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#33081 - 05/08/02 10:59 AM Going to San Francisco
sunflwrpdx
Ching Shih


Registered: 09/23/01
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Loc: Portland, OR

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I'm going to San Francisco with my boyfriend next month. (Graduation gift from my mom.) This will be my first time down there and I was wondering if anyone had suggestions on what to do while we're down there: shops, food, sights, etc. We'll be down there for about 4 1/2 days.

Thanks,
an excited Brie
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If you don't risk anything you risk even more. -- Erica Jong

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#33082 - 05/08/02 11:25 AM Re: Going to San Francisco
blithe spirit
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Registered: 10/12/01
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Loc: Toronto, Ontario

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I was there a few years ago and just loved the city. Two things I did that were heaven. One was rent a bike down at the famous wharf and biked across the Golden Gate bridge (with a stop at the place where Kim Novak threw herself in the water in Vertigo) over to Sausalina (sure I've spelt that wrong) and then took the ferry back. The bike company gives you a full map and it's mostly bike paths - once over the bridge it's downhill all the way! Then go to Berkely and visit all the great bookstores - Moe's was a really memorable one - hope it is still there. And of course, ride the trolley cars! Have fun!
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#33083 - 05/08/02 01:06 PM Re: Going to San Francisco
sobell
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Registered: 07/12/00
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Loc: Alameda, CA, USA

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If you're at all into baseball, try to see a game at PacBell Park. The stadium is lovely and the views of the Bay are splendid, plus the ballpark food is some of the best I've ever had.

Spend a day at Golden Gate Park -- the upper end near the panhandle is within walking distance of the upper Haight/Cole Valley area, and lots of yummy restaurants. I like Cha-Cha-Cha on Haight, but if you're in a breakfasty kind of mood, you'll want to head down to the Haight/Fillmore area (many blocks' walk) and go to Squat and Gobble. My all-time favorite crepes place is Crepes on Cole (corner of Cole and Carl streets, a few blocks from the Kezar Stadium end of the park).

The other end of Golden Gate Park bumps up right against the Pacific. There's a brewing company that has a two-story restaurant on PCH -- the brew's great, the food less so but still entirely edible.

Be warned -- the park is 5 miles long, so you may want to either bring comfortable walking shoes, or only pick one part of the park to explore.

If you're down in the Pier 39 touristy area, I recommend heading a few blocks east to Levi Plaza and going to Il Fornaio for lunch or dinner. While you're in the Telegraph Hill area, take the time to climb up to Coit Tower.

As for shopping ... for window-shopping, nothing beats Fillmore street in Pacific Heights. When you get tired of looking, you can go to Washington Park and gawp at the views. I also like the Fillmore Street/Union Street area -- cute, with lots of shops within the few blocks area -- and can heartily recommend Zendo Urban Spa and Retreat for pampering, especially the facials.

Another fun shopping district -- Union Square. I can't speak to too many of the restaurants there, but the giant Macy's stores are fun, and there are street upon street of flagship stores for places like Banana Republic, Pottery Barn, and Williams-Sonoma. When you head toward Market Street, you'll be at San Francisco Shopping Center.

(note: you might want to bag a restaurant and just get a Jamba Juice to go. They're fantastic.)

If you've got a car, by all means head north or south. North: if you cross the Golden Gate Bridge into Marin, you can have two uniquely Californian experiences: eating at the In'n'Out (maker of the world's most delicious fast food) and hiking in Muir Woods where the redwoods stretch up for what seems like forever. South: I'd recommend going to Monterey, visiting the aquarium, and then heading to Carmel for dinner.

There really is so much to do -- I haven't even begun to scratch the surface in the Mission (eat at Ti-Couz if you're there) or the Castro, nor have I even talked about the East Bay (there's a fantastic French restaurant, Creme de la Creme, in the Rockridge neighborhood of Oakland, and if you want to see movies, go to the Parkview Cinema in the Lake Merritt District). What I recommend: buy a Fodor's and make a list of what you'd like to do -- it's hard to go wrong that way.

Alternately, feel free to email me. I'd be happy to provide more recommendations/suggestions/resources.

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#33084 - 05/08/02 04:13 PM Re: Going to San Francisco
Kivrin
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Registered: 06/01/00
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I think Sobell's given you at least 5 days worth...but... definitely walk around North Beach. There's a zillion little Italian restaurants. Be sure to eat in one of them. I like The Stinking Rose . I also ate in a great little place across from Washington Square Park but I can't remember the name. Yellow-checked tablecloths...lots of windows...yeah, I've just described about 15 places in the same block! Walk up Columbus Ave. to City Lights Bookstore . It's very cool.
There are a lot of stairway walks in the city. I was always fond of the The Filbert Stairs . I have no connection to that web site, but the photos are great!
One thing I used to do when I lived there 100 years ago, was to take the Muni Metro from downtown all the way out to the SF Zoo. You wind through a few neighborhoods on the way. The Zoo is right next to the ocean so you can also wander down to the beach fairly easily from there. Downtown around Union square is a blast too. Huge shops. A 3-story Borders on Post St., a 3-story toy store FAO Swartz, a 3-story Sanrio store...and a ton of other cool places to eat and drink and spend money. Wear good walking shoes. I usually make the mistake of wearing my four-inch heeled chunky boots--to be hip, you know. Man. Do I regret it by the end of the day! Take a jacket with you also. The weather is extremely changeable one minute to the next.
The Museum of Modern Art is always a good choice.

Oh! Chinatown. Don't forget to walk through Chinatown! It's like being on another planet.


[This message has been edited by Kivrin (edited May 08, 2002).]

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#33085 - 05/08/02 04:15 PM Re: Going to San Francisco
cat
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Registered: 06/02/00
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I just bumped up an older thread with some of my recommendations, which are very restaurant-centric. I second all of sobell's, too, especially Pac Bell Park.

I would also recommend Alcatraz, but call ahead for tickets--they sell out well in advance. If you are interested in going out on the Bay but miss Alcatraz tickets, Angel Island is different but gorgeous and a great place for a picnic or walk. Sausalito is nice too, as blithe spirit mentioned.

Look for the historical streetcars rather than just the cable cars; the historical ones are restored trolleys from all around the world and are lovely. They run mainly on the F-Market line (which goes to Fisherman's Wharf), but lately I've seen them on the J-Church and some other lines as well.

For shopping, I second sobell on Fillmore St. You might also like Polk St., north of the Tenderloin (I think above Pacific St. or so)

In Chinatown, Jackson Street is great--lots of interesting shops and sights along it, and it's not as touristy as Grant St. (Also, Stockton St. is great--lined with amazing fish and produce markets and butcher shops and so on, which are great for window shopping.) A lovely, quiet teahouse is the Imperial Tea Court, at Broadway and Powell--they serve teas in the traditional Chinese manner, and it's a wonderful place to sit. If you go to Golden Gate Park, I really love the Japanese Tea Garden; admission is cheaper (may be free, can't recall) if you go in the hour right before closing.

SFMOMA is definitely worth a visit, too, and there are plenty of other museums.

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#33086 - 05/08/02 06:25 PM Re: Going to San Francisco
sobell
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Kivrin just reminded me of an excellent book, Stairway Walks in San Francisco (you can see it on Amazon here ). I keep a copy in my car -- it's excellent for giving you directions to all these hidden urban gems. The way I got to know San Francisco was literally through neighborhood walks like these.

And I recommend checking out Cat's post in the other thread, especially for bookstores, and I'll put in a plug for The Booksmith in the upper Haight. It's a fun browsing experience.

Edited to add: there's a local joke that goes, "How can you tell the tourist in SF? They're the one wearing shorts." This is a snotty way of saying that the weather here is both capricious and chilly. Layers are your best friend, as they'll take you through a 50-degree foggy morning to a 75-degree blue-sky lunch and back to a 50-degree foggy evening. Your second-best friend: good walking shoes.


[This message has been edited by sobell (edited May 08, 2002).]

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#33087 - 12/04/02 04:40 PM Re: Going to San Francisco
evebackwards
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Registered: 03/18/02
Posts: 113
Loc: Calgary, Alberta, Canada

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i'm going to BERZEEERRRRRRRRRRRRRRRKELEY for ten days surrounding new years, to see my best friend who's at UC Berzerkeley (hee, i can't stop saying that. it's started to get obnoxious, i'm afraid. i can't totally describe the way i squeak every time i say it.) But some squeaking is absolutely called for. I mean.. really... the most bookstores per capita in North America. *dies of preconceived happiness* Gah!
On my list of things to see are:
The many bookstores on Telegraph and surrounding area
People's Park
The Mission, and in particular the Bearded Lady Cafe
Sather Tower
The Cal (UCB) library. five. million. volumes. need i say more?
the four different zine libraries i've read about in the Bay Area
Fisherman's Warf (I know it's a tourist trap..)
Comix Experience
Noah's Bagels
FAO Schwarz
real Mexican food. I'm Canadian and haven't had authentic Mexican food.

anything else I shouldn't miss?
_________________________
burn the books
they've got to many
names and psychoses
all this incriminating evidence
would surely haunt me
if someone broke into my house.

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#33088 - 12/05/02 04:35 AM Re: Going to San Francisco
candydarling
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eve, as long as you know pier 39/fisherman's wharf are tourist traps...those areas are so weird. I feel like I'm on another planet.

DEFINITELY go to the Mission. I recommend La Tacqueria which I think is at Mission and 24th about? I never eat pork tacos, but their carnitas is to die for. They almost always have a line and they also have really good fruit drinks. They always get "Best of the Bay."

And it might be a little out of the way, but if you can get to Mitchell's Ice Cream, which is on San Jose Street, it is definitely worth it. You have to take a number, and sometimes there are like forty people milling around outside, waiting for their number to be called. But they're very quick.

If you're in the Mission you can also walk a block to Valencia, (the two streets are parallel) home of some very good bookstores (Modern Times, Dog-Eared Books) and trendy vintage stores. Very San Francisco-ish place.

The Castro is always fun too, and so is seeing a movie at the Castro Theater, which is very beautiful. Though North Beach is touristy, it's worth going to. The Haight is also pretty touristy, but kind of fun. Golden Gate Park is beautiful also..I love my hometown! Yay San Francisco!

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#33089 - 12/05/02 08:24 AM Re: Going to San Francisco
sophietje
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Registered: 04/19/02
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Loc: Buffalo, NY, USA, Earth, The U...

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 Quote:
Look for the historical streetcars rather than just the cable cars; the historical ones are restored trolleys from all around the world and are lovely.
The streetcars are fun.
However, i do not recommend running after one and trying to leap on (while it's moving), like you may have seen in the movies. They yell at you, and probably won't even let you on anyways. Plus you might get run over and die.

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#33090 - 12/05/02 12:30 PM Re: Going to San Francisco
Masha
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Registered: 05/23/01
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Loc: Chicago, IL, USA

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If you're going to be in North Beach, City Lights Bookstore is a necessary pilgrimage spot. And just across the street (on William Saroyan Blvd., I believe) is Spex, the coolest hole-in-the-wall bar I've ever seen. Tosca is just down the street, and it has opera on the jukebox and is very fin-de-seicle and lovely.

What? I like bars.

And the very best carnitas are at a tiny storefront in Brisbane, just south of the city. If you're willing to make the journey, I can give directions.

I wish I had more Berkeley-specific advice, but I rarely made it over the bridge when I lived there. I did adore the Amoeba Music outpost across from Cody's Books, though.

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#33091 - 12/05/02 02:37 PM Re: Going to San Francisco
cat
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Registered: 06/02/00
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Masha, I pass through Brisbane every day on my commute--I had no idea that carnitas lurked there! Please give directions.

La Taqueria is definitely good (it's on Mission between 24th and 25th, east side of the street). El Farolito is more of a dive but has great tacos al pastor (their vegetarian tacos are also yummy).

If you're in Chinatown and need lunch, go not for Chinese food but for Vietnamese: the #40 with pork at Golden Flower on Jackson is the best lunch ever. (It's a rice noodle salad with imperial rolls and grilled meat. Yum, yum, yum. They also have good pho.)

In Berkeley, it's definitely fun to wander around campus and around Telegraph. Gourmet Ghetto in north Berkeley (near Chez Panisse) is fun too. College Ave. and Rockridge have good shopping, as do the Fourth Street shops in west Berkeley. There's lots of good food in the area--I can post East Bay recommendations if you like. if you like to swim, bring your suit and see if your friend can get you into the Julia Morgan-built pool at Cal. Since you mentioned the Berkeley libraries, definitely go hang out in the big reading room--lovely. If you have a car, you might want to drive up into the Berkeley hills, if it's clear, for the gorgeous views over the bay.

I posted a ton of SF recommendations in the other thread, which are still valid. I'll bump it up.

Oh, also, Mitchell's is great ice cream (locally made) and they have cool flavors, but you don't necessarily have to go to the shop (you'll get the best selection of flavors there, though)--lots of local places sell it.

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#33092 - 12/07/02 01:22 AM Re: Going to San Francisco
evebackwards
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Registered: 03/18/02
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Thanks for the suggestions, everyone. I think I'll print this page off and take it with me.
I was thinking of avoiding Fisherman's Wharf altogether, but there are sea lions, aren't there? They're the big reason I want to go, despite the warning that it'll be Wharfneyland.
If I plan to be walking around, should I invest in a raincoat?
How safe are SF and Berkeley? I'm petite and female, can I walk around alone at night?
No one I'm staying with has a car. Is there any way to get to the Berkeley hills without one?
_________________________
burn the books
they've got to many
names and psychoses
all this incriminating evidence
would surely haunt me
if someone broke into my house.

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#33093 - 12/09/02 12:27 PM Re: Going to San Francisco
Masha
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Registered: 05/23/01
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Loc: Chicago, IL, USA

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Wow, cat, even when I was living in Brisbane, it seemed like most Bay Area natives had never even noticed it. They must have their stars up by now; pretty, isn't it?

Ok, so for Brisbane carnitas, you turn toward the mountain off of Bayshore at the strip-mall-looking thing (there's a Subway there and a bank, among other things) stoplight. Then you follow the road up the hill, past the first stop sign, and there's a taco shop on the left. I don't remember the name of the shop, but the owner's name is Moises and he's quite nice.

I'd suggest other Brisbane attractions, but that's about all there is.

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#33094 - 12/09/02 03:27 PM Re: Going to San Francisco
Kivrin
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Registered: 06/01/00
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 Quote:
If I plan to be walking around, should I invest in a raincoat?
How safe are SF and Berkeley? I'm petite and female, can I walk around alone at night?
eve--definitely bring some rain gear! It's raining in this part of the planet at this very moment. The rains have indeed begun.
As far as walking around alone goes, I think it depends on the neighborhood, like most cities. When I lived in the Market St./ Mission area, I felt perfectly safe, but I think that's because it was my neighborhood. Some women would not have walked home after work at 2 in the morning alone like I did. I think if you stay aware of your surroundings, stick to well-lit areas, and mind your safety, walk with purpose, you'll be fine walking by yourself. Taxis are very easy to come by in SF and Berkeley too. You can always take a cab, if it's very late at night.
I second all of cat's Berkeley suggestions and add one more neighborhood in SF--Potrero Hill is a fun place to walk around as far as food goes. I'm assuming SF Barbeque is still there? And the lovely fantastic Klein's Deli? Great sandwiches!

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#33095 - 12/09/02 04:47 PM Re: Going to San Francisco
cat
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After my evening last night, I will add some Berkeley suggestions: First, eat at Breads of India (on Sacramento at Dwight). No reservations, tiny, bright, cash-only, best naan ever, delicious regional specialties and breads with an ever-changing menu. Highly recommended.

Also, I went to a great pub in Berkeley last night, the Albatross. Tons of games (I went with my brother for their trivia night--we led after three rounds but were killed on the music round and came in fifth), and friendly with good drinks and so on. It's on San Pablo a block and a half north of University. It seemed like a great place to hang out.

Edited to add: thanks, Masha! I think I should have said that I drive by Brisbane exit on the freeway--I didn't mean to imply that I pass through in a way that enables me to notice parts of the town. But I will seek out the carnitas some day soon. Anything for pork fried in its own fat, you know.

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#33096 - 12/10/02 01:26 AM Re: Going to San Francisco
candydarling
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Registered: 11/05/02
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 Quote:
Originally posted by evebackwards:
Thanks for the suggestions, everyone. I think I'll print this page off and take it with me.
I was thinking of avoiding Fisherman's Wharf altogether, but there are sea lions, aren't there?
Yeah, there are sea lions...but I don't know, I don't find it very fun myself. Actually, that area is funny because so few people who are there actually live in San Francisco. But I guess every city has touristy areas,
 Quote:

How safe are SF and Berkeley? I'm petite and female, can I walk around alone at night?
Me too, and whenever I take the bus late at night in the Mission, I get bothered by people. I still feel relatively comfortable in that area because it is my neighborhood, but it is not the safest place in the world. My parents get upset when I take the bus home late at night, but I think if you stick to well-lit places and stuff, it'll probably be okay.

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#33097 - 12/15/02 02:05 PM Re: Going to San Francisco
LauraT
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Registered: 05/04/01
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Loc: Redwood City, CA, USA

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Definitely go to City Lights - it's one of my favorite bookstores ever. And historic too. North Beach is a great area with lots of good restaurants.

Has anyone mentioned Coit Tower? It's touristy, but if you go up to the top you can get a great view of the city.

If you're going to go to Pier 39, keep on walking down toward the Marina and Fort Mason, and you can see some good views.

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#33098 - 05/11/03 12:01 AM Re: Going to San Francisco
Page
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Registered: 08/11/02
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Loc: Seattle, WA

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I went to SF with my sister last year-it was disgustingly fun, but I have to say that I found City Lights bookstore a little meh...

I did love North Beach, however. My favorite place was probably the MOMA, and the adjacent Yerba Buena park...mmm...art and sunshine!

I'm planning another trip this August, in celebration of my birthday, and I was just wondering if anyone had any tips for "SF on the cheap".

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#33099 - 06/30/03 03:04 PM Re: Going to San Francisco
slgorman
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Registered: 05/11/01
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Loc: Morgan Hill, CA, USA

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If it's not foggy, check out the great view from the peaceful UCSF Library . Enter off Parnassus, walk straight back past the reference section and pick out a comfy leather chair and enjoy. On a clear day you can see Golden Gate Park, the spires of the GG Bridge, the Marin Headlands, and if you look to the right downtown. It's free (unless you have to park) and near a MUNI stop (N-Judah line, exit at UCSF and follow the crowd up the elevators).
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#33100 - 07/11/03 04:38 PM Re: Going to San Francisco
rockfox
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Registered: 06/20/03
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A few tips for SF on the cheap:

Check out the Stern Grove Festival ,with free performances almost every weekend in the summer. If you go, dress warmly, it gets pretty foggy in that part of town.

You can get free and fun walking tours of San Francisco neighborhoods nearly every day through San Francisco City Guides .

Admission to the fantastic new Asian Art Museum is free the first Tuesday of every month.

Walks through Golden Gate Park and across the Golden Gate Bridge are amazing and are always free.

Also, you should check out the Guardian’s Best of the Bay , the Weekly’s Best of San Francisco , and the Chron’s Visitors Guide .

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#87591 - 03/13/09 11:53 AM Re: Going to San Francisco [Re: rockfox]
StephA
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Registered: 06/13/02
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Bumping up a very old thread to ask about things to do and see in San Francisco.

I've made notes about the things already mentioned in this thread, but the last post was over 5 years ago, I'm sure some things have changed.

Any new things (or now non-existant things) to tell us about?

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#87600 - 03/16/09 01:47 PM Re: Going to San Francisco [Re: StephA]
LaSalleUGirl
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Registered: 06/25/01
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OK, I'm kicking myself for not even realizing we had this thread. I just got back from San Francisco this morning, and I'm wishing I'd had some of the ideas from this thread. I can't speak to the specific restaurant suggestions on the previous page, but otherwise I'd second everything people have said here. We did spend considerable time at the Wharf, but we were in SF for a conference, which seriously limited the time we had for large-scale exploration (like Golden Gate Park or Muir Woods or even the SFMOMA).

I loved City Lights, and could have spent an entire afternoon or evening just wandering around the stacks in the basement. We had excellent fresh pasta at Cafe Pinocchio in North Beach, and though I can't swear it's the best option there, it was pretty dang good. We had a wonderful time walking through Chinatown. I wish we had had a little more time to explore that area. Kivrin told me yesterday that there's a park on top of one of the buildings that is frequented mostly by residents rather than tourists -- you might want to ask her exactly where that is, because it sounded awesome. I can't think of anything else specific right now, but if I remember anything else, I'll pop back in.

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#87604 - 03/16/09 05:57 PM Re: Going to San Francisco [Re: LaSalleUGirl]
Kivrin
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It's on top of a parking garage, and it's called Portsmouth Square. LSUG, I'm afraid I didn't explain it very clearly. I love walking through there because it's filled with the residents of Chinatown, animated old men and women playing Chinese chess games, children having fun on the play structures, etc...but it also has a strong historical significance-and lots of plaques to explain it all.

The SF Museum of Modern Art is definitely one amazing art museum, and another good art place to visit would be the de Young Museum in Golden Gate Park.

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#87744 - 04/25/09 02:32 AM Re: Going to San Francisco [Re: Kivrin]
Lady Agnew
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Registered: 10/07/00
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The new Academy of Sciences has opened up in the park -- I went on a free day because it's kinda pricey ($25), but the aquarium is awesome. They have an albino alligator! And a rooftop garden that is environmentally whiz-bang! It's in the middle of Golden Gate Park, facing the new De Young museum, and the day I went, it was beautifully sunny and there was a mini-outdoor concert as well as a sidewalk showing by various artists in the plaza.

I'll second the recommendation for the City Guide -- I've taken two tours, and they were worth it. Free, fun and informative. Gives you a good sense of the city.

My favorite shopping/browsing districts have got to be the Mission (along 16th street, and then down along Valencia -- must stop by Tartine Bakery for their bread pudding); Haight (former hippie town, now it's full of funky, avant-garde shops, vintage stores and fashion boutiques) and Clement (dim sum, dim sum, dim sum, and not as crazy as Chinatown, not that Chinatown is not awesome). There are a lot of great neighborhoods in the city, that even I -- born and bred -- haven't really explored. Take some of the City Guide tours and you'll end up somewhere interesting.

ETA: omg, the bestest ice cream in the city has got to be Bi-Rite, yum yum.... their brown butter pecan makes me see God.


Edited by Lady Agnew (04/25/09 02:34 AM)

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