NCalSBA is delighted to welcome ASBA members from around the country and around the world!

For official conference information, please visit the national ASBA site here. But in addition to the conference, there are lots of other exciting things to see and do in the area!

First, since we know that botanical artists love plants and gardens, please start by checking out our chapter’s list of interesting gardens and arboreta.

But beyond gardens, here are a few ideas. There are things for history buffs, aviation fans, maritime fans, rail fans, car buffs, hikers and walkers, and lots of other good things. Come for an extra week, or even a month!

The links are grouped by broad geographic area:

General Information

The conference will be divided between the San Mateo Marriott hotel (a few miles south of the San Francisco airport) and nearby Filoli.

Most of our “visit” excursions will require having a car but San Francisco is best visited on foot, by bus, or by taxi/Uber. If you are hiring a car, please be aware that the Golden Gate Bridge collects all tolls automatically. Check with your rental car company about arrangements: some have been charging a daily “convenience fee” for processing bridge tolls regardless of whether you cross the bridge or not.

Please Note: Traffic in the entire San Francisco Bay region is unbelievably bad most of the time. It’s not just commute hours any more and even weekends can find you stuck for hours in a traffic jam. If you haven’t been here lately, you may be in for a shock.

The nearest public transit to the hotel is CalTrain’s Hayward Park station, a 15 minute walk from the hotel. From there, it is a short ride to the Millbrae station where you can catch BART which will take you into the City or to the East Bay. Or you can continue on into San Francisco where you can catch Muni’s metro, buses, or historic streetcars. Note that the historic street cars now run all the way along the Embarcadero to Fisherman’s Wharf – a great way to enjoy the views while riding a piece of history! For scheduling information for all these systems, visit

Please note that some of our suggestions can be done on the spur of the moment… but others require prior planning and/or reservations!

San Francisco

Of course San Francisco is THE tourist destination in the area. Fisherman’s Wharf is one obvious place to check out but there are many other spots as well.

San Francisco Peninsula

This is where our hotel (San Mateo Marriott) and Filoli are, but there are plenty of other things in the area to see.

A word of caution: be aware of the coastside Pumpkin Festival in Half Moon Bay on October 14 – 15! It’s fun but traffic may be horrific. If you want to just visit the coast, it would be best to avoid the weekend.

North Bay

Again, most people know of the Napa/Sonoma wine area and perhaps Muir Woods. But here are a few other things to check out.

Note: If you want to visit Muir Woods, you need to be aware that it’s insanely busy and can actually “sell out”! Please visit their Plan Your Visit advice!
You might also consider other redwood forests for a more peaceful experience. I’ve listed a couple in the South Bay and the Save the Redwoods League offers this online redwood park finder.

East Bay

South Bay

Farther Afield

Beyond the Bay Area, there are lots of other things to see and do. Yosemite is one obvious option, and the Mendocino Coast, both of which require at least a couple of days. So here are a few other ideas, some of which are a bit closer and might be managed in a single day. There are also many other state parks in California. Please check their website ( for ideas!

Normally, one would suggest driving down the fabulous scenic Highway 1 to Big Sur, Hearst Castle or beyond. However, due extensive storm damage over the winter plus a massive landslide in May Highway 1 is closed and is expected to remain closed until sometime in 2018!