…But this one is pretty cool. Records stores seem to be a thing of the past, but since the music scene is always changing, evolving, revolving, and so on, we found a place that’s found a way to make it work in the 21st century. We like to look out for our music peeps, so if you’re in San Mateo, CA, check out Vinyl Solution. Plenty of new and used stuff, and lots of old school mementos for all us nostalgic types out. Friendly people inside.
We spent a lot of time in California this summer, sometimes just taking in the surf. But as we cruised through the Bay Area, we had to stop at Nini’s Coffee Shop in San Mateo, our second time here. San Mateo has already proven to be a neat place, especially with our stop at a vintage record store.
So what makes this corner diner a real dish? It’s Nini’s!! Everyone knows that. The inside courtyard and all its out-of-place-yet-good-fit-for-this-place decorations always entertain. From street signs to statues, a fire hydrant and even a Texaco fuel pump (we’ve seen those before), you could say that Nini’s doubles as an unofficial museum. Never a dull moment.
And the food is fantastic! It’s a great place to unwind and take in the nice California breeze. Nini’s has been around forever, and judging by how busy it always is when we visit, it’s not going anywhere.
How much time have we spent in California? A lot. How many times have we been to California? A lot. But each visit brings us new discoveries, which is why we keep going back. Take San Francisco’s famous Pier 39. Of course we’re going to explore such a well-known tourist spot. Actually, a lot of travelers avoid it because it is a well-known tourist spot.
But, being us, we at UWanderings know how to find the hidden gems even in places like this. For those who are missing out, we’re here to help. And so we present to you, our daring and adventurous readers, Undiscovered Wanderings’s stroll through Pier 39.
Water, Meet Massage. Massage, Water.
Ever had a massage from water jets? If you’ve been in a hot tub recently, then the answer is probably yes. But have you ever had a water massage where you can keep your clothes on and stay perfectly dry for the whole thing? That’s what this contraption is for. We found it at Vitality, a hip spa on Pier 39 with a very happy customer base thanks to this and other nifty creature comforts, like the oxygen bars. As for the “Full Body AquaMassage”, as it’s called, you just get inside, under the waterproof barrier, and then water jets shoot at the barrier from an enclosed, watertight compartment. So you feel it, but you don’t get wet. The folks at Vitality were kind enough to give us a demonstration of how it works…
Did the giant crab thingy at the top get your attention? Good. We really didn’t know what to make of this one, but if you’re on the fritz about visiting Pier 39 because you think it’s too touristy, this right here is all the reason to go. When are you ever going to see another giant crab like this?! What’s its story, exactly? Abstract art, perhaps? Maybe it’s guarding the place. Who knows…well, someone out there does. Feel free to write us with suggestions if you know this guy’s story, and we’ll update this article.
Christmas All the Time!
Yup. We finally found one. A year-round Christmas store. In San Francisco no less. Actually, the guys there told us that the store is a chain, but this is the first we’ve seen of it. This is a dream come true for all of us who not only take joy in getting our Christmas shopping done early, but also for those of us who desperately need to one up our neighbors’ outdoor Christmas displays. Needless to say, it’s got a lot of holiday cheer. As far as Christmas stores go, this is definitely the most vibrant one we’ve seen.
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Nothing is more American than building a tree house in the backyard, but this one predates the Declaration of Independence by a few millennia.
It’s known as the “World Famous Tree House”. Driving along California’s famous U.S. Route 101 on our way to Crescent City, we spotted this straight from the road. That’s because it’s pretty much on the road. Really, you can’t miss it, so of course we had to investigate. We weren’t sure what to expect.
And then we entered the World Famous Tree House. It’s wasn’t your backyard weekend project.
4,000 years ago, a little seedling fell on the ground and kept growing. Nothing could stop it, not even a lightning strike 300 years ago. Today it stands 250 feet high and has a hollowed out cavity that you can walk into straight from the visitor center and store, which is built around it.
The property also has really cool chainsaw carvings for sale. Another reminder that you’re on the West Coast, where different is normal.
We thought we saw it all when we walked into the micro hotel at London Gatwick Airport (which was really freaking cool!), but Hotel Zephyr captivated us in a different way. The rooms resemble staterooms on a cruise ship, complete with porthole windows and private balconies with spectacular views. The lobby and common areas have circular benches, murals with a modern twist (like Popeye the Sailor with tribal tattoo sleeves), games galore, and walls lined with the doors of old shipping containers—a fitting touch for the Bay Area.
But it wasn’t until we ventured out to the hotel’s courtyard that our flashback to childhood was complete. From the oversized game of Connect Four to a Ping-Pong table that’s not actually a table—but a giant pipe straight out of Super Mario World—to the periscope that provides guests with a view over the hotel’s fence, this is truly what Hotel Zephyr is all about (and markets itself as): a playground for adults! It’s a really great way to unwind after spending the day exploring this magnificent city.
Oh, and the food is great, too!
Located in San Francisco’s famous Fisherman’s Wharf neighborhood, Hotel Zephyr is only a short walk to Pier 39, which we also found time to explore later on that evening.