let there be lights!
by victoria comment


heineken and illuminate art project / sfgirlbybay

one of the things i miss most about living in san francisco, are the bridges and the way they make the city truly unique — connecting san francisco to the ‘mainland’, i can attest that driving across them never gets old. the bay bridge has been refurbished and with that industrious restoration, it’s been reborn. it’s also being re-lit — with the bay lights that beautifully span the bridge and twinkle at night in the bay waters below. Heineken is partnering with ILLUMINATE, a california arts nonprofit, to bring artist leo villareal’s the bay lights installation back to the bay area — forever. the bay lights, a collection of interactive LED lights on the bay bridge, was first installed in 2013 and went dark in march 2015 for refurbishment. but on jan. 30, 2016, the bay lights will be re-illuminated permanently and gifted to the state of california and its citizens.

the bay lights art installation / sfgirlbybay

as one of the partners, Heineken has very kindly invited me to share a look at the bay bridge, and some of my favorite spots in its direct vicinity to ‘open the city’ to you. san francisco is a treasure trove of old and new, and beauty abounds where it meets in the middle. the embarcadero and the bay bridge are part of that cultural renaissance, and today we’re giving you an insider’s view of that city by the bay. we’re also giving you a chance to win your very own bay bridge light! think of it much like the “buy a star” program, but in this case, you can win a light on the bridge and name it after yourself, a friend or family member. as part of Heineken’s “Shine It Forward” campaign we’re giving away 3 pairs of lights, so you can gift a bay light to a loved one as well, commemorated by an official certificate that illustrates which light is theirs.

to enter to win your very own bay lights, simply:

• tell us below in the comments who you’d name your commerative lights after.

• please comment by wednesday, january 27th, 12pm PST.

• as always, be sure to leave a way to reach you via twitter, facebook, email or your website.

• sorry, this giveaway is for U.S. residents only. all winners must be 21 or older.

• we’ll announce a winner selected by random number generator on my twitter account the week of february 1st, so be sure and follow along.

san francisco landscape / sfgirlbybay

the Open Your City platform is Heineken’s way of encouraging you to experience the most of your urban surroundings through one-of-a-kind adventures, a spirit of exploration and expanding horizons. in that spirit, i’m taking on what i think would be an ideal day trip around the city by the bay. first off, let’s start at north beach’s infamous coit tower at the top of Telegraph Hill, erected in 1933 and named for Lillie Hitchcock Coit, a wealthy eccentric and patron of the city’s firefighters. the 360 degree views from atop the tower are spectacular, especially looking east towards the bay bridge. once you’ve taken it all in wander south to the filbert steps and walk down the lush pathway and wooden staircase and if you’re lucky, you might see wild green parrots as they’re known to inhabit the area. you’ll find yourself at Pier 23, a cute waterfront cafe along the embarcadero — the most historic heart of the bay.

filbert street steps in san francisco / sfgirlbybay

san francisco's filbert steps / sfgirlbybay

from pier 23, i suggest hopping on one of the vintage trolley cars that run along the embarcadero. they’re charming, and utterly colorful — each one is uniquely different and imported from around the world including australia, portugal and milan. they’ll also give you one of the most scenic rides in town (other than maybe a cable car!). take the trolley to san francisco’s historic ferry building and prepare to indulge in a cornucopia of gourmet eating!

vintage trolley car in san francisco / sfgirlbybay

trolley cars in san francisco / sfgirlbybay

san francisco ferry building / sfgirlbybay

san francisco’s ferry building was restored in 2003, and now houses tons of scrumptious cafes, gourmet food markets and a weekly farmer’s market. some of my favorite spots to dine there are the slanted door, hog island oyster company, and tacos at mijita. you may need a walk after all those snacks, so i suggest heading out onto pier 14 for stunning views of both the bay bridge, and the city skyline.

food market inside san francisco's ferry building / sfgirlbybay

farmers market food inside ferry building / sfgirlbybay

Pier 14 in san francisco / sfgirlbybay

Pier 14 overlooking the bay bridge / sfgirlbybay

embarcadero stroll / sfgirlbybay

from pier 14 walk a little further along the embarcadero towards red’s java house, around since the 1930’s — and if you’re still hungry you can get a burger and beer for under $10! if you keep walking southeast you’ll run into one of city’s pride and joys — the home of the san francisco giants, at&t park.

Red's Java House in san francisco / sfgirlbybay

houseboats in mission creek marina / sfgirlbybay

from the ballpark, you’ve got a few more options — one of the last remaining ‘creeks’ within the city is mission creek marina and home to a few dozen moss-covered houseboats and a lovely stretch of park for an afternoon stroll. another option, if it’s the first sunday of the month, is to head back to the ferry building and hop on a ferry boat bound for alameda. the alameda flea market is not to be missed if you’re a vintage junkie like me. and while you’re perusing 100’s of vintage stalls, you’re also privy to some of the best views of the bay bridge, and the city beyond. enjoy the trip!

alameda flea market finds / sfgirlbybay

refurbished bike with basket filled with heineken and farmer's market finds / sfgirlbybay

• all photography by leslie santarina for sfgirlbybay.

This is a sponsored post in partnership with Heineken and all words and opinions are my own. Thank you for supporting the brands that help keep sfgirlbybay going with fresh content every day.

43 responses to “let there be lights!”

  1. how fun! I would probably be torn between naming a light for my kids, who would love to look for “their light” whenever we went to the city, and my sister, who recently relocated to Seattle from SF because of unreasonably expensive housing. I know she misses it, so I would like to give her a light in the city she loved.

  2. This would be such a dream to name a light for a loved one! I was living in New York in a long distance relationship with my boyfriend who lived here (bi-coastal is not the easiest!). After a year with much love and consideration I decided to follow my dreams of moving out to California to not only be together but to start a West Coast life together. I eventually applied for a job and gathered all of my belongings to move, arrived on a Friday and started working on Monday. Everything worked out perfectly. Anywho, I would name this light after my love, who guided me the way with his light. <3 And I couldn't be happier!

  3. I have a long history with San Francisco. And it certainly has my heart. We have gone back annually at Thanksgiving since 2004 and stay right across from the Ferry Bldg. You hit on so many of our favorites and much to my pleasant surprise have alerted me to some new things to try. Hello Mission Creek Marina.

    I would name my light for Marie Curie. Her story inspired me to study science at Berkeley. Because I lived in San Francisco, I went over or under the Bay Bridge many times. And thought many times of her contributions to science. She would love the view I am certain.

  4. I’m asking for a bay light to remember my Mother Jeannie. I brought her to SF and she grinned
    and ate like a madwoman throughout our adventure here. It was on a streetcar, during a
    magnificent downpour, that she discarded her chemo hair and walked triumphant and marvelously alive- daring any molecule to diminish her happiness.

    Her smile was a dazzler-she was quite wonderful you see!

    Thank you Victoria, this is such a terrific idea!

  5. I love your site! and although I’ve never been to SF would love to go and visit the lights! I’d name the light after my boyfriend

  6. I would love to honor my brave husband, Michael Espinosa. In Oct of 2009, he was diagnosed with Stage 4 colon cancer. He was given a 6% chance to make it to five years. It has been 6 years, and he is still with us. He fought so hard to stay with us. Our children and I are so blessed to still have him with us. He is the light in our lives. Michael also grew up in SFO. We visit as often as possible, and marvel at the changes. We mostly appreciate that no matter how much it changes, it still remains the same. San Francisco has that special something, and you cannot help but start feeling it as you cross the Bay Bridge into the city. The bridge transports you to a special place near and dear to our hearts.

  7. I would name it after my brother and his new fiancé since they live in, met in, and recently got engaged in SF.

  8. I love san francisco and would LOVE to win this prize. i would name it after my brother who is a star in my book after fighting lyme disease for over 3 years and finally seeing some light at the end of the tunnel. now he is going to school in san francisco and with much love and support can finally turn the page on this chapter of his life. This city has so much heart and soul……..and it would be awesome to win this for him. Thank you for offering this. Namaste

  9. I’ve lived in the Bay Area for almost my whole life, having grown up in Oakland and then moving back to the Berkeley after college on the East Coast; I’ve driven across the Bay Bridge thousands of times. In the past two years, the bridge has taken on new meaning for me. I fell in love with a man who lives in San Francisco, and his work and our growing relationship have persuaded me to finally move across the bay after 35 years. This means starting a new and exciting life with the man I love, in a city I love, but it is also difficult because it means moving farther from my parents, who are aging rapidly and need more care now than ever before. It’s been bittersweet to start a new adventure in life just as I’m feeling needed the most where I began, and the Bay Bridge is the thread that connects the two- literally. As we move forward, I’ll be crossing the bridge even more than ever; crossing back and forth between the three people I love most dearly in this world. If I were able to name three lights for them, it would make that crossing all the more meaningful.

  10. Hi Victoria! I can’t believe they are doing this, such an amazing giveaway in a city that means so much to so many. I had the awesome pleasure of meeting you before we both (strangely enough) relocated to LA. We met in Noe Valley at my family’s dog wash. I still keep up with your adventures with Miss Lucy and love that you’re in LA now too! If I got a chance to win, I would name a light after my late-fiancé Josh, who moved with me to SF in 2011 to help me and my brothers open and run our business. He passed away in January of 2015, which is what actually prompted me to move closer to my parents down here. I miss SF greatly, and it will always be the city he and I had discovered and loved together. I would send the info to his mother in North Carolina, who visited us as soon as we moved, and it was the first place she had ever been outside of the southeast. I know how much it would mean to both myself and his family, that his light would continue to shine in the city he loved so much.

  11. What a lovely idea! I’d name a light after Richard Cavalli, a dear family friend who passed away a week ago; it was too soon. Rich was born and raised in Oakland and worked in the Oakland ports for decades. He’s seen that bridge through the Cypress Freeway, the ’89 earthquake, the new S-curve, and the whole renovation. He was a kind, funny, brilliant man, loving husband, excellent father, and phenomenal cook. He loved the outdoors and introduced my family (and many others) to the beauty and grandness of Yosemite. I think it would bring great joy to his family and friends, many of whom still live in the Bay Area to look up at that beautiful skyline and know that his light is still shining on us. @porjenny

  12. Oh how I love that the lights are coming back forever. They are so beautiful to see. I love this. I’d name a light after my dad, George. He was a light in my life, taken too early but his memory shines bright.

  13. How lovely, what a great gift to the SF citizens and thoughtful giveaway. I would name a light for my best friend’s new baby girl back home, one for my boyfriend (now fiancé) who moved across the country to make a home with me in the Bay Area, and one for my beloved kitty cat who passed away last winter but managed to keep me company for 15 years – and finally make the move to San Fran with me. xo

  14. I would name the lights for my boyfriend. It’s cliche, but this city brought us together. We’ve had fun adventures in the bay and I want that to last.

  15. What an awesome giveaway! I would name the light after my boyfriend. He’s a proud San Francisco native (with a 415 number to prove it!) who has led me to the city’s best qualities and some of my most fun memories in the Bay Area.
    Also, we had a particularly memorable drive over the bridge when neither of us had cash or the pass needed for the toll and we got charged $30 for what should have been $5. Good times.

  16. My best friends brother is one of the many we have lost to the magestic golden gate in a suicide 2 years ago. One year ago her father, a born/raised/forever resident of Oakland passed to bone cancer. She is now pregnant after trying for 3 years. I love the idea of dedicating a light to her father as a reminder he’ll always be looking down over his son as a bright shining light in the cool bay water. Thank you for your time!! And cheers!

  17. I will dedicate a light to my Mom and my mother-in-law who is walking this year in the Avon walk. Great photos. Makes me want to plan a visit. Thanks for sharing.

  18. I was born and raised in the Bay (now transplanted in the Midwest), but home is always home…and the bridges still are very significant and nostalgic to me. My parents married and settled in SF which represented a new life together and a midway point from where they came. They would be tickled if a light was named after them!

  19. I would love to have a pair of lights! One for my parents who were the light that guided me through my youth and who loved SF and one for my late wife who was truly the light who carried me into my retirement and beyond and who I am sure lit the lives of many who knew her. Her light still shines in my heart but I would love to have one for all to see.

  20. Lights lite up the world in an often too dimly lit reality. I would name the lights after my mother in law “Sally” because unfortunately she passed away several years before I met my husband and I’ve learned through family stories that she was an amazing and compassionate woman. She was born in Oakland but moved to San Francisco with her family when she was in grade school. She was the type of woman that new no strangers and would literally give the shirt off her back to anyone who needed it. She was and still is a light that continues to shine.

  21. I would name mine after my husband Luke who took the journey to SF with me. He’s sacrificed so much to be here and I’d love to leave this mark on the city to commemorate this time!

  22. Awww! I wish you mentioned the Treasure Island Flea Market. It is a wonderful way to admire both sides of the bay bridge from the island. I was blessed with the views when I lived there for 3 years and would hike up Yerba Buena Island to sit directly above the bridge and watch the cars drive into SF. It was a secret spot, but well-known I find in some city photography.
    Naming the lights is a great idea! I’d like to have one named after my best friend and lover of SF who invited me to live on the island.

  23. Everything about this is so stunning! The photography by Leslie, the giveaway, and of course the Bay Bridge lights coming back to us! I would absolutely love to gift the light to my boyfriend John, who moved to San Francisco so we could live in the city together 5 years ago. We continuously explore every nook and cranny it has to offer, and never grow tired of crossing the Bay Bridge to explore everything Northern California has to offer. We are both natives of the Bay Area, and this would be an amazing and special opportunity to celebrate the love which we have for each other, the Bay Area and of course, San Francisco. Cheers!

    Twitter/Instagram: @sundreamphoto

  24. I would name a light after my grandparents, who were married almost sixty years. They had a tradition of having dinner in Sausalito to watch the sailboats glide by and the city lights come to life at twilight.

  25. Being born in a small country town, I dreamed of city lights and knew I would someday live in San Francisco. After graduating high school, I set out on my own at the age of 18 on an unforgettable journey into the city. I met my shining star Paul, who was a Bay Area native. Being raised in a small town, Paul not only showed me the ropes to living in a big city, but he took me on unforgettable adventures and made me fall deeper in love with San Francisco. Our favorite Activity was to look at city lights at night and appreciate the relationship we had built throughout the years. Now being 24, we still look at lights and remember the memories and continuous memories to be made that San Francisco and the city lights has made for us. I would name the light afte Paul because it would be a continuous reminder of the love we have for the city and for each other.

  26. oh bay lights, you make me weepy each time i see you.
    can’t wait to make the drive back to the bay tonight.
    if i won you, i’d name you after the birthstone (peridot) of my mom, who fell for my dad near the hotel utah, started a family born at Mt. Zion and gave way to a company that touches many lives in the bay area.

  27. To my dear, departed friend Cathy Mirando, an artist in her own right, who would have loved the BBLights were she still with us. I can’t think of a more fitting tribute for a light gone too soon.
    mabarrett4 at aol dot com

  28. I’d name the lights for my sister and I. Then we’d have to visit SF to see them!
    flgirl1987 AT yahoo DOT com

  29. I’d name my commemorative lights after my father, who died of cancer almost 5 years ago. He was the light of our family and a light for so many other people. He lived in the east bay, and I live in e city, so the bay bridge has a special place. And he was here working at a new job in ’89 when the quake happened, so the image of the bay bridge at that time is forever connected in my mind.


  30. Your photos are really gorgeous and makes me miss S.F. I would name the lights after my family who was lost in the concentration camps in World War II. The family name was Silver and the lights would be in remembrance of them.

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