Category Archives: California

San Francisco’s Hotel Zephyr is a Playground for Adults

And it’s Awesome!

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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.

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Hotel Zephyr
Pier 39

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Oddities Found At San Francisco’s Pier 39

Unique Even Among Normalcy

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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…


Giant Crab

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.

What is this thing?!?!?!

 


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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Summer’s Pretty Much Over, So Why Not Another Road Trip?

Fall is Perfect for the Open Roads

Summer may be over, but that’s no excuse to not travel! If you’re looking for that last hurrah, look no further than this article about truly offbeat places by our Guest Contributor, Sally Perkins.

A big thank you to Sally, who has written for us before. We’re thrilled to have her back in this installment about unexplored places in America’s Midwest, West Coast, and the South. Sally is a professional freelance writer with many years experience across many different areas. She made the move to freelancing from a stressful corporate job and loves the work-life balance it offers her. When not at work, Sally enjoys reading, hiking, spending time with her family, and traveling as much as possible.

Spice Up Your Road Trip with These Unique Ideas

By Sally Perkins

There is nothing more appealing than setting out on the wide-open road with your friends for the road trip of your dreams. But wouldn’t it be even more fun to take a road trip that only you and your friends have witnessed? By setting out on any of these unique road trip ideas, you can guarantee that your trip is unconventional and full of irreplaceable memories that you’ll never forget.

Unconventional Road Tripping Maps 

We’ve all heard of the great American road trips on Route 66 or visiting any of the popular national parks, like Yellowstone National Park or the Grand Canyon. Make your road trip interesting by choosing to take a route that is, as they say, off the beaten path. Oftentimes, the best road trips are the ones that take place spontaneously and in places you wouldn’t normally view as exciting. Try driving across your own home state for a change! Here’s some examples…

Ohio: Ohio is the classic flyover state. Though it gets mentioned in television and films a lot, it is actually home to many strange attractions to spice up your road trip fun. Starting in the northeast corner, in Geneva, you can stop for a game of miniature golf at the oldest mini-golf course in the U.S. You can then visit the many graveyards in the state where former U.S. presidents now rest, including James Garfield in Cleveland. You can also pay homage to the Rockefeller family. There are also a bunch of truly weird attractions, like the world’s largest loaf of bread in Urbana, and haunted places like the Ohio State Reformatory in Mansfield, where the famous movie Shawshank Redemption was filmed.

Bay Area: If strange places in the Midwest don’t interest you, there’s also the beautiful West Coast. The San Francisco Bay Area is a great place to start. Driving in nearly any direction for a few hours will bring you to stunning sites of nature and wildlife. Heading north three hours, you’ll hit the Anderson Valley region. A little less conventional than Napa or Sonoma, this wine-tasting locale also includes an award-winning brewery, Anderson Valley Brewing Company, facilities for cheese making that you can tour, and state parks like Henry Woods

Southern Charm: A third idea for an unconventional road trip is to visit the vast south and hit the road. Though you may not know it, Texas is home to plenty of bizarre happenings, from alien-sightings to spaceship dwellings. Beginning in the northeast part of the state, you can visit the gravesite of a pilot from a UFO in Aurora, Texas. Hitting a few of these stops on your trip will definitely add to the fun and eccentricity of your road trip.

Prepping for your Road Trip 

It is a good thing to keep in mind that you should make sure your vehicle is ready for the ride before setting out. While you and your friends’ attitudes may be to get on the road as fast as possible and deal with the particulars later, checking your vehicle’s oil, mileage, and tire pressure are all wise safety checks to confirm before driving long distances. Taking the proper steps to cleaning your car will make the trip easier, as you will have a clean slate and a more fuel-efficient vehicle from the very start. 
 
Planning an unconventional road trip takes time and consideration, but your friends will certainly thank you once you are discovering parts of the wild that you may never have witnessed otherwise.

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The Redwoods of California: The Perfect Spot

Stop and Smell the Trees

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You wouldn’t think it necessary, as you’re cruisin’ along California’s Redwood Highway (U.S. Route 101), to stop and see the trees–specifically, the redwoods–since they’re all over the place. We thought we’d pull over to the side of the road once or twice to get some good snapshots as we traversed Northern California on our way to Crescent City. But then we spotted Frank and Bess Smithe Grove outside Leggett.

It looked like a place to just pull over for a couple of minutes, but we soon discovered that the Grove is a hidden, magical place. And that’s the way it’s supposed to be, so we got out and explored.

There’s no human development (except for a couple of carved out trees) and, when we visited on that particular day, there were no other humans! Just the giant redwoods and us. Nice and peaceful with California nature. 

Frank and Bess Smithe Grove is operated by California State Parks. Officially, it’s a “State Natural Reserve”. And reserved it was; it was frozen in time. It’s a place to remind us that we must live in harmony with nature. We promise that you’ll have a newfound appreciation for redwoods after you visit this place. 

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Aliens in the Desert

We Kind of Believe

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This week marks the 70th anniversary of the famous “Roswell Crash”. Regardless of what actually happened, July 1947 was when the aliens + desert = UFO phenomenon was born. And since we enjoy aliens so much, given our visit to Area 51 last year, we thought it a fitting tribute to post about our stop at Alien Fresh Jerky in Baker, California.

Only an hour and a half from Las Vegas, along I-15 in SoCal’s Mojave Desert, Alien Jerky is a cornerstone of Baker. Although the store is still from this world–complete with intergalactic space cruisers and plenty of alien buddies hanging around–it pretty much operates in its own universe. It’s the closest thing to an extraterrestrial space station that the average red-blooded American can visit….unless maybe you work for some cryptic government agency no one’s ever heard of…

Alien Jerky is the brain child of Luis Ramallo, who started the business with a table in the desert, where sat his homemade jerky. Sticking with the popular alien theme, his idea took off, and the rest is history.  There’s even a UFO-themed hotel in the works, set to be built right behind the store.

A nice break from reality on Planet Earth.

Alien Jerky Store Website

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