Wednesday, July 6, 2016

Top 12 Cities Where Affluent Millennials Live

The Americans born after 1980 make up the largest generation in history, the Millennials. Let’s take a look     at where the affluent millennials call home.       

1.   Jersey City, N.J.

Jersey City is the second most populated city in the state of New Jersey after Newark. Millennials live here where rents and homes cost less, commuting by train into the city of New York is still close enough. 2.2 percent of Millennials who live in Jersey City have an annual income of more than $350,000.
Average home value: $345,800

Average rent: $2,180

2.   Oakland, California

Oakland is the third largest city in the San Francisco Bay Area, the eighth largest city in California, and the 45th-largest city in the U.S. 2.6 percent of Millennials made more than $350,000.
Average home value: $586,800

Average rent: $2,707

      3.   Washington, D.C.

Washington, D.C., the U.S. capital, has a population of 658,893. 2.8 percent of the millennials there are making more than $350,000 a year.
Average home value: $499,300

Average rent: $2,534

     4.    New York City

New York City has a population of 8.406 million, has five boroughs, and is home to the Empire State Building, Statue of Liberty and other iconic sites. 2.8 percent of Millennials living in New York City make more than $350,000 a year.
Average home value: $612,400

Average rent: $2,336

     5.    Cambridge, Mass.

Cambridge is in the Boston metropolitan area, with a population of 107,289. Mostly because of tech and bio jobs, 2.9 percent of Millennials are bringing home the big bucks. However, about 7.7 percent of those 55 and older are making more than $350,000.
Average home value: $644,400

Average rent: $2,604 

     6.    Denver, Colorado

Denver is the capital of Colorado with a population of 649,495 and hot housing market. Many young people have moved here after being offered high paying positions in the finance and tech fields. 3 percent of them made more than $350,000.
Average home value: $331,100

Average rent: $1,942 

     7.    Pasadena, California

Pasadena is the 183rd-largest city in the United States, having an estimated population of 139,731. 3.3 percent of Millennials living there made more than $350,000.
Average home value: $714,300

Average rent: $2,619 

     8.    Sunnyvale, California

Sunnyvale is located in Santa Clara County and is a Silicon Valley hot spot. As of 2010, the population was 140,095. Of its Millennials, 3.9 percent made more than $350,000.
Average home value: $1.14 million

Average rent: $3,877

     9.    Seattle, Washington

Seattle is home to the thriving tech industry, with Microsoft and headquartered in the metropolitan area. Population as of 2013 was 652,405. Of Millennials living in Seattle, 3.9 percent are making more than $350,000.
Average home value: $533,000

Average rent: $2,634

     10.  Huntington Beach, California

Huntington Beach is a beach town in Orange County, with a population as of 2013 of 197,575. This surf town has just over 5 percent of Millennials who live there that made over $350,000.
Average home value: $733,200

Average rent: $2,902

     11.  San Francisco, California

San Francisco is known for high-paying tech jobs and 7.8 of its Millennials make more than $350,000.
Average home value: $1.13 million

Average rent: $4,542

     12.  Arlington, Virginia

Arlington has a population of 224,906 as of 2013 and 8.7 percent of Millennials in this D.C. suburb made mor3 than $350,000. That’s more than the 55 and older age group brought home. 7.9 percent of those 55 and older made more than $350,000.
Average home value: $607,100

Average rent: $2,690

Friday, May 20, 2016

10 Biggest Commercial Real Estate Stories of 2015

1. Blackstone Buys Everything

blackstone real estate
2015 was a big year for Jonathan Gray and Blackstone’s real estate division. They began the year by purchasing 36 apartment properties from the Praedium Group for $1.7 billion. Then in February, Blackstone bought 50 percent stake in six Manhattan office buildings, valued at approximately $4 billion. They kept the momentum going in March when they purchased a 2.8 million square foot tower in Chicago for $1.3 billion. Skipping to October 2015, Blackstone bought a medical office for $4.8 billion. Including debt, the transaction is valued at $8 billion. But, don’t think Blackstone was idle the months in between. They had large transactions occurring every month of 2015. October and November were no different. October brought an 80-acre multi-building multifamily complex in New York City for approximately $5.3 billion. And, in November 2015 Blackstone purchased $3 billion in real estate fund stakes from pension fund CalPERS. The deal includes 42 funds involving both international and domestic assets.

2. Continued CRE Brokerage Consolidation

One of the biggest deals of 2015 was DTZ’s plan to acquire Cushman & Wakefield for $2 billion.
CBRE has acquired and integrated more than 100 firms over the past decade. The firm has been on pace over the past two years to execute and integrate an M&A with a new firm about once a month. CBRE made one of its biggest deals in 2015, that being the acquisition of Global WorkPlace Solutions (GWS) for about $1.47 billion. GWS is a leading provider of integrated facilities management solutions, and the company will now operate as part of CBRE’s Global Corporate Services business.

3. Senior Housing Sector

The interest in seniors housing is evident in the spike in investments sales transactions over the past year both seniors housing properties and nursing care facilities. Investors are viewing seniors housing as a true investment grade asset class. At the end of the second quarter of 2015, sales activity for seniors housing properties for the previous 12 months totaled $17.2 billion – up 42 percent compared to the same period a year ago. Nursing care facilities saw an even bigger rise of 118 over that same period to total $7.3 billion in sales, according to Real Capital Analytics.


4. Multifamily Investors Bid in Secondary, Tertiary Markets

Investors are now buying apartment properties in big numbers in smaller cities and towns. $16.2 billion were the apartment market sales in secondary and tertiary markets for the first quarter of 2015. Property prices are also rising quickly in secondary and tertiary markets.

5.  5 Ways 2015 Looks a lot like 2007 

money funding
  1. When Real Capital Analytics released their latest Commercial Property Price Indices (CPPI) report in early October, the all-property composite index was up 1.5 percent in inflation-adjusted terms compared to November 2007, with prices for multifamily, industrial and urban office properties already higher than their pre-recession peaks. 
  2. Where can you buy a REIT? In 2006, private equity firm Blackstone Group announced the acquisition of Sam Zell’s Equity Office Properties Trust for a record-breaking $39 billion. 
  3. Sam Zell makes an exit. He sold the company, Equity Office Properties Trust, just before the tides turned. Then in October 2015, Zell made the headlines again. This time for selling 23,000 apartment units owned by Equity Residential to Starwood Capital Group for $5.37 billion.
  4.  In 2006, the $5.4 billion sale of New York’s Stuyvesant Town and Peter Cooper Village multifamily community to a venture of Tishman Speyer and BlackRock Inc. eventually came to show everything that was wrong with the previous boom era. The $5.4 billion price tag reportedly included a $3 billion CMBS loan, $1.3 billion in additional loans, approximately $1 billion raised from various equity investors and only $56 million from Jerry and Rob Speyer’s wallets. Jump to October 2015, and Stuy Town is trading again. A joint venture of Blackstone and Canadian real estate investment firm Ivanhoe Cambridge agreed to pay $5.3 billion to take the complex off the auction block, where it ended up after Tishman Speyer walked away from it in 2010. 
  5. There is a new investment strategy called real estate crowdfunding – it allows multiple investors to place their money in real properties and real estate loans through online marketplaces. The investors don’t know each other, don’t manage the properties themselves and may not even know all that much about commercial real estate.

6. Private Equity Pours Money Into Self-Storage Deals

According to a recent quarterly industry survey, Investors are crowding into self-storage as the sector continues to post the highest long-term returns of any commercial property type. About 80 percent of self-storage properties are owned by mom-and-pop type businesses. But according to Marc Boorstein, a principal with Chicago-based MJ Partners Self Storage Group, private equity is starting to enter the sector. Investors have flocked to this industry because of how quickly rents can be increased. 

7. The Walgreens/Rite Aid Merger


The drug store sector continues to consolidate, much like other retail sectors. Walgreens Boots Alliance, Inc. recently announced plans to acquire Rite Aid. The $17.2 billion deal will likely have a significant impact on the retail real estate industry, particularly the net lease sector. Rite Aid will be a wholly-owned subsidiary of Walgreens Boots Alliance, upon completion of the merger.

8. The Rise of Micro-Unit Apartments

Micro-units represent a small but growing niche of the real estate multi-housing market. These units are about the size of a hotel room, but that varies depending on where you are. According to a report by the Urban Land Institute (ULI), a micro-unit might be 300 square feet of living space in New York City or 500 square feet in Dallas. The appeal is clear for investors and developers. ULI has found that smaller units have higher overall occupancy rates than mid-sized or larger units, and calculates that rental prices of these units – averaging $2.647 per sq.ft. – are up to 81 percent higher than larger units.

9. What the Bond Market Tells Us About Real Estate Prices

bond market
There is a correlation between the bond market and commercial real estate, and that could mean that there are some definite changes ahead. Although real estate cap rates have yet to follow bond rates higher, many believe this is what’s in store for the market. Rising interest rates will likely trigger higher cap rates. However, it remains to be seen whether a rise in cap rates will signal a subsequent drop in real estate prices, or whether fundamentals will remain strong enough amid an improving economy that properties could maintain current pricing levels, or even see a further rise in prices. 

10. New Investors Rush Into Student Housing 

New investors are piling in the market for student housing properties. They are impressed with how student housing performed through the Great Recession. Prices for apartment properties overall fell by about 20 percent, but average prices per bed for student housing properties stayed strong. Bidding wars are driving prices higher and investors are accepting cap rates as low as 5.5 percent for student housing properties within walking distance of tier-one universities. For tier-two or tier-three schools with a shuttle bus ride away, investors are accepting 7.5 percent cap rates.

Monday, April 18, 2016

Five San Francisco Real Estate Dynasties

1.       Bechtel Family
Warren A. Bechtel started Bechtel engineering and construction company in 1923. He was only
25 years old. The Bechtel family is known for famous projects such as the Hoover Dam, the
Channel Tunnel, Crossrail London and the Tacoma Narrows Bridge. Warren A. Bechtel died
unexpectedly during the Hoover Dam Project, so his son Stephen D. Bechtel Jr. took over
in 1960.

2.       Berg Family
Berg & Berg Enterprises was founded by brothers Clyde and Carl Berg. Carl Berg, former partner
of John Sobrato, owns Microsoft’s Mountain View Campus (pictured below) and some buildings
leased by Apple. He acquired Mission West properties in 1997 and sold it for $1.3B in 2012.
Carl’s latest project, Berg Pharma, helps find modern treatments for some of the world’s most
widespread diseases.  

3.       Sobrato Family
John A. Sobrato started the Sobrato Organization in 1979. But that wasn’t the first company
founded by this famous family. The senior Sobrato, John Mossimo Sobrato, owned a popular San
Francisco restaurant called John’s Rendezvous. After his father’s death in 1952, Ann Sobrato sold
the restaurant and used the proceeds to begin investing in real estate. John A. Sobrato’s son took
over the Sobrato Organization in 1979, and by 2013 they both announced that they were moving
away from managing the operations of the company to focus on charitable activities. In 2015,
John A. Sobrato and his wife offered the biggest ever pledge to the University of San Francisco
worth $15 million.

4.       Shorenstein Family
Walter Shorenstein bought Shorenstein Co in 1960. At that time it was named Milton Meyer and
Co, he changed the name in 1989. Walter passed away in 2010, and at the time of his death,
Shorenstein Company owned 130 buildings totaling at least 28,000,000 square feet of office
space. Walter’s son, Douglas W. Shorenstin, ran the company until this past November, when he
lost his battle with cancer. Some high profile properties that the Shorenstein Company purchased
was the Starrett-Lehigh Building in New York City, Chicago’s John Hancock Tower and New
York’s Park Avenue Tower.

5.       Wallace Family
Wallace Realtors was opened in 1928 by father-son duo William and Ed Wallace. Ed’s son, Clark,
joined his father and grandfather’s company in 1958. One of their biggest deals was the sale of
the 5,000 remaining acres of the 8,000-acre Moraga ranch to Utah Construction and Mining Co
for $4M in 1953. Today, the company is still run by Ed’s son, Clark.

Thursday, March 31, 2016


The Wrigley Mansion was built in 1932 by chewing gum personality William Wrigley Jr. William Wrigley Jr. designed this house as a 50th anniversary gift for his wife. The mansion sits on top of a hill and has gorgeous 360-degree views of the mountains and the city below. Georgie and Jamie Hormel purchased the property in 1992 and they restored it with the intention of sharing its magic with everyone. Today Wrigley Mansion is a popular destination for weddings and special events, as well as the popular restaurant Geordie’s Steak restaurant and lounge.

In 1830 Valcour Aime, known as the “King of Sugar”, purchased the land that Oak Alley Plantation now sits on. In 1836, Valcour Aime exchanged this piece of property with his brother-in-law Jacques Telesphore Roman for a plantation owned by Roman. By 1837, Jacques Roman began building the present mansion under the oversight of George Swainy and entirely with enslaved labor. They completed the mansion in 1839. There have been several owners throughout the years, as most of them could not afford the cost of upkeep. Josephine Stewart was the last owner to olive in the residence. She left the house and grounds to the Oak Alley Foundation when she died in 1972, which opened the plantation up to the public.

The Robert Frost farm is in Derry, New Hampshire that Robert Frost lived in from 1900 to 1911. The majority of poems in his first two books were written here. The property was declared a National Historic Landmark in 1968. The property is a New Hampshire State Park and is open to the public seasonally.

Otto Hermann Kahn built Oheka Castle in the middle of a 443-acre plot on the highest point on Long Island in Cold Spring Harbor, for an estimated $11 million. The French-style chateau is the second largest private residence ever built in America. The 109,000 square foot home consists of 127 rooms. Developer Gary Melius purchased Oheka in 1984 with the intent of restoring the Castle to its original grandeur.  After $30 million in restoration, the Castle is nearly fully restored.

In 1934, President Franklin D. Roosevelt created The Dyess Colony to aid in the nation’s economic recovery from the Great Depression. The community provided a fresh start for nearly 500 impoverished Arkansas farm families, including the family of music legend Johnny Cash. The colony has been restored and opened to visitors in August 2014. Johnny Cash’s boyhood home is furnished as it was when the Cash family lived there. Tours are given Mondays through Saturdays.

Samuel Clemens (aka Mark Twain) and Olivia “Livy” Clemens hired New York architect Edward Tuckerman Potter to design their house on Farmington Avenue in Hartford, Connecticut. Construction began in August 1873 and the family moved into the house on September 19, 1874. Twain wrote, “To us, our house…had a heart, and a soul, and eyes to see us with; and approvals and solicitudes and deep sympathies; it was of us, and we were in its confidence and lived in its grace and in the peace of its benediction.” Financial problems forced the Clemens to move to Europe in 1891. The family never lived in Hartford again.

Alfred I. DuPont was an American industrialist, financier, and philanthropist. In 1907 Alfred married Alicia, his second wife. He loved showering her with grandiose gifts and one gift being the spectacular new house that he built for her on a 3,000-acre plot of land in Wilmington, Delaware. They named the estate Nemours after the French town that his great-great-grandfather represented in the French Estates General.

Ernest Hemingway purchased the Key West home in 1931 for $8,000 in back taxes from the City of Key West. It still contains the furniture that he and his family used. The cats that live on the property are descendants of the cats he had while he lived in the house.  The house is built from limestone that was excavated directly from the ground beneath. It is believed that the stone was all hand cut since there were no power tools available at that time. Today the house serves as a museum. The estate still remains to be the single largest residential property on the island of Key West.

George Vanderbilt began construction on his 250-room French Renaissance chateau in 1889. Taking over six years to complete, the Biltmore House is the largest undertaking in residential architecture. In 1895, Vanderbilt opens Biltmore to friends and family. The finished home contains over four acres of floor space, including 35 bedrooms, 43 bathrooms, and 65 fireplaces. The estate attracts almost 1 million visitors each year and was designated a National Historic Landmark in 1964.

In the spring of 1957, at the age of just 22, Elvis Presley purchased Graceland for just over $100,000. When Elvis purchased Graceland, he was working on his second motion picture, “Loving You,” with “Jailhouse Rock” to follow. Elvis had various homes in the Los Angeles area and spent a lot of time on the road. However, Graceland was always home base – a constant in the life of Elvis Presley. Today, you can tour Graceland and get a glimpse into the personal life of Elvis Presley.

Monday, March 14, 2016


1.       Santa Barbara Museum of Art

Located at 1130 State Street in downtown Santa Barbara, California. Home to both permanent and special collections, the museum was founded in 1941. The building itself was at one time the Santa Barbara Post Office (1914 – 1932). Chicago architect David Adler created the Museum’s galleries. Today, the Museum’s 60,000 square feet include exhibition galleries, a Museum Store, Café, a 154- seat auditorium, a library containing 50,000 books and 55,000 slides, a Family Resource Center dedicated to participatory interactive programming and an 11,500 square foot off site facility, the Ridley-Tree Education Center at McCormick House. The Museum’s mission is to integrate art into the life of the community. They have over 40 educational programs reaching more than 40,000 people each year. 

2.       Santa Barbara Museum of Natural History
Founded in 1916, the Santa Barbara Museum of Natural History is the oldest museum in Santa Barbara, California. Located in Mission Canyon, directly behind the Santa Barbara Mission. The campus occupies 12 acres. The museum has 5,700 members and more than 150,000 people visit each year. Albert Einstein visited the museum with his wife in 1931 and remarked, “I can see that this museum has been built by the work of love.”

3.       Santa Barbara Historical Museum
The museum is located at 136 East De la Guerra in the heart of historic downtown Santa Barbara, built in 1965 by the Santa Barbara Historical Society. It features relics from Chumash, Spanish, Mexican, Yankee and Chinese cultures, including artifacts, photographs, furnishings and textiles dating as far back as the 15th century. 

4.       Mission Santa Barbara
The Santa Barbara Mission was founded by Padre Fermin Lasuen on December 4, 1786, the feast day of Saint Barbara, as the tenth mission for the religious conversion of the indigenous local Chumash-Barbareno tribe of Native American people. Today, the Santa Barbara Mission continues to serve the community as a parish church. It also contains a gift shop, a museum, a Franciscan Friary, and a retreat house. The grounds are a primary tourist attraction in Santa Barbara. The Mission is owned by the Franciscan Province of Santa Barbara, and the local parish rents the church from the Franciscans. 

5.       Santa Barbara Botanic Garden
The Santa Barbara Botanic Garden is located in Mission Canyon, Santa Barbara, containing over 1,000 species of rare and indigenous plants. The garden sits on 78 acres and the purpose is the display California native plants in natural settings. There are about 5.7 miles of hiking trails within the garden. The Garden was founded by landscape architect Beatrix Farrand in 1926. There is a rock dam that was constructed in 1806 by Native Americans under the direction of the Spanish padres of the adjacent Mission Santa Barbara. The Garden became a Santa Barbara County Landmark in 1983. Part of the Botanic Garden was burned in the Jesusita Fire on May 6, 2009. Several buildings were destroyed by the fire and have not yet been replaced. Garden displays have recovered from the fire. 

6.       Santa Barbara Maritime Museum
The Santa Barbara Maritime Museum opened its doors in July 2000, inside the Santa Barbara Waterfront Center (formerly the Naval Reserve Building). There are many different events including lectures, tastings, celebrations, special gatherings, and private meetings and parties. The Santa Barbara Maritime Museum also offers educational programs such as: Marine Science Program – For two weeks, about 400 children from elementary schools and after school programs participate, many of whom have never been out on the ocean or on a boat. Another program is the Tall Ship Program. This program allows students to spend the night aboard a tall ship living the life of an 1830’s sailor. They also offer a Science Night Program and a Book Club. 

7.       Karpeles Manuscript Library Museum
The Karpeles Manuscript Library is the world’s largest private collection of original manuscripts and documents. David and Marsha Karpeles, California real estate magnates, founded the library in 1983. All of the Karpeles Manuscript Library services are free. There are 11 different Karpeles Manuscript Library Museum’s around the US. The world’s largest private holding of important original documents and manuscripts is located at 21 W. Anapamu Street in Santa Barbara, California. 

8.       El Presidio de Santa Barbara State Historic Park
The El Presidio de Santa Barbara is a former military installation in Santa Barbara. The Presidio was built by Spain in 1782. The park houses an original adobe structure called El Cuartel, which is the second oldest surviving building in California. The Santa Barbara Presidio was both military headquarters and governmental center of the region that is now San Luis Obispo County to and including the Pueblo of Los Angeles. El Presidio de Santa Barbara is located at 123 East Canon Perdido, between Anacapa and Santa Barbara Streets in downtown Santa Barbara. It sits across from the Santa Barbara Post Office. 

9.       Museum of Contemporary Art Santa Barbara
The Museum of Contemporary Art Santa Barbara was founded in 1976 by artists and supporters seeking a venue that was dedicated solely to contemporary art. There is no admission fee because MCASB believes that the arts should be accessible to all audiences of all persuasions. There are several different education projects put on by the MCASB which can be found on their website

10.    Casa Dolores
Casa Dolores, Center for the Study of the Popular Arts of Mexico is an art museum located on 1023 Bath Street in Santa Barbara, California. The museum is located in the Botiller Adobe house that was built in 1843, the oldest standing two-story adobe in Santa Barbara. The house was purchased by Linda Cathcart in 2007. The Museum houses art historian Linda Cathcart’s collection of over 6,000 objects in various media: clay, wood, ceramic, natural fibers, leather, paper, glass, clay, and tin. Some artists whose work is displayed include Josefina Aguilar, Teodora Blanco, Candelario Medrano, Abelardo Ruiz, Rosa Real de Nieto and the Linares family.

Monday, January 11, 2016

5 Remarkable Historic Sites You Need to See in Santa Barbara

The city of Santa Barbara has a rich history, dating back to the Chumash Indians who had lived on the land for thousands of years prior to the area’s discovery by Portuguese explorer Juan Cabrillo in 1542. In 1602, Sebastian Vizcaino would name the area for Saint Barbara, whose feast day fell on December 4, the day Vizcaino first sailed into the Santa Barbara Channel.

This period of discovery would be followed by the development of missions at the hands of Franciscan monks, along with the influence of American settlers in later centuries. Together, the accumulation of architecture and cultural traditions help make Santa Barbara a historic city with a distinct local flavor. Because of the early historic preservation efforts undertaken by the city, many of Santa Barbara’s most important sites remain intact and open for visitors.

The following five sites located in the city pay homage to a past steeped in many cultures, and provide visitors with an excellent way to spend a day exploring and learning about the city’s history.

1. El Presidio de Santa Barbara State Historic Park

Established on 5.5 acres of land, El Presidio de Santa Barbara State Historic Park is the site of the city’s fourth and final military outpost constructed by the Spanish. Erected in 1782, the Spanish word “presidio” translates to “fortress” in English, an accurate word for the quadrangle, which is surrounded by an outer wall equipped with two cannons.

Image courtesy user Al R on Flickr

Within the walls of the Presidio, visitors can independently explore restored replicas of buildings such as the Chapel, Padres’ Quarters, and Comandancia, as well as El Cuartel, a guardhouse that is the second-oldest surviving structure in the state of California. The park is open every day from 10:30 a.m. to 4:30 p.m., and charges a $5 admission fee for adults.

2. Old Mission Santa Barbara

The Spanish Franciscans orchestrated the construction of 21 missions in the state of California, and the Old Mission in Santa Barbara was the tenth to be established. The registered historic landmark received a special designation among the 21 as “Queen of the Missions,” and is the only mission in the state that has continuously been run by Franciscans since its foundation.

Image courtesy Wally Gobetz on Flickr

Settled on a hilltop downtown, the mission complex encompasses gardens, a historic cemetery, and a museum, as well as the church itself. The external architecture of the church retains a Spanish colonial style, and the inside is decorated with original paintings and artistic pieces created by the Chumash people. Visitors can choose between self-guided or docent-guided tours of the mission between the hours of 9:00 a.m. and 5:00 p.m. daily.

3. Chumash Painted Cave State Historic Park

Outside of the city, a cave carved into massive limestone boulders offers locals and tourists the opportunity to see paintings of the ancient Chumash people firsthand. Though the exact age of the paintings is not known, academics estimate that that they were created sometime around the early 17th century. The colorful pictures were drawn with paint made from minerals found in the area. After being mixed with a binder, they were then applied to cave walls using fingers or animal-tail brushes.

Image courtesy David Seibold on Flickr

Chumash Painted Cave State Historic Park is located about half an hour outside of the city, three miles south of the San Marcos Pass. The cave is open from sunrise to sunset each day, and is accessed via a steep and narrow road unfit for RVs or trucks with trailers. Layered clothing is recommended, as the cave’s location within the canyon can make the climate cool year-round.

4. Stearns Wharf

Built by John Peck Stearns in 1872 to help make cargo transfer from ship to land easier in the Santa Barbara Channel, Stearns Wharf is the oldest wooden wharf in the state still in operation. Because of the wharf’s construction, incoming ships were able to anchor offshore at low tide, which effectively solved the problem of Santa Barbara’s inaccessibility due to being surrounded by water and mountains.

Image courtesy user Brian on Flickr

At first, the wharf served predominantly as a transportation hub, but today functions as a popular merchant center, complete with restaurants, museums, and specialty shops.  This historic site is a necessary visit for anyone looking to eat fresh seafood, learn about marine life, and pick up local souvenirs.

5. Casa del Herrero

A sweeping historic estate designed by George Washington Smith, Casa del Herrero was home to George Fox Steedman, the owner of machine shop and foundry Curtis & Co. Translated from Spanish, “Casa del Herrero” means “house of the blacksmith.”

This local landmark is a testament to the period between the late 19th and early 20th centuries when estate owners took it upon themselves to express their artistic tastes through the construction of elaborate homes and gardens. Completed in 1925, the home took four years and multiple architects to finish, with antique pieces such as tiles and furniture imported directly from Spain.

The house is done in the Spanish Colonial Revival style, and features white stucco walls, many arches, intricate tiles, and ornate ironwork. Additionally, the lush gardens that extend behind the main house are among the most breathtaking in the city, punctuated by tiled pools, outdoor rooms, and decorative benches.