Finally, the weekend has arrived. Take a population of 2.5 million, one international airport, service by the nation's fifth-busiest heavy rail rapid transit system, a collection of the state's best public schools, plus one famous public ivy at Berkeley, and the East Bay adds up to way more than Oakland. For urbanites just slightly to the west in fog city, there's that additional factor called sunshine. Why not create a luxury weekend of your own in the East Bay? You can even pack a swimsuit, tennis racket and get some good use from those golf clubs.
3287 Mount Diablo Blvd.
Lafayette, CA 94549
Call ahead and this hotel will dispatch a friendly driver to pick you up at BART. Otherwise, valet your car at this pretty, turreted, pseudo-château with outdoor pool, where a king-bedded Grande Suite with fireplace will do nicely. Unpack your swimsuit and save time to unwind with a massage at the poolside spa. Do bring your appetite along, as the Park Bistro & Bar is newly launched under the acclaimed culinary baton of Chef Adam Carpenter. Cocktails are served at the bar, at the fireside pit or in the courtyard. Settle into a cozy dining booth beside the window and consider a finale from the ice cream sundae bar with tantalizing toppings.
1517 Shattuck Ave.
Berkeley, CA 94709
Much has been written about the vision of Alice Waters since this highly decorated Berkeley spot jolted dining circles awake circa 1971. All agree that the food has always been about an emphasis on delivering the best local products from farm to table, sophisticated but without bells and whistles. Chez Panisse deserves a place of honor on your luxury East Bay weekend agenda, whether it's your first visit or just the latest of many tasty, memorable ones. Book ahead.
The Course at Wente Vineyards
5050 Arroyo Road
Livermore, CA 94550
To make the most of your 48 hours, why not wake up early and play golf? Weave through the estate vineyards in a cart enjoying lovely views, sunshine and fast, challenging holes. Halfway along, have a giggle at the unexpected drive from the 9th to the 10th, where alert drivers zig zag the cart on a re-creation of San Francisco's famously crooked Lombard Street. There's Wi-Fi in the indoor/outdoor café styled after Australian station houses Greg Norman had in mind from his days spent down under. So, if your idea of a luxurious weekend means checking with the kids or the office, do so over a glass of Wente Chardonnay.
Livermore, CA 94526
Meet Jasmine and Danny, the Clydesdale horses who pull your Victorian-style carriage on a wine tasting tour complete with a picnic basket lunch on board. Up to six passengers clip-clop right through the Concannon Vineyard paths, enjoy a leisurely picnic lunch stop with wine under the shade of pretty century-old pepper trees at Retzlaff Vineyard and are then on to a tasting at Mitchell Katz Winery. The four-hour tour is offered Thursdays through Sundays, more frequently in December when it converts into a holiday special family-filled carriage decked out in garlands.
2900 Navy Way
Alameda, CA 94501
On 12 occasions throughout the year, treasures from all over the world are assembled by 800 vendors at this vast outdoor antiques market. With the backdrop of a world-class view, visitors indulge in the quest for collectibles against the backdrop of world-class views. It's fun to find the fascinating or the frivolous, in any case, everything is vintage by virtue of its age. If you miss the the first Sunday of the month, pencil in Treasure Island Flea held on the last weekend of every month. Cash, sunscreen, sunglasses, totes, walking shoes and negotiating skills are recommended.
Laurie JM Farr is a freelance writer covering all things in her adopted San Francisco. A dedicated urbanite, she's a transplanted New Yorker by way of a couple of decades in London as a hotel sales and marketing manager. Follow her work on @ReferencePlease, USA Today, Yahoo! and on Examiner.com.
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