Friendship Healing San Francisco Ideas?
May 30, 2017 3:28 PM   Subscribe

Friend and I (both f/mid twenties) are taking a spontaneous and much needed trip to San Francisco, CA at the end June/early July for 3 days. We are both hoping to mend and strengthen our friendship after a few months of estrangement. I would appreciate any insights about any of the city's intimate and thoughtful spots.

This is our first time to San Francisco for us both and we are staying in Union Square as home-base. Due to the time constraint, I'm curious to find anything special to do besides the typical sight seeing tours and trolley rides. I appreciate any tips and info to make this a memorable trip.
posted by dea to Travel & Transportation around San Francisco, CA (19 answers total) 28 users marked this as a favorite
Best answer: The Grace Cathedral Labyrinths are a great place to focus your mind from what I've heard. I would think if you walked through them with your friend that you would both reflect on your relationship.

As a bonus they're only a few (steep) blocks up from Union Square.
posted by bendy at 3:36 PM on May 30, 2017 [4 favorites]

Best answer: You'll want to get away from Union Square as early and often as you can, that's for sure.

Do you like to walk? There are lovely quiet outdoor spots where you can have a light hike, that could be great for a catch-up conversation. I'm thinking about the areas by Lands End and the Presidio.

A unique & totally worthwhile place for a walk is across the Golden Gate Bridge: it won't be quiet, of course (it's the side of a major highway) but it's a fantastic walk. In bright weather it is a world class view; in misty weather it is otherworldly and weird. In either case it's a remarkable enough experience to be a bonding one for the folks experiencing it together.
posted by fingersandtoes at 3:36 PM on May 30, 2017 [3 favorites]

Best answer: Related to the Lands End and Presidio recommendation, I love the Sutro Baths. You can take the 38 bus all the way down Geary to get out there. It's fun to see the city that way. I've had some good conversations there on a misty day or around sunset.
posted by a sourceless light at 3:47 PM on May 30, 2017 [5 favorites]

Best answer: among many other 'intimate and thoughtful' spots:

the deYoung museum has a Turrell Skyspace in the sculpture garden, you don't even need to purchase admission to see it.

the wave organ is a nice destination for the mid-point of a walk along the marina waterfront.

Corona Heights park is a short hike up from the Castro, and affords an expansive view of a good part of the city.

the Golden Gate Park Carousel is the best $2 you can spend in the city.

not really intimate, but Biergarten in Hayes Valley is a wonderful lively place to sit outside with a beer and a pretzel.

the newly re-opened SFMOMA has a small octagonal room full of Agnes Martin paintings, for me one of the most intimate and thoughtful places in the city (4th floor in the new wing)
posted by gyusan at 3:55 PM on May 30, 2017 [6 favorites]

Best answer: Intimate and thoughtful: without knowing the character of your friendship this suggestion might not work for you, but the Kabuki Hot Springs spa in Japantown offers a communal bath area as well as massages and other spa treatments. It's a quiet serene space (chatting is discouraged) and it's definitely more about relaxing/reflecting than bathing.
posted by Quietgal at 3:55 PM on May 30, 2017 [3 favorites]

The Audium
The Walt Disney Family Museum is pretty cool even though Walt was a jerk.
posted by rhizome at 3:56 PM on May 30, 2017

Best answer: Adding another idea: tea is good. There's a fancy branch of the tea house chain Samovar within walking distance of your hotel. And apparently there's a cat cafe, also not that far from you, where you can drink tea and play with cats. I haven't been to it, but I know of nothing more healing than cats! And finally, you could do the Tea Ceremony at the Japanese Tea Garden in Golden Gate Park (which you could combine with a visit to other spots in Golden Gate Park).
posted by a sourceless light at 3:57 PM on May 30, 2017

There's also bowling and an ice rink at Yerba Buena center. Some guidance as to what you're into and like to do would be helpful.
posted by rhizome at 4:08 PM on May 30, 2017

The San Francisco Arboretum, near Golden Gate Park, I think.
posted by Oyéah at 4:25 PM on May 30, 2017 [1 favorite]

Ina Coolbrith Park. Just a pocket park at the top of Russian Hill with fantastic views, and few other visitors.
posted by notyou at 4:31 PM on May 30, 2017 [2 favorites]

My favorite spot in the Inner Sunset is Grandview Park. Go to Grandview park on a clear day, before sunset, and enjoy the peacefulness and the views. You have to climb a lot of steps to get up there, and you can either go up the steps at Moraga and 16th ave (these are tiled), or on Kirkham where there are two steps between 15th and 16th ave (also tiled). While not tiled, the 15th and Kirkham are my favorite steps and is considered a park in and of itself and it's nice to just stop and stand there, looking at the GG bridge and contemplate.
posted by vivzan at 5:47 PM on May 30, 2017 [2 favorites]

It hasn't been mentioned yet but be sure to pack jeans, a sweater, a warm hat and a polar fleece jacket. It gets very overcast, windy and chilly this time of year in San Francisco, especially close to the ocean/bay. Save the shorts and flip-flops for a trip north to Napa.

My recommendations are the Conservatory of Flowers and the AIDS Memorial Grove, both in Golden Gate Park. They are within easy walking distance of one another and a short walk to the Haight Ashbury as well.
posted by echolalia67 at 6:28 PM on May 30, 2017 [3 favorites]

I second Kabuki Springs. Heaven on earth!
posted by Sublimity at 7:06 PM on May 30, 2017

> Related to the Lands End and Presidio recommendation, I love the Sutro Baths. You can take the 38 bus all the way down Geary to get out there.

This. Wander around the Sutro Baths, then head out towards the Golden Gate Bridge (trails are clearly marked). Turn around when you get hungry/thirsty and have a snack or drink at Louis' or at the fancier Cliff House. Bring a windbreaker and a hat and/or hoodie. We are known for chilly "summer" weather.
posted by rtha at 7:21 PM on May 30, 2017

Best answer: Enthusiastically seconding the Sutro Baths. I also love recommending the Audium, a sonic immersion artistic performance that is an eccentric and little-known gem. Guests sit in pitch blackness while the conductor plays a complex soundscape of evocative and dreamlike noises. It is a very interesting and almost hallucinogenic experience. Obviously you won't be able to talk during the performance, but you may find that afterwards it puts you in a state of openness to experience that makes intimate conversation come more easily. Wikipedia entry here, but I almost recommend that you not research it, and instead let it surprise you.
posted by lieber hair at 7:29 PM on May 30, 2017 [2 favorites]

Has anyone mentioned the Marin Headlands yet?
posted by salvia at 8:46 PM on May 30, 2017 [1 favorite]

If you need some light-hearted fun, the musee mecanique is super great. (And there's an in-n-out right nearby!)
posted by generalist at 10:26 PM on May 30, 2017 [1 favorite]

I highly recommend Onsen in the tenderloin - a Japanese-style bath house with a nice little cafe in the front.
posted by egeanin at 9:54 AM on May 31, 2017

Best answer: I came to mention the Conservatory of Flowers (we had our 'guerilla' wedding there, and the park surrounding it is wide open and full of great niches for talking privately in public).

Wave Organ is a nice spot, too, if it's sunny. Ditto Crissy Field's beach. There's even more privacy at Heron's Head Park (walk out to the tip, sit on the concrete steps, bring a picnic; even on the warmest, sunniest day, you'll only see a few people). Right next door is the brand new park on the former site of a steam power plant, which is so new that it's not even listed as being open (it is, we went over the weekend). You can walk between these two parks easily. They're right on the edge of the bay, so you get dramatic views and (usually) warmer weather than most of the rest of the city.

I spend a lot of time on top of Bernal Hill. It's a giant off-leash dog park, covered in trails, with commanding city and bay views. There are always people up there, but it's never crowded like most parks in the city. The neighborhood of Bernal Heights surrounds it, and has a wonderful village commercial strip on the south side (Cortland Ave.) so you can have a meal, coffee, drink, etc. before and after. The back yard of the Wild Side West (a former lesbian bar that's transformed into a neighborhood staple that is much more relaxed and low key than the name implies) is a destination of its own and great for conversation. There are private little nooks here and there, under a canopy of trees and found objects and yard art.

Don't forget all the stairways. They're great places, too. I love the Harry Street Stairs and the Vulcan Street Stairs.
posted by late afternoon dreaming hotel at 11:04 AM on May 31, 2017 [1 favorite]

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