Changes are a comin’ to the city by the Bay
By Kathy Chin Leong

My beloved hometown of San Francisco is getting a facelift. More attractions, new restaurants and hotels are reviving old areas, making them vacation worthy of your time. At a recent hospitality trade show sponsored by the San Francisco Convention Center & Visitor’s bureau, representatives gave journalists an up-to-date, state-of-the-city address.

Here’s what’s been happening while you’ve been busy carpooling and shuttling the kids off to soccer practice:
*Dubbed San Francisco’s newest attraction in 2005, Boudin Bakery & Café will be opening up a 26,000-square foot bakery museum and eatery/shopping facility in May at the Fisherman’s Wharf. Preliminary drawings reveal an around-the-clock bakery with view windows for the public, restaurant views of the bay, promenade deck for sightseeing. Crowning the site is a demonstration bakery and museum, which will offer visitor tours for a fee, still to be determined. At the end of the session, customers will be able to sample bread together with various oils and tapenades all from San Francisco Bay Area vendors. 156 Jefferson St., 415/928-1849, .

*The revered California Academy of Sciences , known locally as the Steinhart Aquarium, has changed addresses. When did this happen? Last year, the aged fish tank moved over to the Mission District until renovations are completed at the original Golden Gate site. It is now walking distance to the Metreon. This makes it extremely convenient for families because you can park your car in one location and hit the SF Museum of Modern Art, Zeum (discovery museum for little ones), the carousel, the Sony Metreon plaza for shopping, food, and movies. Hint: be prepared to pay at least $10 to $15 for all-day parking. Tip: the aquarium is free the first Wednesday of every moth. Mark that on your calendar. 875 Howard St., 415/321-8000, .

* Hotel Vitale opens this month. This represents one of two new hotels opening in San Francisco this year. Keep your eyes open for the Hotel Vitale, a boutique hotel and spa in the Waterfront district, across the street from the renovated Ferry Building terminal marketplace where you can hang out at the bookstore, lap up clam chowder from a bread bowl while watching the ships go by, and pick up some gourmet chocolate at the Scharffenberger’s terminal store. The hotel features ultra modern furnishings, flat screen televisions, and a soaking tub on the roof. Spa lovers will enjoy its small, intimate spa on site, along with its downstairs Italian restaurant called the Americano . Cool note: the hotel features 8 floors of rooms, some with rounded suites with 180-views of the water. Prices start at $199 and up. 8 Mission St., 415/278-3700, .

*You can book your out-of-town friends and family at the new St. Regis Hotel scheduled to open July 22. While no rates have been revealed, this 200-room hotel is sure to revitalize the Yerba Buena district. 415/284-4030, .

*SF is world renown for food, and new restaurants come and go at the blink of an eye. Last year the historic Cliff House reopened after an extensive $19 million remodelling project. New is the dressy Cliff House Sutro restaurant, the more casual Cliff House Bistro, and the Cliff House To Go featuring local seafood. Open to the public last September, the architects wanted to bring the 26,000 square foot establishment back to its 1909 glory. 1090 Point Lobos, 415/386-3330, .

*New coffee shop called Café Lo Cubano opened to rave reviews in Laurel Heights. With emphasis on Cuban pressed sandwiches, Cuban music, desserts, and distinctive coffees, the word is out on this hip new startup.Open daily from 6 a.m. to midnight, be sure to buy lots of goodies. Prices range from $2 to $8.3401 Calif. St., 415/771-9975, .

*Just opened is Tamal Tapas and Wine Bar in the trendy South of Market District known as SOMA.The menu consists of a blend of Mexican, Spanish, North African and Mediterranean fare. Case in point: tacos with pear mojo sauce. Clever and creative, give Tamal a spin. 1599 Howard St., 415/864-2446, .

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