Best Place to Race Your Model Yacht - 2009
Spreckels Lake was created in 1903 as a place for the town's citizenry to sail their model yachts, a charming notion that has endured through a century of war, strife, and economic deprivation. On any given Sunday, you're likely to see a regatta of scale-model steamboats, clippers, barges, trawlers, runabouts, ferries, and tugs — even submarines — maneuvering around the lake's thousand-foot girth and the big concrete turtle that emerges from its shallow depths. Many of the boats are intricately detailed works of seagoing craftsmanship belonging to the members of the San Francisco Model Yacht Club, established in 1898 and boasting its own WPA-era clubhouse on the west side of the lake. The club hosts races, regattas, and seamanship demos through the season (early March to late November), and might even lease you one of its gorgeous yachts for a spin around the lake if you don't have one of your own. Spreckels is open to powerboats from 10 a.m. to 1 p.m. and to free-sail boats from 1 to 4 p.m.; birds, fish, and turtles have the right of way.