Thursday, 30 June 2016

The great thing about San Francisco is that it's a city of infinite variety.

It's hot and cold, rainy and sunny, bohemian and urbane. Whether you're a foodie, an art lover, a trekker or a current (or recovering) hippie, the city offers enough so that you can curate a memorable—and affordable—experience.

1. Cross the Golden Gate Bridge on foot or by bike

The 1.7-mile span connects the city and county of San Francisco to Marin County. Local tip: Parking on the Marin side is free and the view of the city is spectacular. Access hours vary depending on the season and day.

2. Indulge in a cocktail at the Palace Hotel

Order a custom-made beverage such as the Market Gimlet (organic cucumber vodka, fresh lime juice, tarragon-infused agave) or the Charlie Chaplin (absinthe, rye, Dubonnet Red, honey, Peychaud's Bitters) in the Pied Piper bar, as you admire an original, vibrantly restored Maxfield Parrish. Drinks ring in around $14 each.

3. Explore the new SFMOMA

The city reopened its mecca for all things modern art—33,000 pieces—in a fresh 45,000-square-foot space. General admission is $25; those 18 and younger get in free.

4. Italians do it better at Caffé Greco

Take a break in the heart of Little Italy as you nibble a sumptuous gelato ($4.75) or fresh tiramisu ($5.50) complemented with the perfect cup of cappuccino ($3.50).

5. Feel the 'beat' at City Lights Booksellers and Publishers

Pick up a new copy of Allen Ginsberg's Howl and Other Poems to replace your old dog-eared version. You'll pay about $6 for the paperback or $10 for hardcover.

6. Leave room for City View Restaurant's dim sum

Brace yourself for seemingly endless parade of authentic dim sum plates such as roast duck, salt and pepper calamari, and dumplings of all varieties. Dishes are priced from $3.85-$8.65.

7. Take an educated walk

Experience the exquisite torture of historical house envy on one of the many free walking tours around various neighborhoods.

8. Ride the cable cars

The most fun way to see the city and traverse its famous hills is by historic cable car. Tickets (cash only) cost $5, or you can buy a one-day pass for $13 or three-day pass for $20.

9. Tour the Aquarium of the Bay

You "otter" come see the sea life here, designed to raise awareness and foster conservation of the Bay's fragile ecosystems. An adult ticket is $22.95; seniors and children cost $13.95

10. Sundays in the Park with Lindy

Take a free swing dance lesson in Golden Gate Park and then dance your heart out. Sundays 11-2.

11. Say 'ja' to Swedish pancakes

Can you eat all 18 of Sears Fine Foods "world famous" Swedish Pancakes without any help? Maybe, but it's always nice to share. $11.95, and add bacon or sausage for $3.25, lingonberries for $2.50.

12. See how it's done at Dandelion Chocolate

Sit on the sidelines and watch cocoa beans and sugar become chocolate as you peruse a chef's single-origin flight for $14, which might include a confection or two, panna cotta, cake and a macaron.

13. Get your ride in with Bay Area Bike Share

Find a station and you can sign up right on the spot: A one-day "membership" costs $9; or $22 for three days. The first 30 minutes of your ride is free, but if you return the bike within that you can take it out again later, without being charged more. The half hour "overtime" charge is $4, and then each half hour after that costs $7.

14. Browse the Pacific Heritage Museum

Located in a landmark historic building, this free museum recognizes and celebrates the contributions of Pacific Rim immigrants to the city.

15. Snack at Craftsman and Wolves

No basic cupcakes here: This avant-garde-level bakery is more about a Thai scone with green curry, candied ginger and coconut, or an asiago, sausage and green onion muffin harboring a soft-cooked egg within. Items generally fall in the $3 to $8 range.

16. Play games

Try your hand at the old-timey mechanical games—think pre-Pac Man-- of Musée Mécanique on the Embarcadero. Admission is free and games cost one penny to $1 each to play.

17. Celebrate salami at Flour + Water

Stop for a Mission District snack as you share a plate spread with a variety of charcuterie served with Tuscan butter, picked green strawberry, rhubarb compote and sourdough bread ($18). Most pasta dishes and pizzas ring in under $23.

18. It's OK to be crabby at Pier Market

Smell the briny bay outside as you chow down fresh crab cakes with a side of Cajun remoulade sauce ($12.95) and some signature garlic fries ($6.95).

19. Poke through produce at the Ferry Building Farmers Market

On Tuesdays, Thursdays and Saturdays, local farmers and artisanal culinary creators gather to offer their goods.

20. Say hi to San Francisco's most famous Irish immigrant

It's said that America's first Irish coffee was re-created at the Buena Vista in 1952. Still going strong, the $10 drink is best sipped on a foggy day, and fortunately, there are many of those to be had in the bayside city.

21. Practice casting

Considered one of the city's best-kept secrets, you can practice casting at these Golden Gate Park pools, and take a free casting class (rods provided) the second Saturday of every month.

22. Traipse up the Moraga Steps

Local artists enlisted the help of 300 neighbors to create the exquisite mosaics on the 163 steps.

23. Find your fortune

At the free Golden Gate Fortune Cookie factory tour (and tasting), you'll learn the history of the fortune cookie and learn once and for all how they get the fortune inside.

24. Visit Coit Tower

The elevator ride alone (tickets from $2 for a child to $8 for an out-of-town adult) gets you the grand unique vista of the city; while you're there, take a tour of the WPA murals ($7).

25. Look around at the de Young Museum

Not only will you enjoy the art inside the museum, but you can hang out on the glassed-in observation deck. Tickets up to $10 for adults, children are free.


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