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  1. #41
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    I have a few suggestions of my own. Grew up in SF and the East Bay, currently work in SF.

    - Italian, not extravagant, but good: Definitely Cotogna, next to Quince, as suggested earlier. $28 pre-set 3-course meal, casual but super good, really interesting inexpensive wine list. Shares the kitchen with Quince, which is fauncy fauncy. In a really cute alley shared with antiquarians, modern furniture designers, a tiny architecture bookstore, an interesting wine bar, not quite in North Beach or Chinatown but nearby. Basically one block from the Transamerica building. In the "Gold Coast" (or is it Barbary Coast?), where all the ol' whores hung out before the 1906 earthquake.

    - Ice cream: Depends what you want. If you're in to chi chi hipster-trendy but GOOD changes-everyday derived-from-seasonal-plants-and-fruits ice cream, yes, Bi Rite in the mission. But if you like traditional creamy stuff, Mitchell's or Lappert's. Or that weird 56 varietals of vanilla place on Valencia (I swear it's a drug front).

    - Coffee: Totally polarizing subject. If you're in to third wave single origin fair trade "hmm ... tastes like a declassified nebbiolo I once had!" there are sooo many roasters in town. Sightglass: On 7th/Folsom, great interior, chock full of stereotypical bearded otters in plaid discussing their latest start-ups or just stealth-clicking on Tindr, lots of coffee options. They tend to roast light. Blue Bottle: It's everywhere. The most fun ones are either in the old Mint on Jessie (giant siphons, big ass bowl of granola and yogurt), and unfortunately the top floor of SFMOMA is closed (they had desserts modeled after "iconic" contemporary art pieces). They're ... not quite up my alley, but up a lot of others' alleys. Four Barrel: Good stuff, good stuff. 14th/Mission. Overrun by fashion start-up hipsters, but still good. Ritual: I think they're on their way out. Not sure. Linea: Valencia/20th-ish - tiny cute little shop that had who lots of people called the best barista in the city (how is that possible?). La Boulange: Easy, everywhere, and great pastries, hullo. The Buena Vista (near Ghiradelli Square): Home of the Irish Coffee. I think the dude pours like 20 in a row across the counter.

    - If you're going to the Exploratorium and/or Pier 39 and/or Coit Tower and/or Filbert steps and/or bars on the Embarcadero and/or Ferry Building: All in the same area. Getting tickets to Alcatraz must be done FAR in advance, that will take up about half of your day. Step in to Tcho chocolate factory, next to the Exploratorium. Super duper good chocolate. Hilarious queen behind the counter. I think I just walked in looking for something and he shouted, "What's your favorite color? PURPLEEEEEE!" (hands up in the air presenting his imaginary crown)

    - Chinese food: Oh god. None? Amongst the best-liked: R&G lounge on Kearny for pepper crab. Totally near no other Chinese restaurants, not popular, but good: Red Jade on Church, right next to the Castro.

    - Sushi: Apparently Blowfish, and the ritzy Keiko. My favorite tiny, cute, next to the Castro, friendly-gay, slightly unusual in a good way: Sushi Town, down these tiny steps on Market between Church and Castro. For ramen: Ken Ken on 18th/Mission. For Japanese curry: Kare-Ken on Jones and Geary.

    - Bars in the Castro: Seriously, just walk around to all of them and decide which few suit you best. They're all within 4 blocks of each other. The Cafe has a lot of porn-sponsored events, but it's got the young dancey crowd. The Lookout is a big place, on Market, slightly older dancey crowd. Twin Peaks is known as The Glass Coffin, but hey, I've been told it's super friendly in there (older clientele staring out at the people passing by). I personally don't find any of them all that exciting (the more interesting ones are on Polk, but that's not nearby). I know there's a bar somewhere near 18th/Castro where John Waters hangs out basically every weekend.

    - Museums: SFMOMA is temporarily closed. If you go to either the De Young or the Legion of Honor, it's reciprocal membership for the day, so you can certainly pop in on the other for free. The De Young basement usually has a special exhibit of a fashion designer (I've loved those - they're amazing), and the Legion of Honor sometimes has a special exhibit of an old jewelry / decorative objects maker. They're gone through the most obvious ones, but check out what they're showing. Academy of Sciences: Right across from the De Young. It's great, but ... there's just so much other stuff to do, and it's like any other good metropolitan science / sea creature museum. If you end up going to the Disney Museum, that's in the Presidio, which basically has one bus that takes you all around. It takes you really close to the Golden Gate Bridge, and by these beaches (some parts nude!) - October is the warmest month of the year in SF! Oh yeah, there's also this place called House of Air where you can bounce on about 40 trampolines all stitched together.

    - Union Square shopping: I did not hear you mention Barney's. GO TO BARNEY'S. Nobody thinks of going there! It's ultra high-end stuff, not popular, and an AMAZING perfume / candles basement. And there's an Hermes shop, with all the scarves! If you like fabric, browse around Britex for a few minutes! 3 floors of designer's assistants gathering bolts for projects! If you end up going in to Nordstrom's (SF Center), there are a ton of stores there too, including Bloomingdale's, a great Japanese tea shop called Lupicia, and the top floor dome with La Boulange where Kristi Yamaguchi inaugurated the ceiling projections (she literally pressed down on a Wyle E. Coyote -like dynamite detonator to flip the lights on).

    - OK, so, public transit: Muni's hella frustrating. You can use 511.org on your phone, but times are never accurate and it's annoying to use. But it's the best we've got. If any of your traversing can be achieved by both BART and Muni, always opt for BART. Oh, and there are now city bicycles you can rent from self-service stands without having to go to a super touristy rental place. If you're going through neighborhoods, fine, but do NOT bike on Market without a helmet, lots of experience, and some aggression. If you're a walker, the city is not huge - you can walk through about 3 or 4 neighborhoods without breaking a sweat.

    - Sutro Baths: There's not much left of the ruins, but they're still kinda fun to walk around. The Musee Mechanique is not back yet, so all that's in the adjacent building is a restaurant and the Giant Camera (interesting camera obscura, takes about 5 minutes to absorb). The beach is nice but kinda dirty. However, it's a very different "feeling" in that neighborhood. Lots of long-timers, almost like a beach community. That beach is usually super cold though.

    - You're coming Oct. 9 - 13. That's when a lot of neighborhood cultural festivals are. Usually only on the weekend. North Beach will probably have a Columbus Day parade and perhaps the North Beach Italian Festival. There might be a ton of other culture and/or neighborhood -specific festivals. Which means lots of food and craft tents. Makes driving traffic slow, walking traffic somewhat pleasant.

    - Totally strapped for ideas? Go to sffuncheap.com. Daily updates on tons of happenings for all tastes. Mostly focused on food, booze, yoga, art, but still the best site for events.
    Last edited by Quintuple; 05-31-2014 at 06:36 PM.

  2. #42

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    Wow thanks for all of the ideas!

    I've got a pretty good idea of what I want to do. On the ninth, I'll get into the city at about noon so probably to my hotel 1-1:30ish and then I'll have the rest of the afternoon/evening free. I'm thinking I'll just drop off my bags and then get up to the Golden Gate Bridge Park area to hopefully see that and get some pictures and then catching a bus to Sutro Baths to get some photos of the views. After that I'm not sure. Maybe Fisherman's Wharf and Chinatown, that should all be doable I think for an afternoon and evening.

    Alcatraz a half day?? Hmm... That's left me with some doubts if I really want to do that then. Perhaps something to be done Sunday evening my last evening before I leave. I know there's a lot of history and such with it but there's a ton that I want to get done in three and a half days so a half day for Alcatraz might be a bit much.

    I think though that I should have plenty of time to do and see all of what I want to do though. I'm very much about getting out and seeing as much as I can in the short time I have.

    Another thing I'm thinking about doing but still debating is attending the Bay Area HRC Gala at the Westin St. Mark. Jason Collins and Laura Prepon attended last year, it might be a good opportunity to get dressed up and go and hob-knob, but it's very expensive to attend. In any event, still lots of time to debate and see.
    Kyle

  3. #43
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    Quintiple, you should write travel guides!
    "Nature is a damp, inconvenient sort of place where birds and animals wander about uncooked."

    from Speedy Death

  4. #44
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    Ya know, I've always wanted to be a travel writer. But I've always thought, "Pfft, what do I know? And nobody wants to read about the weird sh*t I get in to."

    Kyle - Yep, I would agree; Alcatraz takes up a huge chunk of a day for such a short overall trip. Hell, you might not even end up being able to get tickets.

    And a slight little tip: Pier 39 I can pretty much say without knowing you that it might not be worth a huge chunk of your time if it's not near stuff you're going to see anyway. Basically it's a collection of t-shirt and glass art shops, with amusement park snacks and a really bad aquarium. The rest of Fisherman's Wharf is more interesting if you just want to wander on your own: Musee Mechanique, eating some crab, barking at sea lions, ferries around the bay, etc.

    Going back to the original post - you mention Alamo Square. Everyone wants to see the Queen Anne Victorians from the beginning of Full House (doo be doo bwap ba daa), and sure they're nice, but the house you've GOT to see is at the corner of Fulton and Scott (right at one of the corners of Alamo Square) - the Westerfeld house. So much history. What's NOT on the wiki is that Charles Manson lived there for a while with his cult, and Anton Lavay once lived there and kept a tiger in the upper tower! This gets mixed up because each of them respectively had their own other houses in SF as well. Apparently. I'm told. Because I participated in a seance there.

    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/William_Westerfeld_House

    The people who live there are a bunch of Burning Man hippies at this point, so you might even be able to contact them beforehand to take a look inside! If you're in to that sort of stuff.

    Oh yeah, and besides those painted ladies from Full House, yes, just walk around Pacific Heights. Jaw-dropping houses. Another area of jaw-dropping houses that you'll be near when you round the Presidio (Golden Gate Bridge) is Sea Cliff. That's way out there, but hey, if you're there.

    Are you in to traditional tea? That's always a treat. The Garden Court at The Palace hotel is amazing, and you can stop in for lunch or full service tea, or even just pop in on Market street on the way to Union Square to gaze at the ceiling! http://www.stanfordwomen.org/images/palace_hotel.jpg

    The Fairmont Hotel serves tea in what I would call a combination of a deco and Edwardian era room. Big on the cakes.

    If you're wandering around in the past-Golden-Gate-Bridge Sea-Cliff-y Sutro-Baths area -ish and you're peckish, another interesting tea is Tal y Tara on California. It's a polo shoppe that serves cream tea! But it's totally in the middle of nowhere, so you'd really only happen to be there if you're transferring buses just coming from Sutro Baths or the Legion of Honor.

    Lastly, bars with some of the most amazing views of the city:

    At the top of the Marriott on 3rd/Howard. They call it the Glass Jukebox. It's pretty much the most reviled building in the city, but a few people love it. However, if you're INSIDE, amazing views.

    But the most breathtaking view of all the hub bub of the city is definitely at the Top of the Mark, at the top of the ... Mark Hopkins Hotel, which is across from the Fairmont (with the Tonga room in the basement where this totally corny monsoon blows through every 30 minutes). The Top of the Mark has a huge drink list, all with middle-shelf liquor that you can totally get anywhere else for cheaper, but the VIEW.

  5. #45
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    Quote Originally Posted by Quintuple View Post
    Ya know, I've always wanted to be a travel writer. But I've always thought, "Pfft, what do I know? And nobody wants to read about the weird sh*t I get in to."
    I think I speak for a lot of people when I say, I DO!!!! These are awesome suggestions! I have so much more to try in SF now and I've been there at least five times!

  6. #46
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    Second the Palace Hotel High tea. It's practically a tradition.

    Quintiple, clearly, you are wrong about no one wanting to read what you write about travel. Now I am curious about other places you know well, as much for the tips as for the writing.
    "Nature is a damp, inconvenient sort of place where birds and animals wander about uncooked."

    from Speedy Death

  7. #47
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    You know, IceAlisa, asking that question got me thinking. Maybe I've been a travel writer all along. Just a non-professional, unpaid one.

    One random Winter day, fresh out of college, my vegan straightedge krusty punk friend who almost never speaks a word asked me to take him on a tour to Oakland, since I beat him up here by a few months. He just said, "I'll be there in 30 minutes in a white Subaru." I whooped this up in about 20 minutes and we actually got every single thing on the list done in about 2.5 hours.
    Ben's Bootsy-Ass Tour of Oakland and Berkeley for Fil

    Yes, it's almost in code, based on loud-mouthed recollections of personal stories experienced at each site. And it was 2005, so nacent, now-outdated ghettoisms, and a lot of references to businesses that have since shut down. Now my grand tour of Oakland would probably be ten times as long and involve sneaking in to abandoned train stations, a gingerbread house, and the home of the 1906 earthquake governor, Pardee, for a conjuring.

    So to answer your question directly, oddly:

    1. Revised bootsy-ass tour of Oakland
    2. Hecka depressing places in San Leandro
    3. Wretched Manchester, UK
    4. Copenhagen (it's all tucked away in a journal though)

    Maaaybe Seattle. Maaaybe London.

    That's about it.

  8. #48
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    Loved Golden Gate Park, the Exploratorium, the tour of Alcatraz, the views from Cliff House, the Bay Cruise on a beautiful day, Muir Woods, a side trip to the Napa Valley, Bodega Bay, and the Walt Disney Family Museum in the Presidio area
    Last edited by paskatefan; 06-01-2014 at 11:44 AM.

  9. #49

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    I second the motion that you become a travel writer Quintuple! There is so much intricate detail from everything that you've described it's just awesome! A girl that I work with has been to San Francisco six or seven times mentioned something about the Oriental Pearl in Chinatown? She also, like you mentioned The Top of the Mark for drinks because of the views. That might be a perfect way to end a Sunday my final night in San Francisco. Either way still four months to go! Lots of time to decide what to pick and choose.
    Kyle

  10. #50
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    I would love to read your musings on London and Copenhagen, Quintiple.
    "Nature is a damp, inconvenient sort of place where birds and animals wander about uncooked."

    from Speedy Death

  11. #51

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    Quote Originally Posted by IceAlisa View Post
    I would love to read your musings on London and Copenhagen, Quintiple.
    Yes, please!

  12. #52
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    Quote Originally Posted by Quintuple View Post
    Step in to Tcho chocolate factory, next to the Exploratorium. Super duper good chocolate. Hilarious queen behind the counter. I think I just walked in looking for something and he shouted, "What's your favorite color? PURPLEEEEEE!" (hands up in the air presenting his imaginary crown)
    Tcho is no longer in SF. It has relocated to Berkeley. Yay for me!

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