Each winter, professional surfers migrate to Half Moon Bay to try their luck at riding the massive waves of the Mavericks area. During the competition, the coastline waters are dotted with bobbing surfers and spectator boats. For an up-close look at the waves, Bait & Switch Sportfishing, a bait shop located on nearby Pillar Point Harbor, transports guests on one of six vessels ranging between 29 and 56 feet. Staff captains organize boat tours to watch the surfing, snap photos of jumping humpback whales, or fish for salmon and rockfish. They also schedule walking tours of Half Moon Bay’s wetlands, which are home to more than 200 species of birds and at least 10 airborne crossing guards.
Spinnaker Sailing’s crew helps people to experience the San Francisco Bay providing lessons, yacht and sailboat charters, and fractional- sailing boat-sharing memberships. During lessons, staffers challenge students to turn theory into hands-on action, using American Sailing Association guidelines to transform landlubbers into landlubbers who can sail. For those who prefer to outsource steering, Spinnaker Sailing’s captains load up to six passengers for private cruises aboard skippered 30- to 50-foot yachts. Parties can request to sail around Angel Island or stop in at Sam’s in Tiburon to grab drinks or dinner. Meanwhile, Spinnaker Fractional members share luxury Beneteau boats, indulging in the benefits of boat ownership without being bogged down with the cost of insurance, fees, and vessel upkeep.
A 9-foot statue of Willie Mays looms over fans at the entrance to AT&T Park, the home of the San Francisco Giants since 2000. Along with the team’s many other Hall of Fame inductees, Mays is part of a team heritage that spans more than a century and has garnered 21 National League pennants, six World Series championships, and the most overall victories by a franchise in baseball history. Up to 41,503 fans cheer on the Giants as they swing for the tides, splashing home runs into the waters of McCovey Cove. On the field, players dig their cleats into the kentucky bluegrass blend and slide on the crushed-volcanic-rock infield, dodging the gloves of tagging basemen and onyx claws of lava worms.
For more than a decade, Team Bay Tennis's founder and director Igor Savanovic has fine-tuned the swings of athletes ranging from beginners to pros. Savanovic and two other instructors tailor their instruction to varying levels of play. They work with graduated court and racket sizes while forming a personal rapport and motivational relationship with students. Adults hone strokes in clinics or one-on-one lessons that focus on technical aspects of the game, such as how to deal with hecklers.
From the cabernet-hued curlicues on the carpets to the gilded columns and soaring ceilings, the Alameda Theatre is steeped in history. During the Second World War, soldiers crowded in to watch films in the auditorium, which also has spent stints as a practice area for rock bands and as a skating rink. The theater was recently brought out of dormancy with an extensive renovation project that restored the glow to its art-deco façades and towering neon sign. Gold leaf, some still intact from the building’s construction in 1932, leads eyes up to a screen 50 feet in width.
A packed schedule of first-run films flickers to life on the big screen, with showings in 3-D letting audiences see explosions leap from the flat surface or watch pieces of the Hulk’s hard-to-program VCR fly past. The historic theater also showcases classic films such as The Graduate or The Wild One every week, and hosts a talent show every Friday and Saturday evening.
At Menlo Hub, both food and art find a place on the menu. The modern restaurant's walls are blanketed in original contemporary paintings, and on some nights, the dining space reverberates with music from live bands and solo musicians. But even on nights with performances, the main attraction is always found in the kitchen. Here, chefs design casual American dishes sprinkled with elements of Mediterranean cooking.
The menus focus on simple steaks and seafood, complemented by organic produce sourced from nearby sustainable farms. The artfully plated dishes include California sea bass, New York steaks with gorgonzola demi-glace, and eggplant-wrapped lamb shanks. While most visitors sample the cuisine in the airy main dining space, private groups eat in a secluded room warmed by a corner fireplace.
At the lively bar, flat-screen TVs broadcast sporting events as bartenders mix fruit-infused martinis and pour a range of California wines, which are made from grapes that are just thankful that they never became California raisins.