Tourist tips for San Francisco/Stanford
October 23, 2022 9:37 AM   Subscribe

I'm staying at Stanford University for a few days next week - I will be at a loose end while my wife is at a conference. I'm planning to go into SF as well while I'm there. I have been to SF before but not since the late 90s. Looking for some recommendations to see - more details inside.

I'm going to be using public transport - no car. I'm interested in exhibitions, events, places to eat/drink.
  • Is there anything I should see or do on campus or in/around Palo Alto while I'm there?
  • Recommendations for SF? Particularly things that weren't there in 98 or have changed significantly?
  • What's a good restaurant in SF for a meal with my wife? Doesn't have to be super fancy - a great neighbourhood place would be good. Any cuisine considered, but good vegan options would be a plus.
posted by crocomancer to Travel & Transportation around San Francisco, CA (13 answers total) 3 users marked this as a favorite
Best answer: If you like art, don’t miss the Cantor Center for the Arts and the Anderson Collection at Stanford, both on campus.

SFMOMA, MoAD, Yerba Buena Center for the Arts, and the California Historical Society are all together in SOMA, which is walkable from the Caltrain station in SF. I like to go to the Mission for the used bookstores mostly, and eat a burrito while I’m there.

When I was in Palo Alto briefly this fall, my colleagues and I ate at Bistro Elan on the recommendation of the Stanford librarians. It was low key and tasty. Good wine list.
posted by Lawn Beaver at 9:53 AM on October 23, 2022

Greens in SF is on the fancier side and not really a "neighborhood place", but it is fantastic and focuses on vegetarian food, with many vegan offerings and a view of the bay. It is not, however, new since the 90's.
posted by aubilenon at 10:14 AM on October 23, 2022

Best answer: The classic 1920s movie theater in Palo Alto is fun, if you're here on Friday.

The Academy of Sciences in GG Park and the Exploratorium are both new since you've been here. The N Judah streetcar can take you to 9th and Irving if you decide to go to the park, and then you can just cut through to get to the museum (the train also goes all the way down to Ocean Beach and turns around in front of the sand, in case you want to see the ocean or the camera obscura that overlooks the water).
posted by pinochiette at 11:51 AM on October 23, 2022 [2 favorites]

The Computer History Museum in Mountain View will give you a view into the technology that made Silicon Valley what it is. I'm not sure about public transportation but it is close enough to Stanford that a ride share would be affordable.
posted by metahawk at 12:06 PM on October 23, 2022

Best answer: If you like the outdoors, there is some really gorgeous country a few miles up into the hills out of Palo Alto, but unfortunately most of it is impractical without a car. The Dish trail (big old solar observatory) adjoins / is part of Stanford and can be reached by walk. (If you are staying at Stanford Guest House, I think you should be able to walk out of SLAC onto Alpine Road and then cross right into the back entrance of the dish.) There's about 4 miles of paved path, including some real hills. You can often see some genuine wildlife (coyotes, deer, turkeys, hawks, snakes, tarantulas), in addition to cows.

You might also think about renting a bike, which I think you can do many places but Campus Bike Shop has the advantage of being on campus.
posted by grobstein at 12:06 PM on October 23, 2022 [2 favorites]

if you're into Chinese vegetarian, Enjoy Vegetarian in SF proper (it's even in Chinatown) has a lot of "mock meat" dishes that you can probably mistake for the regular Chinese item that you normally enjoy. If you rather not come downtown, they have a second location at Kirkham as well.
posted by kschang at 1:33 PM on October 23, 2022 [1 favorite]

I was in SF for a couple days recently. A highlight was the California Academy of Sciences in Golden Gate Park (reef aquarium, rainforest dome, small penguin colony). The de Young art museum is right across from it, but I didn't have time for that one on this trip.

Favorite place to eat was Mazra. Great neighborhood place, Middle Eastern food, very fresh, takeaway or eat in, lots of vegan options.
posted by dorey_oh at 1:34 PM on October 23, 2022 [2 favorites]

Locate the town of Pescadero. It is on the coast less than one mile from San Gregorio Beach, barely south of SF. Go to Duartes Tavern, for Cream of Artichoke soup and great seafood. Take the old stage road after. This road is spectacular through a giant collonade of eucalyptus, artichoke fields, blackberries, blackbirds, horses etc. Drive North from the front of Duartes, and their row of calla lilies, that road, back up onto La Honda and down to SF again. Duartes is where the SFers head for the best.
posted by Oyéah at 2:10 PM on October 23, 2022 [2 favorites]

Pescadero is 47 miles from SF, and 35 miles from Stanford. 1.5 and 1 hour respectively.

It's actually about 8 miles from San Gregorio to Pescadero.

Pretty sure you'll need a car to get there.
posted by kschang at 2:19 PM on October 23, 2022 [4 favorites]

Best answer: For public transportation, all around the Bay Area, you want a Clipper card. This works in 27 different transit agencies around the bay. You can download it to your Android/Apple phone, or purchase a physical card at many Walgreens stores.
posted by blob at 2:42 PM on October 23, 2022 [2 favorites]

Maybe not changed if you've seen it before, but Musee Mecanique in touristy Fisherman's Wharf was a highlight of our SF visit. If you haven't seen it, go.
posted by ovvl at 5:40 PM on October 23, 2022 [2 favorites]

Response by poster: Thanks to everyone that answered - I've marked a few as best answer but they were all helpful.
posted by crocomancer at 7:29 AM on October 24, 2022

I'm adding this in for legacy. I know you are limited to public transportation.
If you like things that are on the goofy-ish side, Garlic World is a straight shot down 101 in Gilroy.
The Children's Discovery Museum in San Jose is fun.
There's The Mystery Spot in Santa Cruz (plus the boardwalk there).
Undoubtedly, it has changed somewhat in the past 20 years, but I liked going to MacArthur park in Palo Alto for a nice dinner, especially when they had jazz groups there.
posted by plinth at 2:14 PM on October 24, 2022 [1 favorite]

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