A few years ago, I was in San Francisco and had a pretty decent time. I was locked up in Alcatraz, I broke some laws on Castro Street, I ate some Chinese food, I saw some big otter-like critters, you know, the important things. But beyond a quick long weekend, I’ve never spent much more time there, or really ever considered it to be a high-priority city to explore.
I was pretty darn fortunate though, as a work conference crated me up and shipped me out to the other coast for a week, and Gabe tagged along for a few days of it!
Something that was a bit out of character for me was that I really didn’t plan much for the trip. Sure, I knew I’d be working most of it, but for the 4 days that I had off, I really only made a small list of things to do, and of course, everything on the list involved eating or drinking something.
My San Francisco Favorites
1. Doughnuts. Need I say anymore? If you read my blog, you know I love dougnuts. I eat a lot of doughnuts. For crying out loud, I plan my life around doughnuts ( not realllly). So after a quick yelp search, I found that a crazy-fancy, crazy-exotic doughnut shop, Dynamo Donuts, was in the trendy Mission District of SF. Done.
What I didn’t really consider, though, was that I really should have planned my timing a bit better. We arrived Saturday afternoon about 30 minutes before closing, and unsurprisingly, they only had 3 flavors remaining. Don’t mind if I do. Apricot Cardamom. Ginger Orange. Bitter Grapefruit.
They are also known for their bacon doughnut, of course, right? In case you live under a rock, bacon is pretty damn popular right now, have you heard?
2. Microbrews. How could I go to a hipster city and not over-indulge with microbrews? It’s impossible. Even though I was jet-lagging and hurting, the first night we headed over to Magnolia. It’s a tiny place in the Haight that fits the mold for a perfect urban-hip restaurant/bar. They make all their own beer, and it is pretty darn good.
It’s not a huge operation, so their offerings for the day are somewhat limited, but everything we tried was really incredible. Magnolia positively has the most whistle-wetting brew in town.
We stopped at a couple of other brewpubs in town, but Magnolia was the real standout. Another big beer win was The Monk’s Kettle. It’s another tiny little neighborhood place, but instead of making beer on site, they specialize in a wide list of microbrews and imported specialties. What’s more, they also have really, really good food. We just had some snacks there, but it was all handcrafted, deliciousness.
3. Bison. Ok, look, I like bison. I’ve been on a bit of a high the last couple of months, after we have been doing a lot of really cool stuff with the legendary beasts at work. Being nose deep in brucellosis-free bison for the last few months, when I heard that real-life bison lived in San Francisco, I found another thing to add to the list. So on a beautiful Sunday, we trekked west to Golden Gate State Park.
We walked the full length of the park, all the way to the sand-in-your-face beach. Of course, we stopped for a nice viewing of the bison at the Bison Paddock. Sure, there were only a few, but it’s a heck of a lot more living bison than I see on my normal day.
4. Tales Of the City Inspiration. Sometimes I get nerdy. And sometimes actually more-than-usually equates to always. I recently finished the Tales of the City series by Armistead Maupin. If you haven’t read them, you really have to. These tales are quick reads, and impossible to put down once you start.
Since the stories take place in San Francisco, I was geeking out seeing the neighborhoods and landmarks that the stories are happening around. I may not have actually spotted Miss Madrigal, but I tried my damn hardest. P.S. going through Golden Gate State Park, I also was looking for the cabin that Prue was shacking up in. I’m convinced it’s just hidden very, very well.
5. Our BB. Sicko, it means Bed and Breakfast. Before my conference began and I carted downtown, we stayed right in the heart of the Castro at 24 Henry Guesthouse and had such a time! The Inn is just 3 blocks from all of the action of the Castro, but secluded on a small side street so it is relatively quiet. Throughout our stay, I couldn’t help but to feel like I was living through the Tales of the City days and that our host was really a real-life version of a character. Ok, I need to stop obsessing.
Really, though, Walt, the owner of 24 Henry is such a great guy. He’s had the B&B for about 20 years, and really makes you feel at home and welcomed to the city. Free breakfast cannot be underestimated in an expensive town, so the continental breakfast and coffee included with our stay really did wonders after some long nights. Full of great conversation, and great advice to maximize your stay, Walt increased the quality of our stay tenfold.
My San Francisco Not Favorites
1. Shopping. Ok so this is misleading. I actually bought a lot of clothing while I was there. And I could have and almost did buy more. In actuality, the shopping offerings in town, and most notably in Union Square, are incredible. But, well, as a 20-something, over-spending is already a problem, so the temptation killed me. If you like to shop, go to Union Square. If you don’t have money to shop with, avoid it like a plague.
2. Crazies. They are everywhere. A friend mentioned that coastal cities are magnets for people with mental disease, as it is an “end of the line” destination. An interesting concept, and it seemed a bit true. While we were returning from devouring my adored doughnuts, we basically were forced to stop walking a block up as a mentally-unstable person was being violent with passing cars and ended up running around the street naked while brushing her teeth. I guess I was looking for a “local” experience.
3. Cash. I thought DC was bad about cash-only places. SF really needs to get with it and accept credit cards. Aren’t we still in a recession or something? Who has cash, anyway? Plus, how do I buy a round of shots for everyone at the bar with cash? No.