We're California Dreaming this week in NorCal exploring the City by the Bay for a San Francisco vacation!

Day One: You arrive in San Francisco and make your way to Union Square - home to the luxurious JW Marriott San Francisco Union Square. Boasting one of the city’s best addresses, no detail is forgotten here, and the guest rooms provide a variety of world-class amenities. Once settled in, it’s just a short walk to dinner at the E & O Trading Company, which offers authentic cuisine influenced by spice markets throughout Asia. The sharable portions are designed by master chef Sharon Nahm, and underscore the fantastic dining for which this city’s been known for decades. After the meal, you browse through a few of the many shops in and around Union Square, then head back to the hotel for a great night’s rest.

Day Two: Today you’ll be making a visit to the 1,000-plus acre Golden Gate Park and some of its unique attractions. Transformed from barren sand dunes in the 1870s, the park features a Lily pond, a Fern Grotto, a grove of California Redwood trees, and a replica pioneer log cabin. The views of San Francisco bay and the iconic Golden Gate bridge are amazing, and you snap a few pictures before heading to your next stop: the California Academy of Sciences, which is the only place on the planet with an aquarium, a planetarium, a natural history museum and a 4-story rainforest all under one roof. Filled with hundreds of exhibits and literally thousands of animals, an afternoon spent at the Academy is truly inspiring!

Day Three: Yes, Fisherman’s Wharf is a bit touristy, but some of the best street performers in the country do their thing regularly at a dozen different designated locations. There are acrobats, musicians and characters like the Skeleton Man and Felix the Cat that are worth checking out. You then grab something to eat and get ready for the Alcatraz experience – at night. It’s a quick, 15-minute ferry ride out to the island, and the evening includes a personally-narrated tour around the prison, and “Doing Time: The Alcatraz Cellhouse Tour.” The weather’s a bit chilly, but not the only source of your chills as you experience what was once America’s most notorious (and inescapable) federal penitentiary.

Day Four: Your afternoon departure today is coming far too soon, so you’re up with the sun this morning and off to the Marin Headlands for a hike. Inspired by a handful of online searches, you’ve selected a two-mile loop that begins in Corte Madera and reaches a peak in the Ring Mountain Open Space Preserve. The hike itself isn’t terribly strenuous, but the 90 minutes spent in an open space with clean, fresh air is exhilarating, and you’re back at the JW Marriott in plenty of time to check out and take the BART train back to the airport. While waiting for your flight, you think about what might await during your next trip to the Bay Area: Berkeley, Sausalito, perhaps even the Napa Valley. You’ll be back.