11 Things You May Not Know About Bay Area History

Kensington is a vibrant small community located in a BIG and thriving area: the San Francisco Bay region.

And it’s a pretty amazing region, too, with a rich, interesting history. Here are 11 things you may not know about the history of the San Francisco Bay area:

  • There is no official designation as to what constitutes the San Francisco Bay area. The exact boundaries will differ depending on the source.
  • The area has been inhabited by humans since at least 3000 BC, and some evidence points to even older settlements in the region.
  • The first European to claim land in the area was Sebastian Rodriguez Cermeno, a Spanish explorer who landed here in 1575. Sir Francis Drake landed in the area a few short years later. But interestingly, neither actually discovered the San Francisco Bay. That would take another two centuries!
  • The bay was discovered by Europeans by Gaspar de Portolà in 1769. Further expeditions followed, and then came settlements.
  • In 1821, the Bay Area became a province of Mexico, populated by ranchers and trappers.
  • Just 25 years later, the area was declared part of the independent Republic of California. The Mexican-American War started immediately after, and California would become part of the United States.
  • For a time, the capital of California bounced around between three Bay Area cities: San Jose, Vallejo, and Benicia. It wasn’t until 1854 that the state settled on Sacramento.
  • The great earthquake of 1906 was a disaster that killed thousands according to modern estimates, and destroyed over 28,000 buildings. There is no telling what the devastation would have been like in modern times.
  • During the 1929 market crash that helped plunge the nation into the Great Depression, banks all across the nation failed except in San Francisco, where not a single bank failed. Not even one!
  • Following World War II, the United Nations was chartered to prevent such a conflict from ever happening again – and it was chartered in San Francisco.
  • World War II also ended in San Francisco – sort of. When Japan finally officially surrendered to the Allied Forces, the ceremony took place in the city.

Interesting stuff, right? And that’s only scratching the surface when it comes to getting to know one of the country’s most lively, interesting regions. No wonder we love living and working here!

5 Common Dental Fears (And How to Get Over Them)

It’s not unusual to be afraid of the dentist. A lot of people are. There's much less reason to be in the modern world, but we've talked to enough patients to know what those still-common fears are.

No worries! We can alleviate most of them!

Below are some of the most common fears when it comes to the dentist and what you should keep in mind when they worry you.

Getting Bad News

You might avoid the dentist because you don’t want to learn that you need major work done. We get it! No one likes bad news, and we’re all insecure about our dental habits. 

The truth, though, is that if you have taken care of your teeth it’s not likely you’ll get bad news. And hey, even if you DO, that’s not a bad thing. Spotting a problem when there is still time to fix it is a positive thing!

Remember a Bad Experience

Some people were frightened at the dentist when they were kids. We get how that bad memory could linger, but you’re older, wiser, stronger, and smarter now.

That’s why you’re reading this! A childhood experience shouldn’t stop you from enjoying good oral health.

Afraid of Pain

The truth is, these days your visit to your dentist is almost guaranteed to be pain free. Modern dental techniques have improved dramatically when compared to the old days. Dental procedures are more painless than ever before, and usually have you in and out of the office in no time.

You Don’t Want to Be Scolded

Believe it or not, we get this one a lot. No one likes to be told they’vebeen doing a bad job with their teeth. We get it.

Just keep in mind that if your dentist has feedback for you about your oral health – and it’s feedback, not a scolding! – it’s for a reason. Their job is to look out for you! Even better, what they point out to you can help you in avoiding procedures in the future.

You’re Anxious

This is something you can handle. Often, your fear of the dentist is an extension of your existing condition. The best option is to tell your dentist up front about your anxiety. They can help ensure your experience is much better than you expected!

5 Gorgeous California State Parks To Hike This Summer

There are many things we love about being in Kensington, but one of the things we love most is the amazing access we have to truly stunning state parks.

We have many fantastic local and county parks, too, but in many ways the state parks are the crowning jewels of the area. Here are five you HAVE to visit this summer:

Mount Tamalpais State Park

Rising up out of Marin County just north of the Golden Gate Bridge, climbing to a height of nearly 2,600 feet and boasting views that stretch all the way out of the Farallon Island, Mount Tamalpais State Park is a local treasure with plenty to do.

After you’re done at the visitor’s center up top, see what plays and programs are taking place at the Mountain Theater down below. You can even camp for the weekend in rustic old cabins.

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Crown Memorial State Beach

When you hear the word “beach” you probably conjure up images of fun in the sun, surf and sand, but Crown Memorial State Beach is something different.

This historic park looking out over the San Francisco Bay features a bird sanctuary, lovely trails, boating and board sports, and picnicking. And yes, of course there is swimming, too!

McLaughlin Eastshore State Park

One of the most gorgeous destinations on the San Francisco Bay and a testament to the power of open space preservation, the McLaughlin Eastshore State Park boasts 8.5 miles of shoreline and over 1,800 acres of uplands – and it’s all beautiful.

Trails for hikers and bikes crisscross the entire park, offering spectacular views of the bay and summer day you’ll never forget.

 

Mount Diablo State Park

A whopping 20,000 acres comprised of 38 preserves, with an even larger 90,000 acres total on or around Mount Diablo, this state park and its surrounding lands offers stunning views, fantastic hiking, some of the best camping in the area, and plenty of history.

It’s a short drive from Kensington, and the fact that the mountain has one of the best viewsheds in the western U.S. makes it a great destination for anyone who wants their jaw dropped. The Diablo Valley Overlook is a must-see!

San Bruno Mountain State Park

This unique open space on the peninsula is over 2,400 acres strong, with rugged landscapes, excellent trails, endangered wildlife, and much more. Its unique location means it can be cool here even in the summer, sometimes even downright chilly, which makes hiking here a great choice for the adventurous.

5 of Our Favorite Places to Eat in Kensington

There is a lot to like about living and working in Kensington – amazing people, great local businesses, and more – and perhaps one of the most enjoyable is going out to eat at one of the town’s amazing eateries.

Here are five of our favorites:

Benchmark Pizzeria 

You can never go wrong with pizza, and when it comes to artisan pizza made from scratch every time, with fresh ingredients, it doesn't get much better than Benchmark.

They're not just pizza, either. This "Cal-Italian" place has all the traditional dishes you'd expect, plus some eye-openers that could only come from California.

The spicy carrot salad is a winner, and the squash and kale pizza is like nothing you've ever had. Finish things off with some organic ice cream and you've got a great afternoon or night out!

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Inn Kensington 

This is right across from our office, and has been a favorite for years. It's not just the convenient location, however. As most people from here know, the Inn Kensington couldn't be more homey and comfortable.

They serve consistently good food for breakfast, lunch, and dinner. It's always there when you need it, and they always have friendly service. It's pretty much the perfect neighborhood restaurant.

Kensington Fine Foods 

There is nothing quite like a local deli that specializes in fresh foods and local produce. That’s what Kensington Fine Foods does. Their deli is located at 285 Arlington Ave, and it’s worth a visit.

Their array of traditional deli sandwiches are great, and vegetarians will love the Vegetarian Club with portobello mushrooms, roasted red peppers, caramelized onions, smoked mozzarella, with olive and basil pesto on sourdough. 

Semifreddi’s Bakery

We all get a sweet tooth sometimes – yes, even us dentists! Semifreddi’s is one of the best places to satisfy that sweet tooth. Since 1984, they have been providing the San Francisco Bay area with amazing breads and pastries that are miles better than anything else you’ll find in the grocery store.

The cookies, the French pastries, the huge array of artisanal breads, plus their café menu of gourmet sandwiches, Paninis, soups and more. Delicious. You’ll see their packaged products in stores throughout the region, but their café at 372 Colusa Ave is where you want to visit.

Kensington Circus 

Every town needs a family-friend neighborhood pub and restaurant, and Kensington is no exception. We’ve got Kensington Circus, and it’s easy to see why people in the area love it.

It’s not just because the place feels warm and cozy and welcoming, or for the live music on Friday and Saturday nights. It’s because the food is great (lots of well done traditional pub food), so is the service, and they have an excellent drink menu.

This is an old school style pub and restaurant, and we can’t imagine it any other way!

11 Cool Things You Didn’t Know About Kensington, CA

There are many reasons we love being in Kensington, CA, the people chief among them.

But there are others, too, one of which is simple: there is some very interesting trivia surrounding the town! Don’t believe us? Take a look at this list of 11 facts about Kensington. We bet at least a few of them will make you say, “Hmm, that’s pretty cool.”

1. Kensington is an unincorporated community – in other words, it is not governed by its own incorporated municipal government, it’s more of an “unofficial” town – but unlike most unincorporated towns, it runs its own police department, parks, and more.

2. Kensington was named after South Kensington, a borough of London.

3. Many attempts have been made over the years to absorb Kensington into El Cerrito, but voters have repeatedly resisted such measures.

4. El Cerrito would not exist without the 1906 San Francisco Earthquake. Refugees from that disaster cleared out of the city and settled in what was known as Don Víctor Castro's Rancho San Pablo. By 1909, a post office had opened there. The town was incorporated in 1916, and El Cerrito was born.

5. Most towns in the region have grown over the years, but not Kensington. The town’s population of roughly 5,000 residents is actually well below its peak of 6,600 in 1950.

6. Physicist J. Robert Oppenheimer, known as the “father of the atomic bomb,” lived at 10 Kenilworth Court during World War II. At the time, he was conducting top secret work on the atomic bomb.

7. Kensington’s mid-block pedestrian paths were created thanks to a streetcar line that used to run through town, the Key System. The Key System connected Oakland, Berkeley, El Cerrito and others by streetcar until 1948, and by train until 1958.

8. Kensington is just one square mile in size.

9. The town plays a vital role in supplying the area with potable water. The pumping station in town is essential to moving water from the San Pablo Reservoir to the Summit Reservoir and other reservoirs throughout the East Bay region. Big thing for a small town!

10. Nearby El Cerrito’s boasts some notable musicians who are or once were residents, including John Fogerty (Credence Clearwater Revival), Thomas Pridgen (The Mars Volta, Suicidal Tendencies), Paul Baloff (Exodus), and Dave Mello (Operation Ivy).

11. To further the music connection, rock icons Metallica wrote their second and third albums(Ride the Lightning and Master of Puppets) in El Cerrito.

With a town as rich with interesting history, facts and trivia as Kensington – it is small only in size, not in spirit! – we’re surely missing a few interested tidbits. Let us know about them in the comments!

14 Screen Icons Famous For Their Smile

You don’t get to be a star of the silver screen without a winning smile, and that’s saying something, because here in California we have a LOT of winning smiles.

A nice smile isn’t enough, either. It’s got to be distinctive. It’s got to stand out from the crowd. It’s got to be recognizable.

We think that you’ll agree that when it comes to these 14 stars, their smiles are a big part of what makes them stand out. We bet their dentists are proud!

1. Julia Roberts – The “Pretty Woman” has one of the distinctive smiles in Hollywood, with a set if pearly whites that have helped make her a true icon.

2. Gary Busey – The eccentric Gary Busey has a BIG smile that makes him truly stand out. In fact, after a motorcycle accident in 1988, he had his dentists replace his damaged teeth with extra large veneers in order to maintain that distinctive smile.

3. Rita Hayworth – This redhead bombshell from the classic era of Hollywood had a dazzling smile and sensual appeal that made her an icon who is still beloved today.

4. Cary Grant – The classic film star was one of the most popular heartthrobs of his time thanks in part to his radiant smile.

5. Steve Buscemi – Buscemi makes his unconventional smile work for him. His amazing talent has been the key to his success, along with being one of the most likeable people in Hollywood.

6. Will Smith – Few actors are bigger than Will Smith, thanks in part to a winning smile that is recognized the world over.

7. Christie Brinkley – She was one of the most beautiful women of the 1980s and still is, thanks in no small part thanks to her charismatic smile.

8. Anna Paquin –Paquin’s gap-toothed smile has become a signature part of her look, making this True Blood actress stand out from the crowd and win legions of adoring fans.

9. Jim Carrey – Carrey’s elastic face has made millions laugh, but it’s not all goofy faces for Carrey. The man actually has a winning smile, too, which probably helped him become a superstar.

10. Audrey Hepburn – One of the most giving, kind women in Hollywood history may have also had the most lovely smile in Hollywood history, too, making her a true icon for anyone talking about famous distinctive smiles.

11. Jack Nicholson – Jack’s smile seems to have a sinister edge to it, which is what makes it so distinctive. He knows how to make it work for him, too, which is why he’s a screen legend.

12. Clint Howard – Clint Howard has had more roles than most actors can ever dream of. That’s thanks in part to him embracing his distinctive look and learning to make it work for him. He fits this list because when it comes to smiles, no one can forget Clint’s!

13. Farrah Fawcett – Her long blonde hair shown off when she was one of Charlie’s Angels made her famous, but her it’s the big, bright smile that kept her famous!

14. Morgan Freeman – Everyone imitates his manner of speaking, but think about it and you’ll realized that a lot of Freeman’s presence comes thanks to his distinctive smile

As these 15 stars indicate, a great smile – and a great dentist to help you maintain it – can go a long way towards getting people to notice you. Happy brushing!

5 Amazing Christmas Attractions in California

We may have warm weather and sunny skies and amazing beaches here in California, but let it never be said that we don’t have amazing Christmas celebrations, too. The following list is proof of that. 

We’ve gathered together five of our favorite Christmas attractions here in California. Some are close enough for a day trip. Some are totally unique. And all are worth seeing. Enjoy!

Chill Ice Kingdom, Queen Mary, Long Beach

Dozens of elaborate ice sculptures, a big replica of the Queen Mary, ice slides, and even a huge ice castle you can walk through are some of the highlights of this unique winter wonderland.

This year, expect an Alice in Wonderland theme. Get in your warm clothes, because it gets cold in this amazing display, then get ready for fun outside with ice skating and tubing. Holiday season sights don’t get any more unique than this, so take a drive to Long Beach with the family before it all melts away!

Candy Cane Making Demonstration, Logan’s Candies, Ontario

For many years now, Logan’s Candies in Ontario have been doing something REALLY cool during the Christmas season: they do nightly demonstrations of how they make their handmade candy canes.

This historic candy maker has been around since 1939, and in recent years these displays have become a huge draw during the holiday season. It’s really cool to see the process from start to finish, and you can see it up close and personal.

The store is very small, so get there early, becomes demonstrations fill up fast. Add bonus: the store also has the world’s largest candy cane, which is a whopping 30 pounds! Plus, you can buy warm, freshly made canes in the shop. Very cool! 

Ice Skating, Pershing Square, Los Angeles

Why should New York have a monopoly on Christmas-themed ice skating getaways? Sure, Rockefeller Center is famous, but so is Pershing Square in Los Angeles, which during the holiday season opens a large public ice skating rink for winter time fun in the California sun.

Skate, enjoy Christmas concerts, and recreate your favorite holiday moments with the family. It’s a lot of fun!

Ice Skating, Hotel Del Coronado, San Diego

If San Diego is more your speed, check out the Hotel Del Coronado for a uniquely Californian twist on the traditional holiday ice skating rink.

This one overlooks the beach, which we suspect is something not many other ice skating rinks can boast. Grab your skates and go enjoy the Christmas season on the ice! 

Danish Christmas Village, Solvang 

Yes, this one is a long drive, but if you find yourself deep in Southern California it’s worth a stop. This little historic town embraces its Danish heritage to the full during the holiday season, transforming itself into Santa’s village.

Visit the bakeries, enjoy some treats, see the lights, and escape the hustle and bustle of our more populated region. Not a bad way to get away! 

If you know of any other cool holiday attractions in our lovely state, tell us about them in the comments!