These are just some of my favs… do not forget the obvious North Beach, Chinatown etc.
Secret stairways everywhere in this city. You usually just stumble on them so it is hard to direct to all that exist. But I recommend to get to Coit Tower go up the Filbert steps and down the Greenwich stairwell. It is way cool to realize these people have no driveway and have to carry all their possession to their house. I cannot imagine the cost for hiring movers. Check out the website for the locations. Coit tower is worth the trip and I would take the extremely old elevator to the top. The view is amazing.
The Ferry Building is fun. It is located on Pier One it is the building with the tall clock tower and the Port of San Fran sign. It is right below the business district. Go hungry and walk around. It is an open market with tons of stores/booths with cheeses, meats, pastries, and other goodies. If you need a gift for someone… this is the place. Go during the week if you can because on Sunday this place is a ZOO. You must have coffee from the Blue Bottle Coffee. It is the BEST coffee in San Francisco. Also get a sandwich or burger at this place http://gotts.com/ So good!
Ok, admittedly I’m not normally a tour-taking person, but this was one of THE BEST tours I have been on. You meet down by the fleet terminal in Fisherman’s wharf pier 43 ½ This van/bus picks you up and you head all over the city. Wiley was our tour guide and he knew everything. We had this know-it-all on the bus that spent WAY too much time in his basement watching movies and every question he threw out at the guide he had an answer. Pretty impressive because these questions were way obscure… Bring snacks because the trip gets a little long (3 hours!) and you will get out at places like city hall and fort point. I also recommend watching some san fran movies before you head out so they are fresh in your memory. The Game, Vertigo, Mrs. Doubtfire, Bullit, James Bond A view to a Kill, Towering Inferno. They will show short clips but it is nice to have a frame of reference.
Bottom line? This tour ROCKS! If you’re only going to do one, I highly recommend it!
Alcatraz tour is quite an adventure. Tips: skip the movie in the first building and head straight up the hill to the actual prison. Do the audio tour first so you beat the crowd off the boat. The audio tour is included in your tour and not to be missed. Also there are park rangers who are there to answer questions and they are great! They tell awesome stories if you get them going. Once you have finished the audio you can now head down to the first building. There is a movie and a museum. Do not miss this but try to get a jump on the masses by running up the very steep hill to get in line first for the audio tour. There are a lot of cells you need to look into etc. and it is hard with 30 people hovering over you. Alcatraz landing site is right down the street from the Marketplace so it might be good to plan for an afternoon trip. Do lunch and then schedule the tour for 2pm or something.
This is the fun Pier with tons of shops, a ferris wheel, and the sea lions that sun themselves. It is fun to walk around. You must stop at the Candy Baron and pick up some taffy. So many different flavors…. It is at the end of the pier on the right hand side across from the magnet shop. Also if you have any dog lover friends there is a store called Le Beastro that has the cutes cards with all varieties of dogs painted on the front. Way cute.
This is the one I like the best. I have done the trolley it was good but it was more fun being up high on the double decker you could see so much more. This is good for two days. The first day we did the tour in its entirety and then the second day we used it as a bus to get around. I would get off for brunch or breakfast in the height ashbury district. So cool. Lot of fun eateries.
Bike the bridge
I think this time we are going to do this. It looked way fun and after all that eating. We will need the exercise.
If you’re in town for multiple nights, make plans to get dressed up and go here for drinks and sunset. Located at the top of Nob Hill (plan on walking or catch a cab) this bar offers amazing views and a classic, old-school vibe. Pick a clear night.
Walk or Bus to Alamo Square
These are my favorite painted ladies. The walk there is interesting and a little dicey at times but worth it. I think we got off the double decker here last time took pictures and then walked to Haight for Brunch. Fun.
Skip the Japanese Gardens
We got off the tour bus at the museum and did the gardens. Pretty but not worth the admission price.
MUST MUST MUST
Sneak into the Mandarin Oriental… not that hard. Look important. And take the elevator to the sky bridge on the 40th floor or so. Spectacular view.
Typically my favorite fitness club in any city. Any time I’m in one of their markets I schedule a visit to one of their clubs. Simply put Equinox is THE BEST large scale health club chain in the country. I’ve been in many of their locations and every time I walk in I feel the energy and mojo. Put it this way, when I worked for their competitor in Boston (see below) I paid for a membership – the only time I’ve paid for a membership to a club in my 15 years in the business. The classes always rock and they get some of the most recent equipment available. The SF location is in an old bank building and the locker rooms are in the former safe – that alone is worth the visit.
For two years I was the corporate director of fitness education for SC/LA and I try to hit the club every time I’m in the city because of the large space and awesome equipment. My recommendation is to schedule a spa service in order to use the gym for free. It’s got a cool interior and a full-service restaurant with a killer view of market street.
Places to Eat
When at the Market at the Ferry Building
Boccalone Salumeria- shop that does all cured meats they have a Salumi Cone where you order three meats and they put it in a cone cup.
Westfield Mall Centre-This food court is awesome. Definitely get a meal here. And shop of course.
Ghiradeli Square- You have to stop by because they always give away free chocolate!
Fancy dining and fun atmosphere….
545 Mission street
Really cool vibe. Fun place for drinks or dinner. Definitely happening. Food was decent but the décor was awesome. Recommend for apps and drinks!
This place was so good. Everything we tried we LOVED. The atmosphere is fun. Red brick…cozy atmosphere. Great date spot. We had the cornbread, fried chicken, tuna tartare…. We kept talking about the meal for three days! So good.