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kareacter Jan 7th, 2005 11:34 PM

what do you do in san francisco after the touristy bit?
i am traveling to and staying in oakland ca. jan 18th till end of feb. my suburbanite aunt has offered to venture into the city with me but we need help w/ ideas to see or do. i've been to San Francisco twice several years ago and have done all the touristy stuff like cable car, prison, bridge, woods,curvy street, a smidgeon of chinatown. being such a cool city i know theres tons more. so please tell me what do you do in san francisco??? (or oakland for that matter)
thanks in advance!!

lovingheart Jan 8th, 2005 08:17 AM

We visit SF often and we never run out of things to do. We always check out the Museum of Modern Art, go to a stage show or concert, and spend a lot of time walking--Union Street, Chinatown, North Beach, Cow Hollow, Pacific Heights,and Haight-Ashbury are some of our favorite neighborhoods.

Grasshopper Jan 8th, 2005 08:25 AM

Do a bit of reading about SF's colorful past and take the Barbary Coast walk.

It's so interesting to learn about San Francisco in the Gold Rush days and look for some of the old ghosts. Much of what makes up the City today was Bay in early times. There are as many as seven abandoned schooners under the Financial District and Embarcadero areas.

Be sure to get out onto the water. A ferry ride to Sausalito, Tiburon or Larkspur will reward you with wonderful views and there are things to be seen at in each of those places.

If you can get a map (essential - some signs are missing) and take all 49 miles of the 49 mile drive, you may see parts of the City locals don't even see.

Have a great time exploring!

indytravel Jan 8th, 2005 08:51 AM

Explore Golden Gate Park. I spent weeks in SF in the 90's and really never found time to thoroughly explore it.

Take a ferry to Angel Island for a docent-led tour of some of the buildings.

Take a ferry to Tiburon for shopping and lunch.

I never tire of the views of the city from the water, unless there's fog. :-)

Climb up to Coit Tower for the view.

Spend an afternoon shopping in the Castro district. My-oh-my. Is Uncle Mames still around?

Visit the concrete monstrosity of a Catholic Cathedral.

Explore Yerba Buena Island half way between SF and Oakland.

Visit the Exploratorium at the Palace of Fine Arts. It's a very different, very hands-on science museum.

See the Cable Car Museum.

Have Irish coffee for breakfast at the Buena Vista. :-)

Join the locals doing tai-chi mornings in Washington Square along Columbus Ave. There's a pretty church there too.

See a drag queen show. Along the same line find a midnight showing of "Rocky Horror Picture Show."

Near the end see "Beach Blanket Babylon." It has a few "inside" jokes about San Francisco. See how many you can "get" after being there a few weeks.

Get the garlic ice cream for dessert at the Stinking Rose.

Fly a kite in Marina Green Park.

StuDudley Jan 8th, 2005 03:22 PM

Take one or more of the 30 or so free SF City Guides walking tours, sponsored by the SF Public Library. See the following web sit for descriptions of each tour & the schedule.

Stu Dudley
San Mateo (San Francisco), Ca

mikemo Jan 8th, 2005 03:44 PM

Compare canolis on Columbus Ave.

cyberUK Jan 8th, 2005 03:48 PM

San Francisco's "Japan Town" is pretty cool, there are some great restaurants there. Walking through this area is exactly like walking through districts in Tokyo, same shops and signs, same excitement, lots of people.
I brought back souvineers from the Aksaksa district in Tokyo, I could have bought the same items in SF, cheaper.

LoveItaly Jan 8th, 2005 05:27 PM

Wow, you have been given a ton of fun ideas.

Also, take the ferry over to SF and than visit the Ferry Building. It is fantastic now! You could also walk down to the SBC (what is the new name someone?) BallPark. The Conservatory in Golden Gate Park if you love gardening etc.

Also, at 5th and Market is the SF Centre which has tons of small shops plus Nordstrom's and the world most unuaual escalator.

The Cliff House to have a drink and watch the sunset would be wonderful too.

Oakland, well there is Jack London Sq.
In Emeryville there is the shops and cafes. Rockridge has some good restaurants and interesting shops. Imagine your aunt might know of other places. Oh, Lake Merritt of course.

Have fun! How nice that you have six weeks to explore on and off. ((*))

StuDudley Jan 9th, 2005 09:14 AM

>>>walk down to the SBC (what is the new name someone?) BallPark

It's called SBC park - that's where the Giants play. It was formerly Pac Bell Park. The 49ers play (if you can call it that) at Monster Park - formerly 3Com and Candlestick. SF voters have chosen to revert to Candelstick & won't allow "selling" of the park name after a few years from now.

Stu Dudley
San Mateo (San Francisco), Ca

PamSF Jan 9th, 2005 12:24 PM

Do a search on SF here. There are several threads dealing with just your question. You can also click on my screen name and search for SF threads. Sorry, but I am not computer savy so cannot cite the thread directly. Many of us locals have given lots of suggestions for just your situation over the years. If you tell us your age and interests we also might be able to direct you more specifically.

LoveItaly Jan 9th, 2005 12:33 PM

Thanks Stu, so many name changes, I was confused.

And Candlestick and the 49ers. Well lets not go there.

A Happy 2005 to you and your loved ones! ((*))

kareacter Jan 9th, 2005 05:35 PM

thanks everyone! i knew you forum Fodorits would always be here to help w/ great tips. btw i am 31yr/f my friends the same. we are both into history, music, pop culture, whats the hot theater ticket it town in your opinion, i've seen beach blanket babylon last year, what a hoot! i like stuff like that. i've yet to tt my aunt but i'm leaning towards one outing to chinatown perhaps, or other , i'd like to do a neighborhood lunch/shop day. anyone else feel free to offer up their fave to dos in s.f. a ferry ride is neat too, i assume they are wheelchair accessible? or are they the big car carrying kind? i'll do more research, no bother. thanks again.

pollyvw Jan 9th, 2005 09:06 PM

Have you been to:

The Cable Car Museum?
The base of the Golden Gate Bridge?

Have you stopped in one of the shops in Chinatown and watched them make fortune cookies?

MonicaRichards Jan 9th, 2005 09:52 PM

I haven't done this yet, but what about the Ferry Building? It's supposed to be foodie paradise.

easytraveler Jan 10th, 2005 12:14 AM

Marvellous, Marvellous suggestions!

I've just returned tonight from a wonderful day just wandering about San Francisco. I love San Francisco! It's a bunch of very individualistic communities, each with its own character and flavor.

Go dining. There's so much to EAT in San Francisco. There's the Hispanic Mission District (which used to be part of the Bay and is reclaimed land), there's the gay Castro District proudly sporting it's rainbow flag and having a number of wonderful restaurants; there's the first Chinatown, the second Chinatown (Clement Street), and the third Chinatown (Sunset area); there's Japantown; there's Chestnut Street and Union Street and Geary Boulevard and so on. San Francisco is a gourmand's delight!

What did I do today? I climbed to the top of Buena Vista Park which is near the old Haight-Ashbury area, then dipped down and then up again to Corona Heights. Talk about the seven hills of Rome! Someone should mention the seven hills of San Francisco. BTW, there's also the park at Bernal Heights which offer a great view. Then there's the absolutely fantastic view up on Twin Peaks. Oh yeah, and the view from Coit Tower ain't that bad either. Try the view at Alamo Square, made famous by the TV show "Full House".

Go to Little Italy on a weekend and drink some coffee while reading your Sunday paper at the Cafe Roma on Columbus Street. Meet ya there!

Visit some of the churches - I walked around the University of San Francisco today, yes, it's situated on TWO hills and St Ignatius Church can been seen from miles around. Go down almost to the end of Geary and see the Russian Orthodox Church. Go back along Geary and see the fantastic architecture of St Mary's Church.

Go to the Marina and fly your kite there or just park your car and read a book while looking out at the Golden Gate Bridge and Alcatraz Island.

Drive past Crissy Field to Fort Point and walk along the pier and the embankment like so many others. Climb to the top of the hill and get a panoramic view of the Bay. Then drive across the Golden Gate Bridge to the Marin Headlands and get another gorgeous panoramic view.

Drive/take the ferry to Sausalito and EAT there too. You can also wander around the "downtown" area right along the Bay.

I haven't even started listing all the other things you could do! Lo!

Have fun!

dovima Jan 10th, 2005 08:47 AM

As a long time local, here are just a few things I would do with a visiting friend.

If you have time for only one musuem, go out to the Legion of Honor. Spectacular location, great view of the Golden Gate Headlands. The ride or drive out there takes you through some typical, untouristy neighborhoods, including Clement Street, where you are sure to find places for coffee or a meal before or after your museum visit.

If you have a car, drive up to Mount Diablo. At this time of year, you are sure to get a glimpse of snow-capped peaks and there may even be snow on Diablo itself. If you can't devote a day trip for this, then take a quick drive over to Marin to the summit of Mt. Tamalpais.

Visit the Castro district and do the things the locals do - go to the movies at the historic Castro Theater, have coffee at Spikes or Peets or tea at Samovar Tearoom. Shop at Cliffs Hardware - you never knew a hardware store could be so much fun!

Whatever your plans, take some long walks in whatever neighborhoods intrigue you. Admire architecture, views, stop often to savor. I still do - and it's been a long time for me here!

MelissaHI Jan 10th, 2005 11:22 AM

Not sure if this matches you, but these are three of my recent fave places to eat and shop:
Noe Valley (near the Mission District)
Hayes Valley (not really a valley, it's Hayes Street near the Opera House)
Ferry Building

I also really like doing Union Street and then turning up to the Russian Hill area, where there are a lot of Frenchy shops and eateries.

Like easytraveler says, there's so much to eat! I think I must eat my way thru San Francisco each trip.

pumakat Jan 10th, 2005 11:27 AM

check out www.sfstation for event calendars and things going on the city. have fun!!

sgirlie Jan 16th, 2005 08:31 PM

Swan's Oyster Bar on Polk Street. Open for lunch only, a SF institution!

krissy66 Jan 31st, 2005 01:22 PM

Great suggestions above!

Once you've done the city, and if you have a car, visit the Muir Woods. This is one of the greatest surprises I've had in the bay area! It's amazing that 30 minutes outside of the city there is a stand of giant redwoods that are more awesome than any man made skyscraper...I've been to SF countless times, but this was my first trip to see the redwoods.


krix Feb 5th, 2005 11:51 AM

Suggestions for things to do in the East Bay:

Drive along Skyline Blvd (huge sweeping vistas of the SF Bay) in the Oakland hills to Tilden Park above Kensington. Take a walk along Jewel Lake, see the Little Farm, ride the carousel, see the botanical gardens, have a picnic.

Visit Jack London Square.

Visit the Oakland Zoo.

Shop along Piedmont and/or College Avenue. Lots of wonderful restaurants there too!

Visit Berkeley's Telegraph Ave. for street vendors and "out of the ordinary" shops. Take a walk on the UC campus.

Visit the Oakland Museum of CA. Wonderful history!

Take a walk around Lake Merritt, or at sunset have a gondola ride.

If interested in science, try Lawrence Hall of Science in the Berkeley hills or the Chabot Space Observatory in the Oakland hills.

Cheers and enjoy!

~Krix in Oakland

DB_in_San_Francisco May 2nd, 2005 10:14 AM

If you are in San Francisco on a Sunday, and want to experience a very progressive church service, visit Saint Gregory's at 500 De Haro (on the corner of Mariposa) in Potrero Hill. They are known world-wide for "liturgy reform" and they get visitors from all over the world. The service you want to visit is at 10:30am.

This church itself is worth seeing for its architectural and artistic aspects alone. They have a famous "Dancing Saints" iconographic painting in its main rotunda, depicting people such as Gandhi and Malcom X as saints.

After the service, go up the hill a bit to have brunch at one of the many great restaurants in Potrero Hill (I like Aperto, Chez Maman, or Rustico).

For more info go to

DB in San Francisco

cigalechanta Jun 22nd, 2005 08:10 PM

I liked taking the boat to Sausilito for lunch.

andiamo Jun 23rd, 2005 02:55 AM

I'm surprised no one has mentioned it yet, but check out the Palace of Fine Arts near Chestnut street. (I think it's on Broderick) Anyway, it's in the Marina district. It's simply breathtaking, and lovely to just take a walk around. You can even stop at a store on Chestnut, grab some food to eat and have a fabulous picnic. I've lived here 16 years, and it's without a doubt, my favourite place! Here's a site with some info and a photo. Have a great time! San Fran is simply the best!

AprilinParis Jun 23rd, 2005 11:50 AM

The restored Ferry Building is a must. There are many places you can grab a quick bite - Hog Island Oyster, Taylor's Refresher, etc, but if you can make reservations for the Slanted Door - the Vietnamese food made with items fresh from the farmer's market outside is outstanding. It is noisy but it has that great "city buzz" going for it. It is on our list for out of towners and it is always a big hit.

Shar Jun 23rd, 2005 10:49 PM

YOu buy a "walking in San Francisco" book and walk the wonderful neighborhoods, and then find a local restaurant or bar and sit with the folk...I live in the bay area and I do that regularly.

donco Aug 8th, 2005 02:00 PM

San Francisco looks wonderful! DH and I going for first time soon-many great ideas!

KathrynT Dec 4th, 2005 05:53 PM

My daughter and I just took a walking tour of the murals in San Francisco's Mission district offered by the Precita Eyes Mural Project. The tour started with a brief slide show describing the history of mural paintings and explaining some murals we would see, and then concluded with a stroll through the colorful Mission district. We would highly recommend this tour.

offlady Dec 4th, 2005 06:47 PM

Lots of great suggestions already posted here! If you head towards San Jose or Santa Clara, there is the Winchester House museum. It was owned by the heiress to the Winchester fortune that was very superstitous and believed in the occult. The house tour is a little creepy, but very intriguing. A carpenter's nightmare.

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