Editor’s note: It’s that time again – some 25,000 Realtors will meet up Oct. 28-31, for the biggest real estate event of the year, the National Association of Realtors’ annual convention and tradeshow. Inman News created this five-part offbeat guide to the not-to-miss real estate event. (See Part 1: Party on with the Realtor ‘in’ crowd; Part 2: NAR tradeshow: A story of celebrities, no-shows and free stuff; Part 3: Presidential Suite: Best room in the house and Part 4: Inman Video: San Francisco ‘hoods worth checking out.)

While visiting San Francisco this month for the big National Association of Realtors conference, don’t get caught in the Moscone Center the entire time. Take a break to enjoy some of the Bay Area’s sites and charm. If you’re unsure of where to go, check out these Inman Stories films on some of the most popular sites and hangouts the region has to offer.


A quaint town of only 7,500 people, Sausalito is the first town off the Golden Gate Bridge, just north of San Francisco. With views of the City, Sausalito is full of artists, history, walking paths and urban lore. Known for its good eats, house boats, fisherman and wealthy residents, its history as an artists’ colony persists today. You can drive, take the ferry or “if you want swim” to San Francisco.


Union Square

In the heart of San Francisco, Union Square is a popular destination, a place to meet friends, lovers or colleagues. At one time, Union Square was an expensive residential neighborhood, but the 1906 earthquake destroyed this urban park that is surrounded by the best shopping on the West Coast. Named after the Union Army during the Civil War, the square was the location for rallies in support of the Union Army. The area is easily accessible by the famous San Francisco Cable Cars and offers hot restaurants, cafes and boutique shops. You will also find chess players, street entertainers and a variety of interesting San Francisco characters.


St. Helena

St. Helena, Calif., is located in the center of the world famous wine growing Napa Valley, home to more than 300 wineries. Every year visitors descend on the charming town, also chock-a-block with glamorous boutiques, home decor stores, galleries, gourmet restaurants, and cafes. But the historic rural agricultural center that 6,000 people call home has also managed to maintain a small-town atmosphere. Meet a few of St. Helena’s stewards: Rosa Lucchesi, a second-generation Italian food merchant; local sculptor Miles Metzger, a self-described “rough and tough mountain boy;” and Mike Nieman, of Neiman Motorcycle Rentals, a mechanic who turned his Main Street smog check station into a hub for one of the greatest thrills of the Valley.


The Palace Hotel

Dubbed the Gateway to the West, the Palace Hotel is a San Francisco icon packed with history. Almost every famous person in World history has walked through the doors of this landmark, including Queen Elizabeth, Teddy Roosevelt and Thomas Edison. History abounds with the famous Pied Piper painting hanging on the wall of the hotel’s popular watering hole. When the 1906 earthquake devastated San Francisco, the Palace Hotel burned down along with 29,000 structures in the City. But the grand dame was rebuilt in 1914, a symbol of the City’s rebirth.


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