Two weeks from tomorrow, I will be getting on a plane to take my third trip to San Francisco. While I clearly love it enough to go back three times (having a free place to stay helps, too) I must say that I have refined my tastes a smidge since my first visit. At eighteen, I visited with a friend and had a complete tourist bonanza with her. At twenty (two weeks away from my 21st birthday!), I visited with my mom, so it was a bit more low-key and wine-related. On my third visit, I hope to mix the best of both worlds with a little bit of New Year’s celebration to shake things up a little.
Besides being beautiful, there’s wine. Duh! I’ve visited twice already and hope to go again this trip.
I saw Muir Woods on my first trip and the size of the redwood trees made a crazy impression. I’d love to go up there again and get some pictures, but I can’t imagine January will have the optimal weather for that kind of trip.
There’s no ocean where I come from, so if there is an ocean, I want to see it.
The Castro was way hyped up by some friends of mine, and I went to visit on my first trip. I was on that trip with a friend of mine, and I guess we had both hoped to meet some people to hang out with. It was an interesting experience. First of all, there were a lot of brunch places interlaced with seedy bars. There were a few sex shops, but that’s to be expected. There were 0 lesbians apparent – she was as out of place as Ellen on Queer Eye for the Straight Guy, and I looked like the ultimate fruit fly. The only reason I will ever go back to the Castro will be to either go dancing or visit this cookie shop I still laugh about, Hot Cookie. They make cookies shaped like penises, and I was too shy to buy one at 18.
- SF Item 1: Buy a penis-shaped cookie without blushing.
That Tequila Bar
If only I could remember the name of this place! When I was 18, my friend and I bought an 18$ shot of tequila. I want to go there and smack the person who sold a single shot of tequila for 18$ in the face. After that, I’d love a pitcher of their margaritas. For me, California doesn’t exist without tequila.
I remember being particularly impressed by the SF Museum of Modern Art. Their permanent collection is hearty and impressive, and it’s a great place to get lost for a few hours. If I have a quiet, rainy afternoon, I’ll probably hit up the MOMA.
Golden Gate Park
The first time I went to Golden Gate, I got sick so I wasn’t able to really enjoy it. I’d love to go back and check out all of the history.
Haight-Ashbury, Berkeley, and other niche neighborhoods
I enjoy roaming around neighborhoods. Also, it’s been a lifetime goal to acquire a Berkeley U sweatshirt.
- SF Goal 2: Get a Berkeley sweatshirt.
Sonoma Valley comes highly recommended by friends. I’m a fan of vinyards, and it’s apparently less commercialised than Napa.
Somewhere I’ll Get Carded
I put buying a drink in the States on my bucket list when I turned 21, and I haven’t been across the border since. This shouldn’t be hard!
Also recommended by a friend, the Hotel Whitcomb is beautifully structured. The architecture is breathtaking. I’ll have to get fancied up and go grab a drink at the bar to take some photos, but it’ll be worth it.
This fake cult was brought to my attention when searching for wacky things to do in the city. Apparently, it’s an adult treasure hunt that spans across the city. It’s hard to find more information because the process is supposed to be secret. If I can convince anyone to come with me, I’ll definitely be joining this (fake) cult for an afternoon!
- SF Goal 3: Join a fake cult.
Shrine of St. Francis de Assisi
I adore me some theology. The Shrine of St. Francis de Assisi (for whom the city was named) was erected in 1776 and is apparently the oldest-standing building.
- SF Goal 4: Light a candle for someone at the shrine of St. Francis.
Mud Baths in Calistoga
I also loves me some spa time, and I’ve never had a mud bath. Why not?
- SF Goal 5: Bathe in mud.
Live Music & Comedy
Having entered the city a an American minor during my last two visits, I wasn’t able to visit any bars or clubs. I’ve always been under the impression that SF has a thriving music and comedy scene, and I’d love to hear some live music or watch a live show.
- SF Goal 6: See a live show.
Coit tower is a giant lookout point erected (look ma, she said erected) atop Telegraph Hill. It has beautiful murals and an elevator up to a higher lookout point. Specifically, I never want to have to climb the stairs up to Coit Tower again. The view is lovely, but the trek is brutal and the tourists with the cameras in your face make it a lot less pleasant to visit than romanticized.
Alcatraz is the gigantic prison in the bay of SF that housed many a famous criminal. I visited on my first trip, and don’t think I’d do it again. One, it’s expensive. Two, I hate crowded boats. I learned a lot about the prison and the history was definitely enriching, but to be honest, my favorite part of this trip was the photos afterwards. The warden’s house makes a beautiful postcard.
Pier 39 & Fisherman’s Wharf
Pier 39 and Fisherman’s Wharf are both nestled in next to the boats for Alcatraz on the water, making them the perfect family-friendly attraction. It’s fun for an afternoon of cheap thrills. My favorite part of these two places were the mating sea lions and watching parents try and explain it to their kids.
Lombard street is famous for its view and the hairpin turns. I visited on my first trip and did it via motorcycle and I gotta say, it was mildly disappointing. The turns are so tight you can’t get any speed, and I can’t imagine getting any joy from walking up and down the hill. However, if you’re going to do it, I suggest doing it via motorcycle or bicycle.
The football and baseball stadiums in Oakland and SF
Football who? Baseball what? Fortunately, I’ve only ever had to see the outsides of these places, but that was enough to make me shut my eyes. I suppose it would be different if there was a game on or something.
Cable cars are cool and all, but I move faster by foot and people smell less on the streets. The history is enriching, but the last time I took a cable car for touristic purposes I ended up in some homeless man’s armpit.
Crab Shack(s), Plural
The first time I visited, my friend and I had the brilliant idea of visiting a crab shack. Besides the fact that the food was good and they let me order margaritas underage, I got hit on by a reformed neo-nazi waiter. I suppose it’s OK because he did his time and was working in schools to tell kids not to be prejudiced, but there was something really unsettling about the way he showed me his tattoos. This has turned me off crab shacks forever.
Have any suggestions as to where to go and where to avoid in SF? Please, leave a comment and let me know. All suggestions are welcome.