What are some fun things to do in the next couple of days in San Francisco?
February 23, 2012 8:31 AM   Subscribe

What are some fun things to do in the next couple of days in San Francisco?

I just realized that I'm going to be in the SFO area for the next 5 days with very little to do (except go to two meetings). What are some fun things to do in the area?

I know this is such a broad question that it's hard to answer -- so tell me what YOU'd like to do if you were there.
posted by Mr. Justice to Travel & Transportation around San Francisco, CA (17 answers total) 13 users marked this as a favorite
Here are some previous threads to start you off.
posted by insectosaurus at 8:37 AM on February 23, 2012

Rent a car, head north along the coast, stuff myself at divvy seafood places, wave to whales, stuff myself at divey seafood shacks, walk on deserted beaches, stuff myself at divvy seafood shacks.

"That'll do, pig. That'll do."
posted by HeyAllie at 8:38 AM on February 23, 2012

Best answer: Something I did do once that was relatively cheap and made for a GREAT afternoon: walk the Barbary Coast Trail. This was a self-guided walking tour -- you can get audio guides for your i-whatever, and printed guides at a couple of spots; I vaguely remember getting just the map for free (it was the map, but no commentary). The trail follows some of the old coastline of the city (there was even one street where they put paving stones in to mark where the coastline was) and goes through the former "red light district" at one point. (It also even notes the former site of Emperor Norton's residence.)

It gave a really good overview of the city and some of its highlights; I remember going through Chinatown, North Beach, a few spots along the wharf, past City Lights bookstore, and up to Coit Tower; all of them nifty places to stop in their own right. If you do the self-guided version, you can stop whenever and whereever you feel like it to explore more -- Coit Tower was a great place for a scenic view, but I ended up staying an hour to study the WPA murals in the ground floor. And another hour at City Lights, and still another hour at an Italian coffeehouse in North Beach where the owner was practicing accordion and two couples were practicing conversational Mandarin the next table over.
posted by EmpressCallipygos at 8:42 AM on February 23, 2012

If you have a car, I love the view from Mt. Tamalpais. The summit loop trail is .7 miles and super easy (indeed, wheelchair accesible), though more rigorous hiking is also available in the area. The a clear winter day is the time to visit because the view is better (no smog!).
posted by Jahaza at 9:02 AM on February 23, 2012 [1 favorite]

I would look through "the list" and see if there's any live music/performance to check out!
posted by Rube R. Nekker at 9:31 AM on February 23, 2012

Check out the Japanese Tea Gardens. It's only 5 bucks to get in and it's a beautiful spot.

You can also head to Marina Green/Chrissy Field, which is a lovely place for people-watching and seeing the Golden Gate Bridge.

Other fun places: Union Square, Chinatown, Japantown, Pier 39 & Fisherman's Wharf (although this area is fairly touristy and gets pretty crazy on the weekends).

If you're able to get out of the downtown area, I recommend Half Moon Bay. It's only about 40 minutes or so from downtown SF and has become a mandatory stop for me every time I go to the Bay Area. It's a charming little town with lots of restaurants and shops. There area beautiful beaches within walking distance. It'll get you away from the noise of the big city a bit. You'll love it!
posted by chatelaine at 9:40 AM on February 23, 2012

I'd skip Fisherman's Wharf and not go west past Pier 39. MMV.

If you rent a car, drive north to the Point Reyes Lighthouse. Check the weather, because if the wind is over a certain speed the Park Service doesn't allow walking to the lighthouse itself.

Or drive south along the coast toward Monterey.

If the wind isn't too bad, walk north on Ocean Beach and to Land's End and beyond.

Have some tuna tartare and a Mad Men martini for me at the Palace Hotel!

I miss SF so much!
posted by jgirl at 9:48 AM on February 23, 2012

Yes to the Barbary Coast Trail (a good way to get in some of the touristy crap without it being complete crap)--it's a fun walk with lots of good eating & drinking opportunities along the way.

Alcatraz is probably the most awesome traditionally tourist thing to do.

Yes to Land's End--take the 38-Geary out there if you don't have a car. This is also near the Cliff House and Sutro Baths. Be sure to cross the street & check out Sutro Park which has some lovely views of the ocean and west side of the city. Walk down the Great Highway and get a coffee or a beer at Java Beach. Maybe get some Thai food at Sri Thai on Lincoln. Wander up Judah, check out some of the shops and cafes. Take the N-Judah back to wherever you're staying. (This is one of my favorite ways to spend time in the City.)

I also recommend doing the Percita Eyes mural tour in the Mission.
posted by smirkette at 9:55 AM on February 23, 2012

We locals like Fun Cheap SF for ideas. There are always cool things afoot!

Mt. Tamalpais is also crazy beautiful and the views have been amazing lately.
posted by chatongriffes at 10:00 AM on February 23, 2012

Agreeing with everything Smirkette said. One of my favorite things to do as well. Yes, totally go to Java Beach! Say hi to Debbie behind the counter.

It bites that my favorite neighborhood spot is 3,000 or so miles away from my actual neighborhood.

On another note, if you like this sort of thing, the statue of St. Francis at Mission Dolores is absolutely stunning. Just magnificent, IMO, and it truly captures the essence of the Franciscan charism.

I just wish it was in a quieter, less busy spot in the Mission and had a bench.

The mosaic is cool, too. And then you can stroll the 'hoods near it and go to Mission Dolores Park.
posted by jgirl at 10:15 AM on February 23, 2012

Nthing Mt. Tamalpais.

Definitely do Golden Gate Park, see the bison, go to the Academy of Sciences.

When people visit me, I like to take them to Empress of China. It's a super 70s Chinese restaurant in Chinatown on like the 6th or 7th floor or something of a building on a hill. The restaurant itself is overpriced and not my cup of tea, but there is also a bar with good happy hour prices and there is an absolutely fantastic view of Chinatown and Telegraph Hill. Beautiful place to get drinks and watch the sunset, and then you're in Chinatown and near City Lights Bookstore, two more great places to visit!
posted by fireflies at 10:18 AM on February 23, 2012

When you say SFO, do you mean you'll be at an airport hotel for your meetings? And will you have access to a car? Public transit into SF is doable from near the airport, but limits what you can get to and when.

Here's a collected set of previous answers to the question in the wiki.

Noise Pop is happening right now, if any of that's your speed.
posted by gingerbeer at 10:42 AM on February 23, 2012

Muir woods.
posted by iamabot at 11:26 AM on February 23, 2012

the classics are classics since they are pretty nice, live here and do them a couple times a year:

Muir Woods, Ocean Beach, Twin Peaks at night (bring a jacket), walk across the golden gate bridge.
posted by bottlebrushtree at 11:30 AM on February 23, 2012

I am a big fan of the City Guides walking tours. The guides are volunteers and super-enthusiastic, and the tours are very well researched.

I also recommend renting a bike to ride out to Ocean Beach / around in general. It is not hard to avoid most of the steep hills (especially if you get a bike coalition map) and if there *is* a block that is hard to ride, there is no shame in walking. SF is a great size for riding and the weather is supposed to be perfect this next week I think.
posted by dame at 12:13 PM on February 23, 2012

Critical Mass is tomorrow if that's your cup of tea.
posted by alexei at 12:35 PM on February 23, 2012

I'd go have a few beers at the Gold Dust Lounge, a great bar which is under threat of eviction.
posted by clearly at 12:44 PM on February 23, 2012

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