Where to View the Transit of Venus Near San Francisco
June 4, 2012 8:18 AM   Subscribe

The Transit of Venus is June 5! Where is a beautiful, romantic spot for viewing within 30-60 minute drive of San Francisco?

I am planning a birthday surprise for my beloved, his birthday is on the Transit of Venus! He is in San Francisco for work, and I am flying out to surprise him. I'd like to drive him somewhere romantic and special for this one-in-a-lifetime event, but I don't know the area. Help MeFi!
posted by aoleary to Travel & Transportation around San Francisco, CA (10 answers total) 1 user marked this as a favorite
IIRC it'll be at Sunset for San Francisco. Good luck!
posted by Sunburnt at 8:32 AM on June 4, 2012

Doesn't seem very romantic to me, but it is an hour's drive from San Francisco. The NASA-Ames Research Center down the peninsula in Mountain View is having a "celebration" of this event at their visitor center, just outside the gate at the Moffett exit on the 101. From a center-wide email:

Join us for a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity to view the planet Venus transit in front of the Sun. The Ames Education and the Kepler Mission teams will be hosting an exciting event to celebrate the transit on June 5, 2012 at the NASA Ames Exploration Center from 1:00 to 8:00 p.m. There will be opportunities to observe the transit, learn about Kepler from mission scientists, participate in hands-on activities, view a live broadcast of the transit in different wavelengths from Mauna Kea, and more! This event is open to the public.
posted by Rash at 9:20 AM on June 4, 2012

Response by poster: How is the drive? I'm hoping to rent a vintage convertible.
posted by aoleary at 9:38 AM on June 4, 2012

If you take 101, the drive is fairly hideous and unscenic. If you take 280, it's gorgeous most of the way (it's my daily commute), although you'll need to take 85 or something to cut east. This is a map.

You'll need to acquire your own viewing gear since you can't watch the transit naked-eyed, but you could head to the Sibley Volcanic Regional Park in the East Bay. Be warned that if you're heading there around rush hour, going will be slow. It's not a particularly romantic drive to get there - I mean, the Bay Bridge is pretty and stuff, but it's freeways and the Port of Oakland and all citified and industrial until you get to the park itself, which is beautiful. It *should* be above/beyond the fog line, but June here isn't called June-uary for nothing. Today's it's grey and drizzly; tomorrow's forecast is partly cloudy, although the microclimates here are nothing to joke about, so it might be totally sunny in the East/South bay. This is the fog forecast, which is pretty accurate in my experience, but can be hard to read if you don't have a sense of where things are.
posted by rtha at 9:56 AM on June 4, 2012

Response by poster: Thanks for the road suggestion. Yes, I have viewing gear ready to go. The NASA Ames center might be a little far. We can't depart downtown until later in the day. Is there anywhere closer, north of the city that would be good?
posted by aoleary at 10:13 AM on June 4, 2012

Well, you can try the Marin Headlands, which are just north of the Golden Gate Bridge. Cons: slow rush hour northbound traffic across the bridge, and if it's going to be foggy, a higher likelihood of fogout at the Headlands than if you head south or east. But! If it's going to be clear, the views are stunning from the top, and although the drive isn't long, it can certainly be classified as a romantic setting.
posted by rtha at 10:21 AM on June 4, 2012

IIRC the Marin Headlands park shuts down at dusk, as in rangers drive around and shoo you out.
posted by bendy at 1:11 PM on June 4, 2012

Best answer: Well, the very top of Conzelman Road - at Hawk Hill - closes around then, but if you head down to the beach, you'll still get a great view of the sun. Assuming it's not foggy.
posted by rtha at 1:40 PM on June 4, 2012

Response by poster: Thank you everyone! We had a gorgeous, romantic time up at Hawk Hill in the Marin Headlands. It wasn't even very crowded. It was the perfect little drive (he'd never seen the Golden Gate Bridge) and we took lots of amazing pictures and had a nice, clear view of the Transit. Also, a wonderful little picnic. I will remember that day forever. It was truly marvelous. Thanks MeFites!
posted by aoleary at 1:19 PM on June 7, 2012

Oh yay! I'm so happy it all worked out, especially the weather!
posted by rtha at 2:09 PM on June 7, 2012

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