China Camp Village

This Christmas weekend was spent with extended family in the San Francisco Bay area. We’ve always talked about exploring new places instead of lounging on the couch stuffing our faces. Although there was plenty of the latter to speak of, we did find some time to sneak out and see something new. Clay, my dad, and I decided to visit the historic China Camp State Park, just a few miles from my aunt’s home.

The village was inhabited by Chinese shrimp fishermen during the 1800s. The village thrived until the early 1900s when bag nets were banned and, soon after, the export of dried shrimp was also banned. The village, now consisting of only a few buildings, a shrimp oven, and a boating dock, is quaint and feels like walking into another time. The drive there was beautiful, winding through swamplands, tree-lined hills, and a consistent view of the ocean. I’m so glad we were able to make it out to see it.

Japanese Tea Garden

During our short visit to San Francisco for Christmas, we took an even shorter trip into the city for an evening of missed opportunities. We tried to see the Musée d’Orsay exhibition at the de Young Museum, but tickets were sold out until after dinnertime. So we moved on down the street to the Japanese Tea Garden. We made it in just before close: long enough to walk around and snap some photos, but not long enough to sit down for a cup of tea. Next trip we will need to plan a bit better and see much more of the beautiful sights San Francisco has to offer.

My Favorite Places: #8 Fisherman’s Wharf

photo by John Smatlak

Most of my family lives in or around the San Francisco area. I’ve been visiting the city ever since I can remember. One of my very favorite things has always been taking the cable car to Fisherman’s Wharf and Pier 39. My family and I would spend the afternoon there, eating clam chowder in sourdough bread bowls, watching the sea lions sleep in the sun, and browsing the seaside stores. It’s only a short walk to Ghirardelli Square and short ferry rides to Alcatraz and Angel Island. The seafood is exceptional and the ocean breeze refreshing. There’s something relaxing and comforting about Fisherman’s Wharf. It’s a fun escape from the city where you can enjoy the smell and sound of the ocean and the taste of authentic salt water taffy. Every time we visit San Francisco, we always manage to squeeze in a trip to the wharf. Who knows, one of these days I may even face my fears and visit their famous aquarium.