10 Things I’ll Miss About the Bay Area
The traffic is mind numbing, the price of rent is astronomical, and then there’s that lingering fear of earthquakes.
All of those reasons played prominently in our decision to uproot from the San Francisco Bay Area and go nomadic. Last weekend we loaded up a POD with most of our belongings, and for the next several months (or longer?) it will sit in storage. This Saturday, we’ll pack our essential items and the dogs into our new Subaru Outback and hit the road for Bend, Oregon, with stops in Seattle, Boise, and more to come.
But as we’ve been preparing for a move with no definitive destination, I’m constantly reminded of the reasons to stay, of which there are infinitely more than the reasons to go. For the sake of brevity, here are the 10 things I’ll miss most about the Bay Area.
10. The San Francisco Skyline
Sure, there are plenty of skylines that tower above San Francisco’s tallest buildings. But is there a skyline with a backdrop more beautiful than the hills of Marin County and, assuming Karl the Fog isn’t hanging around, the Golden Gate Bridge? Not for my money.
This photo was taken at Faction Brewing in Alameda, and while you can’t actually see those hills or the Golden Gate Bridge, I love this view all the same.
9. The Food
There are countless restaurants, bars, and hole-in-the-wall food spots that I’ll miss, but if I could pick up one eatery and plop it down in my future town, it would be Scolari’s in Alameda. My favorite meal is a special burger that isn’t always on the menu. They take a regular burger, add a few slices of bacon, drench it with blueberry compote, throw on some crumbled blue cheese, then pile on arugula. It’s as messy as it is delicious and it never disappoints.
8. Day Trips to Wine Country
Beer has, is, and will always be my preferred alcoholic beverage, but I won’t turn down a good bottle of wine—especially if I’m drinking from that bottle in the Napa Valley or Sonoma Valley. Considering that the area is a worthy destination all to its own, it’s crazy to think that it’s SO close to San Francisco (without traffic, it’s one hour away). And despite the recent wildfires that ravaged the area, it’s always a good time to visit.
7. The Beer Community
Speaking of amazing things that are within an hour’s drive, there may not be another area in the country that has such a high concentration of noteworthy, groundbreaking breweries sprinkled among up-and-coming standouts. I consider myself lucky to have been a part of this scene as a journalist, and I look forward to returning here and drinking more from Bay Area brewers.
6. Proximity to Open Spaces
With an abundance of city, county, regional, state parks, and national monuments or recreation areas, it seems like you’re never more than a short walk or drive away from an open space. There’s never a bad time to be on a trail here, but it’s all the better when you have distant views of the San Francisco skyline and it’s peak wildflower season (like on this 2014 run at Wildcat Canyon Regional Park)..
5. The Trees
There’s really nothing quite like seeing a redwood tree for the first time. That something can grow that tall, that wide, and live for thousands of years seems impossible. And yet five years after seeing my first redwood here, I’m still in awe every time I walk among these giants.
4. The Water
Buying standup paddleboards right after we moved to the Bay Area might be one of the best decisions we’ve ever made. From the ocean to the bay to nearby lakes, the water is intoxicating. We’ve been spoiled to regularly wake up on a Saturday morning, throw our boards in the water half a mile from our house, and paddle along with seals.
3. The Sunsets
I believe this speaks for itself.
The Island might be the greatest place we’ll ever live. San Francisco is a ferry ride away and Oakland is an even shorter walk or drive. While it’s nice to have those cities nearby, what I really love about Alameda is that it feels like a small town where things are just a bit slower (literally, because the cops will pull you over if you drive over 25 mph).
1. The People
(Photo by Thushan Amarasiriwardena)
Yeah, I know it seems hokey, but it’s true. Without wonderful people to share them with, what good would a list of your favorite things be?
They’re the kind of people who cry with you in times of sadness and joy; hike miles through snow with you for a good view; dress up in 1920s clothing and let you make a murder mystery party for their housewarming even though you’ve NEVER run one before; and show up on your doorstep the morning you’re leaving town, homemade doughnuts in hand.
Oh, and I even made at least one memorable enemy (I call him Cat Man and all you need to know for now is that he takes his cats “pretty f***ing seriously”).
When we visit the Bay Area in the future, I’ll look forward to the sunsets, playing on the water, and returning to my favorite haunts. But it’s reuniting with our friends that will bring us back here more than anything else on this list. And, of course, I look forward to having those folks visit us in our future home, wherever that may be.
Except for Cat Man.