A chilled Thursday afternoon in San Francisco. What to do?
July 16, 2016 12:08 PM   Subscribe

My wife, 12 year-old son and I will have a free afternoon and evening in San Francisco this coming Thursday. We fly in the afternoon before from the UK, will probably take bikes over the golden gate bridge in the morning, and we'd like to soak up a bit of SF in the afternoon and evening, before we head off on a road trip for the following three weeks. Yay! So what to do? Where to go? And perhaps somewhere relaxed and nice to eat in the evening?

- not too much travelling about, since we'll do lots of that in the days that follow, so we don't want to try and see the whole city
- we'd prefer to find a nice, interesting area, explore and have fun, poke about a bit
- walking's great, but perhaps not miles, since we'll have biked all morning
- outdoors better than indoors, we want some fresh air
- in terms of restaurants or other places to eat, anything interesting and child-friendly is great, as is $ or $$ or $$$ or maybe $$$$ but not $$$$$ and not formal

We're staying just behind Fisherman's Wharf but it's no problem to get to whichever area you suggest.
posted by dowcrag to Travel & Transportation around San Francisco, CA (9 answers total) 5 users marked this as a favorite
San Francisco is only 7 miles by 7 miles. It's the hills that kill you. I suggest a MUNI day pass for $20; includes all buses, street cars, and cable cars. (A cable car ride is $7 each way otherwise.) You can pick that up at Walgreen's near Fisherman's Wharf, or at kiosks at the cable car terminus. (either one near Fisherman's Wharf.)

Musée Mécanique: a vintage arcade featuring wily Ms. PacMan, coin-operated saloon brawls, eerily lifelike wooden fortune-tellers and Laffing Sal. Pier 45. (Where else can you guillotine a man for a quarter?)

Sea Lions at Pier 39. The rest of the pier is pure American tourism; lots of shops selling, well, crap. If the 12 year old is a fussy eater, any restaurant there will serve overpriced bland food (but I would recommend In n' Out instead.)

Walk down Columbus Avenue, or take the 38 bus, several blocks to North Beach, San Francisco's Little Italian district. Across Columbus, walk up Stockton Street to see Chinatown for the Chinese, or walk up Grant to see American tourism with an Asian slant on the crap they sell.

Exploratorium at Pier 15.

A legendary hamburger chain is In n' Out, with a branch on Jefferson West of Jones; by Fisherman's Wharf. Cheap and tasty, but very busy.
posted by blob at 1:58 PM on July 16, 2016 [1 favorite]

Fort Point is very cool, and you can stop there on your way to or from the bridge. You'll need locks for the bikes.
posted by alexei at 2:00 PM on July 16, 2016

Here's something that recently became possible because MUNI extended the 35 line all the way to the Glen Park BART station.

Take the F line historic street cars from Fisherman's Wharf to the Embarcadero station. Go downstairs and take BART south (any train going to SFO/Millbrae/Daly City) to the Glen Park station. Come upstairs and look for the 35 bus. This will take you over the hills and terminate in the Castro. Take the F line historic street cars back from the Castro to Fisherman's Wharf.

Glen Park is a cute little village. Castro has interesting stuff; check out Cliff's Variety Store and the small shops nearby for unique San Francisco souvenirs.
posted by blob at 2:04 PM on July 16, 2016 [2 favorites]

> A chilled Thursday afternoon

May you have sun all day! But you probably already know that summer in SF can be really chilly, especially in the morning and evening, so wear layers.
posted by anadem at 2:18 PM on July 16, 2016 [2 favorites]

In-N-Out is a great West Coast treat. I used to live near Union Square and would hop the cable car to the Wharf location after a particularly bad day at work. If you do stop there (and I agree with that suggestion), don't be fooled by the simple-seeming menu.
posted by zebra at 2:20 PM on July 16, 2016

I recommend the Dolores Park area. Very nice place to sit, and Bi-Rite creamery is right next door. Wonderful icecream, worth the line.
posted by tooloudinhere at 4:02 PM on July 16, 2016 [3 favorites]

What anadem said. When I visited SF in July I'd come from Australian winter and the weather was no shock. But it was still super cold in the evening. More local tourists, one's who'd come from barely an hour inland, were absolutely freezing and inappropriately dressed.

I loved the cable cars. You see a lot and it's such a quintessential SF experience. Highly recommend. The hills are amazingly high/steep.
posted by kitten magic at 4:53 PM on July 16, 2016

We frequently take guests for a wander down Valencia Street and/or 24th St. Lots of shops and many restaurants to choose from. 24th Street has lots of murals. Valencia street has lots of hipsters.
posted by gingerbeer at 5:44 PM on July 16, 2016

Seconding Exploratorium, Cable Cars, and In-N-Out (don't expect anything gourmet, expect fast food done right). If sports are up your alley, Giants baseball games are good fun (if sports are really up your alley and the Giants aren't in town, try an A's baseball game). If you feel like you just want to veg out, there are a couple movie theaters and plenty of eating options at the very south end of the Powell cable car line (Union Square, Westfield mall, and Metreon area).

Also I'd recommend taking the ferry back from Sausalito rather than biking both ways across the bridge.
posted by clorox at 5:51 PM on July 16, 2016

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