San Francisco

6 Reasons to Make Mare Island Your Next Weekend Trip

Get into boozy drinks, artist studios, hiking, and more at this former naval shipyard in Vallejo that's just a quick ferry ride from SF.

Photo courtesy of Mare Island Brewing Co.
Photo courtesy of Mare Island Brewing Co.
Photo courtesy of Mare Island Brewing Co.

Aside from the now-defunct Marine World, the city of Vallejo in Solano County isn’t usually on many San Franciscans’ radar. But there’s a reason for that to change. Just a 75-minute drive northeast of SF, the hot-weather city is home to Mare Island, built in 1854 as the West Coast’s first naval base. Named after General Mariano Guadalupe Vallejo’s white horse that swam to the island after surviving a shipwreck, the island’s naval base operated until 1993. Since then, the waterfront has transformed into The Wet Mile, which currently includes a brewery, distillery, winery, art studios, hiking, architectural gems, and of course, plenty of naval history to behold. It’s worth a day trip as it is, but this is just the beginning of large, long-term development for this peninsula that’s bordered by the Napa River. Mare Island’s waterfront will soon be home to more artisanal makers, like coffee roasters and bakers, in addition to continued promenade development like benches and lighting. Bonus: You can take the ferry from SF to visit Mare Island. Here’s everything you can do once you arrive:

@savageandcooke
@savageandcooke
@savageandcooke

Taste some tipples at Savage & Cooke American Distillery

Founded by a former winemaker, Savage & Cooke offers tours that include a look inside barrel and production rooms, gorgeous rooftop views, and a sit-down tasting of signature spirits like The Burning Chair Bourbon, led by a senior member of the team. For something more casual, do a shorter tasting-only session at the bar, or drop by the restaurant for lunch or dinner, Thursday to Sunday. Feast on Southern Fried Chicken and sides, of course paired with S&C’s spirits or craft cocktails.
How to go: Book tours and tastings online. Walk-ins only at the restaurant.

Photo courtesy of Mare Island Brewing Co.
Photo courtesy of Mare Island Brewing Co.
Photo courtesy of Mare Island Brewing Co.

Beer it up at Mare Island Brewing Co.

With three taprooms total, including ones in Vallejo proper and Benicia, it feels a bit more special to drink and eat at MIBC’s Coal Shed Brewery that’s actually on Mare Island. Started by two former winemakers, enjoy brews like the Hydraulic Sandwich IPA and Saginaw Golden Ale against a backdrop of darts, foosball, corn hole, a beer garden, and plenty of indoor seating. Pub food like sandwiches and salads come from the Pie Wagon.
How to order: Walk in or order beer online (California shipping only)

thetahoeguy/Shutterstock
thetahoeguy/Shutterstock
thetahoeguy/Shutterstock

Learn the island’s history with Mare Island Historic Park Foundation

A little history lesson with your island boozing should balance out the day nicely. The Mare Island Historical Park Foundation offers Saturday morning sightseeing tours that include the St. Peter’s Chapel, which was built in 1901 and is the oldest naval church in the country. It features a ton of gorgeous Tiffany stained-glass windows. You can also book a combo tour that adds the Victorian Admiral’s Mansion and surrounding gardens, plus the USS Vallejo Submarine Sail Memorial and a few more historic sights. In addition to the tour, there’s also the cemetery to check out, which is the first naval graveyard on the West Coast.
How to visit: Book tours (1-2 hours each) in advance online, conducted at 10 am every first and third Saturday.

Photo courtesy of Mare Island Art Studios
Photo courtesy of Mare Island Art Studios
Photo courtesy of Mare Island Art Studios

Get cultured at Mare Island Art Studios

Located at the northernmost end of the waterfront, the art studio co-op was one of the first entities to repurpose the old shipyard buildings. See the fruits of 20-plus years of labor and community-growing in the galleries, retail shops, and classes offered by the 19 artists who currently work there.
How to visit: Open on Wet Mile Sundays 12-4 pm, during art shows, and by appointment.

Vino Godfather
Vino Godfather
Vino Godfather

Sip on wine in a mansion at Vino Godfather Winery

Vino Godfather Winery specializes in small-batch, handcrafted wines, like its smoky 2018 Prohibition Tempranillo and full-bodied 2016 St. Peter’s Church Clone Old Vine Zinfandel. It opened its tasting room on Mare Island in 2015, in a former officers’ mansion that’s more than a century old. Book a tasting, or walk in to enjoy live “Music at the Mansion” on Saturdays for just a $10 cover. Smokey T’s BBQ is often there slinging ribs and chicken. Vino Godfather also has a wine club with complimentary tastings and first access to new releases.
How to visit: Walk in, or book ahead (email or call) for groups of six or more.

Flickr/Pacific Southwest Forest Service
Flickr/Pacific Southwest Forest Service
Flickr/Pacific Southwest Forest Service

Walk off the booze and brews with some hiking

At the southernmost part of the island lies a wooded park that’s more than 100 acres large. The Shoreline Heritage Preserve has the old naval cemetery, osprey nests for bird lovers, a steep one-mile hike to the top of the island for 360-degree views, as well as an easy four-mile San Pablo Bay Trail along the water.Want more Thrillist? Follow us on Instagram, Twitter, Pinterest, YouTube, TikTok, and Snapchat!

Margot Seeto is a Bay Area freelance writer and a contributor for Thrillist.

San Francisco

How to Celebrate Black History Month in San Francisco

Support and celebrate SF's Black community.

Courtesy of Black Joy Parade
Courtesy of Black Joy Parade
Courtesy of Black Joy Parade

Though it’s something we need to be doing every day of every month of every year, Black History Month encourages us to pay tribute to the struggles and oppression generations of Black Americans have faced, as well as their often-neglected triumphs and achievements that have helped shape this county and make it better. It’s a time to reflect on how we can do better to confront racism and oppression, which this year’s theme, “Black Resistance,” echoes. This is especially important in a town like San Francisco, where the Fillmore District was known as “the Harlem of the West” before the city displaced a vast portion of the neighbourhood’s Black community in the ’60s and ’70s. This displacement continues today, as the Black population is the only racial group that has declined in every census since 1970.

If you’re looking for ways to celebrate Black History Month, there are lots to do. Whether you want to educate yourself by attending films, performances, or conversations, share the joy at a parade or dance party, or do a little bit of it all at a drag show, here are just a few ways you can get involved and have a lot of fun while doing so:

Visit San Francisco Public Library branches for workshops, films, performances, and more

February (and throughout the year)
Library branches and online
SFPL’s “More Than a Month” celebration focuses on the theme of resistance this year. Family-friendly and adult events include film screenings, musical performances, book clubs, workshops, and more.
Cost: Free

Museum of African Diaspora
Museum of African Diaspora
Museum of African Diaspora

See art, poetry, films, talks, and more at MoAD

February (and throughout the year)
SoMa
Right now, at the Museum of African Diaspora, you can see the first and only West Coast exhibition of “The New Black Vanguard: Photography Between Art and Fashion,” which highlights the work of 15 contemporary fashion designers “whose images present radically new perspectives on the medium of photography and art, race and beauty, and gender and power.” The museum, which has a robust year-round program and event calendar, has a slew of events to attend, including youth poetry readings, film screenings, open mic nights, book clubs, artist talks, and more.
Cost: Event prices vary; GA to visit the museum is $12 but free every second Saturday of the month

Check out films, art, reading, talks, and more at BAMPFA

February (and throughout the year)
Berkeley
There is always something interesting to discover at the Berkeley Art Museum and Pacific Film Archive (BAMPFA). During Black History Month, you can see films by Pratibha Parmar, “Felwine Sarr: Music, Freedom, Africa,” a conversation through music with the Senegalese writer, scholar, composer, musician, and more.
Cost: Varies

Old Skool Cafe
Old Skool Cafe
Old Skool Cafe

Enjoy menu specials honoring Black community members at Old Skool Cafe

February (and throughout the year)
Bayview
For Black History Month, Old Skool Cafe is adding the favourite meals of notable Black community members to the menu each weekend. The nonprofit, youth-run supper club helps at-risk, formerly incarcerated, and foster care youth ages 16-22 gain the skills and experience they need to succeed in various front and back-of-house restaurant roles. Bayview hero/community advocate Mrs. Dorris Vincent is first up, followed by Judge Trina Thompson, Delroy Lindo, and Mayor London Breed.

Yerba Buena Gardens
Yerba Buena Gardens
Yerba Buena Gardens

Walk beneath the Marting Luther King, Jr. Memorial waterfall

February (and ongoing)
Yerba Buena Gardens
Did you know that Yerba Buena Gardens is home to the country’s second-largest memorial to Dr. King? Visit the sculptural waterfall featuring glass panels inscribed with his inspiring words at 750 Howard Street.
Cost: Free

Attend the Commonwealth’s “Dreaming Forward: A Celebration of Black Joy, Power, and Excellence” conference

Thursday, February 9
Embarcadero
On behalf of Dr. Sheryl Evans Davis and the San Francisco Human Rights Commission, the Commonwealth Club is hosting its second annual Dream Keeper Initiative, a day-long conference/celebration/call-to-action featuring special guests, including April Ryan of TheGrio and CNN.
Cost: Free

Courtesy of Oakland First Fridays
Courtesy of Oakland First Fridays
Courtesy of Oakland First Fridays

Celebrate Black Love at Oakland First Fridays

Friday, February 10
Telegraph Avenue from West Grand to 27th Street
Telegraph Avenue transforms into a dining, shopping, and art-appreciating party on Friday, February 10, from 5 pm to 9 pm. There will be food, artist, and retail vendors and a host of Black artists, authors, and entertainment. Please note: This event was rescheduled from February 3 because of potential rain.
Cost: Free

Have a ball at an all-Black drag show at Oasis

Friday, February 10
SoMa
“Reparations with Latrice Royale” is an all-Black drag show hosted by Latrice Royale, the beloved Drag Race star who also happens to be celebrating her birthday.
Cost: $15 to $60

Dance all night and shop all day at the Afro Soca Love carnival and marketplace

Friday, February 10 ‚Äď Saturday, February 11
341 13th Street, Oakland
Afro Soca Love creates experiences that act as a “gateway to building bonds and strengthen relationships-between communities, individuals, and Africa and its diaspora.” See for yourself at the all-ages marketplace (Saturday), where you’ll find food and drink, fashion, beauty and wellness, home decor, and more. But before the shopping comes the dancing at the 21+ Friday Night Carnival, a culturally immersive music experience with music from all over the world.
Cost: The marketplace is free; tickets to the Friday Night Carnival start at $20

See a live performance of “Words That Made the Difference: Brown vs. the Board of Education”

Saturday, February 11
Unity Palo Alto
See a live theatrical performance based on the true events that occurred in the fight to end school segregation. The script draws from trial transcripts of the five cases brought together in front of the Supreme Court and Chief Justice Earl Warren’s memoirs, and the play is set in the courtrooms where it all happened. There will be a Q&A with the playwright before the performance and the cast afterward.
Cost: Free

Courtesy of San Francisco Bay Area Theatre Company
Courtesy of San Francisco Bay Area Theatre Company
Courtesy of San Francisco Bay Area Theatre Company

Go to the I, Too, Sing America album release party

Saturday, February 11
Mission
Head to the Brava Theater Center to celebrate the San Francisco Bay Area Theatre Company’s album release of the music created for I, Too, Sing America, a soulful and uplifting performance that moved audiences when it debuted last year. The night includes an album-listening and sing-along party, DJs, dancing, an open bar, and more.
Cost: $40

Go on the Black Liberation Walking Tour of West Oakland

Saturday, February 18
West Oakland
Take a walk with David Peters, founder of the West Oakland Cultural Action Network, and Gene Anderson, the author of Legendary Locals of Oakland, to learn about resident voices and document sites of cultural and historical significance in the neighbourhood. Peters is a local native, and Anderson is an Oakland historian whose family has historical roots in West Oakland.
Cost: $50 ($30 for West Oakland residents)

See a screening of The Black Kung Fu Experience followed by in-person demonstrations

Sunday, February 19
Great Star Theater, Chinatown
The Chinese Historical Society of America is celebrating Black History Month and social unity with a screening of this film about how a group of African American pioneers became respected in a subculture dominated by Chinese and white men. Afterward, there will be demonstrations and talks with Sifu Donald Hamby and Sifu Troy Dunwood, who “will speak about their success as internationally recognized martial arts masters, their Chinese Kung Fu teachers, and what this practice means in relation to diversity, race and inclusion issues.”
Cost: $15

Sip wine made by Black winemakers at a free tasting event at STEM Kitchen + Garden

Thursday, February 23
Dogpatch
STEM Kitchen + Garden is hosting an afternoon wine tasting celebrating Black-owned wineries in its gorgeous indoor/outdoor space, and best of all, and it’s free to the public!
Cost: Free

Bayview Opera House
Bayview Opera House
Bayview Opera House

Attend the San Francisco African American Arts & Cultural District Gala Fundraiser

Saturday, February 25
Bayview Opera House
Enjoy an evening of talent, fashion, and community inspiration at SFAAACD’s 1st Annual Gala Fundraiser. Carla Duke, Television News Director at CBS-KPIX Chanel 5, will host the event, which includes inspiring words from keynote speaker Aniyia Williams, an artist, tech creator, and system-preneur.
Cost: $100

Attend a Black History Month & Chinese New Year Poetry Reading on Angel Island

Saturday, February 25
Angel Island
There is so much history in poetry at the Angel Island Detention Barracks Museum, which makes it a fitting location for poets Chun Yu and Michael Warr. The co-founders of Two Languages/One Community will share their poems and stories in English and Chinese, accompanied by projected images of text and photographs.
Cost: $10 to $21

Courtesy of Black Joy Parade
Courtesy of Black Joy Parade
Courtesy of Black Joy Parade

Feel the joy at the Black Joy Parade

Sunday, February 26
Downtown Oakland
This parade and festival celebrate the “Black experience past, present, and future.” Be prepared to experience “more Black joy than you ever imagined,” starting with the parade (beginning at 14th and Franklin) at 12:30 pm. The family-friendly festival follows (main entrance is at 19th and Franklin) will include 200-plus Black-owned small businesses selling food, drinks, clothing, art, and more. There will also be two stages with Black performers, including The Black Joy Choir.
Cost: Free

Take a sound bath at Grace Cathedral in honor of Black History Month

Monday, February 27
Nob Hill
Take an immersive sound bath featuring Fractals of Sound, a collective of top Bay Area musicians Egemen Sanli, Phoenix Song, and Sam Jackson, with special guest Destiny Muhammad. Together, they will create a “soundscape deeply rooted in world music,” allowing you to take a meditative journey in one of the most beautiful places in San Francisco.
Cost: $25 to $75

See Tsitsi Dangarembga and Angela Davis at City Arts & Lectures

Tuesday, February 28
Civic Center
Co-presented with MoAd, City Arts & Lectures is hosting novelist Tsitsi Dangarembga and scholar and activist Angela Davis for what’s sure to be a riveting conversation.
Cost: $36

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Daisy Barringer¬†is an SF-based freelance writer who spent many childhood days wandering around the Exploratorium. Follow her on¬†Instagram¬†to see what she’s up to now.

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