Sunday, July 27, 2008

SanFran Ten

Ten Things to Do While You're in San Francisco

You'll have to take a boat to get to it, but it's worth the trip to go to Alcatraz Island to take a walk-through tour of the old prison and find out more about the island's history, which dates back to the Civil War.

Aquarium of the Bay at Pier 39 is definitely one of my favorite places in SF, and the week of RWA Nat'l is Shark Week at the aquarium (I'm sure it's just a coincidence. Ha.)

Chinatown is a wonderful place to visit, but a few safety tips: go in a group, visit during the day, and stick to the areas with restaurants and shops near the Dragon Gate. Saturdays are when most of the tourists descend and the shops are most crowded, so go during the week if you can. Also, animal lovers, be aware that some shops sell animals for purposes other than being pets.

If you plan to visit the Coit Tower, which offers some excellent views of the city, do read this article, which gives some excellent tips on parking and getting there.

It's always great to walk down Fisherman's Wharf, buy some sourdough bread (this you will see everywhere in SF) or some Ghiradelli's chocolate and look out at the bay. It's probably the most tourist-y place in SF, but I never miss it. Lots of fun.

Everything you want to know about Golden Gate Park, courtesy of SF Gate.

Erik Sumiharu Hagiwara-Nagata, the great-great-grandson of the man who created the Japanese tea garden at Golden Gate Park has a web page with a brief history of the lovely spot here.

The Palace of Fine Arts at Presidio is a great place to have a picnic or check out the Exploratorium, which among other things has a team over in Xinjiang, China to record the solar eclipse on August 1st and a bunch of events scheduled for that.

Take a walking tour around the city of San Francisco with SF City Guides (free, although donations are always welcome; see web site for daily schedule.) If you do plan to walk SF, wear very comfortable shoes, joint braces if you need them, and be prepared to be walking either up or downhill for the majority of the walk, as most of the streets in SF are "hilly."

For the dedicated shoppers, try Westfield Shopping Center, which opened last year with 170 stores and specialty boutiques.


  1. I've done it all! Ha, ha!
    This brings back so many memories...

  2. This is a really nice list -- thank you for sharing it.

  3. Ah, to be in San Francisco again....

    I remember going around Alcatraz. It's well worth a visit, and the boat trip across is cool, too!

    On another trip, my husband and I saw a raccoon in Golden Gate Park.

    Also not to be missed: the Exploratorium.

  4. If you are going to Alcatraz, I recommend reading “Rock of Ages,” a short essayin Joan Didion’s Slouching Towards Bethlehem. It haunts me.

  5. Anonymous6:16 PM

    I love the Exploratorium! I work in Science Museums and once spent a week there, working with their "Explainers".

    Even saw Robin Williams with his kids - a regular family. And the staff treated them like a regular family. They were great.

    It's in a huge airplane hanger that they took over for the museum. Quite awesome.

  6. Been years since we've been to SF, but the Aquarium and japanese tea gardens are top of our to do list. Then there's the flower museum, the beaches...

  7. I can see I'm definitely going to have to do at least a few of these things...chocolate, the GG Bridge and Alcatraz...thanks for the great list!

  8. I flew out early to drive down the breathtaking Pacific Coast Highway to Monterey. Sailed out on the Bay today and spent the rest of the day at the Aquarium. Marvelous day!


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