AAA Four Diamond Hotel and Spa Overlooking San Francisco Bay
The Claremont Hotel & Spa—a recipient of the AAA Four Diamond rating—overlooks the San Francisco Bay from a perch atop Claremont Canyon. During the California gold rush, a private castle stood on the property. But after it burned down, real-estate tycoon Frank Havens won the land in a game of checkers. In 1915 he opened the sprawling Tudor-style resort that still stands today. Its sweeping views and individually decorated guest rooms make a stay here a grand experience.
Of the many improvements made to the hotel over the years, none shine as brightly as the Spa Claremont, a 20,000-square-foot facility dubbed the top US urban spa by Vogue magazine. Beyond offering standard services such as facials and massages, the staff administers body treatments, acupuncture, and water therapy, a means of relieving stress by wielding a seltzer bottle à la the Three Stooges. At the hotel’s fitness center, 60 exercise classes are scheduled every week. There are 10 onsite tennis courts and a number of swimming pools, whirlpools, hot tubs, and saunas.
Three restaurants provide a range of fine-dining options. The landmark Meritage at the Claremont, a farm-to-table eatery, serves dishes such as sweet-pea ravioli beneath a two-story ceiling while diners gaze out onto the bay. The more casual Paragon Restaurant—an American brasserie—offers hand-shaken cocktails, live jazz on the weekends, and outdoor deck seating. The Bayview Café serves up light fare poolside.
Berkeley, California: Eclectic College Town Full of Art, History, and Culture
Situated across the bay from San Francisco, Berkeley is best known as the location of the oldest University of California campus, home to some 36,000 students and a still-thriving activist spirit. Residents are left-leaning and politically engaged, a legacy of Berkeley's role as one of the major centers of campus unrest during the late 1960s. Though things have settled down since the city's turbulent peak, public demonstrations still take place every now and then. Telegraph Avenue remains a colorful, free-spirited thoroughfare lined with cafés and smoke shops. During the school year it teems with scholars, bohemians, and vendors hawking tie-dyed graduation gowns. Over on Shattuck Avenue, bars and restaurants serve frothy microbrews and fresh, farm-to-table cuisine.
Those looking to sample Berkeley’s renowned folk-music scene can drop by the Freight & Salvage Coffeehouse, a venue that has hosted blues, bluegrass, and other Americana artists since 1968. For a night of world-class opera, theater, jazz, classical music, or dance, head to Hertz and Zellerbach Halls on the campus of the university.