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

Registered: 09/23/01
Posts: 330
Loc: Portland, OR

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.

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

#33082 - 05/08/02 11:25 AM Re: Going to San Francisco
blithe spirit
Ching Shih

Registered: 10/12/01
Posts: 513
Loc: Toronto, Ontario

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!
#33083 - 05/08/02 01:06 PM Re: Going to San Francisco
Ching Shih

Registered: 07/12/00
Posts: 175
Loc: Alameda, CA, USA

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.

#33084 - 05/08/02 04:13 PM Re: Going to San Francisco
Ching Shih

Registered: 06/01/00
Posts: 4604
Loc: Santa Cruz, CA, USA

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).]

#33085 - 05/08/02 04:15 PM Re: Going to San Francisco
Ching Shih

Registered: 06/02/00
Posts: 1754
Loc: Northern California

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.

#33086 - 05/08/02 06:25 PM Re: Going to San Francisco
Ching Shih

Registered: 07/12/00
Posts: 175
Loc: Alameda, CA, USA

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).]

#33087 - 12/04/02 04:40 PM Re: Going to San Francisco
Ching Shih

Registered: 03/18/02
Posts: 113
Loc: Calgary, Alberta, Canada

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.

#33088 - 12/05/02 04:35 AM Re: Going to San Francisco
Gráinne ni Mhaille

Registered: 11/05/02
Posts: 17

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!

#33089 - 12/05/02 08:24 AM Re: Going to San Francisco
Ching Shih

Registered: 04/19/02
Posts: 318
Loc: Buffalo, NY, USA, Earth, The U...

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.

#33090 - 12/05/02 12:30 PM Re: Going to San Francisco
Ching Shih

Registered: 05/23/01
Posts: 512
Loc: Chicago, IL, USA

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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