What's missing on our trip to San Francisco?
April 27, 2013 3:44 PM   Subscribe

I'm going to SF with my partner for our first wedding anniversary - yay! We've been before and have seen some of the sights (list after the break), but are looking for things we might have missed, awesome places we haven't eaten at, great things we haven't seen, etc, so we can make the most of it. Only limiting factor: neither of us drive.

So, stuff we have both seen/done etc:

-Pier 39
-Coit Tower
-Musee Mechanique and Fisherman's Wharf
-Oakland Museum of California
-Golden Gate Fortune Cookie Company
-The Clarion Alley Mural Project
-Dolores Park/Bi-Rite Creamery/Humphrey Slocombe Ice Cream
-Walked around the Mission, ate burritos at Taquiera Cancun/Walked down the Valencia corridor
-The Exploratorium
-City Lights Bookstore
-Walked around the Castro
-Walked around the Haight
-Seen the Defenestration building
-Been in the SFMoMa
-Walked around Golden Gate Park

Stuff I'm thinking of for us:

-Visiting the Computer History Museum
-Going on an Alcatraz tour
-Maybe going in the Kabuki Hot Springs (will we be allowed in with tattoos?)
-Maybe taking a day trip out to Yosemite (is it worth it for three hours?)

Anything else I'm missing? I feel like there's more but I just don't know about it.

Extra info: We are both early thirties, able bodied and relatively fit, no kids. We have four days.

Thanks in advance for any tips!
posted by abbagoochie to Society & Culture (19 answers total) 15 users marked this as a favorite
Best answer: The computer history museum is a pain to get to if you can't drive. It's good, but not a must see given the hassle of getting there.

The Exploratorium just moved to Pier 15. If you enjoyed it before, it's probably worth seeing again. The Cal Academy of Sciences in Golden Gate park is also worth checking out.

Renting bikes and biking over the Golden Gate bridge is worth it, especially if the weather is nice.

The ferry plaza farmer's market is also worth checking out.
posted by pombe at 3:48 PM on April 27, 2013 [2 favorites]

Did you actually like the stuff in the beginning of the list? If you actually like Pier 39, I'd probably recommend something like an Alcatraz tour, since that's the sort of thing you'd like if you like touristy stuff, but otherwise it's a bit boring (in my opinion). You may also want to try walking Golden Gate Bridge, which isn't bad. I've always driven there, though, but I can't imagine that it's hard to get to by bus.

There are pretty good restaurants and shopping in JapanTown. There's no BART station there, but I think there might be a Muni bus. I'm not a big fan of SF's public transportation, so YMMV. If you like Japanese food, Katana-ya is an excellent ramen place, and that is near BART. When I would go to SF, I'd usually go there or Chinatown, which are both places where you can get amazing food.
posted by 0x006DB0 at 3:54 PM on April 27, 2013 [1 favorite]

Best answer: - Go to Muir Woods, not Yosemite.

-Have you been to the California Academy of Sciences? It's relatively new.

-There's more murals and mural alleys to explore besides Clarion. Go stop by Precita Eyes.

-Get Dim sum on Clement St. (much better than Chinatown) and walk out to the Palace of the Legion honor.

-See a movie in the Castro theatre.

-The Camera Obscura
posted by vacapinta at 3:57 PM on April 27, 2013 [3 favorites]

-Take the ferry to Angel Island

-Do a stairway walk

-Last year, my wife and I weaved through the Tenderloin doing our own architectural tour. You can use this as a rough guide.

I'll second: What did you like from your first trip?
posted by vacapinta at 4:10 PM on April 27, 2013 [1 favorite]

You will totally be allowed into Kabuki with tattoos.
posted by mollymayhem at 4:15 PM on April 27, 2013 [1 favorite]

Response by poster: Stuff I liked from the first trip included:

The musee mechanique and pier 39 (even though it was smelly!)
Oakland Museum
Clarion Alley and the Mission generally
City Lights Bookstore
The Haight and the Castro

Thanks for the tips!
posted by abbagoochie at 4:16 PM on April 27, 2013

Best answer: Yes to Kabuki!
The Alcatraz audio tour is very well done.

I LOVE the Ferry plaza farmers market.

I'll add: take the ferry to Sausalito, trouble coffee, Stinson beach, jack London state park.
posted by jrobin276 at 4:18 PM on April 27, 2013 [1 favorite]

If you go to Trouble Coffee, don't wait to be impressed by the coffee. It's OK, but not great. But the toast is a thing of magic and beauty and general perfection. I honestly never thought I'd be this thrilled by toast, but wow.
posted by mollymayhem at 4:44 PM on April 27, 2013 [2 favorites]

Best answer: I'd like to add that if you do not drive, getting to the lovely, wonderful nature areas in Marin or Yosemite will be very very difficult. Those places (especially Yosemite!!) are worth driving to, but maybe not an incredibly long bus ride.

I would suggest Golden Gate Park, Alcatraz is amazing, and exploring the area near golden gate park (inner sunset) and possibly the sf zoo/ocean beach.

Renting bikes to ride around town is also super fun.
posted by ruhroh at 5:07 PM on April 27, 2013 [1 favorite]

This architectural tour is great.
posted by kelseyq at 5:16 PM on April 27, 2013 [1 favorite]

Best answer: In town: We were at the Ferry Terminal last weekend. The inside vendors can make for a good little food tour of sorts, in addition to the farmers' market outside. Try the Cowgirl Creamery weekend raclette, if that's your sort of thing, and maybe something from Miette Patisserie. The view from Twin Peaks is something else. Cliff House is a thing from another time. Aquarius Records is an excellent indie shop. There's always the legendary Tonga Room.

Heading out of town: The ferry is sea-sprayed but worthwhile. Muir Woods, yes. Mt. Tamalpais east peak has a great view. Marin Headlands too, and the Marine Mammal Center has a good tour. Dinner or drink on the porch of the Cavallo Point Lodge or in Sausalito. I'm not sure what public transport will do for you in these cases.

Jack London ranch is a special spot, though some distance north. In which case, wine country is really pretty too.
posted by methinks at 5:39 PM on April 27, 2013 [2 favorites]

Best answer: There's a ranger-guided walking tour of Alcatraz that is even better than the audio tour, which covers parts of the island other than the cell block (as I recall, the audio tour is mostly the cell block). The problem is they don't advertise what time the walking tour is. We went on the first boat of the morning (I think you get a small discount) and the tour went pretty much when we arrived and the next one wasn't for a couple of hours. My guess is that going on the first boat is a pretty good way to find the walking tour (either right when you arrive or after seeing the cell block).

You can rent bikes and cycle across the Golden Gate Bridge (and into Sausalito if it's not outrageously hot--we just turned round and came straight back).

There's actually a leaflet on getting to Muir Woods without a car. Basically, there's a shuttle from near the Golden Gate Bridge on weekends in the summer or you can walk in from a bus stop (I have no idea how hard a hike it is--there are suggested routes of a mile and a mile and a half, but they may be pretty hilly).
posted by hoyland at 5:45 PM on April 27, 2013 [1 favorite]

Best answer: Land's End and the ruins of Sutro Baths. You can also "hike" (it's really more of a hilly walk) from Land's End through to the Presidio, with views of the Golden Gate Bridge.
posted by so much modern time at 6:10 PM on April 27, 2013 [1 favorite]

The Golden Gate Bridge is a bit short for riding across. It's better as a walk. (If you're using the bikes to get to and from the bridge though that might be a different story).

Angel Island is a great day trip. You can combine it with a ferry ride to Sausalito.

The cable car museum is fun for an hour or so.

Mt. Davidson ( has a large cross and great views of the bay from the top ) is in the city and you probably can get there easily by bus . Takes maybe 20 minutes to get to the top.

Here's a nice trail from the northwest corner of Golden Gate park that goes northeast along the coast to the bridge. I've only done this once many years ago but I remember it being somewhat quiet and very pretty. You can stop by the Palace of the Legion of Honor along the way. Now that I think of it, its probably a better experience if you start at the bridge end up at the park.

All these things are easily accessible from within the city.

Have fun! Sounds like a great way to spend a first wedding anniversary.
posted by metadave at 6:15 PM on April 27, 2013 [1 favorite]

I have lived in the SF Bay Area for over half of my life and spent a lot of time in Yosemite and the Sierras. Yosemite is way more than a 3 hour day trip from SF. It is beautiful but not a day trip.

Congratulations on your anniversary!
posted by elmay at 8:07 PM on April 27, 2013 [1 favorite]

Definitely go to the California Academy of Sciences. It's like four museums rolled into one!

The new Exploratorium is supposed to be awesome but it just opened in the new space, so if you go make sure to pick a weekday and be prepared for lines anyways.
posted by radioamy at 10:50 PM on April 27, 2013

Definitely buy tickets ahead of time for the Exploratorium. I'm eager to see it in the new place myself.

The City Guides have lots of great tours. If you like murals, I highly recommend the Coit Tower mural tour, as it's the only way to see most of them (usually closed to the public.)

North Beach generally is another neighborhood that you might like, beyond City Lights bookstore. Lots of great Italian cafes and alleys to poke into.
posted by gingerbeer at 11:04 PM on April 27, 2013

A few other thoughts:

Hayes Valley is also a good neighborhood for wandering around in, if smaller. Especially the open space/park area at the end of Octavia. Get ice cream from the place that flash-freezes it with nitrogen.

If you're remotely baseball fans, go see a Giants game. You can get tickets from the main website or Stubhub (linked from the Giants site) pretty inexpensively, and then wander around the whole ball park.
posted by gingerbeer at 11:12 PM on April 27, 2013

If you want some other neighborhoods to walk around in:

-The Inner Sunset. Basicaly 9th & Irving has a different feel to it. Part urban/part suburban. Asian and not-Asian. And right up against Golden Gate Park.

-You can keep walking on Mission past Cesar Chavez. This stretch is full of Salvadorean/Nicuaragan/Honduran etc. restaurants rather than Mexican. Keep going up to Zante Pizza and take a left up Cortland St. You'll reach Bernal Heights which is a great village. Either head up to the top of the hill and admire the views or, if its Sunday, head down to the Alemany flea market.

-Take the T line from downtown and head down to the Excelsior. While there, go see something at Recology. Grab some Chicken and Waffles at Auntie April's.

-Back north, visit Fort Point. Its a dramatic setting. It almost feels as if you can touch the bottom of the bridge.

-Favorite bookstore after City Lights is William Stout though I can rarely afford anything. Omnivore books is a bookstore that specializes in food books.
posted by vacapinta at 1:58 AM on April 28, 2013 [2 favorites]

« Older How to Create a User-Friendly InDesign Template -...   |   What are today's good phones? When will they be... Newer »
This thread is closed to new comments.