always a line here, but its impressive menus – there’s a “secret menu” worth asking about – are surely worth the wait.

    • Anchor & Hope(83 Minna Street)

    Located in the trendy SOMA (South of Market) neighborhood, this restaurant is perfect for the modern, urban San Franciscan. Perfect for either a date or a business meeting, this place is designed to impress after planning for a romantic trip to San Francisco.

    Exceptional dining options are just one of the many things that make the San Francisco lifestyle inviting. Learn how to make this city your home. Contact Bernie and Mike Homes today by calling 415 906 6000 or 415 308 4281.

    The Minimalist Condo: Making the Most Out of Limited Space

    Small studio in flat

    Condo living and minimalism often go hand in hand. A minimalist mindset is an effective way to make the most out of a relatively limited living space. It can combine the best of both functionality and comfort while still being stylistically satisfying.

    Still searching for a place to stay in San Francisco or simply new to condo living? Looking for fresh ways to redesign a condo that’s starting to feel cramped over the years? Try these practical ideas for smart, minimalist condo living:

    • Go monochromatic

      You can’t go wrong with a neutral, monochromatic color scheme. It’s simple, classy, and harmonizing. Bright or loud colors can feel distracting and at times even suffocating in small living spaces.

      The simple elegance of monochrome is great when you need to focus on getting things done, as well as when you want a laid-back environment for enjoying some much-deserved downtime.

      If this all feels a bit too monotonous or clinical for your tastes, you can add more personality to your condo with grey and concrete tones. Throwing in some texture in your upholstery, carpets, and table décor can help you liven things up while still staying in theme.

    • Add wood décor and highlights

      Incorporating wood furnishings is another effective way to complement a monochromatic color scheme. Noted for its craftsman-like appeal, wood has the timeless elegance to complement a modern living space done in all white or neutrals.

      Consider wood flooring, cabinet doors, elevated shelves, or varnished dining sets or coffee tables. If you prefer more lightweight table-and-chair sets so it’s easier to move things around, use wood as complementary table décor instead. Wooden trays or coasters look great on solid finishes.

    • Keep spaces open and flowing

      When living in a condo, the key is to design it in such a way that you don’t notice its physical limitations. Simple ways to do this include keeping your floors clutter-free, opting for glass or sliding doors, and keeping impractical, unnecessary decorations to a minimum.

      If you have large windows, keep them unobstructed so that ambient natural light can shine in. Brightness does wonders in making spaces appear larger than they are, not to mention make them feel more pleasant.

      Does your condo have a large, empty wall or a tall cabinet door? Consider installing a large floor-to-ceiling mirror. This simple visual illusion can also give you a satisfying sense of living in a larger space.

    • Invest in compact, functional, and multi-purpose furniture and fixtures

      There are plenty of furniture and interior design options out there designed for the efficient, space-saving, modern condo lifestyle. You can have cupboards, cabinets, and closets slide flush into your walls when they are not being used. Some kitchen appliances are designed to do the same.

      If your condo was built a few years before these building innovations became widely practiced, opt for sleek furniture with compact profiles. Also, you can still add multi-purpose furniture like couches and ottomans designed with hollow spaces to double as containers.

    For more living and real estate tips in San Francisco, contact Bernie and Mike Homes. Our local knowledge will help you make the most of your day-to-day living here in the City by the Bay. Call us at 415 906 6000 or 415 308 4281 for inquiries.

    The 15 Most Instagram-worthy Places in the Bay Area

    Hands up!

    San Francisco’s sheer number of picturesque locations will amaze you. Here’s where to go when you want to pad up those Instagram feeds – or better yet, build an impressive photography portfolio after checking out great parks in San Francisco:

    The best views of the Golden Gate Bridge

    • Baker’s Beach
      A photo walk and a beach trip on the same day? Who can say no to that? If you want to take a classic sunset photo with the Golden Gate Bridge in the background, this is where you’ll want to go.
    • Fort Point
      This spot offers the closest views of the Golden Gate Bridge without having to be on it. Enjoy taking snapshots of the bridge disappearing into the fog or of San Francisco Bay water splashing onto the rocks below your feet.
    • Hawk Hill
      Get a high vantage point on the Marin Headlands for a classy portrait with the Golden Gate Bridge and the San Francisco cityscape in the background.
    • Land’s End
      Stretch out those legs and enjoy a casual walk around the Land’s End Lookout. You’ll get excellent shots of the Golden Gate Bridge here, with the stunning Marin Headlands in the background.

    Icons and landmarks

  • Financial District
    Feeling dwarfed by all the towering skyscrapers in the Financial District? All you need to do is look up and snap a photo. You’ll be impressed with the results.
  • Powell Street
    Looking for the iconic San Francisco trams and cable cars? Head up to Powell Street, specifically near the Market Street end of the line. Here, you can capture unique shots of empty cars while parked and waiting for their turn to take passengers.
  • San Francisco City Hall
    If you’re looking for a serious or formal background, head to City Hall. An air of sophistication exudes from its stone wall façade, marble interiors, and intricate gold detailing.
  • The Painted Ladies
    This colorful row of Victorian houses in the Alamo Square neighborhood is a genuine San Francisco icon.
  • The Palace of Fine Arts
    Built in 1915, this SF landmark will create gorgeous backdrops that seemingly send you back in time. The facility was renovated in 2009 to improve its lagoon, walkways, and structural integrity.
  • The Sutro Baths ruins
    A public saltwater swimming complex built in the late 1890s, Sutro Baths burned down in 1966 and is now one of the most compelling locations for a moody shoot.

Culture and personality on display

  • Castro District
    From the rainbow-colored crosswalks to the lively personalities you’ll encounter along its streets, the Castro District is guaranteed to showcase its hometown pride as San Francisco’s LGBT center.
  • Chinatown
    Street photography enthusiasts will love the explosion of color and culture here. Check your calendar for landmark cultural events like the Chinese New Year Parade to make the most out of your photographic tour.
  • The Technicolor House on 24th Street and San Jose
    Looking for a splash of color? This fun Mission District house delivers in spades. Just be sure not to be too rowdy or intrusive – it’s still someone’s home, after all.

Revisiting San Francisco’s maritime heritage

  • Fisherman’s Wharf
    Boats. Sea lions. Seafood. Tourists. Tourists taking pictures of boats, sea lions, and seafood. The possibilities are endless here at Pier 39. If you’re bringing a camera with a powerful zoom lens, you can even capture Alcatraz Island across the bay.
  • Pier 7
    This dock offers a beautifully symmetrical row of street lights, punctuated by the towering Transamerica Pyramid at the end. It’s not as well-known as Pier 39, so you won’t be competing with big crowds for that excellent shot.

Can’t wait to live in a neighborhood surrounded by picture-perfect destinations and attractions? Talk with Bernie and Mike Homes to learn about excellent real estate opportunities available in San Francisco today. Call 415 906 6000 or 415 308 4281 for inquiries.

4 Things to Know Before Moving to San Francisco

Aerial view of San Francisco

Making the decision to move to San Francisco is the easy part. Diverse and vibrant lifestyles, picturesque views like the Night time scenes, prolific economic opportunities – all these make the City by the Bay hard to resist among real estate buyers looking for the ideal West Coast home.

The tricky part is about knowing what to expect and how to prepare for the move. But don’t fret – Bernie and Mike Homes has your needs covered. Here are key pointers to keep you on the right track:

  • Know which neighborhoods match your personality and lifestyle

    One of the most exciting things about San Francisco is how diverse the communities are. Before shopping for a property, it pays to know what type of neighborhood and environment you’re eyeing for your day-to-day living, as well as which ones will best suit your needs or budget.

    Here’s a quick overview to get you started:

    • Mission District – if you want to blend in with a youthful, artsy crowd
    • Noe Valley – ideal for the suburban family lifestyle
    • Outer Sunset – for first-time home buyers
    • Pacific Heights – the neighborhood of choice among the most affluent among San Francisco homeowners
    • SOMA (South of Market) – the city’s startup capital
  • You need to be financially ready for this city

    When you consider buying a home in San Francisco, having money is an absolute must. It’s not just about sky-high real estate prices here; the cost of living also ranks at the top of nearly every country-wide list you’ll find these days. Dining at SF restaurants costs about 12% more, for example, while groceries here are 34% more expensive compared to Los Angeles.

    This shouldn’t discourage you from moving to SF though. In fact, this lofty standard speaks volumes about the overall quality of living you’ll enjoy here. From dining to shopping, recreation, and everything in between, San Francisco living sets the bar.

  • Be prepared for the crowd

    With a population of more than 870,000, San Francisco has 18,600 people in each square mile of its 47-square-mile land area at any given time. And the city still continues to attract more new residents each year.

    But don’t fret. This steady growth is cause for more excitement rather than concern.

    San Francisco is a global melting pot, so moving here provides endless opportunities to interact with people from various cultures and backgrounds, discover exciting international cuisine and interesting traditions, and even learn a new language or two. You can also expect several cultural events and festivals around the corner throughout the year.

  • Stretch those legs and lace up those sneakers

    Worried that a big population means terrible rush hour traffic? Fortunately, the public transport system in San Francisco is extensive and reliable. Anchored by the Bay Area Rapid Transit (BART) and the Muni Metro rail and bus systems, the City by the Bay is a commuter-friendly locale.

    There are healthy and eco-friendly alternatives you can use to spare yourself from enduring traffic jams on a daily basis. Cyclist-friendly roads and public bike-sharing systems make pedaling a fun way to get around the city. Walking works, too. After all, San Francisco is also one of the most walkable cities in the country.

Learn more about living in San Francisco from the trusted local real estate specialists at Bernie and Mike Homes. Get in touch with us today at 415 906 6000 or 415 308 4281.

Practical Home Security Tips for your San Francisco Home

Using a smartphone to open an electronic lock

Home security should be an instinctive and automatic consideration for anyone who invests in real estate. This is especially true for the pricey, high-profile San Francisco market.

Fortunately, some of the most practical and effective home security solutions are also the simplest ones. Here’s a quick checklist you can use for keeping your San Francisco home safe and secure at all times:

  • Install smart home security devices

    A technologically progressive location like San Francisco offers endless reminders that today’s digitally and wirelessly connected world has plenty of practical advantages.

    Use smart home innovations to address your security needs. For example, Wi-Fi-connected security cameras help you keep an eye your home even when you’re away at work or on vacation. Smart door locks use PIN codes or mobile device access, allowing you to do away with clunky door keys that can be misplaced or stolen.

  • Upgrade your door and window locks

    A simple change in the locking mechanism for your main doors can work wonders for your home security. Switch to deadbolt locks which are sturdier and harder to compromise than old-fashioned spring-latch locks. In addition, install security bars on French or sliding double doors for an extra measure of protection.

    Updating the locks and panes on windows is another helpful security upgrade. Reinforced window panes made with multiple layers of glass or acrylic will prevent break-ins and call attention to anyone who attempts to do so.

  • Maintain your lawn and shrubbery

    More than just keeping your curb appeal looking great, mindful yard maintenance also deters burglary. By ensuring that there is limited space for house thieves to hide, you can prevent your home from becoming an easy target.

  • Use lights strategically

    Lights create an impression that someone’s at home and wide awake, even when you’re away on business or vacation. Using strategic lighting at home will make thieves think twice about breaking in.

    Installing external lights is an easy way to deter house thieves from making your house a prime target for a nighttime burglary. Just make sure that the electrical wires are not visible or accessible, such that persistent thieves can easily deactivate these lights.

    Indoors, you can take your lighting strategy a step further by installing light fixtures or lamps that automatically turn on or off – whether on a schedule or based on any detected movement.

  • Be mindful of mail when you go out of town

    Here’s a security tip that homeowners rarely realize. A packed mailbox is a telltale sign for burglars that a house is unoccupied.

    When you’re going out of town on an extended work or vacation trip, check if your mail service can stop deliveries while you’re away. Alternatively, you can ask a neighbor to clear your mailbox for you.

  • Get a dog

    Barring particular neighborhood association restrictions or personal pet allergies, keeping a dog is a worthwhile home security solution. A dog’s persistent barking can be enough to scare away a sneaky house thief. The last thing burglars want is attention, after all. Plus, when not in watchdog mode, your pet is sure to boost your home living experience.

For more advice and insights on the San Francisco lifestyle, as well as the best real estate opportunities available today after determining the type of property for your real estate investment goals, get in touch with Bernie and Mike Homes. Call us today at 415 906 6000 or 415 308 4281 for inquiries.

Upcoming SF Events to Watch Out for in September 2018

Ghirardelli Chocolate Factory in San Francisco

If you’re looking for events and activities to add in your September calendar, start with this list:

  • Catch a ballgame at AT&T Park

    Major League Baseball’s regular season is coming to a close, so be sure to root for the home team before it ends. The San Francisco Giants host the Mets, Braves, Rockies, Padres, and Dodgers all throughout the month.

    A brief drive across the Bay serves up some more baseball action, courtesy of the Oakland Athletics. See how this team is climbing in rank and reputation as one of baseball’s best clubs this season. They go up against the Mariners, Yankees, Rangers, Angels, and Twins in September.

  • Experience the San Francisco Bay in the year’s most accommodating weather

    September is one of the best times to enjoy year-round attractions around the Bay Area. Gone are the summer vacation crowds that clogged up street traffic, as well as the puzzling summertime fog and windy afternoons. All that’s left for you to do is to enjoy the sights in beautiful, warm weather.

    If this is your idea of a September getaway, the free walking tour of the Golden Gate Bridge should be worth your time. Learn more about this iconic bridge as you walk across it. Walking tours are available every Thursday and Sunday, starting at 11 AM.

    Another excellent way to take in the sights and sounds of San Francisco is by hopping on a relaxing cruise ship. There are plenty of rides to choose from, including sunset cruises, casual bay traverses, and high-speed rocket boat cruises for thrill-seekers.

  • Take part in these colorful festivals and street fairs:

    • Sausalito Arts Festival – September 1-3
      Celebrate the arts, music, food, drink, and community during these Labor Day weekend festivities.
    • San Francisco Fringe Festival – September 6-15
      EXIT Theater plays host to the finest grassroots theatrical productions throughout this inspiring 14-day event.
    • California Rum Festival – September 8
      Head over to the SOMArts Cultural Center for a wide range of fine rums from large, boutique, and micro-distilleries. The event is a great chance to learn from the best in the biz and to mingle with fellow rum aficionados.
    • Ghirardelli Chocolate Festival – September 8 and 9
      Indulge in a rich tradition of chocolate treats by discovering gourmet creations, joining an ice cream eating contest, and even sampling premium California wines.
    • Festa Coloniale Italiana – September 15
      Discover San Francisco’s Little Italy district with the entire family in this celebration of Italian culture and cuisine.
    • San Francisco Cheese Fest – September 15
      More than 20 craft cheese makers showcase their best creations in this annual celebration of the dairy-based delight. Aside from cheeses, cured meats, jams, beers, and wines also abound.
    • Chinatown Autumn Moon Festival – September 15 and 16
      Two days of colorful entertainment, delicious food, and exceptional shopping await the curious traveler in the heart of San Francisco’s Chinatown district. If you’ve never tried a traditional mooncake, here’s your chance!
    • San Francisco Improv Fest – September 19-23
      2018 marks the 15th year of this on-the-spot comedy extravaganza, so prepare for side-splitting laughs at the Eureka Theatre.
    • Oktoberfest – September 21-23
      The best thing about Oktoberfest is that you never really have to wait until October to celebrate it. Pier 48 is the venue for the Bay Area’s weekend-long party dedicated to great beer and all things German!
    • Folsom Street Fair – September 30
      Better call the babysitter and leave the kids at home for this one. This all-day adults-only festival celebrates eroticism in every form imaginable. From fetish players to nude parade-goers, this is one experience you won’t be forgetting anytime soon!
    • Architecture and the City Festival – All month long
      With the 2018 festival theme, “Future City,” this month-long event presents a series of exhibitions, walking tours, films, and discussions on the fields of architecture and design.

Live it up in San Francisco, enjoy stunning views until night time this September and beyond! With Bernie and Mike Homes, finding top real estate options is a breeze. Call 415 906 6000 or 415 308 4281 for inquiries.

#BBQ101: San Francisco’s Best Barbecue Restaurants

Barbecued Baby Back Ribs

Living in the Bay Area means always being in close proximity to an excellent range of restaurants and can’t-miss culinary destinations. In this blog, we’re shining the spotlight on eight must-visit stops for the best smoked meats in San Francisco:

  • 4505 Burgers and BBQ
    705 Divisadero Street

    Whether you want your meats by the pound or the platter, or even in sandwich form, expect 4505 to deliver on your comfort food cravings any day of the week. Ribs, pulled pork and chicken, and briskets headline a mouth-watering menu. Irresistible side dishes like baked beans, mac-and-cheese, and crunchy chicharrones are sure to keep you coming back for more.

  • Baby Blues BBQ
    3149 Mission Street

    Baby Blues BBQ is a must-visit restaurant for Memphis-style, Texas-style and baby back ribs, tri-tip roasts, and pulled pork and chicken barbecue favorites. You can also try their catfish, salmon, or shrimp if you want to go for a seafood binge. In addition to the San Francisco location, you can find Baby Blues in LA – in Venice and Echo Park – and in Philadelphia via its custom food truck.

  • CatHead’s BBQ
    1665 Folsom Street

    With its founders hailing from Michigan and Tennessee, CatHead’s BBQ delivers a unique take on regional comfort food favorites by using seasonal ingredients that abound in San Francisco. Must-try dishes here include the Coca-Cola Smoked Brisket and Slow-Smoked Pulled Pork. Don’t forget the CatHead buttermilk biscuits – the perfect foil to your zesty meats.

  • Hardwood Bar & Smokery
    680 8th Street Ste. 170

    Hardwood is a recent addition to the city’s growing roster of “San Francisco-style” barbecue hotspots. Located in San Francisco’s Design District, it opened in 2017. Executive Chef Jake Kwan-Rosenbush combines traditional and innovative smoking techniques to create inventive BBQ fare – the perfect match for the Bay Area’s diverse and trendsetting crowd.

  • Memphis Minnie’s BBQ Joint
    576 Haight Street

    The authentic southern smokehouse experience is guaranteed in this celebrated restaurant near the Haight-Ashbury neighborhood. The BBQs served here are slow-smoked over white oak logs for as long as 18 hours to capture a distinct flavor that will leave you awestruck. This restaurant is also known for its four signature sauces served alongside the meats.

  • Native Sons BBQ
    2245 3rd Street

    Combining traditional Texas-style BBQ with Chinese culinary influences, Native Sons BBQ presents a unique take on the smoked meat tradition. Find their pop-ups at breweries like Triple Voodoo and Harmonic Brewing where you can get great brews to go along with the succulent dry-rubbed, oak fire barbecues.

  • Smokestack
    2505 3rd Street

    As the in-house barbecue component of Haight-Ashbury fixture Magnolia Brewing, Smokestack is a fresh addition to the neighborhood dining scene. Offering a self-proclaimed “non-denominational” barbecue style, Smokestack combines influences from Texas, the Carolinas, Kansas, all the way to Asia.

  • Sneaky’s BBQ at Southpaw
    2170 Mission Street

    Sneaky’s BBQ is a hometown favorite that made its name from pop-ups at food parks and local events. In 2015, it found a permanent home at beloved Mission restaurant Southpaw. The collaboration puts Sneaky’s award-winning North Carolina-style pulled pork, baby back ribs, brisket, and wings alongside Southpaw’s curated selection of spirits and craft beers.

The BBQ scene is just one reason to get excited about living in San Francisco just like the Award-Winning Bars you can visit. Know more about the local neighborhoods and real estate opportunities from Bernie and Mike Homes. Call 415 906 6000 or 415 308 4281 today for inquiries.

The Best Shows Coming to San Francisco in September 2018

Phantom of the Opera

A sensational September is coming to the Bay Area! This lineup of events is sure to wow all audiences of all tastes and interests:

Must-see theatre productions

  • The Phantom of the Opera
    Orpheum Theatre
    September 5-30

    Enjoy one of the world’s most beloved Broadway musicals in one of San Francisco’s most historic stages.

  • Cavalleria Rusticana/Pagliacci
    War Memorial Opera House
    September 7-30

    Experience opera at its finest with this legendary double bill. The September staging marks the return of this legendary feature to the San Francisco opera stage after 15 years.

  • On Your Feet!
    Golden Gate Theatre
    September 11-October 7

    Be moved by the story of the Grammy Award-winning husband-and-wife team of Emilio and Gloria Estefan in this acclaimed Broadway sensation.

Today’s hottest hit-makers take the stage at Oracle Arena in Oakland

  • Sam Smith
    September 4

    Catch the British crooner’s soulful vocals on the Bay Area stop of his second US tour.

  • BTS
    September 12

    The K-pop stars return to the US for its Love Yourself tour.

  • Childish Gambino
    September 27

    Hot on the heels of “This is America,” Childish Gambino hits the Oakland stage with hip-hop duo Rae Sremmurd.

Music from all-time favorites

  • Dave Matthews Band
    Shoreline Amphitheatre, Mountain View
    September 8

    The 90s rock icons are ready to serenade the Bay Area crowd with classic hits and new material from their upcoming ninth studio album.

  • The Eagles
    AT&T Park
    September 20

    The Rock & Roll Hall of Famers are still going strong. Catch The Eagles on their first slate of shows since the passing of founding member Glenn Frey in 2015.

  • Norah Jones
    Ruth Finley Person Theater, Santa Rosa
    September 20

    Award-winning crooner Norah Jones brings her sultry vocals and soothing piano to Sonoma County audiences for an evening of contemporary jazz.

Classical takes center stage

  • Yuja Wang

    Davies Symphony Hall
    September 13-16

    Chinese piano virtuoso Yuja Wang collaborates with composer and conductor Michael Tilson Thomas and the San Francisco Symphony.

  • Yo-Yo Ma
    The Greek Theatre, Berkeley
    September 30

    The multiple Grammy-winning cellist is set to take the UC-Berkeley performance stage by storm with another unforgettable performance.

Have a hearty laugh with top comedians

  • Maz Jobrani
    Nourse Theatre
    September 8

    The Iranian-Persian stand-up comic delivers his trademark brand of culture and identity-themed humor at the Sutter Street performance venue.

  • Hannibal Buress
    Nob Hill Masonic Center
    September 8

    See why this Chicago native is one of the emerging names in the stand-up comedy circuit today.

  • Sebastian Maniscalco
    Nob Hill Masonic Center
    September 20-21

    Sebastian Maniscalco has a knack for saying the things we all think, but tend not to – just because we want to be polite. If you’ve ever wondered what your personal, secret rants about day-to-day living sound out loud, catch his shows.

Guaranteed thought provokers

  • Waking Up with Sam Harris
    Nob Hill Masonic Center
    September 13

    Here’s your chance to catch – and be part of – a live podcast recording. Sam Harris tackles important global issues and personal philosophies in a thought-provoking manner that keeps you asking the most important questions.

  • Neil DeGrasse Tyson
    Davies Symphony Hall
    September 24

    Ready for a mind-blowing evening? The pop astrophysicist takes his scientific insights and musings to the Bay Area for a one-night-only special.

There’s no doubt that the vibrant local lifestyle makes San Francisco a spectacular place to live in considering the various things to do and see around the area. To learn more about how to find a home in this city, get in touch with Bernie and Mike Homes at 415 906 6000 or 415 308 4281.

Shop Until You Drop at these Outlet Malls near San Francisco

woman walking with shopping bags on shopping mall background

Outlet malls provide the best deals and discounts for designer labels, name brands, and other types of merchandise. San Francisco is no stranger to these high-quality outlet malls. In fact, there are several outlet locations in and around the area that guarantee a whole day of enjoyable bargain hunting.

  1. San Francisco Premium Outlets
    Livermore, CA

    Head out 40 miles east of downtown San Francisco and you’ll find the San Francisco Premium Outlets in Livermore city. This outlet mall has over 180 retail brands to choose from, starting with American household brands like Abercrombie & Fitch all the way to European premium brands like Gucci, Prada, and Armani. You’ll also discover other hard-to-find shops like Longchamp, Timbuk2, and Eredi Pisano. And after a successful day of outlet store shopping, grab a cone of artisanal gelato from Amorino Gelato.

  2. Great Mall
    Milpitas, CA

    Great Mall is one of the largest indoor outlet centers in Northern California, with over 200 stores. It has everything you need right within the 30-acre shopping complex, from jewelry to sports equipment. Numerous well-known fashion and clothing brands have also set up shop in Great Mall such as Saks Fifth Avenue, Coach, Last Call by Neiman Marcus, and Michael Kors.

  3. Napa Premium Outlets
    Napa, CA

    Located in the Wine Country, Napa Premium Outlets is smaller than your average outlet mall, housing just 50 stores of designer brands and labels. You will, however, save from 25% to 65% on merchandise from premium brands such as Adidas, Calvin Klein, Michael Kors, and Tommy Hilfiger.

  4. Marina Square Center
    San Leandro, CA

    Shop for great finds at Marina Square Center, an outdoor outlet mall that’s 22 miles from San Francisco. In this compact shopping center, you’ll find a variety of popular retail stores such as Nike, Converse, Bath & Body Works, Banana Republic, and Nordstrom Rack. You can also grab a bite to eat at one of their many restaurants like Panda Express, Mexican Grill, or La Salsa Fresh.

  5. Folsom Premium Outlets
    Folsom, CA

    If you’re up for an adventure, take a 106-mile drive to Folsom Premium Outlets. Located near Sacramento, California, Folsom Premium Outlets has over 80 shops selling women’s clothing, jewelry, and branded footwear. Some of the notable stores in this outdoor shopping center are Coach, Under Armour, and Vans.

  6. Vacaville Premium Outlets
    Vacaville, CA

    Vacaville Premium Outlets is your one-stop shop for all things retail. This large outlet mall boasts of 120 stores selling a variety of items such as designer clothes, premium body care products, accessories, and many more. Vacaville Premium Outlets is around 60 miles from San Francisco.

  7. Petaluma Village Premium Outlets
    Petaluma, CA

    There’s no better place to shop for discounted items than at Petaluma Village Premium Outlets. Located just off the US Highway 101, this outdoor outlet mall has 60 stores such as Saks Fifth Avenue Off 5th, Coach, and Brooks Brothers.

These amazing outlet malls are just one of the many reasons why living in San Francisco is the best. Take a look at the many residential properties for sale by calling Bernie and Mike Homes at 415 906 6000 or 415 308 4281.

Where to Find San Francisco’s Best Wings

Hot Chicken Wings

San Francisco may be commonly associated with seafood because of its coastal location, but there’s more to the city than that. Unbeknownst to others, San Francisco can cook up a mean plate of chicken wings, from classic fried chicken wings to the stickiest Korean kind.

Here are the best spots in San Francisco for a delicious plate of chicken wings:

  • Hot Sauce and Panko To Go
    1468 Hyde Street

    Hot Sauce and Panko To Go is everyone’s go-to shop for delicious chicken wings and fiery hot sauces. Order their wings and waffle combo in flavors like hot garlic bacon parmesan, habanero, gochujang, and teriyaki. As the name of the restaurant suggests, there is no dining area or waiter service in this hole-in-the-wall, just a few standing tables. Best, therefore, to grab your wings and go.

  • Wing Wings
    422 Haight Street

    Hailed as one of the best wings in San Francisco, Wing Wings definitely lives up to its name. Located in Lower Haight, the restaurant offers a mouthwatering array of fresh fried chicken wings with homemade sauces like Orange Miso, Angry Korean, and their signature flavor, Wing Wings. You can also have the chicken wings delivered right to your doorstep. Just call 415-835-5001 for delivery.

  • Halal Wings Plus
    533 Jones Street

    The wings at Halal Wings Plus are beyond average. The restaurant uses halal meat, which is produce raised and slaughtered in a humane manner. The wings served come in honey garlic, mango habanero, lemon pepper, and chili lime. Depending on how much you and your party want to feast on, you can choose from a plate of 12 wings or go all out by ordering a plate of 50.

  • Odumak
    733 Taraval Street

    Dig into the crispy and delicious Korean chicken wings of Odumak. This Korean-Sichuan restaurant serves up a variety of Korean fusion dishes like chicken bibimbap, beef bulgogi, kimchi fried rice, and 12 pieces of chicken wings in the flavor of your choice. Some of the most popular chicken wings flavors are soy garlic and hot and spicy.

  • Teeth SF
    2322 Mission Street

    This is another great spot to go to for chicken wings. Located in between 9th and 10th Streets, Teeth SF is everyone’s favorite place for discounted wings.

    Every Wednesday, the restaurant offers its flavorful wings for 25 cents. Just make sure that you buy two beverages beforehand.

  • After Hours
    3044 Taraval Street

    If you and your friends want a relaxing night over beer and chicken wings, you’ve come to the right place. After Hours is a bar and lounge that serves buffalo chicken wings, Cajun meals, and beer on tap. Their saucy wings guarantee repeat visits.

You’ll never get bored with the many ways San Francisco prepares its wings. Plus you’ll be amazed by the many world cuisines the city by the bay has to offer. Learn more about living in this vibrant city by giving Bernie and Mike Homes a call at 415 906 6000 or 415 308 4281.

Best Bird Watching Spots in San Francisco Bay Area

girl watching through binoculars

It’s not uncommon to see different types of birds in the San Francisco Bay Area. Since San Francisco is located on the Pacific Flyway, many migratory birds travel along this route depending on the season. The San Francisco Bay Area is home to many bird watching locations that allow you to observe and photograph these birds from a distance.

Grab your binoculars and get ready to spot both common and rare birds in the following areas:

  • Baylands Nature Preserve
    Palo Alto, California

    The Baylands Nature Preserve is known for being one of the best bird watching locations in the West Coast. This 1,940-acre marshland boasts of diverse wildlife and a peaceful atmosphere. While walking along the 15 miles of multi-use trails at the Baylands Nature Preserve, you will be able to spot around 150 species of birds, including the American white pelicans, the California clapper rail, mallards, and many more.

  • Richardson Bay Audobon Center and Sanctuary
    Tiburon, California

    If you want to take a short hike while bird watching, head to the Richardson Bay Audubon Nature Trail. This mile-long trail will treat you to sweeping views of the peaceful bay. Along the way, you’ll most likely spot pelicans, cormorants, sandpipers, warblers, and hummingbirds.

  • Coyote Hills Regional Park
    Fremont, California

    The Coyote Hills Regional Park provides plenty of bird watching opportunities in both the upper and lower areas of the park. In the upper area, you can spot hawks and eagles while trekking through the hilly trails. And in the lower area of the park, you can enjoy a leisurely walk through the flat marshland trail while looking for egrets, waterfowl, and ducks.

  • Don Edwards San Francisco Bay National Wildlife Refuge
    Fremont, California

    The 30,000-acre Don Edwards Refuge offers a changing array of wildlife depending on the season. During the spring, you’ll run into marsh wren, barn swallows, and common yellowthroats. Summertime gives you an opportunity to spot the endangered California clapper rail. During the fall and winter seasons, you’ll be able to observe the hundreds of thousands of migrating birds.

  • Hayward Shoreline
    Hayward, California

    Home to a wide variety of nesting birds, the Hayward Shoreline is one of the most popular places in the San Francisco Bay Area for watching birds. This 1,600-acre marshland is filled numerous walking and biking trails, giving you a unique opportunity to explore the area while on the lookout for any of the 200 species of birds that can be spotted on the shoreline.

  • Elsie Roemer Bird Sanctuary
    Alameda, California

    If you’re curious or fascinated with the endangered California clapper rail, there’s no better place to find them than at the Elsie Roemer Bird Sanctuary.

    Located in Crown Memorial Beach, this sanctuary offers you one of the best chances to spot the California clapper rail, along with plenty of other species found along the marshes and shoreline. Common in the area are seabirds, egrets, and long-billed curlews.

Nothing compares to the number of fascinating outdoor and nature-inspired activities in San Francisco. That’s why living in this area is such a unique and unforgettable experience. If you want to know more about the real estate opportunities in San Francisco, give Bernie and Mike Homes a call at 415 906 6000 or 415 308 4281.

The Biggest Problems You’ll Encounter When Renovating Your San Francisco Home

Alamo Square in San Francisco California

Home renovations are one way to improve, upgrade, and increase the value of your home. But while home renovations can be very rewarding, they don’t come easy, especially in San Francisco.

If you’re thinking about renovating your San Francisco home, here are the biggest problems you might run into:

  1. Obtaining a permit

    Each area has its own set of rules and regulations when it comes to renovating a home and San Francisco is no different. The state of California requires owners to secure the requisite permits for residential projects. The San Francisco Planning Department, a governmental department assigned to monitor the growth and development of the city and the county, is tasked with reviewing and accepting these permits.

    If your San Francisco home renovation involves any of these listed residential projects, you must fill out and submit the necessary permit application forms:

    • Expanding your building
    • Removing any residential units
    • Adding cell antennas or towers
    • Adding a home office
    • Replacing or adding windows
    • Adding decks & stairs
    • Adding fences
    • Adding business signs
    • Constructing or demolishing a residential building
  2. Planning and zoning laws

    The San Francisco government is very protective when it comes to maintaining the city’s unique history, culture, architecture, and infrastructure. As a result, the city was divided into various zoning use districts that specify whether certain activities or projects can take place or not. All of the zoning regulations in San Francisco are extensively listed in the San Francisco Planning Code.

    If you want to find out more about the zoning use district of your property, you can take a look at San Francisco’s color-coded zoning map, zoning districts, and zoning details here.

  3. Neighborhood notification

    The San Francisco Planning code also states that neighbors in certain areas must be notified and approve of the residential project. The city’s Neighborhood Notification provision gives neighborhood associations 30 days to say yay or nay to your renovation.

    Some residential projects such as changing the use of your property and expanding it don’t require Neighborhood Notification. Instead, your permit to renovate your home will simply be approved over-the-counter.

  4. The cost of renovating a home

    Any home renovation will cost money, with each cost dependent on the type of renovation you’ll be doing. Since San Francisco is one of the 10 most expensive cities in the United States, you can expect the renovation costs to be significantly higher. Some home renovation projects such as a minor or major kitchen remodel can cost up to 20% more in the San Francisco Bay Area as compared to other cities. Note, however, that investing in home renovations can add value to your home and give you a higher return on investment.

When it comes to real estate in San Francisco, it’s best to call in the experts. Bernie and Mike Homes specialize in the buying, selling, and investing in real estate properties in the wonderful city of San Francisco. Give them a call today at 415 906 6000 or 415 308 4281.

An Easy Guide to Finding a Place to Stay in San Francisco

Fairmont Hotel San Francisco Facade Flags

Finding the perfect place to stay in San Francisco can be difficult if you don’t know where to look. This vibrant city is filled with diverse neighborhoods that offer each visitor a wonderful and authentic San Francisco experience. The hotels in San Francisco are a popular choice among visitors and residents, providing comfort, luxury, and a glimpse into each unique neighborhood.

Whether you’re in town for a business trip, planning a staycation, or looking to enjoy a different area of the city, here is an easy guide on finding the perfect San Francisco neighborhood and hotel to stay in:

  1. Mission District

    If you’re looking for trendy restaurants, fascinating historical sites, numerous art galleries, and all-around good weather, Mission District is your best bet. Known for being one of the oldest neighborhoods in San Francisco, Mission District will bring you a history and art-filled stay.

    Hotels in Mission District:

    • Inn San Francisco
    • Nineteen 06 Mission
    • Noe’s Nest Bed and Breakfast
  2. Union Square

    Shopping reigns supreme in Union Square. Many of the biggest names in fashion and retail have set up shop in this neighborhood, from Macy’s to

    Louis Vuitton. The majority of the hotels in San Francisco are located here as well. It’s also very easy to hop from one place to another in Union Square because the neighborhood is a transportation hub.

    Hotels in Union Square:

    • Grand Hyatt San Francisco
    • Hilton San Francisco Union Square
    • San Francisco Marriott Marquis Union Square
  3. South of Market

    Also known as SoMa, this San Francisco neighborhood is known for being a culinary destination. Each restaurant is guaranteed to serve you delicious, high-quality meals along with an unforgettable dining experience. South of Market also houses the Yerba Buena Gardens, the AT&T Park, and the San Francisco Museum of Modern Art.

    Hotels in South of Market:

    • Hotel Via
    • St. Regis San Francisco
    • San Francisco Marriot Marquis
  4. Fisherman’s Wharf

    A popular tourist destination, Fisherman’s Wharf is filled with seafood restaurants, souvenir shops, and boat charters. You can also check out the historic F Line streetcar and historic ships in this world-famous location.

    Hotels in Fisherman’s Wharf:

    • Pier 2620 Hotel Fisherman’s Wharf
    • Hyatt Centric Fisherman’s Wharf
    • Hotel Zephyr
  5. Nob Hill

    Many California railroad tycoons in the 1800s built their opulent mansions in Nob Hill, becoming the neighborhood’s historic and iconic image. Its elevated location also provides residents and guests with an incredible view of the city and San Francisco Bay.

    Hotels in Nob Hill:

    • InterContinental Mark Hopkins: San Francisco Hotel
    • Stanford Court
    • Scarlet Huntington Hotel
  6. Castro

    Known for being one of the first few LGBTQ neighborhoods in the United States, Castro is vibrant, colorful, and fun. It also houses a number of eclectic restaurants and shops.

    Hotels in Castro:

    • Parker Guest House
    • Beck’s Motor Lodge
  7. Haight-Ashbury

    If you’re fascinated with the counterculture of the 1960s and the hippie movement, Haight-Ashbury is the perfect place for you. The neighborhood is filled with Victorian houses, vintage stores, thrift shops, and one-of-a-kind restaurants.

    Hotels in Haight-Ashbury:

    • Stanyan Park Hotel
    • The Metro Hotel
    • The Red Victorian

No one knows San Francisco better than Bernie and Mike Homes. With over 20 years of experience in the San Francisco real estate industry, these top-producing real estate agents can help you find the San Francisco home of your dreams. Get in touch with them today at 415 906 6000 or 415 308 4281.

6 Events in San Francisco You Shouldn’t Miss this July

New Year's Eve Firework Display at the Golden Gate Bridge in San Francisco

San Francisco is one of the greatest and most exciting places to live, bar none. This fantastic area is bustling with countless activities that promise unique experiences, unforgettable people, and an extraordinarily good time.

Each year, the city throws its biggest and most diverse celebrations which draw in thousands of visitors from across the globe. Here are 6 events you shouldn’t miss in July 2018.

  1. Fourth of July Celebration
    July 4
    Pier 39, Fisherman’s Wharf

    Celebrate Independence Day in San Francisco. The city’s Fourth of July Celebration happens at Pier 39 in Fisherman’s Wharf and promises a night to remember. This event features live entertainment from the Eighties tribute band Tainted Love and a magnificent fireworks display.

  2. Salsa Festival on The Fillmore
    July 13 to 14
    Fillmore Street

    Dance the night away at the Salsa Festival on Fillmore Street. This huge salsa dance party takes over three city blocks for two whole nights of fun and dancing. Don’t worry if you don’t know how to salsa! The event also offers salsa lessons for beginners at the Fillmore Center Plaza.

  3. Ethnic Dance Festival
    July 14 and 15, July 21 and22
    War Memorial Opera House

    This year, the Ethnic Dance Festival organized by the Worlds Arts West, a non-profit performing arts organization in San Francisco, will showcase the talents of 21 music and dance ensembles. Immerse yourself in the fascinating,
    diverse, and joyful world of Eskimo singers and dancers, flamenco performances, as well as a tribute lion dance, and acts from the Caribbean and Africa, among many others

  4. AIDS Walk
    July 15
    Sharon Meadow in Golden Gate Park

    Take a walk for a cause on July 15. The AIDS Walk is an annual 10k fundraising event that benefits nonprofits such as Project Open Hand, ACRIA, Positive Resource Center, among others. Since 1987, the AIDS Walk has raised over $90 million for HIV-related programs and services which benefits the whole San Francisco Bay Area.

  5. San Francisco Frozen Film Festival
    July 19 to 22
    Roxie Theater and PianoFight

    Named after the chilly summer weather in San Francisco, the San Francisco Frozen Festival presents the city’s best and newest independent films. Check out the latest documentaries, animation, short films, music videos, experimental films, and more.

  6. Up Your Alley Fair
    July 29
    South of Market neighborhood

    Known to locals as Dore Alley or the Dore Alley Fair, this raunchy leather and fetish event is not for the faint of heart. The Up Your Alley Fair is attended by over 15,000 people annually and features scantily clad men in leather outfits, 50 adult vendors, and many BDSM-themed elements.

The quantity and diversity of events in San Francisco mean there’s something for every interest and persuasion. The city not only has amazing events, but beautiful weather, amazing establishments, and must-have real estate properties. If you’re thinking about becoming a part of this wonderful community, get in touch with Bernie and Mike Homes at 415 906 6000 or 415 308 4281.

Not Your Typical San Francisco: The City by the Bay’s Most Distinctive Attractions

house with a view of the golden gate bridge

There’s no better way to discover a city’s true personality than by checking out its most offbeat attractions. Here are 6 of the most unique sights and experiences that San Francisco has to offer:

  1. Angel Island
  2. Alcatraz isn’t the only attention-worthy island in San Francisco Bay. Angel Island features a selection of historic military posts and plenty of attractions of its own. You can hike around the island to see the sights, or else hop in an open air tram. You can also rent a Segway and experience a guided tour on this self-balancing scooter.

  3. The Beach Chalet
  4. Looking for an alternative to historic Cliff House? The Beach Chalet on Ocean Beach will deliver that beachfront dining experience you’ve been looking for. The restaurant features a microbrewery, along with window seats perfect for watching the breaking surf. Chug down a limited-edition brew. Check out the selection of murals on the lower level for a trip across San Francisco history.

  5. The Camera Obscura and Holograph Gallery
  6. Located behind the famed Cliff House is a walk-in structure that looks like a giant camera. It is, in fact, a working camera obscura, an imaging technology that projects a unique take on San Francisco Bay views. Built in the 1940s, this attraction is listed in the National Register of Historic Places and is also a
    museum for a small collection of holograms.

  7. The Crissy Field to Fort Point hike
  8. Hailed as San Francisco’s most scenic trail, this casual trek takes about 2.5 hours on foot, depending on your pace and how much you want to take in the stunning scenery. Go in the morning to see the Golden Gate Bridge
    bathed in sunlight, or visit in the afternoon to watch the sunset right behind it. The San Francisco skyline will welcome you on your way back.

  9. The Thinker
  10. You’ve seen it time and again: that unmistakable sculpture of a pensive man, hunched over in deep thought. But did you know that The Thinker is actually a San Francisco resident? One of its 28 full-sized bronze castings, that is. Visit the Legion of Honor Museum courtyard to see this Auguste Rodin sculpture
    up close.

  11. The Wave Organ
  12. You’ve marveled at the San Francisco Bay’s captivating views, but have you listened to its songs? The wave organ was designed by artist Peter Richards and built in 1986 in collaboration with sculptor and stone mason George
    Gonzalez. The acoustic sculpture located near the Marina district plays a unique opus each time the bay’s waves crash onto it. The installation uses 25 organ pipes made of PVC and concrete, along with materials salvaged from a
    demolished cemetery. Make the most of your Wave Organ visit by checking for the next high tide.

The San Francisco Bay Area offers much more than these unforgettable attractions. You can also find a great home here, especially with Bernie and Mike Homes by your side. Call 415 906 6000 or 415 308 4281 for inquiries today.

7 Family-friendly Museums for an Educational Weekend

Family Looking At Artifact In Glass Case On Trip

Bay Area museums provide plenty of learning experiences that the entire family can enjoy.

From awesome attractions to interactive features, a day at the museum offers so much for every member of the family. In San Francisco, the choices are limitless – from one devoted to cable cars, to a place that showcases the many classic characters created by Walt Disney.

If you don’t know where to start, here are Bay Area museums you must check out with your kids:

  1. The Exploratorium
    Pier 15, Embarcadero Street
    San Francisco, CA 94123

    Founded by American scientist Frank Oppenheimer, the Exploratorium is dedicated to cultivating curious minds at any age. Combining science with art, it features a variety of appealing, interactive exhibits designed to promote hands-on discovery. With a direct approach to learning, this museum will prove awe-inspiring for kids.

  2. California Academy of Sciences
    55 Music Concourse Drive
    San Francisco, CA 94118

    A planetarium, aquarium, and natural history museum all in one, the California Academy of Sciences is a one-stop shop for learning. Marvel at various aquatic species. Immerse yourself in a four-story simulated rainforest. Watch special shows that tell the fascinating journey of the Earth and all of the life that it supports.

  3. Walt Disney Family Museum
    104 Montgomery Street
    San Francisco, CA 94129

    With the Disney name attached to it, this museum is an instant draw. It showcases all your favorite Disney characters through the years, plus the stories behind their creation.

  4. Cable Car Museum
    1201 Mason Street
    San Francisco, CA 94108

    If your kids have experienced riding Francisco’s iconic cable cars, they will love a visit here. This museum showcases vintage cable cars, the machinery that makes it all work, and a peek into the plans for saving, rebuilding, and this local living treasure. Entrance is free.

  5. Bay Area Discovery Museum
    557 McReynolds Road
    Sausalito, CA 94965

    Located a short drive across the Golden Gate Bridge, this place is sure to capture your children’s imagination. The 2.5-acre space is dedicated to a playful and interactive exploration and makes science, technology, and math fun for kids and adults alike.

  6. Bay Model Museum
    2100 Bridgeway
    Sausalito, CA 94965

    Want to show your kids around the Bay Area and all of its highlight destinations? Do it faster and easier by bringing them to the Nay Model Museum. Created by the US Army Corps to study San Francisco Bay tides and currents, this huge model of the entire Bay Area can be visited and viewed for free.

  7. Cartoon Art Museum
    Golden Gate National Recreation Area
    Tiburon, CA 94920

    If you want to introduce your kids to art, visit this Yerba Buena museum. Boasting a collection of over 6,000 original works of art, this museum houses relics from classic comic strips, graphic novels, and cartoons.

Discovery and innovation are always just around the corner in the San Francisco Bay Area. If you want to find a great home for your family to take root here, explore the website to view your housing or investment options. For inquiries, you can also talk to the real estate specialists of Bernie and Mike Homes. Call 415 906 6000 or 415 308 4281 today.

The Best Staging Practices that will Sell Your San Francisco Home

gray sofa and coffee table

Careful staging aims to impress home buyers.

  • Boost your curb appeal
    A strong first impression goes a long way. With a spruced-up front yard and entryway, a clean or newly repaired roof, spotless windows, and some cleverly positioned lighting for evening viewings, you can set the tone for a pleasant home tour.
  • Clean smart
    The idea of cleaning the entire house may seem overwhelming, but with these smart cleaning strategies, you’ll be done in no time:

    • Clean as if you’re reading a book
      You know how we read books from left to right, top to bottom? That’s how our brains our wired. Do the same when cleaning a room so it feels more intuitive and less stressful.
    • Prioritize attention-drawing surfaces
      Buyers easily notice dirt and stains on floors and countertops, so place these high on your cleaning order.
    • Show your kitchen and bathrooms some extra love
      Kitchens and bathrooms are deal breakers when it comes to home buyers. Make sure they’re spotless. Get necessary repairs done. Remove personal products from bathrooms, and declutter kitchen counters by hiding small appliances like toasters, juicers, and coffeemakers. Spruce up these spaces with fresh flowers loosely arranged.
  • Clear your storage spaces
    While decluttering your living spaces should be a given in your preparations, you should also clear out cupboards, closets, and other storage areas in time for a viewing. This will allow buyers to see how much storage space they can work with when they own the home.
  • Depersonalize
    Make it easy for buyers to imagine themselves living in your home. Remove family photos and personal mementoes from areas in the home open for viewing.
  • Brighten things up
    From pulling the curtains open to adding lamps to dim corners, light will instantly boost your living spaces. A well-lit home makes spaces seem larger and more cheerful.
  • Make the home flow
    Give visiting buyers a comfortable time exploring the house. Move furniture away from doors and hallways, and in spaces where guests are likely to walk through or linger.
  • Showcase the best features of the home
    Whether it’s a spacious patio, a home theater, or a spa-like bathroom, the best features of your home should take center stage. Keep these spaces spotless and work to make them look inviting. If you can, set a consistent theme across the house to illustrate a complete lifestyle, instead of separate experiences.
  • Think like a buyer
    As you go through all these steps and strategies, remember what it was like when you were shopping for your own house. What did you find impressive in the homes you visited? What turned you off? With this mindset, you’ll be better able to turn your home into an attractive package for home buyers.

Staging is just one effective strategy to score a great deal for your home. For more expert advice and reliable selling services, trust Bernie and Mike Homes to get the job done. Inquire today by calling 415 906 6000 or 415 308 4281.

6 Expert Tips for a First-time San Francisco Home Buyer

Panoramic view of San Francisco

Owning a home in San Francisco takes a lot of patience, resolve, and careful preparation.

With their promise of excellent jobs, great year-round weather, and diverse and vibrant lifestyles, Bay Area communities always rank high on the lists of young West Coast home buyers.

These highlights, however, are the same reasons owning San Francisco real estate can be a challenge. With high demand for limited housing stock, median home prices here are steeper than many US cities, going well over the million-dollar mark.

If you’re a first-time buyer willing to take the leap into Bay Area real estate, here are top tips that will help you meet your home goals:

  1. Manage your expectations

    Gun for the best, but be prepared to compromise. While it makes sense to want all the best attractions and amenities right away, consider tradeoffs that can make a less competitive neighborhood appealing. These could be something practical like having a convenient commute to work, or having a lovely recreational perk nearby, a welcoming neighborhood vibe, or proximity to a good trail or surfing spot.

  2. Think out of the box

    If the market is competitive, do not rely solely on listings. Consider the following:

    • Convince your landlord to sell

      If you’re already renting a good place in the Bay Area, ask your landlord if he would be willing to sell the property. It’s worth a try if you can make a reasonable offer.

    • Look for a property to buy even before it’s on the market.

      Get a head ahead on the competition. Check social media or talk to friends and colleagues about looming property sales in your desired neighborhood.

  3. Be prepared to move once you’ve identified your ideal home

    Quick reflexes are crucial when making a play for highly desired real estate. Get pre-approved for a mortgage, secure your down payment resources, and organize your personal and financial documents early. Convincing the seller of your ability to buy is a huge advantage. With the above credentials ready, jump at the earliest opportunity to make an offer for your chosen property.

  4. Use open houses to your advantage

    More than an opportunity to study properties closely, open houses allow buyers to gauge their competition. An open house can provide a snapshot of
    how many potential buyers are competing for the property, as well as their profiles.

  5. Steel yourself for counter-offers and outright rejection

    Always remember that it’s always a toss-up in the Bay Area real estate market. In fact, getting rejected is considered a rite of passage for home
    buyers here. Be ready to bounce right back up and move on to Plan B if your offer didn’t make the cut.

  6. Work with a reliable local real estate specialist

    No matter where you’re buying, if you’re new to real estate transactions, professional guidance and advice from experienced agents are a crucial

From finding hot leads to helping you write a compelling offer letter, to representing you on the negotiation and closing desks, Bernie and Mike Homes will make it easier to buy your ideal San Francisco Bay Area home. Call us 415 906 6000 or 415 308 4281 today.

The Best Bike Routes in the Bay Area

adventure ride with an amazing view of golden gate bridge

From casual pedaling to adventure rides, San Francisco bike routes will have something to please every cyclist.

Do you ever wonder how the Bay Area earned its reputation as a cyclist’s paradise? Add these notable routes to your ride plans and see for yourself.

  • Embarcadero-Sausalito
    The beginner-friendly ride

    It will take you approximately one hour to get from the Embarcadero waterfront to the bayside town of Sausalito, a distance of 10 miles. Riders cross the Golden Gate Bridge and are treated to stunning views of Alcatraz Island along the way. In downtown Sausalito, you’ll find plenty of opportunities to wind down and grab a bite. You can even opt to take a little sip of wine. You can pedal your way back or hop on a ferry and enjoy a short cruise back to the Ferry Building Marketplace in San Francisco.

  • Golden Gate Park
    A quick and casual ride in the City by the Bay

    San Francisco’s Golden Gate Park presents a variety of trails, including dirt paths that boost the sense of adventure in an otherwise soothing ride. The paths are open for bikers to explore on their own, but visitors can also take guided tours designed to showcase the Park’s most popular sights and secret gems. The park is compact enough for you to ride around in about 30 minutes. You can also check out all of the attractions around the premises if you instead to stay for the day.

  • Crystal Spring Regional Trail
    A weekend crowd favorite

    Located in the South Bay area, this route is popular among weekend riders, joggers, and trail walkers. The paths can get pretty crowded on a weekend, so head out early in the morning for the best riding experience. Scheduling a midweek ride also works. Expect to be treated to views of the San Andreas Reservoir, the Upper Crystal Springs Reservoir, and a historic miner’s camp. The trail now stretches 15.3 miles but will cover a total of 17.5 miles when complete.

  • Muir Woods Loop and San Pablo Dam Reservoir Loop
    Mild challenges, inspiring scenery

    Intermediate riders will surely enjoy the ups and downs of the North Bay’s Muir Woods Loop and the East Bay’s 19-mile San Pablo Dam Reservoir Loop. The Muir Woods Loop covers just over 13 miles, with the first three miles mostly a long, continuous climb, followed by three miles of downhill roads. You’ll find yourself in the midst of towering redwood groves and be delighted by sparkling ocean views.

  • Iron Horse Trail
    Time to test your mettle

    The aptly named Iron Horse Trail presents a worthy challenge for experienced cyclists. It is 32 miles long, but will eventually extend to 55 miles. At present, the path runs through a total of 12 cities. Allot six hours to negotiate the trail, which alternates between crowded urban centers and barely populated rural neighborhoods.

If you want to live in communities that bring all these biking adventures closer to home, Bernie and Mike Homes is the real estate team to call. Explore the website to view your housing options. For inquiries, call 415 906 6000 or 415 308 4281 today.

June Events in San Francisco, CA You Shouldn’t Miss

Under a LGBT Pride Flag in San Francisco, CA

Pride Month is one of the many cultural highlights that dot San Francisco’s June events

Planning your June activities in the City by the Bay? Mark your calendars for these exciting events across SF:

  • Union Street Music Festival
    June 2-3 | Union Street, between Gough and Steiner

    This 40-year-old community event is spread out over five blocks to showcase local musical talent, arts and crafts, and various community groups and advocacies.

  • San Francisco Jazz Festival
    June 5-17 | SFJAZZ Center

    Offering more than 30 shows over a two-week stretch, this music festival features performances from contemporary jazz stars, alongside tribute, shows dedicated to legends like Oscar Peterson.

  • Crossroads Film Festival
    June 7-10 | San Francisco Museum of Modern Art

    Avant-garde forms of cinema claim the spotlight at the SFMOMA’s Phyllis Wattis Theater and Gina and Stuart Peterson White Box in this film festival’s 9th year.

  • AIGA San Francisco Design Week
    June 7-15 | Various venues

    Discover breakthroughs in modern design, from practical applications in fashion and architecture to lifestyle changing tech innovations. 60 studio tours and 75 events are planned for this event.

  • Queer Women of Color Film Festival
    June 8-10 | Brava Theater, San Francisco

    Designed to immerse, empower, and enlighten audiences, this event celebrates the power of filmmaking as a vehicle for shattering stereotypes and inspiring social improvement.

  • Haight Ashbury Street Fair
    June 10 | San Jose Municipal Stadium, San Jose

    The Haight-Ashbury district’s prominent role in shaping the American cultural, political, and social landscape in the 1960s is celebrated in this festival of music, arts and crafts, and food.

  • Across the Bay 12K and 5K
    June 10 | Starting points in San Francisco and Sausalito, CA

    Now on its 35th year, this event features a scenic 12-kilometer run from Sausalito to Aquatic Park that crosses the Golden Gate Bridge.

  • San Francisco Black Film Festival
    June 14-17 | San Jose Municipal Stadium, San Jose

    Offering a diverse selection of works from established and up-and-coming African-American filmmakers, this event is a world-renowned celebration of the African cultural diaspora.

  • Frameline42, San Francisco International LGBTQ Film Festival
    June 14-24 | Castro Theatre

    This is the largest and longest-running LGBTQ cinema exhibition in the world. The Frameline festival is now on its 42nd year.

  • North Beach Festival
    June 16-17| Near Washington Square Park

    Enjoy a classic San Francisco street fair experience with live entertainment, Italian street painting, and arts and crafts competitions. Expect gourmet food and beverage gardens, too.

  • San Francisco Pride Celebration and Parade
    June 23-24 | Various venues

    A celebration of color, personality, love, and humanity, San Francisco’s 47th annual Pride Month celebration culminates with a festive pride march from the Embarcadero to the Civic Center.

  • Fillmore Jazz Festival
    June 30-July 1 | Fillmore Street, between Jackson and Eddy

    Jazz fans have plenty to look forward to at the end of June, when the city puts together three stages of continuous performances and more than 300 artists’ booths.

With an events lineup like this, there’s no question that San Francisco is one of the liveliest places to live. Make this vibrant lifestyle yours by exploring the website for property options. For inquiries, get in touch with us, Bernie and Mike Homes, at 415 906 6000 or 415 308 4281.

Types of mortgages

Years ago, there were only three types of mortgage programs available to home buyers: fixed-rate conventional mortgages, VA loans, and FHA loans. Nowadays, there’s a wider range of mortgage loan types buyers can choose from.

Buying a home is most likely one of the largest purchases you’ll make during your lifetime – this means choosing the ideal type of mortgage loan will be a key factor in the home buying process. And because there are so many options available, it can be difficult to choose the right type of mortgage that meets your financial goals.

To help you get started on your search, here’s some quick info on the mortgage loan types that are currently available:

  • Fixed-rate mortgage types – Home buyers can choose from different fixed-rate mortgages, from 5-year to sometimes even 50-year fixed-rate mortgages. All of these are completely amortized.
  • FHA loans – An FHA mortgage loan is insured by the government under mortgage insurance funded into the loan. This is the most common type used by first-time home buyers due to their minimal down payment requirements.
  • VA loans – This type of program is available to US veterans, current US military members, reservists, and select surviving spouses. Requirements of the loan vary according to number of years in service or type of military discharge given. VA loans are funded by conventional lenders, but are guaranteed by the Department of Veterans Affairs.
  • Interest-only mortgages – This mortgage loan type can be a bit misleading, as they are not really “interest-only.” They do however, contain an option to make an interest-only payment, which is available for a certain period of time.
  • Option ARM loan – This type of program is an adjustable-rate mortgage which allows buyers to choose from a selection of index rates and payment options. Those choosing this loan should be careful of the minimum payment option, as this can result to negative amortization.
  • Combo mortgage loan – Combo loans, also known as “piggyback” loans consist of two loans, a first and second mortgage. These mortgages can either be fixed-rate, adjustable rate, or a combination of both.
  • Adjustable-rate mortgages – These loans come in many different forms, and can move up or down or remain fixed for a certain period before adjusting.
  • Mortgage buydowns – This type of mortgage has a reduced interest rate due to fees paid to lower the rate, hence the name. Lenders, sellers, or buyers are able to buy down the buyer’s interest rate.
  • Bridge or swing loans – This type of mortgage loan is typically used whenever the seller has a home for sale on the market, which has not sold yet. The seller then borrows equity to purchase another home, with his or her existing home used as security for the loan.
  • Reverse mortgage – This type is available to persons who have enough equity, and are aged 62 and above. Rather than making monthly payments to a lender, monthly payments are instead paid to the borrower, as long as he or she resides in the home. Interest rates for a reverse mortgage can be fixed or adjustable.
  • Equity mortgage loan – This type of loan allows buyers to receive cash, and can be fixed, adjustable, or a line of credit used in order to withdraw funds as needed by the borrower.
  • Streamlined-K mortgage loan – Similar to the 203K loan program, this FHA backed program provides funds to borrowers to repair a home by collecting funds into a single loan. Although the financial limits for the repair work are lower on this type of loan, it is easier to obtain and requires less paperwork compared to a 203K.

What makes a good offer?

After sifting through multiple listings and attending many open houses, you’ve finally found the home of your dreams. Now it’s time for you to make an offer.

How do you determine an ideal price? What are you going to do in case there are competing offers?

When making an offer, it can be difficult to set your emotions aside, since it’s your new home that’s at stake. In order for you to have a better chance at landing a better deal, you need to view the transaction objectively.

Here are three factors to consider:

Current market conditions and inventory

Take a look at homes for sale in your area and find out if there are plenty of similar homes up for sale. Also take note of the length of time they stay on the market, whether they remain available for a single month or more on average. These signs indicate a buyer’s market, which will put you in an advantageous position at the negotiation table. You may want to make an initial offer below the home’s listing price.

If there aren’t a lot of similar homes and properties go into contract a week or two after they’re listed, you may be looking at a seller’s market. This means you’ll have to make an offer at least equivalent to the listing price.

While your realtor is usually in charge of gauging the local market, it helps if you’re also familiar with these factors yourself.

Length of time on the market

The length of time a home has spent on the market is a good indication of whether it is fairly or unfairly priced. For example, let’s say the average time it takes for most homes in the area to go into contract is one month. If the home you’re looking at has remained on the market for over two months, the seller may have priced it too high.

You may attempt to make a low offer on the home. However, this could also be a sign of the seller’s lukewarm motivation. A new listing with a reasonable price will likely need a full-priced offer immediately.

Competing offers

In a hot market, homes often receive multiple offers. This means that as a buyer, you may be facing not just home buyers like yourself, but also investors wielding “all-cash” offers. One way for you to gain advantage over competing buyers is to include an “escalation clause” on your offer.

This is how an escalation clause can give your offer an edge: Let’s say the home’s listing price is $300,000, and there are several offers on the table for it. You place an offer for $305,000, with an escalation clause to $315,000. If the home does not receive any higher offers, yours will remain at $305,000. If it gets a higher offer, then your offer automatically increases to the limit, placing it above the other one.

Before you place an offer, it’s always a good idea to get pre-approval from a mortgage lender. In a competitive market however, this step becomes imperative, as approval from a reputable lender will make your offer stand out.

Why listing photos matter and how you can use them to attract more buyers

According to a recent study conducted by the National Association of Realtors, 44% of buyers use websites and other online resources to help them during their home search. In today’s digital age, it’s safe to assume that most prospective home buyers get a first impression of a home through photos they viewed through a website.

This is why listing photos are a crucial factor which should never be underestimated, especially for those who are serious in selling their home.

In this article, we share a few helpful tips on how you can create the most effective photos for your listing:

Clean, declutter, and organize

The first step is to make sure your home is spotless, clutter-free, and organized. If you want to have the most flattering photos, it pays to have great attention to detail, as even the tiniest of things will be magnified through the camera’s lens. Remember, people who view your photos will able to zoom in and scrutinize minute details in every photo.

Hire a professional photographer

Don’t make the mistake of thinking your smartphone’s camera will suffice. Your listing photos need to be professional quality. Grainy, blurry, poorly lighted, and otherwise low-quality images will discourage your online audience.

A professional photographer will know how to highlight your home’s best features by making use of the best lighting, angles, and editing software. If you want to get photos that will convince potential buyers to make an offer, hiring a professional photographer is definitely the way to go.

Get plenty of photos of your home’s interiors and exteriors

Having a good number of photos displaying both your home’s interiors and exteriors will help your listing shine. It also gives viewers a more in-depth look at your home, which is an important step before they get to visit it in person. There are also some buyers who choose to revisit the photos even after they’ve seen the home with their own eyes, so it’ll help if you have an impressive collection.

Take exterior shots during daytime and nighttime

Be sure to take photos of your home’s exteriors during daytime and nighttime, so viewers will be able to see your home from all lighting aspects. This can be especially useful if your home is surrounded by gorgeous scenery. When taking night shots, be sure lights are switched on inside your home.

Stage every room

Your goal is to showcase your home in the best light possible. This means you need to stage every room, so buyers will get a clear idea of the type of lifestyle it can offer. Be sure every room’s purpose is clearly defined, so that it won’t be difficult for viewers to imagine themselves living there.

Show off curb appeal

Having great curb appeal also plays a huge role when it comes to photos. Be sure you include a shot of your home from across the street, so you can show it off. Your home’s entire structure should be visible within the shot, and make sure cars, lampposts, and other objects are not visible in the foreground.

What is title insurance?

Title insurance is a type of indemnity insurance that is used to protect the holder in the event of financial loss due to flaws in a title to a property or invalidity of mortgage loans. Lender’s title insurance is one of the most common types of title insurance. This is purchased by the borrower to protect the lender. Sellers purchase owner’s title insurance separately, which protects the buyer’s equity in the property.

Unlike land registration processes in most countries, recorders of deed throughout the US typically do not guarantee indefeasible title to recorded titles. Title insurance guarantees protection against possible lawsuits targeting the title, or reimbursement for monetary loss equal to the dollar amount of insurance indicated in the policy.

The importance of title insurance

Title insurance serves as the real estate owner’s and lender’s protection against damage or loss incurred from defects in the title, encumbrances, liens, or actual ownership of the property. While traditional insurance protects against future events, title insurance protects against possible claims for incidents in the past.

Some of these claims include forgery or fraudulent title documents, property ownership by another party, outstanding lawsuits, liens against the property, unidentified easements, and others.

Acquiring title insurance

The insurance process is initiated by a closing or escrow agent once the property purchase agreement is completed. The attorney or agent typically recommends one of five major US title insurance underwriters.

Owners’ insurance and lenders’ insurance are the two kinds of title insurance available. Lenders usually require the purchase of a lender’s title insurance policy in order for them to have protection in the event that the seller fails to legally transfer the title of ownership rights. With a lender’s policy, lenders are only protected against loss. An issued policy typically represents the conclusion of a title search, which offers some assurance to the buyer.

An owner’s title insurance policy is usually required as additional protection, given the fact that title searches are not exactly “airtight,” and owners still face the risk of incurring loss. The owner’s title insurance, which is usually purchased by the seller in order to protect the buyer against possible flaws in the title, is optional.

In most cases, an owner’s policy and lender’s policy are both required to assure all parties are adequately protected. During closing, all parties purchase title insurance offered at a one-time fee. In order to prevent anyone from taking advantage, the Real Estate Settlement Procedures Act or RESPA prohibits sellers from requiring buyers to purchase from a chosen title insurance carrier.

What if I have no title insurance?

Without title insurance, transacting parties are widely exposed to significant risk, in case a title defect is discovered. Without title insurance, a homebuyer may have to deal with claims for back taxes, which rests solely on them. In this situation, a buyer not protected with title insurance will be required to pay the outstanding taxes, or they will lose the home to the taxing entity. In the same situation with title insurance, the buyer will be protected as long as they own the property.

Major parts of a purchase contract

A real estate purchase contract, also known as a residential purchase agreement or contract to purchase real estate, is a binding agreement involving two or more parties legally capable to purchase or exchange real property.

While money is most commonly used as consideration in exchange for real estate, it can also be another property in exchange, and sometimes promise to pay. As required by the United States Statute of Frauds, all real estate contracts should be in writing for them to be enforceable, and must contain the signature of both parties (buyer and seller).

A real estate contract contains the following major details:

  • All important rights, obligations, and details of the contract
  • The real estate property, identification of parties in the agreement, and the agreed-upon purchase price
  • All conditions and contingencies that are to be met
  • Amount of the deposit
  • Property’s current condition
  • A list of items included and not included with the purchase
  • The prospective date of closing
  • Closing costs (and who pays for what)
  • The signature of each party involved
  • Terms of possession

Information on contingencies

The list of contingencies in a purchase contract typically includes:

  • Getting in appraisal (which is usually required by the mortgage company)
  • Acquiring a mortgage or owner financing
  • Having a professional conduct a proper inspection
  • Need for another sale

Earnest money deposit

The buyer usually makes a deposit once he or she signs the contract. This deposit is held under escrow by a third party (typically a title company or real estate lawyer) until the closing. The deposit is usually specified in the contract itself and is a fraction of the total selling price. The earnest money deposit serves as credit used in the final purchase price negotiated.

What if the buyer wants to cancel?

Cancellation of the purchase contract is a serious consideration and may result in the buyer’s loss of deposit. In addition, he or she may be sued for specific performance or failure to compete the contract. In case you are thinking about getting out of the contract, the ideal time is while contingencies are being met by both parties.

Although contingencies are normally used as escape hatches, they aren’t for buyers who suddenly get cold feet.

The most common reason is financing contingencies. In case the buyer attempts yet is unsuccessful in getting a mortgage, the contract is canceled. There are also many potential issues in underwriting. Even if the buyer gets pre-approved by a lender, there may still be discrepancies during the mortgage underwriting process.

Another out commonly used by buyers is the inspection contingency. Should the inspection reveal any underlying defects in the property, the buyer may declare the defects too much for him or her to handle. In case the buyer and seller fail to reach an agreement on the repair of the defects, they can both decide to cancel the contract.

In some states, however, a home inspection is required before executing the final purchase contract. In this case, an inspection is not included as a contingency of the contract.

Why you should hold an open house

When selling a home, there are various ways to provide buyers with access to the property. One of them is to hold an open house, which allows potential buyers to visit the home physically.

An open house can be a highly effective part of your home selling strategy. Here are a several advantages you can get when you include an open house to your plan:

It attracts more serious buyers

Holding an open house attracts various buyers in more ways than one. By having visitors seeing the house as-is, you’re making it easier for them to make a decision that’s based purely on facts. Used in combination with online marketing, you’re increasing your chances of attracting serious buyers who are likely to make an offer on your home.

In addition, repeat visits also allow you to get to know more about serious buyers. A second visit is an indication that they saw something in your home, and would like a closer look before placing an offer. This allows you to focus on potential buyers and push the right buttons to convince them to buy the house.

It gives you the opportunity to prepare your home for a sale

Planning an open house gives you an opportunity to stage your home, which paves the way for a top-dollar sale. One of the best ways to approach this is to ask a seasoned realtor to assist you in identifying areas you can improve in order to attract potential buyers.

When putting a home on the market, a seller will usually need to stage it for an extended period of time, since buyers can request to visit it at any time. With an open house, you only need to prepare the home once, and that’s it.

More exposure

There are many buyers who want to get a first-hand look at a home in order for them to make the best, most informed decision before they make an offer. An open house gives them a chance to actually walk through the home and enter its living spaces, see the home’s actual features up close, and get a sneak peek of the type of lifestyle they can enjoy if they decide to buy the home.

Weekends are a great time to hold an open house, as it makes it more convenient for buyers to tour your home. Most buyers from out of town typically schedule their house-hunting trips on weekends, and local buyers may find it difficult to take off from their jobs during the week. An open house during the weekend makes it easier for both groups to get a tour of your home.

A packed open house can make your home more enticing

An open house attended by numerous visitors can help dispel buyers’ fears and encourage them to act swiftly. One way to get more visitors is to invite acquaintances, neighbors and casual lookers inside, even if they have no intention of buying. This is also a great way to market your home, as anyone who drops by could tell other people about your listing.

Spring is in: 7 Can’t miss SF events

Golden Gate Bridge

When spring rolls around, San Francisco comes to life with a myriad of fun events. If you’re visiting the City by the Bay at this time of year, make sure to mark your calendar and save these dates:

Saint Patrick’s Day (March 17)
St. Paddy would definitely beam with pride if he sees how San Franciscans celebrate his day. The city organizes a massive, lively parade celebrating Irish culture. Live music performances make the event even more festive and the city’s many Irish pubs also organize fun block parties where residents can mix and mingle while beer flows from the tap.

Bay Area Brews Festival (March 24)
The Bay Area Brews Festival returns bigger than ever in its seventh year. As always, attendees can expect to sample the finest beers from local breweries. The admission fee includes unlimited beer samplings, and VIPs get an extra hour to enjoy all the beer on offer. Even better, proceeds from the event go to Copper’s Dream Animal Rescue.

Union Street Spring Celebration (April 1)
Dubbed the “Biggest Little Parade in San Francisco,” the Union Street Spring Celebration showcases the diverse communities found in the city. Fittingly, there’s a wide variety of family-friendly activities to enjoy at the event, from inflatable bounce houses, climbing walls, face painting, a petting zoo, and an Easter egg hunt, just to name a few.

Cherry Blossom Festival (April 14-22)
You don’t have to travel to Japan to see cherry blossoms – just visit the Northern California Cherry Blossom Festival instead. The event was started in 1968 to serve as a bridge between Japanese and American cultures and features cultural performances, martial arts exhibitions, live music, and food booths. There is also the annual Queen Program, which crowns the queen of the festival.

San Francisco International Beer Festival (April 21)
Whether you love a good pint of beer or a glass of fine whiskey, you’ll find the perfect drink at the San Francisco Beer Festival. This year’s edition features new spirit tastings from The Macallan, Highland Park, Tito’s Vodka, and Tin Cup Whiskey. Each ticket bought supports the Telegraph Hill Cooperative Nursery School, a cause definitely worth toasting to.

San Francisco International Film Festival (April 4-17)
The longest-running film festival in the Americas returns for its 61st year to showcase the latest cinematic gems. It’s a venue where some of the most creative, boundary-pushing works are debuted. And of course, it’s not a film festival without a competition to honor the best filmmaking among the year’s participants.

Bay Area Dance Week (April 27-May 6)
If you love dance, the Bay Area Dance Week is a can’t-miss event. The 10-day celebration features hundreds of free dance classes that span genres and music styles. The week starts with a kickoff event wherein hundreds of people move to a dance sequence that features the best music from around the globe.

When you live in San Francisco, you’ll never run out of experiences to enjoy. If you’re looking for properties here, call Bernie Katzmann and Mike Shaw today at 415-906-6000 or 415 308 4281.

San Francisco hosts the 66th Pacific Orchid and Garden Expo

Flowers in San Francisco, California

The annual Pacific Orchid and Garden Exposition (POGE) is back, and this time, it pays tribute to one of the most beloved children’s stories of all time. What better way to support the hobby we all love than with a visit to an event that champions everything about it.

Celebrating its 66th year, the four-day event will be held at the Hall of Flowers, Golden Gate Park in San Francisco from February 22 to 25. Visitors can expect to see a large array of fresh new seasonal and spring plants that they can purchase for their garden. Also on display are related products such as gardening tools and machines, plant care products, landscaping services, and more.

Formerly called the Pacific Orchid Exposition (POE), the organizers decided to add “Garden” to the event’s title last year to signify its growth into becoming more than just an avenue for orchids. Already the most popular orchid event in the country, POGE now showcases specialty plants, some grown from the far reaches of the globe such as Peru, Ecuador, Malaysia, Thailand, and Taiwan.

’Curiouser and Curiouser’

This year’s theme is “Curiouser and Curiouser, Orchids in Wonderland,” in reference to Lewis Carroll’s popular children’s story. To go along with the theme, the Gala Preview Night to be held on Thursday, February 22 starting at 6 p.m., will feature the “Mad Hatter Party” as its motif.

Last year’s POGE enjoyed bright sunny weather, allowing everyone a much needed break from an otherwise rainy Bay Area winter. The theme for the 65th POGE was “Big Ideas for Small Gardens,” which focused on educating visitors on how to help their plants thrive in city environments such as the balconies and windowsills of high-rise condos and apartments.

Aside from things that relate to flower and plants, visitors can expect delicious lunch options at the event. Last year, visitors flocked to the food stalls setup by Annie’s Hot Dogs, How Ya Bean, and The Grilled Geez Guy. Those who prefer to eat at a restaurant will appreciate the event’s proximity to 9th avenue, where a few great dining places are situated.

Other Plant-Themed Events

If the 66th Pacific Orchid and Garden Exposition doesn’t completely sate your appetite for all things floral, perhaps you might want to check out these related events in the Bay Area as well.

  • Gardening with Nature at Home and at Work (Saturday, February 24, 1 p.m. – 3 p.m.)

    In this workshop, you’ll learn the importance of soil microbes and how they benefit plants. If you’re having trouble growing your plants to optimal health, then this workshop merits your participation.

  • Edible Garden 2018 (Saturday, March 10, 10:00 a.m. – 12 p.m.)
    Garden for the Environment, 1590 7th Ave.

    A monthly gardening workshop where you can learn how to maximize your vegetable garden for the upcoming month. Expert instructors will teach you how to take full advantage of SF’s unique gardening climate so you can reap a bountiful harvest with regularity.

  • Contra Costa Spring Home & Garden Show (Friday, April 6 12 p.m. – Sunday, April 8, 4 p.m.)
    Concord Pavilion, 2000 Kirker Pass Road

    Now on its 33rd year, the Contra Costa Spring Home & Garden Show focuses on helping homeowners transform their home and garden into something beautiful and extraordinary. The event features hundreds of exhibits that relate to improving gardens, landscapes, sunrooms, kitchens, baths, and more.

Truly, San Francisco is a great place to be for those with a certified green thumb. If you would like to explore real estate opportunities in the area, get in touch with Bernie and Mike today.

Theater attractions in February

Theater seats viewed from the stage

As one of the premier cultural centers in the United States, San Francisco features dozens of plays, musicals, ballets, and other shows every week at its many theaters and performance venues. Here’s a list of some of the theater attractions to check out this month in the city:

  • The Book of Mormon
    February 6 to 28
    Orpheum Theater

    This widely popular musical comedy from Matt Stone and Trey Parker follows the misadventures of two missionaries as they try to spread the word of God in Africa. Go to this page for schedules and tickets.

  • American Conservatory Theater (A.C.T.)
    Throughout February
    At the Geary Theater and The Strand

    A San Francisco institution, A.C.T. is an internationally renowned nonprofit theater company that has been breaking ground in theatrical productions and training since 1965. The recipient of a Tony Award for outstanding theater performance and training, it has also won the coveted Jujamcyn Theaters Award. This month, don’t miss:

    • Vietgone
      February 21 to April 22 at the Strand Theater
    • The Last Days of Judas Iscariot
      February 22 to March 3 at the Strand Theater

    Find more information about A.C.T.’s 2017-2018 season here.

  • Theater Bay Area
    Throughout February
    Various venues

    Theater Bay Area (TBA) is a San Francisco-based nonprofit composed of more than 360 theater and dance companies in 12 counties. It’s considered one of the pillars of the San Francisco artistic community, providing members with access to financial, professional and educational resources. TBA’s member companies present a wide array of shows and productions every month across the region. This month’s highlights include:

    • Non-Player Character
      Until March 3 at the San Francisco Playhouse
    • Born Yesterday
      Until March 10 at the San Francisco Playhouse
    • The Wedding Singer
      February 17 to March 17 at the Alcazar Theatre

    For more February shows in the San Francisco area, check out this page:

  • SF Symphony
    Throughout February
    Davies Symphony Hall

    The SF Symphony is considered one of the best in the world and watching them perform is a treat for all music lovers. Since its founding in 1911, the symphony has become an important part of the San Francisco cultural scene. They continue to enthrall audiences with several performances each month, mostly at Davies Symphony Hall, their home at the San Francisco War Memorial. Check out this page for their February shows and performances, which include:

  • San Francisco Ballet
    Throughout February
    Mostly at War Memorial Opera House

    The oldest ballet company in the United States is best known for its yearly production of the Nutcracker, which they first brought to the country in 1944. Throughout the year, the company presents a host of performances ranging from classic to contemporary, mostly at the War Memorial Opera House – the company’s home since 1932. This month, you can catch:

    • Bright Fast Cool Blue
      February 13 to 24
    • Distinctly SF Ballet
      February 15 to 25

    For more performances, check out

    There are so many more art and cultural events to discover in San Francisco. Thinking about being part of this amazing community? Get in touch with Bernie and Mike Homes at 415 906 6000 or 415 308 4281 to help you find the perfect home.

    Valentine’s Day in San Francisco

    Giant Bow and Arrow Displaye for Valetine's Day

    Romance is in the air as February ushers in Valentine’s Day in San Francisco. You and your significant other will never run out of places to go and things to do in the city in this special month.

    Here are our top suggestions:

    Have a fun and romantic day at the Wharf

    Fisherman’s Wharf is always the go-to place for an activity-filled day by the bay, but it takes on a special romantic air on Valentine’s Day. Spend the day walking hand-in-hand with your significant other, or go around in bikes and explore the many historic attractions and charming souvenir shops in the area.

    Get your date a special chocolate gift at the Ghirardelli Chocolate Marketplace and have a delightful time watching the sea lions at the Sea Lion Center. Then cap the day with an excellent steak or seafood dinner in one of the many topnotch restaurants in the area, like Bistro Boudin, Franciscan Cap and Alioto’s.

    Go on a cruise

    What could be more romantic than sailing together out into the sunset or boating under moonlit skies? San Francisco Bay features several Valentine’s weekend cruises, with a four-course or buffet dinner, live music, wine, flowers, and stunning views.

    Experience a “sex tour” at the San Francisco Zoo

    The city’s premier zoo presents a different “sex tour” every year, allowing visitors to get more up close and personal with the zoo’s inhabitants. For 2018, the theme is “Lover’s Stroll,” giving you and your date a chance to visit “animal couples, mates and families.”

    Donate to the zoo and gift your significant other with an adopted animal under the zoo’s Adopt-an-Animal program. You’ll get a Certificate of Adoption and a fun fact page, and maybe a photo of your adoptive animal and memorabilia like a bracelet and plush toy.

    Get in a “pillow fight”

    Have the simmering urge to let out some aggression with your partner? Join Pillow Fight, a somewhat clandestine, flash-mob type event where participants hit each other with feather-stuffed pillows.

    Every year, this fun event held at Justin Herman Plaza attracts around 1,000 participants who (harmlessly) have a go at each other once the Ferry Building clock strikes 6. After all the exertion, unwind together over wine and dinner.

    Surround yourself with art

    Visit one of the city’s fantastic art museums with your date and catch up on the latest in San Francisco’s vibrant art scene. You can choose from a wide range of places to go, led by the San Francisco Museum of Modern Art. The largest modern art museum in the United States, this major destination always has something new to offer to visitors.

    You can also opt to explore other art museums – and other art forms. The Asian Art Museum, for example, exhibits more than 17,000 works of art from almost 6,000 years of Asian history, encompassing sculptures, jewelry, textiles and more.

    Stroll down a magnificent garden

    Nothing says “Happy Valentine’s Day” better than flowers. Take your date to the San Francisco Conservatory of Flowers and be surrounded by hundreds of blooms. This “living museum” is home to numerous plant varieties that result in an explosion of colors – truly something to share with the special person in your life.

    Say “I love you” with tulips…

    Who says flowers on Valentine’s Day are exclusive to roses? Tulips – thousands of them – can express your affection just as beautifully. Take your date to Tulipmania at Pier 39, happening on February 10 to 18, and be dazzled by around 39,000 colorful tulips and other blooms on display. Unearth (or enhance) your green thumb together by learning gardening tips on a free guided tour.

    …or with orchids

    Spend a day at the 66th Pacific Orchid Exposition in the Golden Gate Park Hall of Flowers. Happening on February 23 to 25, this exhibition is billed “Curiouser and Curiouser, Orchids in Wonderland,” a take on its “Alice in Wonderland” theme. Marvel at the exotic blooms on display and be taken to another, more magical world with your special someone.

    Turn Valentine’s Day into New Year’s

    The month of love doesn’t start and end on Valentine’s Day. Welcome the new lunar year with your significant other as San Francisco celebrates Chinese New Year with fun and exciting events from February 10 to March 4.

    Celebrations include a street fair, a fun run, symphony performances, concerts and lion dances. And don’t miss the exciting Chinese New Year Parade on February 24, taking off at Second and Market Streets at 5:15 p.m.

    How to spend President’s Day Weekend in San Francisco

    American Flag with President Day Greeting

    President’s Day is just around the corner! Have you made your plans for the extended weekend yet? Here’s a quick guide on things you can do in San Francisco over the holiday:

    Marvel at the freshest and most colorful blooms at Pier 39’s Tulipmania Festival

    Catch the tail end of one of San Francisco’s most colorful festivals, Tulipmania, at Pier 39. The 9-day event is scheduled to end on February 18, so expect the most special highlights to come during the weekend right before President’s Day.

    Tulipmania features an exhibition of nearly 40,000 tulips, as well as other seasonal garden blooms. Enjoy guided tours, brief learning sessions for top gardening tips, and practically endless opportunities to fill your Instagram feed with photos that explode with vibrant color and life.

    Discover international cinema at the Mostly British Film Festival

    Happening at the historic Vogue Theater, the Mostly British Film Festival brings an exciting lineup of international films to the Golden City audience. The festival lineup includes contemporary and classic films from the UK, Ireland, India, Australia, New Zealand, and South Africa.

    Head over to the festival on Friday evening, February 16, for the festival’s tribute to Downton Abbey’s Joanne Froggatt. Or go on day-long movie marathons on Saturday and Sunday.

    Get competitive at the San Francisco City Golf Championship

    Fancy a game of golf over President’s Day weekend? Why not make it more interesting by signing up for the San Francisco City Golf Championship?

    Qualifying dates for the Open Flights category fall on February 17 and 18, with official match play dates set for the succeeding weekends.

    Lift your spirits with a trio of events celebrating the best craft beers and fine wines

    Looking to get a drink? There’s no better place to do it in San Fran over President’s Day weekend than these highlight events:

    • San Francisco Beer Week. A generous selection of craft beers, brewer demos, beer, and cheese pairing events, and beer dinners await you in this local beer fest. Catch the last two days on February 17 and 18 before it’s too late!
    • San Francisco Chronicle Wine Competition. Sample concoctions from over 800 wineries. Marvel at incredible views of the Golden Gate Bridge while enjoying fine food and engaging in interesting conversations with fellow wine connoisseurs.
    • The Zinfandel Experience. Discover the Zinfandel, America’s heritage wine, at the Bentley Reserve, Pier 27, and One Market from February 18-20.

    Noise Pop

    Opening on President’s Day, February 19, Noise Pop is San Francisco’s premier independent culture festival. A celebration of everything indie, this week-long event features the works of artists, filmmakers, and musicians who are just starting to make their mark.

    The festival has helped launch the careers of musical acts like The White Stripes, Modest Mouse, and Death Cab for Cutie. In addition to the shows, there are plenty of happy hours to enjoy at your favorite venue. Go to this site for information on tickets, schedules, and venues.

    Stay close to all the action in San Francisco by finding a great home in the City by the Bay. Get in touch with us at Bernie and Mike Homes at 415 906 6000 or 415 308 4281. We’ll help you find the home of your dreams.

    Film festivals you shouldn’t miss in February 2018

    The Castro Theater San Francisco

    Februaries in San Francisco are fantastic for moviegoers thanks to these film festivals:

    • San Francisco Independent Film Festival
      February 1 to 15
      Roxie Theater, Victoria Theater, 518 Val Pop Up Theater

      Now on its 20th year, the SF Indie Fest showcases the works of talented film directors in an independent and alternative platform. The 2-week event is featuring close to 80 edgy and thought-provoking films, shining the spotlight on independent masterpieces and other intriguing, hard-to-categorize, and under-distributed films. IndieFest tips a hat to creators from the Bay area and beyond who rarely get the attention and recognition they deserve.

      This year’s lineup includes:

      • The S Word. A compelling documentary that bravely puts a human face to suicide, one of the most feared and misunderstood topics in the human experience.
      • AKIRA: Live Re-score. Relive the cyberpunk classic with a live soundtrack performance featuring synths, drum machines, acid bass lines, and samples from the original 1998 film.

      SF IndieFest also includes themed parties inspired by cult hits such as The Big Lebowski and Pee Wee’s Big Adventure.

    • Berlin & Beyond Film Festival
      February 9 to 14
      The Castro Theater, Shattuck Cinemas, Goethe-Institut Auditorium

      Spearheaded by the German cultural organization, The Goethe-Institut, Berlin & Beyond has been a Bay Area staple since 1996. This film festival celebrates classic and contemporary movies from Germany, Austria, and Switzerland.

      Berlin & Beyond has welcomed over 10,000 guests through its more than 20-year run to watch more than 500 films from German-speaking countries. The festival’s venue of choice is the beloved Castro Theater, a local historic landmark which celebrated its 95th anniversary in 2017.

      Highlights of Berlin & Beyond’s 2018 film list include:

      • The Bloom of Yesterday (Die BlumenVonGestern). So you think you’ve seen every off-beat rom-com out there? Wait till you see a Nazi war criminal’s grandson and a Holocaust victim’s granddaughter bond despite their families’ extremely conflicting histories in this nuanced and emotional film.
      • My Brother Simple (Simpel). In this touching buddy-road-movie that earned this year’s Youth 4 German Cinema Award, Ben takes his mentally challenged brother on an unlikely road trip to find their long-lost father.
    • Mostly British Film Festival
      February 15 to 22
      Vogue Theatre

      25 of the best films from the UK, Ireland, India, Australia, New Zealand, and South Africa take on the historic Vogue Theater’s big screen at the 10th Mostly British Film Festival.

      Featuring new and classic films and documentaries, ranging from biopics and historical events to dramas and thrillers, the festival could be the only theatre run for many of the films.

      Check out this event for standout films such as:

      • Mad to Be Normal. From the beloved Tenth Doctor to controversial psychiatrist Dr. RD Laing, David Tennant showcases his acting chops as the pioneer mental health champion from 1960s Scotland.
      • A Taste of Honey. Part of the festival’s British New Wave showcase, this critical and commercial success from 1961 was a game changer in British cinema, as one of the first films to tackle the difficult issues of sexuality and abortion.

    • January Events in San Francisco Part 3

      January has always been a festive month in San Francisco. Here are a few more events happening this month:

      Zinfandel Experience (ZinEX) Grand Tasting 2018
      January 20, 2018, 11 a.m.
      1098 The Embarcadero

      Gain access to over 500 Zinfadels and Zinfadel blends by 120 of the leading producers from around the world. Guests can look forward to private reserve wines and barrel samples that they won’t find anywhere else.

      The Grand Tasting is the culminating event of ZenEX, a three-day celebration the massive appeal of this varietal. It brings some of the best wine producers and sommeliers to San Francisco for a memorable weekend.

      The festivities begin on January 19 with Trade Tasting, an invite-only event that gives VIPs the advance opportunity to sample the newest Zinfadels in the market.

      ZinEx offers extraordinary food and wine pairings that any wino will enjoy. Other highlights include seminars, live and auctions, and an elegant dinner. Learn a thing or two from visiting sommeliers, get the chance to buy rare wines, and feast on delicious farm-to-table dishes.

      Tickets are available here.


      The Great Mac ‘n Cheese Melt-off!
      January 20, 2018, 11 a.m. – 5 p.m.
      SoMa StrEat Food Park
      428 11th St

      Come to San Francisco’s largest and most vibrant food truck park – SoMa StrEat Food Park is hosting the Great Mac ‘n Cheese Melt-off. The event is bringing over 15 pop-up vendors and food trucks together, all of which will be offering mac ‘n cheese specials to lucky attendees.

      Diners will be voting for the best mac ‘n cheese served at the event, so drop by and make your voice count. Find out what kind of unique and creative spins food vendors will put on this classic dish.  Craft beer will also be served at the event.

      Get your tickets here. Admission is free for children 10 years or younger.


      San Francisco Restaurant Week
      January 22 – 31, 2018
      Multiple venues

      SF Restaurant Week is back to give you another round of culinary delights. Over 100 participating restaurants will be offering prix fixe menus especially created for this 10-day event. Eat in style as the city’s dining hotspots showcase their most popular and unique dishes. Get incredible food bargains. Try different food and wine pairings. Experience the best that the SF culinary scene has to offer.

      The list of participating restaurants and prix fixe menus will be announced shortly. Visit their website for updates on the event.

      Previous participants include acclaimed restaurants like Maruya, Roka Akor, and Mezcalito.

      SF Restaurant Week is brought to you by the Golden Gate Restaurant Association (GGRA), which is dedicated to promoting San Francisco as a world-class culinary destination.


      Living in the Bay Area brings you close to all these exciting events. Let Bernie and Mike Homes assist you. Call 415 906 6000 or 415 308 4281 for more information.

      Read more:
      San Francisco’s Best January Events
      January Events in San Francisco Part 1
      January Events in San Francisco Part 2

      January Events in San Francisco Part 2

      There’s no shortage of fun events in San Francisco. The city welcomes the new year with these events in and around town.

      San Francisco Tape Music Festival
      January 5-7, 2018,
      Victoria Theatre
      2961 16th St

      Tape is the only festival in the United States that showcases live sound projection. The festival’s unique mixed-media presentation features the work of some of the most talented composers from around the globe. Made up of four concerts dedicated to new fixed media compositions and classic audio art, it brings over 30 composers from around the globe.

      The festival will pay tribute to Pierre Henry, a proponent of musique concrète who passed away in 2017. Attendees can look forward to a performance of “Variations for a Door and a Sigh”, one of his most influential works.

      Get ready for a weekend of avante garde performances. The festival brings you the works of Bay Area composers Nathan Corder and Thom Blum, as well as those by international artists like Francis Dumont and Natasha Barrett.


      Poetry in Motion
      January 11, 2018, 5:30 p.m.
      Koret Auditorium
      100 Larkin St

      Poetry in Motion serves as the official launch of the 2018 Muni Art Project. Guests can look forward to a wonderful evening of poetry readings and panel discussions.

      The theme for the 2018 Muni Art Project is “The Art of Poetry in San Francisco”. The project showcases the works of five winning artists who have been selected out of 10 finalists. The winners are:

      • Donavon Brutus
      • Mara Hernandez
      • Tsungwei Moo
      • Randi Pace
      • Janet Rumsey

      The Poetry of Society of America has also handpicked the following poems, which will be re-interpreted by the artists for Muni:

      • “Thich Nhat Hanh I Step With You” by Juan Felipe Herrera
      • “To a Student” by Diane di Prima
      • “Relief” by Kay Ryan
      • “Traffic” by Brynn Saito
      • “LOVE POEM THREE AUTUMNS LATER” by Charif Shanahan

      The artists were given three panels on which to create their vision. Their works will adorn the interior display and the sides of 20 of San Francisco’s buses.

      Click here for more information on the winning artists and their works.


      Black Comix Arts Festival (BCAF)
      January 13 – 15, 2018, 10 a.m.
      San Francisco Public Library
      100 Larkin St

      This three-day event is part of the annual Martin Luther King, Jr. Day celebrations in SF. BCAF celebrates the creativity of African-American comic book artists and their contributions to popular culture. This year’s highlights include film screenings, panel discussions, cosplay events, children’s activities, and the grand expo.

      Special guests include:

      • “Diary of an Afrogeek” author Shawn Taylor
      • “Black Panther: Long Live the King” writer Nnedi Okorafor
      • “The Cosby Show” actor Erika Alexander

      USA Today ranked BCAF among the 10 best art festivals in the country in 2015. It is organized by the Northern California Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. Community Foundation in partnership with the San Francisco Public Library.

      Click here for updates.


      Living in the Bay Area brings you close to all these exciting events. Let Bernie and Mike Homes assist you. Call 415 906 6000 or 415 308 4281 for more information.

      Read more:
      San Francisco’s Best January Events
      January Events in San Francisco Part 1
      January Events in San Francisco Part 3

      January Events in San Francisco Part 1

      There’s no better time to be in San Francisco than January, when a series of colorful events liven up the city. Here are some of them. 

      1. Mortified: Share the Shame

               January 12, 7:30 p.m.

              DNA Lounge

              375 11th St

      This unorthodox event has grown men and women sharing artifacts from their teenage years – diary entries, poems, home videos – with complete strangers. Get ready to hear the performers talk about everything from their first kiss to their misadventures in Bible camp.

      Newsweek declared Mortified “a cultural phenomenon” while Wired describes it as “funny, touching, and intensely relatable”. Watch the performers’ stories unravel through different media and revisit the joys and sorrows of adolescence.

      The show’s performers for 2018 include Katie Imming, Daryl Jones, and Will Seymour. The Freeze, a collective of emcees and musicians, will be there to provide live accompaniment.

      Mortified will take place at the DNA Lounge, a sleek, two-level nightclub in the South of Market (SoMa) district. The club is known for its bottle service and a fantastic selection of New York-style thin crust pizzas.


      1. The Good Food Awards Marketplace

             January 21, 8 a.m.

             Fort Mason Center Farmer’s Market

             Marina Blvd

      The Good Food Awards Marketplace gives you the opportunity to buy award-winning products for the first time – shop for chocolate, cheese, cider, and spirits from some of the nation’s most conscientious food producers. Other products for sale include cheese, preserve, fish, and charcuterie.

      The Good Food Awards seal is presented to crafters who undergo a thorough vetting process, and who meet various social and environmental criteria. Finalists are chosen from each region, and the highest-scoring ones are recognized in the annual ceremony.

      The 2017 marketplace brought together over 193 food and beverage artisans from 36 states, giving attendees exclusive access to the best food and drinks being produced in the United States.

      The next installment takes place on the January 21, with over 75 artisans. Get your tickets here.


      1. Omochitsuki! Mochi-Pounding Ceremony

                January 20, 11 a.m. – 2 p.m.

               Samsung Hall at the Asian Art Museum

               200 Larkin St

      Kagami-Kai, an SF non-profit dedicated to promoting mochitsuki or the ancient tradition of rice pounding, brings you this wonderful event. Held in observance of the Japanese New Year, Omochitsuki! features a rice pounding ceremony accompanied by live music and dance.

      Watch Kagami-Kai turn plain flour in sweet and sticky rice cakes. Admire the traditional costumes and take note of the skill it takes to produce mochi.

      Other highlights include paper crane folding and a fortune tree from which you can take a piece of paper home with you as a sign of luck and prosperity for coming year.

      The event is free with museum admission.

      Live in SF and join these kinds of events throughout the year. Bernie and Mike Homes would be happy to assist you. Call 415 906 6000 or 415 308 4281 to get started.

      Read more:
      San Francisco’s Best January Events
      January Events in San Francisco Part 2
      January Events in San Francisco Part 3

      Things That Look like Fun to Do in January

      Just when you thought things were about to quiet down, San Francisco gives you more events to attend. Check out these fun events in January.

      1. SF Restaurant Week

      SF is known for its vibrant restaurant scene, and this days-long celebration highlights the city’s finest dining spots. The event brings over 130 restaurants to the fore – highlights include special set menus that let diners experience the best that the culinary scene has to offer.

      These prix-fixe menus, the majority of which are developed exclusively for the event, are carefully thought-out by chefs and restaurant owners who want to showcase their most unique or popular dishes.

      2018 SF Restaurant Week takes place from January 22 to 31. Take it as an opportunity to dine at the city’s best-loved restaurants, as well as discover up-and-coming ones.

      Participating restaurants and special menus are announced in early January. Sign up for their newsletter to get updates.

      SF restaurants like the award-winning Roka Akor and Mexican food joint Mezcalito have participated in previous installments of the event.  

      1. FOG Design + Art

      This annual fair showcases contemporary art and design by bringing furniture, photography, fine art, and craft pieces in the same space. The event attracts some of the most celebrated creatives, dealers, and galleries from all over the West Coast. Get the chance to view the pieces on display and interact with the artist behind the work.

      The 2018 FOG Design + Art will take place on January 11 to 14 at the Fort Mason Festival Pavilion. The festivities will begin with the Preview Gala on January 10, which gives attendees early access to the items, as well as the opportunity to buy before the event is opened to the public. They will also be treated to amazing food, cocktails, and live entertainment.

      Proceeds from the gala help support the SF Museum of Modern Art’s exhibitions and educational programs.

      Another highlight of the event is 21POP, an installation by Stanlee Gatti.

      Click here to buy tickets. 

      1. San Francisco Sketch Fest

      Get ready for some serious laughs in January – SF’s premiere comedy festival brings the country’s most gifted comics together for several weeks’ worth of shows and special events. The Sketch Fest’s 17th installment runs from January 11 to 28. Highlights include tributes to celebrated comedians like Jane Lynch, Ricky Gervais, and Paul F. Tompkins.

      Other events include fake TED talks, staged readings, and standup routines scattered across several venues throughout the city. Attendees can also look forward to live musical performances of the Twin Peaks soundtrack.

      There will also be interactive events like “Playing Games with Jimmy Pardo” and “Competitive Erotic Fan Fiction”. Join a culture trivia game show, or give comedians suggestions on how to write steamy fan fiction. Either way, get ready to be entertained.

      Click here to sign up as a performer or a sponsor.


      Live in the thick of the action. Bernie and Mike Homes would be glad to assist you. Call 415 906 6000 or 415 308 4281 for more information.

      Read more: The Hottest Parties in San Francisco this New Year’s Eve

      San Francisco’s Best January Events

      There’s no shortage of annual events in the Bay Area – San Franciscans continue to celebrate these hotly anticipated events year after year. Join us as we observe these long-standing festivities in January.


      1. Martin Luther King Jr. Festival & Parade

      Celebrate the life and work of prominent social activist Martin Luther King, Jr. during this weekend-long festival. The festivities include a parade, a health and wellness festival, film screenings, and art exhibitions.

      The parade traditionally starts at the SF Caltrain station, passes over the Lefty O’Doul Bridge, and ends at Yerba Buena Center for the Arts and Gardens.

      The contingents pause briefly at the Edmunds Pettus Bridge to commemorate the Selma-to-Montgomery March of 1965, during which MLK led non-violent protesters on a five-day march to the state capital of Montgomery in Alabama.

      The highlights of the 2018 MLK Festival & Parade include:

      • MLK Interfaith Commemoration (January 12 – February 17)
      • Black Comix Arts Festival (BCAF) (January 13 – 15)
      • Liberation Film Festival (January 14 –15)
      • Labor and Community Breakfast (January 15)
      • Music festival (January 15)

      Click here to find out how you can be part of this tradition.


      1. The Edwardian Ball

      Watch your fantasies come to life at the Edwardian Ball – this costume ball is reminiscent of the Carnival of Venice. It brings you some sumptuous visuals and a surreal atmosphere that calls to mind the works of the late illustrator Edward Gorey.

      This two-day affair features live music, stage shows, ballroom dancing, art exhibits, and an award-winning bazaar. Have some cocktails, play parlor games, and enjoy the fantastic sideshows. The ball attracts some of the finest performers from all over the country, from musicians to puppeteers.

      Co-presented by Vau de Vire Society and Rosin Coven, the ball celebrates its 18th year in 2018. The festivities will take place on January 26 and 27. The featured Gorey tale of the season is “The Raging Tide: or, The Black Doll’s Imbroglio”, a choose-your-own-adventure story that appeals to both children and adults.  An original stage performance of the featured tale is among the season’s highlights.

      Come in your best Edwardian era costume. If you don’t feel like wearing a top hat or a corset, an elegant black number will do.

      Get your tickets here.


      1. Chinese New Year Festival & Parade

      The SF Chinese New Year Festival is the largest and most magnificent of its kind outside of Asia. The parade is also one of the last few lighted night parades in the United States, which only adds to its allure.

      Get ready to be amazed as Chinatown gets decked out in red. Lion and dragon dancers take to the streets, and firecrackers go off left and right.

      2018 celebrations will take place from February 10 until March 4. Highlights include:

      • Mini-procession and ribbon cutting
      • Flower Market Fair
      • Golden Dragon Unveiling and Eye-dotting Ceremony
      • SF Chinese Chamber of Commerce – Southwest Airlines Basketball Jamboree
      • Miss Chinatown U.S.A Pageant and Coronation Ball
      • Chinese New Year Community Street Fair
      • CCHP – Chinatown YMCA Chinese New Year Run

      Be part of the festivities as the Chinese community ushers in the Year of the Dog.  Click here to get tickets and updates on the events.

      Read more:
      January Events in San Francisco Part 1
      January Events in San Francisco Part 2
      January Events in San Francisco Part 3

      San Francisco Gay Bars Guide –the Best in San Francisco Gay Nightlife

      Golden background mosaic with light spots

      There’s nothing like the gay nightlife scene in San Francisco. And while the Castro still has the highest concentration of gay bars in the city, theSoMa district also has much to offer. Check out these hotspots in the world’s gay mecca.

      1. SoMa district
        Embarcadero to 11th St

        SoMa, more formally known as South of Market, stretches from the Mission District all the way to the bay. Filled with swanky new condos and refurbished warehouses, this trendy areaboasts some of the city’s most historic gay bars.

        The End Up has been around since 1973 – the nightclub attracts a mixed crowd of queer and straight party-goers. The Stud, which has been in business for half a century, is open seven days a week.

        SoMa is also synonymous with gay leather culture. The Folsom Street Fair draws tens of thousands of fetishists to the area each September, while Up Your Alley caters to leather enthusiasts every July.

        Unidentified people at the annual gay festival Folsom Street Fair

        At the annual Folsom Street Fair

      2. Anchor Oyster Bar
        579 Castro St

        This locally-owned restaurant brings you fresh seafood – dig into some crab cakes, steamed mussels, and wild prawns. The menu is straightforward but reliable. The quality of the food is consistent, and the presentation is simple. Drop by for dinner before hitting the bars. Their infamous oyster shooters are not to be missed either.

      3. Aunt Charlie’s Lounge
        133 Turk St

        This well-loved drag bar producesa heady series of parties that attract drag aficionados and the curious. Come here for great live music and even greater performances by Gingersnap and Pinky. The Hot Boxxx Girls Drag Show is among the best of its kind – watch professional drag queens pay tribute to icons like Cher and Madonna for a night you won’t forget.

      4. Beaux
        2344 Market St

        One of the latest additions to the Castro’s gay scene, Beaux boasts an extensive cocktails list. Try Beaux-Tot, their signature cocktail, and drop by for weekly events like Happy Mondays and Piano Bar Thursdays. It’s a great place to unwind and meet new people. Go-go dancers heat up the bar on Manimal Fridays, while Saturdays feature revolving events.

        "a street sign in San Francisco for the 'Castro' area which is a famous Gay and lesbian district. The rainbow flag in the background is also used a symbol by the Gay communityCalifornia, USA"

      5. Blackbird Bar
        2124 Market St

        Enjoy made-to-order cocktails at Blackbird, which also offers a fantastic selection of wines and craft beers. The bar also doubles as an art space, where you can buy art and admire current exhibits. Spend the weekend drinking great beer and playing billiards with your friends. The space can also be reserved for parties and other private events.

      6. Read More: San Francisco Gay Bars Guide –the Best in San Francisco Gay Nightlife

      7. The Café
        2369 Market St

        Formerly known the Castro’s leading lesbian dance club, The Café has come to attract a mixed group of queer party-goers over the last few years. The renovated space, which has two levels and three bars, has a contemporary and stylish feel to it. Drop by for their weekly events – I Candy Fridays are well-attended, with go-go dancers and a DJ in tow.

      8. Cafe Flore
        2298 Market St

        If you’d rather have great conversation in a subdued setting, Café Flore is the place to go. The restaurant serves brunch and dinner. Grab some coffee, have a taste of their slow-roasted beef, or try the mac n’ cheese. The best seats overlook the sidewalk, offering views of one of the busiest and most vibrant intersections in the city.

      Aerial view of downtown San Francisco city skyline, California, United States of America. A view of Market street in the Castro, LGBT rainbow flag, cityscape, skyscrapers, architecture and bay from Twin Peaks.

      Want to know what more San Francisco has to offer? Call Bernie and Mike at 415 906 6000 or 415 308 4281.

      Read more: San Francisco’s Award-Winning Bars

      The Insider’s Guide of Things to Do in San Francisco

      San Francisco, United States - May 19, 2016: Approaching iconic cable car is full of outside hanging and platform standing tourists with bay water background in sunny Powell Street in California. Horizontal

      Whether you’re visiting or relocating, the Golden City offers plenty of diversions year round. Enjoy the full San Francisco experience by doing the following:

      1. Ride a cable car
        SF’s iconic cable cars are often referred to as the city’s moving landmarks. A ride in one of these cars can be exhilarating, especially as they run up and down the city’s hills, their bells clattering. It’s also a great way to see the city – you’ll pass by many distinctive neighborhoods. For the best views, sit on the eastern side of the cars, which faces the bay.

        The Powell-Hyde line is one of the most popular routes, as it ends near Ghirardelli Square, where you can go for snacks and coffee. The California-Van Ness route is also wellknown.

        Built in 1873, the city’s cable car system is the last operating system of its kind in the world. The 1906 earthquake destroyed much of SF’s infrastructure, and by 1912, only three of the lines remained in existence.

        While the cars are seen as a tourist attraction, they are a viable means of transport – they’re the easiest way to get to Chinatown, for example.

        An all-day pass costs $17. Click here for more tips on riding the cable cars.

      2. See the city from the Bay

        Go on a bay cruise on a clear day and admire the SF skyline from afar. A typical cruise will take you around Alcatraz, right beneath the Golden Gate Bridge, and along the Fisherman’s Wharf. Most cruises last 90 minutes.

        If you want to explore Alcatraz Island by foot, then board Alcatraz Cruises at Pier 33 near Fisherman’s Wharf. The cruise offers tours of the former prison on the island.

        You can also take the ferry to Sausalito, a small, charming town with just 7,500 residents. The waterfront offers stunning views of Alcatraz, the skyline, and the Bay Bridge. You’ll also find an excellent selection of shops and restaurants in town.

        Click here for more info on SF bay cruises.

      3. Enjoy some great food

        Explore SF’s restaurant scene. Italian, Greek, Mexican, Vietnamese, Japanese, and Irish are just some of the cuisines you’ll get to try. The local dining scene also caters to different diets – you won’t have trouble finding a good place to eat if you’re on a vegan, vegetarian, organic, or gluten-free diet.

        Chez Panisse in Berkeley is widely considered the quintessential Bay Area restaurant. The seasonal menu consists of mouthwatering dishes like spit-roasted farm chicken and risotto with Monterey Bay squid.

        Vegetarian-friendly restaurants include Seven Hills, which serves farm-to-table dishes, and Restaurant Gary Danko, a Michelin-rated restaurant.

      4. Read more: Bernie & Mike’s Top 10 Restaurants

      5. Check out Chinatown

        This eight-block stretch is the biggest Chinese community on the West Coast, with distinctive architecture and two major streets lined with herbalist’s shops and tea stores. Explore the back alleys, discover unique shops, and buy one-of-a-kind trinkets.

        Stockton Street and Grant Avenue have much to offer tourists and residents alike – check out the local eateries and drop by in time for major holidays like Chinese New Year and the Autumn Moon Festival.

      6. Lombard Street

        Affectionately called “The Crookedest Street,” Lombardo spans a whole block and features a roadway lined with vivid flowers. Come here for something out of the ordinary – its sharp turns will bring mirth to an otherwise mundane day. This SF oddity is quite picturesque, and its quirkiness only adds to the city’s character.

      7. Golden Gate Park

        At 1,070 acres, Golden Gate Park harbors countless attractions for the whole family to enjoy. Visit the de Young Museum, go on a leisurely stroll along Stow Lake, or go aboard the Herschell-Spillman Carousel. Explore the Japanese Tea Garden and admire the landscaping. Other activities include boating and golfing.

      Want more info on things to do as well as the real estate scene in San Francisco? Call Bernie and Mike at 415 906 6000 or 415 308 4281.

      San Francisco Festivals and Holiday Events – December

      San Francisco City Hall lit up in Christmas colors.

      San Francisco City Hall lights up for the holidays

      Reindeer Romp
      On-going until January 2017

      The San Francisco Zoo invites you to it annual holiday tradition. Get the chance to see real reindeers in action – these majestic creatures can be viewed at the zoo until January 2017. The reindeers, all adults, are named Holly, Peppermint, and Belle. Click here to see footage of these fantastic creatures. The trio can be found at Playfield Lawn.

      The Velveteen Rabbit
      November 25 – December 10, 2017

      ODC/Dance, formerly the Oberlin Dance Collective, brings the tale of The Velveteen Rabbit to life at the Yerba Buena Center for the Arts Theater. The dance company’s retelling of this holiday classic will keep you glued to your seats. Discover local talent, admire the dancers’ colorful costumes, and get swept away by the gripping narrative.

      Click here to buy tickets.

      The Great Dickens Christmas Fair
      November 18- December 17, 2017

      This December, the Cow Palace Exhibition Halls will transport you to Charles Dickens’ London – watch the three-acre exhibition space transform into Victorian era pubs and tea rooms. Dance with costumed players, watch seasoned performers enact the English writer’s best-known stories, and enjoy amazing food and drinks.

      Click here to buy tickets.

      A Christmas Carol
      December 1 – 24, 2017

      Watch a live adaptation of this holiday classic at the American Conservatory Theater. A Bay Area tradition, the company’s seasoned performers will give you a memorable evening. Experience this Charles Dickens tale like never before – talented actors and elaborate sets will infuse this old Christmas favorite with new energy.

      Click here for more information.

      Holidays at the Mark
      December 4 – 31, 2017

      Celebrate the holidays in style at the Top of the Mark Intercontinental Hotel. They have several events lined up for December, including Holiday High Tea, Children’s Magical Tea, Holiday Brunch, Christmas Eve & Day, and New Year’s Eve.

      Choose from the finest selection of teas, scones, finger sandwiches, and mini pastries. Enjoy live entertainment, scrumptious food, and exceptional service.

      Children’s Magical Tea attendees are encouraged to bring a brand new, unwrapped toy to be donated to the San Francisco Firefighters Toy Drive.

      Visit the hotel’s website for more details.

      Teddy Bear Tea at the Ritz
      November 25 – December 23, 2017

      Bring the kids to the Ritz-Carlton’s Terrace Room for some hot chocolate, teddy bear-shaped cookies, and finger sandwiches. An elf, his trusty sidekick, and a life-size teddy bear will put on a fun show. Each child will receive a stuffed bear and a photo with the giant teddy bear as a souvenir.

      Buy tickets here.

      Cable Car Caroling
      December 2, 2017

      This long-running SF tradition continues in December – hundreds of carolers on motorized cables will sing holiday songs to seniors and differently-abled adults. This year’s theme, “From Generation to Generation,” celebrates this event’s three-decade existence.

      The event raised more than $100,000 in 2016. Cable Car Caroling funds help support the Friendship Line, the Institute on Aging’s crisis call center for isolated seniors and adults with disabilities.

      Click here for event details.

      San Francisco Symphony Holiday Concerts
      December 3 – 31, 2017

      Come to Davies Symphony Hall for a series of holiday concerts that the whole family will enjoy. The series kicks off with Holiday Brass – listen to the SFS brass section play a mix of popular and classical holiday music.

      The SFS chorus’ rendition of Handel’s “Messiah” will leave you breathless, while the live adaptation of “A Charlie Brown Christmas” is guaranteed to bring a smile to your face.

      Click here for the full schedule.

      Christmas concerts at Grace Cathedral
      December 9 – 23, 2017

      The Christmas concerts at Grace Cathedral have been a beloved SF tradition since 1947. This year, American Bach Soloists will bring you an unforgettable performance of Handel’s “Messiah” while the Bay Brass will play holiday music. There will also be sing-along shows for children and families.

      Click here for the schedule of events.

      Ardenwood Christmas Open House
      Dates unconfirmed

      The two-day open house at Ardenwood Historic Farm brings you Victorian-inspired décor and hands-on activities for the whole family. Attendees can look forward to Christmas carolers and horticulture exhibits.

      Other December highlights include a wreath-making workshop and day time Christmas tours of the Patterson House.

      Click here for the calendar of activities.

      Santa Cruz Holiday Lights Train
      December2-3, 9-10, and 16-23

      A convoy of vintage cars, decorated with colorful Christmas lights, will roll through the streets of Santa Cruz with Santa Claus in tow. Listen to live music and drink some hot cider during the festivities. The convoy departs from the Santa Cruz Beach Boardwalk.

      Click here for details.

      Gilroy Gardens Holiday@Night
      December 1-3, 8-10, 15-23, and 26-31, 2017

      Come to Gilroy Garden for some ice skating and live entertainment under strings of twinkling lights. Santa will be there to greet the kids, and there will be turkey for the family to enjoy. You can also ride the miniature train around the park for an unforgettable evening.

      Click here for more info.

      Living LEGO-cy: Holiday Train Display
      Dates unconfirmed

      The Museum of American Heritage (MOAH) in Palo Alto will unveil its annual LEGO holiday display in December. Admire LEGO creations by club members – the display traditionally features a functioning train layout, as well as recreations of famous SF landmarks.

      Get updates here.

      The San JoseNutcracker
      December 14-24, 2017

      Ballet San Jose, in partnership with History San Jose, tells the story of “The Nutcracker” with references to Santa Clara Valley’s history and development. This re-telling of the classic holiday story is unique to San Jose. The show will feature musical accompaniment from the New Ballet Orchestra for the first time this year.

      Click here to buy tickets.

      Snow Day in the Gourmet Ghetto
      December 3, 2017

      Snow is expected to fall in Berkeley in early December – guests are invited to play in the snow on Shattuck Avenue, between Vine and Rose streets. Don’t forget to wear boots and mittens.

      Kids can tell the Snow Queen their wishes, as well as ride ponies and make DIY arts and crafts projects at the event. Grown-ups can check out the local vendors and hunt for one-of-a-kind Christmas gifts.

      Click here for more information.

      Holiday Tree Lighting Ceremony at the Ritz-Carlton
      November 30, 2017

      This highly anticipated community event kicks off the holiday season at the Ritz-Carlton. Watch Santa Clause illuminate the 40-foot Christmas tree just outside the hotel, alongside his little helper from Make-A-Wish® Greater Bay. The ceremony will take place at sundown.

      Click here for the Ritz-Carlton’s calendar of evens

      32ndOakland Interfaith Gospel Choir Holiday Concert
      December 2, 2017

      The Oakland Interfaith Gospel Choir, with special guests Kev Choice and Logan McWilliams, brings you a night of music and holiday cheer. Levar Burton of “Star Trek: Next Generation” fame will host the program. The show begins at 7:00 p.m.

      Click here for more details on the event.

      Other holiday events:

      Noe Valley Holiday Wine Walk – December 7, 2017

      Lighted Yacht Parade – December 2, 2017

      Berkeley Artisans Holiday Open Studios – November 25–26, December 2–3, 9–10, 16–17, and 18–24, 2017

      Union Street Fantasy of Lights – December 2, 2017

      Christmas in the Park Annual Tree Lighting – Downtown San Jose – November 24, 2017

      Great Parks in San Francisco

      Japanese Tea Garden

      The Japanese Tea Garden is one of the main attractions at Golden Gate Park

      There’s no shortage of green spaces in the Golden City. Visit these parks and enjoy a fun, relaxing day out.

      1. Golden Gate Park
        One of SF’s gems, this park attracts over 13 million visitors each year. At 1,107 acres, it features numerous gardens, trails, picnic groves, lakes, and cultural venues. Go boating on Stow Lake, visit the Japanese Tea Garden, and browse the permanent collection at the de Young Museum.

        Other highlights include the Golden Gate Park Golf Course, Herschell-Spillman Carousel, and California Academy of Sciences. Bring the kids, amble around with your dog,go horseshoe pitching, cast a line – the possibilities are endless.

      2. Ocean Beach

        Located on the west coast of SF, this gorgeous stretch of sand boasts wind swept dunes and unobstructed views of the Pacific. Enjoy the cool ocean breeze as you go on a relaxing stroll along this scenic three-mile expanse. An esplanade runs along the seawall and leads up to Cliff House, a historic home built in 1863.

        You can bring your board and ride the waves. Or you can just roll out a blanket and have a nice picnic.

      3. Aquatic Park
        Aquatic Park Cove commands stunning views of the city and the Bay. The pier offers perhaps the best views of Golden Gate Bridge and Alcatraz Island in all of SF.Enjoy swimming, sailing, and other water-based activities. Free parking is available at Van Ness Avenue.
      4. Crissy Field

        Judging by the fantastic beaches and tidal marsh overlooks in the area, you wouldn’t think Crissy Field was a former military airfield. It’s more evocative of fairy tale scenery than an airbase, and a quiet afternoon spent here will leave you feeling rejuvenated after a long week at work. A promenade with views of the water and the Golden Gate Bridge is ideal for walking, jogging, and biking.

      5. The Presidio

        Explore the nature trails at the Presidio – scenic overlooks at the Bluffs and Inspiration Point trails will leave you breathless. This famed national park also offers some of the best picnic spots in SF. Bring a blanket or a few picnic chairs, and share some snacks with friends.

        You’ll also get the chance to observe wildlife. Keep an eye out for the hawks and foxes that scour the area for prey.

      6. Lands End and Coastal Trail

        Tucked away in the southwestern corner of SF, Lands End offers great hiking opportunities. The dramatic and windy trail is surrounded by cypresses and wildflowers.Parts of the trail will also give you a glimpse of wrecked ships and the ruins of the Sutro Baths. At 3.5 miles, the loop is moderate, making it suitable for beginners and casual hikers.

        The Coastal Trail starts at Lands End and extends all the way to the Golden Gate Bridge. This 9.1-mile loop is a longer hike, but it’s also more rewarding. Dogs are allowed on this trail, as long as they’re kept on a leash.

      7. Yerba Buena Gardens

        YBG is surrounded by cultural venues and family-friendly attractions. You’ll find the Children’s Creativity Museum, Contemporary Jewish Museum, and the Museum of the African Diaspora within the vicinity. The YBG Ice Skating and Bowling Center is close at hand, as is Metreon, a four-story shopping center.

      When you live in SF, you can enjoy these wonderful SF parks all year-round. Call Bernie and Mike at 415 906 6000 or 415 308 4281.

      Read more: Not your typical San Francisco: The City by the Bay’s most distinctive attractions

      San Francisco in November

      Happy young couple laughing in San Francisco by Golden Gate Bridge. Interracial young modern couple, Asian woman, Caucasian man. Click on the banners for more:

      Visiting in the fall? Make sure you’re ready for November weather in SF. And don’t forget to check out these fun events while you’re in town.

      November events

      The Great Dickens Christmas Fair – Thanksgiving weekend in SF marks the start of the highly anticipated Great Dickens Christmas Fair. Watch the Cow Palace Exhibition Halls transform into Victorian era London, complete with lampposts, cobblestone streets, pubs, and tea rooms.

      Hundreds of actors in full costume will also be there – keep an eye out for Queen Victoria and well-known characters from Dickens’ novels as they go about their business.

      Catch live performances at any of the seven stages in the venue, and dine at the on-site restaurants that serve classic English fare like mash and fish and chips. Buy refreshments at the Bohemian Absinthe Bar or Cuthbert’s Tea House. Shops selling quality merchandise will also be on hand for your retail needs.

      Feel free to come in costume – those who love Steampunk fashion will have a grand time at the festivities. Click here for participant costume guidelines.

      Dungeness crab season – Early November also signals the beginning of the commercial fishing season for Dungeness crabs.Just about every restaurant in SF will be serving crab dishes. Gorge yourself on sweet and tender crab meat during your visit. Top dining spots like Scoma’s, The Franciscan Crab Restaurant, and Alioto’s are known to serve some of the best seafood dishes in town.

      Just note that the season’s opening may be delayed depending on climate and environmental conditions. Click here for updates from the Department of Fish and Wildlife.

      What to expect from San Francisco weather

      It tends to get rainy during this month, as it falls squarely within SF’s wet season, though recent Novembershave seen clear and nice weather. The average high temperature is 17°C, while the average low is 10°C. It usually gets chillier as the month goes on.

      These averages can help you plan ahead, but there are variations. Some winter days can be warm and you’ll wish you wore lighter clothing.

      So layer up and don’t leave anything to chance – check for SF weather updates before leaving home.

      You’ll have 10 hours of daylight to explore the city and its nearby areas. Daylight Savings time ends early in the month – it will seem as if the sun is setting earlier, but it has no effect on how long the sun stays up.

      Plan your itinerary just the same. It will help you make the most of daylight during your trip – especially if you’re going hiking or if you want to experience the city’s finest outdoor attractions.

      What to pack and what to wear

      San Franciscans will recommend wearing a light jacket. It should be warm enough during the day, but if it gets rainy or windy, a light jacket will serve as an extra layer of protection. If you’re sensitive to the wind, earmuffs and scarves will keep you comfortable outdoors.

      You might also want to bring an extra sweatshirt if you want to stay out until evening. It will give you added warmth when the temperature drops.

      Additionally, carry a small umbrella around with you in case it starts drizzling. There are a few days of heavy raining in November, with about half an inch of rainfall pouring into the city. On a rainy day, it will pour for about 15 to 30 minutes, with the rest of the day being clear and warm.

      Read more: 5 events that will thrill San Francisco in November

      San Francisco Symphony’s Summer Series

      Let's sparkle this night

      The San Francisco Symphony (SFS) brought world-class entertainment to audiences this summer. Film classics, popular musicians, and composers kept patrons glued to their seats.

      The symphony’s summer offerings included live performances of “Jaws” and “Pixar” in concert, as well as a stage appearance by singer-songwriter Ben Folds.

      “Jaws in Concert” had SFS screening the 1975 horror film with live musical accompaniment. The ensemble’s performance of John Williams’ original score made this classic film all the more thrilling.

      SFS also celebrated the music of Disney and Pixar films, taking audiences into the magical world of animated films. Don Hahn, produced of the critically acclaimed Disney titles like “The Lion King” and “Beauty and the Beast” made a special appearance.

      Patrons watched clips of some of the most memorable Disney and Pixar moments while SFS played the score live.

      Pianist and singer Ben Folds also joined the SFS for an unforgettable evening. The set list included original compositions, as well as his work with Ben Folds Five, a piano rock outfit that he also fronts.

      Season highlights for 2017-2018

      Missed the summer series? SFS has more in store for the rest of the season.

      The symphony will celebrate Leonard Bernstein’s 100th birthday. SFS will pay tribute to the late conductor by playing his best-known compositions.

      Watch your favorite films like never before. SFS will also provide live accompaniment to screenings of “West Side Story”, “Home Alone”, and “Amadeus”.

      Guest conductors from Russia, Poland, Finland, France, and the Czech Republic will play music from their home countries. Listen as Jakub Hrůša conducts Smetana and watch Osmo Vänskä conduct Sibelius.

      A number of holiday concerts will also take place at Davies Symphony Hall. Bach Collegium Japan will play Johann Sebastian Bach’s “Christmas Oratorio”, while the San Francisco Symphony Chorus will perform George Frideric Handel’s “Messiah”.

      “A Charlie Brown Christmas” will also be staged at the hall, with live actors and a live performance of Vince Guaraldi’s composition in front of an animated backdrop.

      About the San Francisco Symphony

      SFS was formed after civic leaders saw the need for a permanent orchestra in a music-loving city like SF. The symphony started playing concerts in December 1911, bringing audiences a mix of classic and contemporary music.

      Some of the world’s most celebrated conductors have graced the SFS podium, including Bruno Walter, Leonard Bernstein, Leopold Stokowski, and Georg Solti.

      In 1995, Michael Tilson Thomas (MTT) was appointed Music Director. SFS went on to receive 11 Grammy® awards under his leadership – three for a 1999 recording of Igor Stravinsky’s ballet scores, seven for its Mahler recording cycle.

      SFS also offers an extensive education program, bringing music to the classrooms of the San Francisco Unified School District.

      About the venue

      Davies Symphony Hall opened in 1980. Amenities include a gift shop, food and drinks concessionaires, and spaces that may be rented for private events. The magnificent Orchestra Lobby greets concert-goers upon entering, while the First Tier offers the best seats in the house.

      The Wattis Room can seat up to 80 guests for an intimate dinner, and can accommodate up to 200 for large receptions. Enjoy pre-concert dining at Wattis – the menu fuses California and French cuisine. Sit down for a lovely three-course meal before catching a concert, or host a private party at this elegant venue.

      You may also go on a volunteer-led tour of Davies Symphony Hall on Wednesdays. Tours are available by appointment.

      Guide for Architecture Lovers in SF

      Iconic Painted Ladies in Foreground

      San Francisco is known for its distinctive architecture. Here’s a guide to some of the city’s best-loved architectural landmarks.

      1. Painted Ladies
        Also called Postcard Row for its picturesque quality, this lane of brightly-painted Edwardians and Victorians along Hayes and Steiner streets is among the most photographed areas in SF. The ascending formation of these charming houses set against the downtown skyline is a sight to behold.

        Alamo Square offers the best views of the Painted Ladies – sit on the grass and imagine the lives that unfold within these gorgeous homes.

      2. Haas-Lilienthal House
        This beautifully preserved Queen Anne-style Victorian home is open to the public. Designed in 1886 by Peter R. Schmidt, the house withstood both the 1906 and 1989 earthquakes. Today it is a reminder of upper middle-class life during the Victorian era, complete with artifacts and furniture.

        The National Trust for Historic Preservation named it one of 34 inaugural National Treasures in America in 2012, testament to its cultural and historic significance. Go on a guided tour of the house and listen to a volunteer docent discuss Victorian architecture.

      3. City Hall
        Designed by Arthur Brown Jr., the City Hall epitomizes Beaux Arts architecture. Brown took inspiration from Les Invalides in Paris, and the result is an elaborate building of marble and gilded bronze, one that harks back to the lead-plated tomb of Napoleon I. Completed in 1915, the building still looks remarkable after more than a century.
      4. Palace of Fine Arts Theater
        The theater brings to mind the grandeur of the Roman Empire, with its august rotunda and colonnade. Designed by Bernard Maybeck, the building was meant to be used for the Panama-Pacific International Exposition’s art exhibitions.

        The majority of PPIE structures were demolished when the fair ended, but this was spared from the bulldozer because of its beauty. Today it operates as an esteemed cultural venue.

      5. Xanadu Gallery
        Designed by Frank Lloyd Wright, the Xanadu Gallery is widely regarded as the predecessor to the Guggenheim Museum, which the architect designed 10 years after this one. Both structures share the exquisite spiraling ramp. The gallery holds the distinction of being the only Wright creation in SF. It’s also one of the few retail spaces that the architect designed.
      6. Chinatown/Him Mark Lai Library
        Designed by G. Albert Lansburgh in 1921, the Chinatown Library is an Italian Renaissance-style building with double stairs that rise and meet at the main entrance on the second floor. Spend a quiet afternoon admiring the building’s exterior, and explore the library’s book collection.
      7. Columbus Tower
        Also called the Sentinel Building, this tower is a Flatiron-style building made with copper and white tile. Commissioned in 1907 by Salfield & Kohlberg, this mixed-use building can be found right next to the Transamerica Pyramid. It is a bona fide San Francisco Landmark, one that architecture lovers will truly appreciate.
      8. Palace Hotel
        The Palace Hotel was the biggest luxury hotel in the world when it was built in 1875, counting luminaries like Thomas Edison among its guests. Admire the stained glass ceiling at the Garden Court, which features Austrian crystal chandeliers and over 72,000 pieces of glass – one of the largest volumes of stained glass in the world.