You don't have to bring your clubs to enjoy the food, sights, and atmosphere of the City by the Bay. But its selection of golf courses only adds to the allure of one of the best destinations in the country.
Pasatiempo is a good hour south of the city in Santa Cruz, but this phenomenal, Alister MacKenzie design recently restored by Tom Doak is well worth the drive. Marion Hollins hired MacKenzie, who lived along the 6th hole the last four years of his life, to build the course just like she did at a little course down the coast called Cypress Point. 'Nuff said.
Located just across Lake Merced from Olympic (you can even see some of the Lake Course holes), TPC Harding Park is a gently rolling muni that has undergone major renovations over the last decade to host major events like the 2009 Presidents Cup.
Just blocks from near Union Square, the Four Seasons is a modern high-rise that will allow you to see the sights of the city from above before seeing them up close at ground level.
The Fairmont was under construction at the time, so this palace-like structure atop Nob Hill survived the infamous 1906 earthquake. It opened the following year and has been a city fixture ever since. (Another good, but less expensive option is any of the Kimpton Hotels in the city.)
The James Beard-honored Nancy Oakes serves up dishes like wood-fired boneless quail at Boulevard, a San Francisco institution.
Delfina is small and very popular so you need to make your reservations well in advance, but this neighborhood bistro offers ups the best "Cal-Ital" cuisine in the city.
With so much to do in this fabulous city, it's hard to recommend just two, but you can't come to Northern California without doing some wine tasting. No need to go to Napa Valley, though. Just visit the Winery Collective Tasting Room at Fisherman's Wharf where you can sample vino from dozens of small vineyards from around the state.
What's fascinating about many California cities is how nature abuts urban. This is particularly true of the giant redwoods at Muir Woods just north of the city in Marin County. With the rich fern undergrowth, you feel like you're back in prehistoric times as you walk among the 800-year-old trees that stretch to close to 260 feet tall.
By: Tom Cunneff