Reasons to Cross the Bay Bridge...
Enjoy the Beach Sans Hoodie
Ah, the incongruities of San Francisco — an ocean and a beach, but no warm weather. Change out of that hoodie and into those swim trunks for a warm day at Crown State Beach. Eighth Street and Otis Drive, Alameda, CA, (510) 544-3175, EBParks.org.
Sip Wine in Downtown Oakland
Stop stereotyping Oakland as a classless civilization and start tasting wine there. First stop: Urban Legend. 621 Fourth St., Oakland, (510) 545-4356, ULCellars.com.
Old School Movie-ing
In 2013, nothing is more appealing than the past. Which is why you should stop iPadding and Facebooking and head to the Paramount on a Friday this summer for its classic movie series, where you will experience the movies as they were back in the day, flowery dialogue, fancy ushers, and all. 2025 Broadway, Oakland, (510) 465-6400, ParamountTheatre.com.
Drink With Nerds
If San Francisco techies just aren't doing it for you, head over to Berkeley's Pappy's on Monday, July 1, for the "Geeks Who Drink" pub quiz night. 2367 Telegraph Ave., Berkeley, (510) 705-1207, PappysOnTelegraph.com.
Watch Burlesque and Creepy Puppets
What do burlesque dancers and creepy puppets have in common? Your attention on the first Friday of every month at Oakland's Stork Club. 2330 Telegraph Ave., Oakland, (510) 444-6174, StorkClubOakland.com.
Visit Fairy Land: It's Just like it Sounds
If you have a kid, then this is your chance to check out this storybook theme park right in the heart of Lake Merritt. 699 Bellevue Ave., Oakland, (510) 452-2259, Fairyland.org.
Shack Up With Lions, and Tigers, and Bears
Grab your sleeping bag and brave the night with animals at the Oakland Zoo for the Sundown Safari on July 13, 20, 27, and Aug. 3 and 10. 9777 Golf Links Road, Oakland, OaklandZoo.org.
Get Your Culture
Well, SFMOMA is closed for now, so getting your culture fix means heading to the Oakland Museum of California for art, history, and natural science. 1000 Oak St., Oakland, (510) 318-8400, MuseumCA.org.
Have Breakfast With An Oakland Gangster
Not sure how to accomplish this, but if you do, then let us know. It sounds like a damn good time. East or West Oakland would be a good start.
...or the Golden Gate Bridge...
Take a couple pals and your finest inner tubes and head to Jenner, a rustic seaside town an hour and a half north, where the Russian River spills into the Pacific. Off the side of Geyser Road find a great little beach. Float your way a couple miles down the river for an hour or several and then scramble out of the woods where Bill's Taxi ((707) 869-2177) will whisk you away to a magical land called River's End Restaurant and Inn. Cabins overlook the Sonoma Coast and the restaurant is equally adorable, and delicious. 11048 Highway 1, Jenner, CA, (707) 865-2484 x111, ILoveSunsets.com.
On the Eastern shores of Tomales Bay, Hog Island has been rearing shellfish for more than 30 years at this spot, and their shuck-yer-own situation is a supremely summertime experience. Reserve a picnic table ahead of time, and plan on staying for the day. Bring pals and playing cards and slurp down some oysters. Picnic reservations are available daily (do it online), 10:30 a.m.-5 p.m. The Hog even offers shucking lessons. Oh and did we mention you can bring your own booze and meat to barbecue? Hog Island Oyster Company, 20215 California 1, Marshall, CA, 663-9218, HogIslandOysters.com.
Perched high above the ocean in the Marin Headlands is Slide Ranch, a "teaching farm" that is sort of a commune. There are organic gardens, goats and chickens, an old creamery, a turn-of-the-century farmhouse, and funky outbuildings. The outdoor grounds are open to the public for hiking, picnicking, and fishing. Snag a spot in the public parking lot down the hill from the main entrance, and begin your exploration. Find epic camping spots in a geodesic dome (seriously) or a beautiful wooden yurt, but make sure to book ahead of time. 2025 Shoreline Highway, Muir Beach, CA, (415) 381-6155, SlideRanch.org.
Once in a while, it's nice to earn your booze with a little exercise. The Nature Friends Tourist Club — a glorious German beerhaus — in tree-laden Mill Valley is just the spot. From Old Mill Park, hike up the Sun Trail to the tavern peering over Muir Woods, with views of Mt. Tam. Picnic with pitchers of $20 beer (cash only) while playing boardgames. Nature Friends Tourist Club, 30 Ridge Ave., Mill Valley, CA, 388-9987; TouristClubSF.org.
In the strange town of Guerneville is a three-hour hike full of wildflowers, pastures, redwoods, mushrooms, streams, and rolling hills. Take the East Ridge Trail from the main parking lot in Armstrong Woods State Natural Reserve following that to the Pool Ridge Trail to the Pioneer Trail. Back in town, head to the Big Bottom Market (16228 Main St., Guerneville, CA; (707) 604-7295) for killer panini sandwiches, savory chicken pot pies, local jams, wine, and biscuits. 17000 Armstrong Woods Road, Guerneville, CA, (707) 869-2015.
On Angel Island, you've got more than eight miles of biking trails — nothing too steep or arduous here — and lots to explore. From the history of the Miwok Indians to serving as a U.S. Army post and an immigration station, there are ruins, placards, statues, dilapidated buildings, and beautiful homes scattered about. There are also secluded beaches. When you head back to Tiburon on the ferry, get a little fancy and snag one of three stools at the Caprice (2000 Paradise Drive, Tiburon, CA, 435-3400, TheCaprice.com), a chichi restaurant overlooking the water for a high-end cocktail or decadent brunch. Angel Island-Tiburon Ferry, 21 Main St., Tiburon, CA, 435-2131, AngelIslandFerry.com.
...or the Peninsula
See Dead People
Seventy-three percent of the tiny little town of Colma on the Peninsula is cemeteries. Some famous folks are buried here, including Joe DiMaggio, Wyatt Earp's ashes, and Tina Turner's dog. Google it and take a cemetery tour. Colma.CA.gov.
Revisit the Hilarious Horror
Take a tour inspired by the laughable horror flick Birdemic. Take Highway 1 and then meander down Half Moon Bay's Main Street, where all was peaceful before the radioactive birds came and started killing everyone because of Alfred Hitchcock and climate change. Escape from the ridiculous memories at beautiful Half Moon Bay State Beach and then restore some ridiculousness with the DINOSAUR sculptures at the Spanish Town shopping center (501 San Mateo Road). ExperienceHalfMoonBay.com.
Get Lost, Boy
Go to Natural Bridges State Beach early in the morning and look for sea life in the tide pools. Then go play Lost Boys on the boardwalk and ride the wooden roller coaster. Natural Bridges State Beach, 2531 W. Cliff Drive, Santa Cruz, CA, (831) 423-4609. The Boardwalk: 400 Beach St., Santa Cruz, CA. (831) 423-5590, BeachBoardwalk.com.
Find the World's Richest Ghost
The 160-room Winchester Mystery House is not only the world's strangest mansion, but it's also supposedly haunted by the g-g-g-ghost of Mrs. Winchester. 525 S. Winchester Blvd., San Jose, CA, (408) 247-2101, WinchesterMysteryHouse.com.
Have lunch at John Steinbeck's birthplace and boyhood home. Then get the full museum experience at the National Steinbeck Center, and maybe visit the Medical History Museum. Steinbeck House: 132 Central Ave., Salinas, CA, (831) 424-2735; SteinbeckHouse.com. National Steinbeck Center: One Main St., Salinas, CA, (831) 775-4721; Steinbeck.org.
See Fish, and Then Eat Them
The aquarium is not cheap, but in there you can act like a little kid and run around saying "Ooooooh!" as you gaze at all the splendors of the sea: the kelp forest, the rays you can pet, the jellies, the seal lions out on the rocks. Then there's a place across the street and down a little bit with good clam chowder. Monterey Bay Aquarium: 886 Cannery Row, Monterey, CA, (831) 648-4800; MontereyBayAquarium.org.
See the History of Candy Dispensers
Into reversible semi-decapitation? Visit Burlingame's PEZ Museum, with dazzling examples of the little weird dispensers, for the Americana fan in the family. Work up an appetite hiking along the Bayfront trail, and then head to nearby San Mateo for Japanese food. PEZ Museum: 214 California Drive, Burlingame, (650) 347-2301, BurlingamePezMuseum.com. Bay Trail: BayTrail.org.
Take the California 1 down and get culture while passing the flask as you camp at Big Sur. All summer long the Henry Miller Library screens short films, and all summer long you can camp and hike along the glorious coast. Henry Miller Library: 48603 California 1, Big Sur, CA, (831) 667-2574, HenryMiller.org. Big Sur camping and hiking: BigSurCalifornia.org.