I left my heart in Paris.
March 16, 2007 11:32 PM   Subscribe

Help me fall in love with San Francisco all over again!

Background: Since graduating from high school in 2001, I've lived in five different cities. I've been in San Francisco for almost two years now, and I'm starting to get itchy feet again. Problem? I've got a wonderful boyfriend who was born and raised here, and fully intends to live the rest of his life in this city. Aside from just being stubborn ("Why would anyone want to live anywhere else?!"), he has a few legitimate reasons for being here right now (a son and elderly parents), and I'm not willing to give him up just to sate my wanderlust.

So, I need to learn to love San Francisco all over again! I've gotten bored here, but I know that's mostly because I have few friends (so shy! so introverted!) and I really haven't taken advantage of many of the amazing opportunities this city affords... I'm pretty much just lolling about in my own little world that consists of me/roommate/boyfriend/kitty/camera/laptop/episodes of Heroes. It's a nice life, but I need a change.

I know this is a broad question, but: What do I do? Where do I start?

What do you love about San Francisco? How did you make friends here? What events/groups/whatever were awesome? Any other words of wisdom?
posted by rndm to Travel & Transportation around San Francisco, CA (15 answers total) 15 users marked this as a favorite
There's a lot going on here, and it's hard to make recommendations without knowing what sort of things you enjoy.

I have probably made the most friends playing board games with random people. Muddy Waters is a good place to go for games.

There's a tremendous of Great Outdoors around here. Go hiking. Get a GPS and go geocaching - it will take you to neat places you wouldn't otherwise find out about.

There's a lot of music & nightlife here. That's a terrible way to meet people, but it's a fun thing to do with people you are getting to know from other ways.

This is a great area for cycling - and there's tons of cycling clubs.

Take classes! Dance class, language class, welding class, whatever.

Browse upcoming.org and marvel at all the stuff that's going on. Probably some of it will be to your liking.

I personally love just walking around in the city. I love how the different neighborhoods have such different character.
posted by aubilenon at 11:49 PM on March 16, 2007

I've visited SF many times and for me it's the most 'European' of all the American cities I've visited.

It's a great walking city, it's a beautiful city, it has spectacular views (have you been to the top of Twin Peaks on a clear night?), it seems that a larger proportion of the population than most other cities are 'alternative' or non-mainstream people, so there are lots of interesting cultural and social things going on.

Of all the cities in the world, if I had to live in one, it would be SF.
posted by essexjan at 2:10 AM on March 17, 2007

At a slight tangent, my antennae would be tingling if I was with someone who said "Why would anyone want to live anywhere else?!".

However, as an occasional visitor to the City I think you're crazy not to be heading out and about. Be a tourist for a while. Go up to Coit Tower on a sunny day & get drunk around North Beach afterwards. Get down Mission and eat Mexican food. Head for Twin Peaks.

Drive down to PA and then across to Half Moon Bay stopping off in the forest on the way.

Save a dollar a day for the next year and then go to The French Laundry in Napa Valley.

Go to Burning Man this year and get involved with the community the rest of the year round. You don't have to be an extrovert freak - they're a broad church

Get a MeFi meetup going.

Volunteer - mentor kids, refugees &c.

I had a few friends in the City the first time I visited but being into music (I was running a small record label & DJing in the UK at the time) in such a musical city brought me into contact with lots of fun people.

Damn, I miss the place.

But maybe, just maybe, you need to persuade your man to spend some time away in another city at some point in the future as you have your dreams and pleasures wrapped up in this relationship as much as he does.

Work in a beach bar in Thailand. Do a regular job for a big USian company in Europe (Amsterdam, London, Paris, Munich...). Work for an NGO in Sri Lanka or Indonesia. Africa's huge - plenty to do there. Melbourne, Bangkok, Singapore, Rio, Tokyo. All good places.

But spring is here. Lighter evenings and easier to get outside so just get out there and blow the winter cobwebs away. And don't forget that afternoon extra SF layer :-)
posted by i_cola at 2:37 AM on March 17, 2007

You'll find it worth reading the answers to this question.

In my opinion, San Francisco and the surrounding area are so wonderful when the weather is good that the winters are a real downer in comparison. When you get a lot of sunshine you naturally feel good, and fun stuff seems to come out of nowhere. In order to get through the winter you need to have activities you love that you can enjoy indoors, and you also need to make sure that you take extra care over your diet, exercise and sleep in order to feel OK. Even with all of that, you may well still not feel as good as you do in the summer but it's easier to deal with when you know that the weather is a big part of the problem.

In the short term, I would suggest heading South for a long weekend to get some extra sunshine and see something new.
posted by teleskiving at 3:41 AM on March 17, 2007

I have a nearly physical love affair for my adopted city.
Here's some things that I love love love that you should try. Consider it a scavenger hunt.
1. The Super Griled Chicken Quesadilla at Il Farolito on the Northeast corner of 24th and Mission, make sure you get a side of the best Salsa Verde in the city to go with it.
2. In what other city can you take a mile long hike through a beautiful wooded park in the middle of the city?Head over to Glen Canyon and see one of my favorite walks.
3. Have a drink on the roof at Medjool as the sun sets.
4. If you're going to get drunk in North Beach, by all means do it at Specs
However, you may want some food to butress yourself agains the alcohol, so sit at the communal table at Michelangelo's and meet some new people.
5. Have the Sunday brunch at Foreign Cinemawhere their homemade chicken sausage is so good, I swear the world turns a little slower when I eat it. This is the place where the staff at Chez Panisse go for their celebratory dinners, need I say more?
6. While you're at it. head over to Berkeley to Chez Panise and enjoy some of the best food in the country.
7. Go have a cup of coffee in the best coffee shop in the world (so I'm given to hyperbole) Farley's
Where they let you read the magazines on the (well stocked) rack all day long. And you can play games and maybe do a drawing in one of their communal sketchbooks.

There are so many others: Douglas Park. Mount Davidson. Driving through the presidio.

Driving around, this city takes my breath away on a daily basis.

Stick around.
posted by asavage at 7:56 AM on March 17, 2007 [5 favorites]

I'll also mention, it's actually pretty easy to find people to do something with by posting on Craig's List, all you need is a half-decent idea and a little bit of confidence. You'll have a good time, and you'll be proud of yourself for getting it together. My former girlfriend arranged a few themed potlucks this way and they were really fun evenings, plus we ended up doing different things with some of those same people.
posted by teleskiving at 8:10 AM on March 17, 2007

Perhaps you can satisfy your wanderlust on a smaller scale. Get an apartment in a different neighborhood. There are dozens of neigborhoods around the city, each with its own character. You could move to a new neighborhod every year or two, and not run out for decades.
posted by mach at 8:18 AM on March 17, 2007

Yes, go read the thread teleskiving points to.

Also, go walk around the city. Take long walks and go exploring. Its good for your health, the walk will stimulate you and get you oiut of the house and you will discover something new. I've lived in 5 or 6 neighborhoods since 1992 and its amazing how much of the city I am still discovering.

There's a group at Flickr called Guess Where San Francisco. If you think you know the city well (this is aimed at everyone in this thread) head over there, join us, and get a small sense of how much you have yet to discover.
posted by vacapinta at 9:39 AM on March 17, 2007 [1 favorite]

posted by meehawl at 10:09 AM on March 17, 2007

Response by poster: Thanks for all the great suggestions! I think maybe a better question for me would have been "Where can I find a decent therapist?", because a lot of these things seem like things I would LOVE to do...with my large group of nonexistent friends. I do walk around a lot, and enjoy things on my own, but that's part of the problem, I suppose: It's getting lonely. (My bf is working two jobs for the next few months so his time is limited). Every other city I've lived in, I've fallen into a pretty comfortable social group quite easily. That hasn't happened here, and have no idea how to make it happen.

We do have a few long weekend trips planned, and a longer vacation later this year, so that will help with the Must! Leave! San Francisco! feeling. I'm just afraid of spending all the in-between time feeling a teensy bit miserable.
posted by rndm at 10:48 AM on March 17, 2007

A couple thoughts for those of us who want to be around people but don't always have people to call up...

The Saturday Farmers' Market at the Ferry Building often helps me with the "Want to be around people" feeling. I just love the crowds there -- hippies and yuppies and little kids dancing to the banjo music and bad guitar players and tourists coming off the boats and oh my god so much good produce and fish and meat. I love getting a coffee, eavesdropping on everyone, wandering around, and picking up stuff to make for dinner (on adventurous days, I try to pick up ingredients I've never made before, or sometimes never even heard of before).

It makes me feel like part of the community in a way that's real -- I'm interacting with my neighbors, I'm buying food from my local merchants, I'm using the stuff they're producing to make my day better (more social, more food-filled).

On a completely different note, if you're into salsa dancing at all, Sundays at El Rio have been awesome in the past (I haven't been in a while). Live band, outdoor dancing on a patio that's dripping with flowering vines and shaded by lemon trees, really friendly wonderful group of people. It's too crowded for anyone to do any fancy dancing, so it's pretty friendly and laidback for beginners. I used to go pretty often by myself (I'm also female), and people will ask you to dance pretty easily.

I like to go early-ish (like, right when the band starts, around 4pm) and just stay for a few hours while the sun's out; it can feel weird and lonely to me to be out by myself after dark at a bar, but the afternoon just feels like I'm at a friend's barbecue. Plus, it's less crowded early.

If you want to get out of the city for a bit, I know there are groups that organize hikes on Mt. Tam pretty regularly; they always have announcements up on the boards at the parking lots/ranger stations up there. Hiking always seems like a good low-key way to meet new people, and Mt. Tam is just totally gorgeous (and I say this as a formerly non-outdoorsy type). The website navigation leaves a bit to be desired, but it's a starting place for info.
posted by occhiblu at 11:28 AM on March 17, 2007

teleskiving is on to something. From your comment, sounds like you want to expand your social circle. Here are three suggestions:

1. Pick a cause you care about and volunteer. You will meet people who care about the same thing you do. There are *tons* of volunteer opportunities in San Francisco- animals, babies, hospices, trees, gardens (when I lived in Cole Valley I volunteered at Strybing Arboretum, which was great) and of course politics of all stripes. Plus, it feels good to do.

2. Take a class. Again, you will meet people who are interested in the same thing you are. The UC Berkeley Extension offers a wide range of classes, a lot of them in San Francisco, but that's just the tip of the iceberg.

3. Come to a meetup! I missed the last one myself but they happen every so often, and it's great to have a face and a personality to match up to the usernames here. [::waves at occhiblu::]
posted by ambrosia at 12:45 PM on March 17, 2007

if you're out for a late-nite drive, go up to the parking lot at the legion of honor and you might catch a gang of raccoons hanging out in the parking lot, standing around like a bunch of juvenile delinquents...if you pull up to them and keep your lights on, they'll slowly gather around your car like something from 'night of the living dead'...
posted by troybob at 4:02 PM on March 17, 2007

Events that I love in this city:
The big wheel race down lombard/pillow fight in Union Square and other random events that I find out about through the squidlist. The blue grass fest. Summer movies in the park. The Stern Grove music series in the summer. Monday night blue grass at amnesia.
Things I love to do:
Observe the hipster mating rituals at ritual coffee roasters while drinking a really good latte. Take the bart to berkeley for the suday morning thai brunch. Browse the music selection at amnesia. Walk up to twin peaks. Watch (and one day I'll participate in) the swing dancers in golden gate park on summer sunday mornings. Go to the golden gate bridge viewing spot. A new favorite is going to eat icecream at bi-rite creamery. yum. Sitting in Dolores park with a book in hand on a sunny sunday in February.
How I meet people:
Ummm, I don't but I keep planning to branch out and make new friends. My plans include. Doing the swim from alcatraz to the beach and practicing on sundays off the pier. Playing pick up ultimate. Volunteering somewhere - either tutoring kids or in golden gate park. Joining a surfing club or something and learning to surf.
posted by kechi at 10:00 PM on March 17, 2007

In high school, my best friend and I made the promise to each other we would get over our shyness because we were missing out on too much. Our solution was to just to get out and DO.....and not even together. This comes from someone so withdrawn in public the school wanted testing for autism, but our plan worked brillantly for both of us.

I learned San Francisco alone, by walking all up & down and thru it, because the first couple trips I didn't know anyone. But those walks gave me the knowlege of the city so I could find my way to all the great events going on, and that's where I met folks. Pick something you've been interested in, or any great suggestion above, find the groups & events doing it and go. Then arrange to meet some of the people from that before or after the next meeting for coffee nearby and presto! Socialization is occuring.....and so will your love of the city you're doing it in, I'm quite sure. Have a great time!
posted by mattfn at 1:37 PM on March 27, 2007

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