Thursday, March 6, 2014


Something new here at Rantin' N Raven ….. a guest post!

We were approached by Andi Singer with a request to write a post to highlight the area where she grew up and loves. Since we skipped through San Francisco we thought that some additional information about it and the surrounding towns would be an asset to all of you.

Thanks Andi! 

Market/Powell, San Francisco

Seeing the big city in an RV would be a nightmare to me. Cars pass by one another by a narrow few inches, and there are bikers and pedestrians who are less than respectful of the road laws (I have heard multiple stories from my brother of him getting hit with cars while on his bicycle.)

Luckily, the public transportation in the area is great, so if you find a spot in or near the city, you’ll be easily connected by train and bus. The Bay Area Rapid Transit (BART) system runs through all of the big cities in the Bay Area, and many of the smaller towns as well, and will spit you out in the dead of the city-- Market Street.

Market and Powell St. meet at the Westfield Mall, a 7-story shopping mall with every upscale retail store you can imagine, and a theater. My mom and I used to go there every few weeks just to walk around and people-watch more than actually shop. 

If you head down Powell St. from there, you’ll come across two of my favorite stops in the city: Rasputin Music and Blondie’s Pizza. Blondie’s Pizza is one of my all-time favorite pizza places, and you can get cheese, pepperoni, or one of a few specialty slices on the go. 

Rasputin is an entertainment store you’ll see throughout the bay, but this one is 5 stories of used CD’s, records, movies, and music apparel. They have a great selection of used music, and if you enjoy older or more obscure music you can walk out with 10 CD’s for less than $30. Am I dating myself by talking about CD’s? I know most people go for digital downloads, but I love having the physical copy. 

Let me also mention the flower stands there. If you are out for an afternoon with your wife, buy her flowers along the way. Just do it. There are little trolley carts selling all sorts of roses and flowers including my absolute favorite-- dyed blue roses. If you don’t want to buy your significant other flowers while you are there, buy me some and mail them to me.

Half Moon Bay

Half Moon Bay has always been my getaway spot. My first boyfriend introduced me to it many years ago, and I still go back whenever I have the chance. It is a relatively secluded and quiet place just off of Highway 1, north of San Francisco. Half Moon Bay is a small town, but really it’s the string of beaches down the highway that has always captured me.

These beaches are more walking spots than for swimming or water activities. There are no boat or snorkelling rentals that I’m aware of, and the water is usually chilly. Within a 10 mile drive north of the town itself you’ll come across a handful of beaches, each worth stopping to see. There is rarely more than one or two other people around, except in the dead of summer.

You’ll find a variety of sand types ranging from larger pebbles to fine, soft sand. There are tide pools, caves, and sandy cliffs to explore, and a few lighthouses that function as hostels that you can visit. As you drive along the coast you’ll see cyclers who are venturing from San Francisco to Santa Cruz (some even as far as Los Angeles!)

If you go south of Half Moon Bay on Highway 1 all the way into San Francisco, you’ll eventually end up at Sunset Beach, which is a neighborhood beach that is also worth a stop.

Bankhead Theatre, Livermore

The Bankhead Theatre is nestled in downtown Livermore, and is a phenomenal spot for a night out. It is a 500-seat performing arts center which opened in 2007. Now I might be biased because I have performed there personally with the Las Positas Community College orchestra and Livermore-Amador Symphony, but I still think it’s a neat place. Shows play from Thursday through Sunday, and depending on the day you may walk into an opera, jazz guitar, comedy show, local performance, rockabilly, big orchestral performance, or anything else imaginable.

The surrounding area is populated with restaurants, locally owned shops, and a movie theatre. If you’re just looking for a treat or a hot cup of coffee, Panama Red Coffee Company has a great environment to relax before the show, and the Donut-Wheel is a 24-hour donut shop where locals sometimes play open board games.

If you, like the Woods, travel by RV, there are several RV parks and camping spots not far away, and the area is generally friendly towards single-night parking in big business lots.

Downtown Pleasanton

Again, I’m biased towards Pleasanton. Okay, since I grew up in the area I guess I’m biased towards all of the locations I’m talking about. I lived in Pleasanton from the time I was 1 year old until I was 17, and I still make biannual visits back to see friends and family. 

Downtown Pleasanton is relatively upscale, and is almost entirely comprised of small, local businesses. If you’re looking for a quick, easy bite, my favorite is NY Pizza, where you can get a single slice or a gigantic pie. You can get any toppings on the single slice because it is re-baked, which might seem less than delicious, but it is still fresh and it gives the crust an extra crisp.

If you’re looking to dress up and go out, the Blue Agave Club is a fantastic (yet pricy!) Mexican restaurant with an enormous selection of Tequilas, or Stacey’s Cafe is an upscale spot for California cuisine open for breakfast (on weekends), lunch, and dinner. The local farmer’s market also takes place downtown on Saturday mornings, so if you’re looking for a morning out in jeans and a t-shirt, it’s a great place to stock up on fresh and local produce, meats, and bread, and explore local businesses and culture.

Andi Singer is a Bay Area native who has since moved inland. She works as a writer with Indiana RV Connection to share her favorite destinations and travel tips. She is also a fighter and is looking forward to heading to Salt Lake City later in the month to compete at the Muay Thai Institute.

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