If You're Going to San Francisco…A Brief Insider's Guide

May 16, 2009

Over spring break, my daughter Tess went to visit a friend in San Francisco. Because he was working and Tess was left to her own devices for some of the time, Alex put together some itineraries for her that included places to go, what to do when she got there, great places to eat, and recommendations on what to eat. To be included in Alex's list, the outings had to be easily accessible, fun, not touristy, and inexpensive.

Over spring break, my daughter Tess went to visit a friend in San Francisco. Because he was working and Tess was left to her own devices for some of the time, Alex put together some itineraries for her that included places to go, what to do when she got there, great places to eat, and recommendations on what to eat. To be included in Alex's list, the outings had to be easily accessible, fun, not touristy, and inexpensive.

Knowing that I would be going to the APA meeting in San Francisco, when Tess got home, she gave me a small guide book and some of the itineraries that she had written out, which I thought I'd share with you. If you want to feel like a local, go check these out, maybe I'll see you there.

Embarcadero

Avoid the tourists at Fisherman's Wharf and head toward the Ferry Buidling. If you're there on Saturday, do as the locals do, pick up food at the Ferry Plaza Farmers Market and have a picnic. Or pick up burgers at Taylors Automatic Refresher(Ferry Building Marketplace, space #6) before jumping on the ferry (Pier 33) to Alcatraz.

Downtown (and the Embarcadero)

Walk up the Filbert Street steps to Coit Tower surrounded by Pioneer Park (Telegraph Hill). Keep climbing! Admire.
Reward yourself with a stop at Fog City Diner (1300 Battery St., 415-982-2000)-order the Cheddar Biscuits and Lime Rickeys.

Golden Gate Park (and Vicinity)

Start at the Sutro Baths (explore the cave and walk along ruins). Climb back up, walk along Cliff House to Ocean Beach. Walk along boardwalk to Beach Chalet (left, across street). Order the beer sampler (brewed there, all are good!). Walk through Golden Gate Park, if time is short, just look for the bison. If, on the other hand you have time, stop by the California Academy of Science, Renzo Piano's Pritzker Prize–winning green building and see some of California's weird and wonderful wildlife. If your love flowers, the Conservatory of Flowers is worth a stop. You'll find all sorts of botanical wonders is this Victorian greenhouse, from orchids and water lilies to smelly carnivorous plants. Before heading out, relax at the Japanese Tea Garden, sip some green tea, and admire the 100-year-old bonsai.

The Mission

Grab a sandwich and/or ice cream (creamery across street) at Bi-Rite market (3639 18th St., between Gueremo and Dolores; 415-241-9760). Walk over to Mission Dolores Park to eat and people/dog watch. Check out Mission Dolores Church, 826 Valencia and Paxton Gate. Have an early dinner at Delphina (3621 18th St.; 415-552-4055), everything here is delicious but save room for dessert. Go to Tartine (600 Guerrero St.; 415-487-2600) for dessert, just make sure you get there before they close-Monday-Wednesday 7 pm, Thursday-Sunday, 8 pm.

Other Highlights

Alamo Square to see the Painted Ladies (intersection of Steiner and Hayes streets, Haight)

Chrissy Fields and the Golden Gate Bridge (603 Mason St., Marina/Presidio)

Corona Heights Park (Roosevelt Way/Museum Way) and Buena Vista Park (Buena Vista Ave.; Haight)

• Dinner at Blue Plate (3218 Mission St. @ Valencia; 415-282-6777; Mission)

Mission Pie (2901 Mission St.; 415-282-1500; Mission)

• Drinks at the Ramp (855 Terry Francois St.; 415-621-2378; Mission/Potrero Hill)

• Soul food at Hard Knox (2526 3rd St.; 415-648-3770; Mission/Potrero Hill)

• Sandwiches at Ike's Place (3506 16th St.; 415-553-6888; Haight)