2014 PA Convention: Attractions and Travel Tips
Our Arrangements Chair, Loyd Auerbach has some suggestions for your visit to Concord and the San Francisco Bay Area.
on Thursday, May 22, 2014
From San Francisco to Silicon Valley, Napa and Sonoma to the Livermore Valley, Oakland to Marin County, the Bay Area is a diverse region for visitors. Please come early or stay later and enjoy what the area has to offer.
Our hotel, the Hilton Concord, is situated right off a major freeway. Our transit system, BART, is only a few minutes away by hotel shuttle or car. While the Hilton has its own great restaurant, there are several others – from cheap to not so cheap -- within an easy few blocks of the hotel. It’s also walking distance to a number of shops (and a couple of minutes shuttle ride to the very nearby mall). We will have a list of eateries for you when you arrive.
The Hilton shuttle will take you to/from BART or to the mall or to downtown Concord, where there are more restaurants and a movie theater -- anywhere within a 5 mile radius.
BART takes about 40 minutes to downtown San Francisco from the Concord station, with downtown Oakland about 25-30 minutes away. Downtown Walnut Creek (BART about 10 minutes, and a free Walnut Creek shuttle taking folks around downtown) has a wide range of shopping options, and even more restaurants, and is generally just a nice place to walk around.
Downtown San Francisco provides interesting shops and attractions along the Embarcadero, including the food-centric Ferry Building – just a short walk from one of the BART stations. Chinatown is easy to walk to from BART. It’s easy to get to Fisherman’s Wharf and Pier 39, and the major downtown shopping center is adjacent to one of the stops (across from the cable-car turnaround).
If you have a car (or want to rent one – you can rent locally), Six Flags Discovery Kingdom is less than a half hour drive from the hotel (amusement park and animal park). If you’re more into waterworks, Waterworld is actually walking distance from the hotel (though the hotel itself has a pool).
Not too far from the hotel is an indoor miniature golf course called Ghost Golf. The course is set in a cemetery (at “night” of course), and features numerous special effects and animatronics, and a “mummy shooting gallery. Highly recommended (and owned by a friend of Loyd Auerbach).
WINERIES: Accessible by car
Napa’s not the only wine valley in Northern California, but if that’s where you want to go, it’s only about 45 minutes away.
Sonoma, which tends to be much less crowded, range from less than an hour away for lower Sonoma, and bit more for other areas including the very beautiful Russian River and Mark West Trails (about 90 minutes).
Closer is the Livermore Valley, south of Concord, where more and more wineries have sprung up every year. The area is about a 45 minute drive to the south.
A much smaller wine valley, Suisun Valley, is an easy 30 minutes drive, with most of their wineries are open late in the week through the weekend.
If Zinfandels are your thing, head to Lodi, about an hour away. Lodi is the heart of zin country, and is becoming better and better known for other varietals not found in the other valleys.
NOTE: not all wineries are open throughout the week, and many do charge for tasting.
The Bay Area is home to so many other attractions that the list is almost prohibitive.
Museums in San Francisco’s Golden Gate Park, including the California Academy of Sciences, are accessible by mass transit (BART plus the MUNI system), though the Museum of Modern Art is downtown close to BART.
San Jose has several museums, including the Tech Museum, accessible by car.
Head over to the coast (again, by car) to lovely Half Moon Bay and stop by the reportedly haunted Moss Beach Distillery just north of there for some of the best views of the Pacific.
Or head north of San Francisco (West of Concord) to Stinson Beach, Point Reyes, or other coastal destinations in Marin County or visit Muir Woods there, all about an hour from the Hilton Concord by car.
Old Sacramento is an hour east, where you’ll find an historic district from the mid-1800s housing unique shops, eateries, riverboats and museums.
Want more? Contact Loyd Auerbach for suggestions at firstname.lastname@example.org
The Bay Area can also provide some of the greatest traffic challenges outside of Los Angeles, but thankfully it’s much more predictable. Depending on the direction you are headed (from Concord or back to Concord) and the time of day, the traffic flow can be very easy or slow. Our Bay Area traffic website, www.511.org can give you good traffic info (when in the Bay Area, you can call 511 on your phones).
But as you’re planning any outing, feel free to contact Loyd Auerbach for an overview of the traffic you might encounter.
Bay Area weather depends on what side of the Bay, and what area. We have what are called “micro-climates,” even in the summer.
San Francisco is famous for its cool and foggy summers. Not so in East Bay -- specifically, the Diablo Valley, just over the Berkeley/Oakland hills.
The Concord area: Sunshine and clear skies all day, clear at night Warm to very hot weather. June temperatures are generally high around 90-95 and lows around 65 (at night). Please note this is "dry" heat, so it's bearable, and even pleasant especially in the shade. Most areas outside of San Francisco proper or the coast – have similar temps.
San Francisco is a whole different story. While there is the occasional hot weather, it's generally as cool as the low 50s and may only warm up to the mid 70s, depending on what part of the city you visit. On the other hand, downtown has been known to get into the low 90s even as across the city it may be in the 60s. As some San Francisco natives have been wont to say, you can tell the tourists by the shivers and shorts in the city. Residents dress in layers. It can also be foggy in the morning and evening in San Francisco, and one part of the city could be in sunshine the whole time, while another is in fog.
Depending on how the fog is moving in during August, the Coast can be averaging in the 60s to low 70s.
If you have questions about our local weather, one place to check is the website of KTVU-TV. Visit it at www.ktvu.com and click the Weather tab.
TRAVEL FROM THE AIRPORTS
Two major airports – SFO (San Francisco International) and OAK (Oakland International), though there’s also a good-sized airport in San Jose. Oakland is the closer and smaller -- meaning easier -- of the two airports.
BART does run from both airports to Concord but there’s no direct line from OAK to Concord and you will have to change trains (easy to do). Please note that BART's not really heavy luggage friendly, but it is the cheapest and most direct way to go. Cost from SFO to Concord is $21.90 round trip. Cost from Oakland International is $8.50 plus $6 for AirBART shuttle from the airport to the Coliseum station (note: exact cash change needed for the shuttle bus, $3 each way).
There are many shuttles that will take you from the airport to the Hilton and back for varying fees. The Hilton has a "special" deal with a transport company, Mosaic -- download the price sheet.