I get asked constantly for my recommendation on what to do, see, and eat in San Francisco. I think if you asked 5 SF folks, you’d get 5 different answers. So keep in mind this is what I’d do if I was making a visit to the city. These are the places we would take our guests when they’d come - I’d LOVE to hear from other people on their favorite spots around town.
WHERE TO STAY:
- Stay in a gorgeous Victorian for a fraction of what a downtown hotel will cost you. Check out the Craigslist vacation rental section for full furnished apartments for rent by the night and by the week. There are a ton in our old neighborhood that rent for like $125 a night. Be careful of scams, obviously - but I’ve found great spots for visiting guests through Craigslist. Bonus: Alot of them are dog friendly.
- Check out some of the European style hotels like Metro Hotel. Very small, clean basic rooms for reasonable prices - but if you are taking advantage of what the city offers, you won’t be spending much time there anyway.
HOW TO TRAVEL
- If you want door to door service from the airport to your accomodations, try supershuttle.com. You’ll have to share a van ride with 3-4 other passengers, but it’ll cost you half the price of a taxi from the airport (a typical taxi ride from SFO to my front door average about $40-$45 bucks each way).
- Use MUNI and the BART - You can travel all over the city for $2.00 a person for a 4 hour time frame. (Save your receipt and hop on and off buses as needed!)
- Walk! San Francisco is one of the most walkable and bikable cities! Take advantage of the steep hills to work on your calf muscles. Brent was notorious for busting the toes out of his shoes for all the walking we did.
THINGS TO DO:
- Hike the Lands End trail and explore the Sutro Bath ruins at Ocean Beach. Bring your camera - the views are breathtaking.
- Plan an entire day to see the sights in Golden Gate Park: Buffalo Padack, Row boats and Chinese Pagoda and Stow Lake, Tea at the Japanese Rose Garden, Botanical Gardens, and the Dutch Windmill just to name a few. Hint: Rent bikes!!
- Chinatown & Japantown - you can spend a half day exploring each of these amazing neighborhood. Chinatown has some really fun kitschy shops to pickup silly souvenirs and Japantown has an awesome underground mall where you can get a boba tea, buy beautiful stationary and some amazing smelling incense to take home.
- Fisherman’s Wharf (although it is painfully touristy) has one of the cities BEST free museums: Musee Mechanique. It’s full of old carnival games and notions from the late 1800s and early 1900s. SO COOL. Bring a $10 bill and exchange it for a pocketfull of quarters and have at it. Also, be sure to bring a few dollar bills for the old -time photo machines. Skip the gross tourist spots - Hooters, Joe’s Cran shack, etc - for a bowl of seafood chowder in a bread bowl or a hot burger and fries from In and Out.
- Spend a half day exploring the Castro and Dolores Park. Stop in Cliff’s Variety to browse, Check out the boutiques on Castro. Have a bloody mary at Harvey’s. Grab a sandwich at Bi-rite grocery at Dolores park. Try the salted caramel ice cream at Bi-rite creamery.
- Rent a car for the afternoon. Drive to the top of twin peaks for spectacular views of the city. Drive across the Golden Gate Bridge and go to Fort Cronkite. The old abandoned military bunkers are so much fun to explore and there is some neat graffiti art. Drive down to Rodeo Beach. Take off your shoes and walk along the black pebble sand.
- Haight St - Hit up the vintage stores - Wasteland, Held Over, and one of the best Goodwills in SF. Buy some pretty paints and art supplies Mendels. Buy a book from the Booksmith. Plan to spend a good hour in Amoeba records. Maybe longer if you really love vinyl. If you plan it right, they may have a musician playing in the store. Give in to the touristy stuff and drink a ginger lemonade from Hobson’s punch house. Be sure to hike to the top of Buena Vista park - it’s smack dab between upper and lower Haight and is just a gorgeous, gorgeous park with lots of happy dogs! Grab lunch at Rosamunde’s in Lower Haight - SO SO Good. Have a beer at Toronados, check out the boutiques and record stores up and down Lower Haight. Stick your head in at Mickey’s Monkey Vintage Store (Pierce & Haight) and say hello to our old next door neighbor, Mike. Grab a tallboy in a paper bag and make your way back to Panhandle park. Find a sunny spot, lay back in the grass and enjoy the people watching.
THINGS YOU MUST EAT:
- A burger & oreo malt milkshake from Bill’s Place in the Outer Richmond (a far drive but worth it!!)
- A peanut milk shake from KK’s cafe on Divisidero - Deliciously weird. Read all the testimonials about this concoctions healing powers while there. Say hello to Maragaret and Jack for me!
- A Boba tea & a bag of chewy Candy from Wonderful Foods in the outer Sunset. Again, another bit of a drive - but the best Boba in the city!! While you’re there, stop in The Taco Shop at Underdogs - hands down best fish taco you will ever ever put in your mouth!!!
- Il Pollaio - For the best chicken and french fries EVER EVER in North Beach
- Sears Fine Foods - Right smack dab in the middle of tourist central, but if you’re in the mood for some shopping, might as well grab a good breakfast first. (hint: get the pancakes!)
- Farmer Brown - excellent brunch!!
- Humphree slocombe - OMG ice cream. in cuh razy flavors like bourbon and cornflakes.
- Suppenkuche - In the middle of adorable Hayes Valley. German food deliciousness. Suppenkuche makes the best potato pancakes and weiner schnitzel.
- Eiji - Sushi for purists. Super small so make reservations. And when you make your reservation, request to reserve a couple Mochi Strawberries for dessert. They ALWAYS run out and when you taste one, you’ll understand why.
- Belden Alley - another tourist frequented spot in FIDI but it’s so darn charming! A little row of restaurants with outdoor seating down a long alley, bulb lights strung between the buildings. Cute waiters with spanish accents. Always a fun night out!
I am leaving so much out and as I think of it, I’ll try to add to this post - but hopefully this is a helpful start!
Give my beloved city a big wet kiss for me please!