Top 3 Tuesday: Best Winter Waterfall Hikes in Marin

Recent rains have accentuated the beauty of these local waterfall trails. Check out my top 3 picks for a scenic and serene winter hike.

1. Cataract Falls, Fairfax

Popular and surprisingly strenuous the hiking the trails around Cataract Falls are worth it for the stunning views.

cataract falls


2. Alamere Falls, Pt. Reyes National Seashore

As only one of two California waterfalls that feeds directly to the Pacific Ocean, Alamere Falls is an impressive 40 foot waterfall in the Pt. Reyes National Seashore Park that boasts beautiful views.

alamere falls

3. Cascade Falls, Mill Valley

Easily accessed from downtown Mill Valley, this trail offers peaceful views of both redwoods and waterfalls.

cascade falls



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A Super Bowl 50 Traffic Survival Guide


Yes! The Super Bowl is coming to the Bay Area but you’ll probably be most affected if you are trying to get to work or go to the events planned in downtown San Francisco.

Although the game itself is at Levi’s Stadium in Santa Clara, San Francisco is hosting a one week pre-party the week before.

San Francisco Pre-Party

Super Bowl City is a fan village that will be centered at Justin Herman Plaza and take up a large area across the street from the Ferry Building.

 Since this event is free for all to attend, it is expected to draw large crowds.

Market Street will be closed for eight days from January 30 to February 7 for several blocks leading to Justin Herman Plaza. Many Muni busses and street cars will be rerouted to nearby Mission Street.

The bottom line: I’d avoid driving downtown anywhere near the Embarcadero and the Ferry building.

The best way to get to Super Bowl City is to take transit. Taking BART is convenient. The Embarcadero station is right there in the middle of Super Bowl City. If you live in the city just take any of the lines that terminate at the Ferry Building. Although the closures might reroute those lines, they will get you super close to the action.

If you still insist on driving be prepared to pay more for parking at all the garages anywhere close to the fan village. The best bet is to try the 5th and Mission garage. It’s either a healthy walk or a short bus ride from there down Mission Street to the Embarcadero.

This garage might be sold out early though. The NFL Experience, another fan event, will be at Moscone Center the week before the game. Although this event is not free, it is expected to draw large crowds as well.

Taking the ferry to San Francisco is also a decent option. The Ferry building is right across the street from Super Bowl City.

If you’re planning to get a hotel room in the city it may be too late. Many Hotels have been sold out for months surrounding these events. This is where you ask friends/parents to crash with them, stay in places like Oakland or Daly City and “commute” to the event, or make other arrangements.

Learn more about getting to Super Bowl City and the NFL Experience here.

Getting to Work

What if you are just trying to get to your job in downtown San Francisco? The best bet is to not use the Embarcadero BART station. Who wants to see all those happy people going to Super Bowl City while you have to put in a 9 to 5?

The Montgomery Station is just a few blocks away and the Powell Street Station a little bit farther. Bring comfortable walking shoes. A little walking will help you avoid crowds associated with this event.

Keep in mind your commuter Ferry ride to the city may be more crowded than usual. What would be more frustrating than showing up to take the Ferry only find it’s been sold out? This is the week to get to the Ferry early and pre-pay for your tickets.

Driving? That garage you park in may be sold out when you get there or be charging higher rates during the week leading up to the Super Bowl.

Going to the Game

If you happen to be lucky enough to score a ticket to the game (it could happen), you can drive there and park in the many lots near Levi’s Stadium.

There will be no tailgating allowed at any of the NFL sanctioned lots at Levi’s Stadium and the private lots may also not allow it that day.

Super Bowl organizers have schedule “Fan Express” shuttle buses to Levi’s Stadium from several hotels all over the Bay Area.

For $55 you can take a bus and forget about parking or driving yourself. You can see the schedule and locations here.

Regular public transportation will also work including VTA, Caltrain, and Amtrak Capitol Corridor service.




Photo by: Heather Wells

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The $1M Super Bowl package to rule them all

superbowl 50 stage

A little-known event called the Super Bowl is coming to town and along with it has come the unreal hotel costs that visitors to San Francisco are encountering. is showing outrageous short-term rentals for $6,000 a night. Even the Hampton Inn in San Jose was offering a single occupancy room for three nights for $8,335.

All of those packages? Small potatoes. Fairmont San Francisco is offering a decadent Super Bowl experience that will be the envy of all your other Super Bowl-going friends.

The Nob Hill hotel is offering a four-night stay in the 6,000-square-foot, three-bedroom Penthouse Suite for up to six people, along with tickets to VIP parties and 22 tickets to the Super Bowl game itself — along with transportation for the group to Levi’s Stadium on game day.

The price tag: $1 million.

Of course, the package goes beyond just a hotel room and game tickets — along with it comes a personalized experience that is meant to make your stay truly … luxurious.

Michelle Gilman Jasen, the regional director of sales and marketing for the West Coast Fairmont Hotels and Resorts, said that beyond the typical Super Bowl offerings of a luxury suite at the game and deluxe accommodations, is a stay meant to be a “dream” weekend.

“We wanted to provide a framework with very specific tickets and offerings so that guests knew that those were in place, but then we really wanted to offer them the option to build out their dream Super Bowl weekend — that’s really what this is meant to be,” Jasen said in a phone interview with SFGATE. “If you are entertaining clients or you are someone who’s looking to make this a once-in-a-lifetime Super Bowl weekend, then we would build it out in a way that’s the most impactful for those guests.”

As of now, the room and its million-dollar amenities are still available, but Jasen said there have been a few serious inquiries into the package so far.

Is the price worth it? Worth is relative, depending on your expendable budget, but the hotel is certainly not skimping on anything.




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Top 3 Tuesday: Top 3 Date Night Spots in Marin

With Valentine’s Day approaching, here are my top 3 picks for a great date night in Marin!

1. Le Garage

2. El Paseo

el paseo

3. Cavallo Point

cavallo point date night




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Top 3 Tuesday: Places to Watch Super Bowl 50 in Marin

The Bay Area will be packed for Super Bowl 50! Stay local, avoid traffic, and enjoy the game at these Marin spots:

1. Sweetwater Music Hall 

In place of musical talent, football takes center stage at Sweetwater Music Hall. Here, football fans of all ages can enjoy the big game on the big screen in a lively environment.

sweetwater bar


2. Perry’s

Perry’s is now open on Magnolia in Larkspur!  Experience great food, great service, and watch the big game without straying too far from home.

perrys on magnolia


3. Flatiron Saloon

For die-hard football aficionados, Flatiron Saloon is a classic Marin sports bar with an authentic vibe and multiple TVs for watching the big game from all angles.




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Marin County: Q4 Results

Marin County: Q4 Results
There were plenty of buyers in Pacific Union’s Marin County region during the fourth quarter but nowhere near enough homes to accommodate them – a problem that has persisted across the Bay Area for several years. In a marked change, however, buyers in the second half of the year started to gain the upper hand in negotiations. They displayed little sense of urgency and were more likely to pass on an attractive house at a competitive price, waiting to see what will come on the market in the weeks and months ahead.

Sales prices rose throughout the year, climbing aggressively earlier in 2015 before moderating in the fourth quarter. Demand for housing remained high, and sellers continued to enjoy healthy premiums. Private purchase agreements – reached without homes ever appearing on a local MLS and without competing bids – were not uncommon.

Looking Forward: Marin County remains an attractive destination for buyers. The chilly weather may affect sales in January and February, but we expect a very busy spring and summer, aided by a booming Bay Area economy. Interest rates remain exceptionally low, and any further increases would likely have little effect on Marin County sales.

Defining Marin County: Our real estate markets in Marin County include the cities of Belvedere, Corte Madera, Fairfax, Greenbrae, Kentfield, Larkspur, Mill Valley, Novato, Ross, San Anselmo, San Rafael, Sausalito, and Tiburon. Sales data in the charts below includes single-family homes in these communities.

Median Sales Price
The median sales price represents the midpoint in the range of all prices paid. It indicates that half the prices paid were higher than this number, and half were lower. It is not the same measure as “average” sales price.


Months’ Supply of Inventory
The months’ supply of inventory is a measure of how quickly the current supply of homes would be sold at the current sales rate, assuming no more homes came on the market. In general, an MSI below 4 is considered a seller’s market; between 4 and 6 is a balanced market; and above 6 is a buyer’s market.


Average Days on the Market
Average days on the market is a measure that indicates the pace of sales activity. It tracks, on average, the number of days a listing is active until it reaches “pending” status, meaning all contingencies have been removed and both parties are just waiting to close.


Percentage of Properties Under Contract
Percentage of properties under contract is a forward-looking indicator of sales activity. It tracks expected home sales before the paperwork is completed and the sale actually closes.


Sales Price as a Percentage of Original Price
Measuring the sales price as a percentage of the final list price, which may include price reductions from the original list price, determines the success of a seller in receiving the hoped-for sales amount. It also indicates the level of sales activity in a region.


A Closer Look at Marin County


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Top 3 Tuesday: Top 3 Spas in Marin

Getting back into the swing of things after the holidays can be tough! Luckily, we’ve got some great spas in Marin that can help restore that feeling of rejuvenation and relaxation. Here are this week’s top 3:

  1. Cavallo Point

cavallo point spa

  1. Stellar Spa

stellar spa

  1. Evo Spa

evo spa



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San Francisco to Remain a Top Market for International Investors in 2016


HH52-43 "Resolutions" One of our family resolutions for 2011 is to continue to learn more about other countries and to do what we can to be good global citizens. We, and I am happy to say our girls in particular, have been deeply interested in Afghanistan and Pakistan since our first introduction to the work of Greg Mortenson several years ago (hence the focal point). Nothing like a globe to bring some perspective to the size of our world.


The U.S. is by far the most favorable country for foreign real estate investors seeking a safe haven for their money, new survey results say. And just as last year, San Francisco is one of the top destinations for international investors, both on a national and global level.

That’s according to the Association of Foreign Investors in Real Estate, a global industry trade group that polls its membership each year. About two-thirds of respondents said they planned either moderate or major investments in U.S. real estate in 2016, while 31 percent indicated they would maintain their current portfolio. None of AFIRE’s members said they would decrease their investments over the coming year.

Sixty percent believe that the U.S. provides the most stable investment environment, far ahead of second-place Germany, which garnered 19 percent of the vote. The U.S. is also seen as the best place for capital appreciation by 46 percent of respondents, compared with second-place Brazil at 17 percent.

“The investment opportunity is the United States itself,” James A. Fetgatter, AFIRE’s chief executive, said in a statement. “The real estate fundamentals are sound; the economy continues to remain strong; there are opportunities across all sectors of the real estate spectrum, and in both gateway and secondary cities.”

On a global level, San Francisco ranks as the No. 5 most popular market for international investors, down from No. 3 in last year’s survey. New York remains the top city for global real estate investment, while Los Angeles rose from No. 10 to No. 3.

When examining expected activity only in the U.S., San Francisco ranks as the No. 3 best market, down one spot from last year’s survey. New York and Los Angeles rank No. 1 and No. 2 respectively; Washington, D.C., places No. 4; and Boston and Seattle tie for No. 5.

The vast majority of respondents — 85 percent — said that their perception of the viability of the U.S. housing market was unchanged from last year, although 80 percent cited some degree of difficulty locating properties. When asked what factors could most likely trigger a housing market downtown, rising interest rates was the most common answer, cited by about 40 percent of those polled.

According to Frank P. Lively, executive vice president of the Wafra Investment Advisory Group and AFIRE’s chairman, the survey’s results confirm that the international dollars flowing into the U.S. housing market are justified and predicted that top cities will continue to pay investors dividends in the long run.

“Foreign capital continues to view the U.S. as the safe haven that it is typified by stable, albeit expensive markets,” he said. “Investment in cities such as New York, Los Angeles, and San Francisco, all ranked among the top five global cities, along with the historically stable and consistent Washington, D.C., have and will continue over time to reward cautious and careful institutional investors with the best risk-adjusted returns for their real estate capital.”

(Photo: Flickr/Stephen Ritchie)

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Top 3 Tuesday: Places to Work Out in Marin

In 2016, the Carey Condy team would like to reinforce our commitment as the lifestyle ambassador to “Marin Living Beyond the Four Walls.” As such, every week, please watch for our “Top 3 Tuesdays,” where we list Carey’s “Top 3” of everything in Marin.

In the spirit of New Year’s Resolutions, see below for this week’s top 3:


1 . Running/Hiking on Mt. Tam

mt tam

2. Bay Club Marin, Corte Madera

bay club marin

3. Soul Cycle, Larkspur

soul cycle



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15 Flawless Fitness Rooms

“We shape our buildings; thereafter they shape us.” Sometimes literally.

In the tug-of-war between form and function, it is overwhelmingly the case that gym design exists in service of the latter. This makes sense as a gym is, when stripped of amenities like saunas and steam rooms, a room for doing. It exists in opposition to leisure, and it is no coincidence that the pulleys, ramps, benches and bars are referred to as “equipment”. There is little we can do to make your exercise regime less laborious and more pleasurable — but we can help out with your surroundings. To help you get inspired (and maybe even jumpstart a New Year’s resolution), we assembled a gallery of 15 of the world’s best-looking gyms, ranging from a converted downtown Manhattan factory to a Space Age Eastern Bloc architectural gem. Scroll down to see more. After all, form is paramount when working out.


In Baltimore, Maryland, MV Fitness is housed in a restored 1920s brick mansion. Members can practice yoga, pilates, spinning and more among the building’s beautifully preserved period millwork, flooring, light fixtures and plasterwork.

Photo by Ron Solomon via MV Fitness.


The Library Gym, located in the Notting Hill neighborhood of London, deliberately eschews utilitarian gym decor. “The whole design was a space where you actually want to be and you feel special being in. While the whole core philosophy is to get results, we genuinely want to make people comfortable and feel like they are in their own home,” says owner Zana Morris.

Photo via The Library Gym.


“Health, Recreation, Grace and Vigor” is the motto of the Los Angeles Athletic Club, founded in 1880. Since 1912, the club has operated from a grand, 12-story Beaux Arts building in the city’s Downtown neighborhood. A comprehensive renovation of the space by SRK Architects is expected to open in January 2016.

Photo via LAAC.


The architect Peter Marino is known for his soaring buildings and fitted, all-leather ensembles. So it’s little surprise that the gym in Marino’s self-designed Rocky Mountain retreat exhibits the brawny, bold style for which the architect is celebrated.

Photo by Roger Davies via Architectural Digest.

The Akasha Holistic Wellbeing Centre at London’s Hotel Café Royal is comprised of four distinctive spaces, each corresponding to a specific natural “element”: earth, water, fire or air. Designed by David Chipperfield Architects, the gym is inspired by fire, thus, the ceiling lights color adjust in concert with various workout routines to compliment the red hues of the room.

Photo via Trabber.


In Amagansett, New York, goop founder Gwyneth Paltrow’s freestanding, plywood-clad yoga and pilates studio was inspired by a Japanese tea service room.

Photo by Eric Cahan via House and Garden.


At the aptly named Sky Wellness fitness center in Belgrade, Serbia, reflective resin floor finishes and a semi-translucent ceiling illuminate the exposed sleek forms of training equipment in an open plan arrangement.

Photo by Ana Kostic via Arch Daily.


When he’s not on the field with the New England Patriots, football star Tom Brady stays in shape at his custom home gym in Brentwood, California. The lavish facilities — replete with a set of monkey bars — were designed by architect Richard Landry and fitness firm Out-Fit.

Photo by Roger Davies via Architectural Digest.


No special effects are required in director Michael Bay’s home — architects Chad Oppenheim and Rios Clementi Hale Studios created a dramatic, cantilevered three-story home for the Transformers auteur that juts sharply from a steeply sloped canyon wall. Interior designer Lynda Murray created a minimalist gym that lets the scenery shine.

Photo by Roger Davies via Architectural Digest.


The white limestone French-neoclassical façade of television personality Donny Deutsch’s New York City townhouse dates to 1915 — but architect Frederic Schwartz and interior designers Tony Ingrao and Randy Kemper completed a thoroughly modern, “white cube” renovation a century later. The six-story mansion has an airy gym on its top floor, which Matt Lauer deemed “the coolest in New York”.

Photo by Nikolas Koenig via Architectural Digest.


Harrigan Fitness designs bespoke “workout environments” for their clients. In this Beverly Park, California home, the firm made use of a dramatic, arched window to create a light-filled, neutral-colored fitness room.

Photo via Harigian Fitness.


A dramatic caged ceiling, color-changing lighting and curvilinear banquettes deliver on the “club” part of fitness club at the FIT Gym in the W Hotel in San Francisco, California.

Photo via W Hotel.


On the Bowery in New York City, upscale gym ModelFit — a favorite of Victoria’s Secret runway denizens — is housed in a former factory space built circa 1900 with coveted elements of loft architecture, including industrial windows, an open floor plan and high ceilings. The space also has a more modern pedigree: until recently, it served as photographer Terry Richardson’s studio.

Photo via ModelFit.


At the Park Hyatt Tokyo — the second tallest building in the city’s Shinjuku neighborhood — a fitness center designed by renowned Japanese architect Kenzo Tange offers expansive views of the Japanese capital and Mount Fuji, in the distance.

Photo via Park Hyatt Tokyo.


In the above waterfront gym, an icon of modernist design — Harry Bertoia‘s steel rod chair — sits opposite a Ciclotte. This state-of-the-art, carbon fiber exercise bike is one part design object, one part functioning equipment piece.

Photo via Ciclotte.


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