About San Francisco’s East Bay and Peninsula
In this area you can explore the best places to visit that face the city from the east side of San Francisco Bay and highlight the best bits – inland and coastal – of the peninsula at the head of which San Francisco sits.
Though easily appreciated in little more than half a day, the two main communities of San Francisco’s East Bay could hardly be more different. Berkeley has a world-famous university, which warrants an hour or two’s exploration, and the town’s diverse restaurants – some serving excellent low-cost food, others pioneers of California Cuisine – make excellent lunch stops. Nearby, the more downbeat town of Oakland draws fewer tourists, even though the Oakland Museum is unrivalled as the premier historical collection hereabouts.
The freeway-dominated suburbia which covers the peninsula’s neck is an unattractive introduction to San Jose, although the sprawling town’s environs are studded by unusual sights and distinctive villages. If you have sufficient time, include a visit to another seat of learning: Stanford University.
Alternatively, you can combine your visit to Stanford with a leisurely exploration of Santa Cruz, a pleasurable coastal town that began life as a Spanish mission.
From Santa Cruz, it is fun to continue south along the Central Coast but it’s recommend that you don’t miss the enchanting Half Moon Bay. Set on a lovely strip of shoreline and with 19thC buildings in abundance, Half Moon Bay has all the history and small-town charm you could expect. An early booking should secure an atmospheric lodging at one of the town’s cozy bed-and-breakfast inns.
Getting to Berkeley and Oakland is easy using San Francisco’s BART train service (www.bart.gov). Greyhound buses have regular links between San Francisco and San Jose, and there are three services daily between San Francisco and Santa Cruz (www.greyhound.com), and further stops at between Oakland, San Jose and Santa Cruz. The CalTrain is a state-of-the-art train link chiefly aimed at moving commuters between San Francisco, Palo Alto (for Stanford University) and San Jose (where a CalTrain bus continues to Santa Cruz), though services run throughout the day and also – albeit to a reduced timetable – on weekends (http://www.caltrain.com).