No trip to San Francisco would be complete without a sourdough bread-bowl filled with clam chowder...
San Francisco.. As you like it
From a secret hillside glimpse of the Bay to a brand-new dim sum restaurant, San Francisco leaves residents and visitors catching their breath in delight.
Ready to Leave Your Heart?
Cut straight to the chase in Union Square. Classic designer boutiques like Chanel and Prada mix with modern labels such as Marc Jacobs on the bordering streets (Union, Powell, Geary and O’Farrell). A visit to the Levi Strauss flagship store shouldn’t be missed. The first pair of Levi’s was stitched in San Francisco in 1873, and their popularity hasn’t faded since. A custom fitting machine will scan you and suggests the best jeans for your body.
Stop for lunch in any of the sidewalk cafés in the pedestrian-only Maiden Lane (between Grant and Stockton streets) or at the Rotunda in Neiman Marcus and then head over to the San Francisco Museum of Modern Art (SFMOMA) to view an impressive permanent collection of important works by artists like Jackson Pollock, Marcel Duchamp and Ansel Adams, as well as several rotating exhibits showcasing the latest in modern-art trends.
Catch the restored, vintage F Market streetcar along Market Street. San Francisco’s oldest thoroughfare divides the city diagonally: SoMA lies south of Market Street, and bustling with life to the north are the Haight (where the Summer of Love started) and the Castro, North America’s gay Mecca and an excellent neighborhood for shopping, nightlife and brunch.
At the bayside end of Market Street is the beautifully renovated Ferry Building, as much a gourmet food destination as a ferry stop. The Ferry Building Farmers Market on Tuesday and Saturday mornings is a taste of San Francisco that shouldn’t be missed: celebrity chefs like Alice Waters of Chez Panisse and Daniel Patterson of Coi are regulars among the fruit and vegetable stalls.
A nightcap at RN74 gives a glimpse into SoMA nightlife. Designed to mimic a vintage French railway station, Chef Michael Mina’s chic lounge features an extensive wine and cocktail list to pair with classic French bistro fare.
Chinese or Italian?
Chinatown is one of the city’s oldest and most colorful neighborhoods. Filled with energy during the day, the shops along Grant Avenue sell everything from souvenirs to silk pajamas under pagoda-style architecture. One block over, Stockton Street is the “real” Chinatown, where the locals shop for vegetables, fish… and frogs! This neighborhood is home to more than 30,000 people, many of whom speak only Cantonese. At the R & G Lounge, the “cult favorite” – an entire chicken, stuffed with sticky rice and deep-fried – must be ordered 24 hours in advance.
A trip to San Francisco isn’t complete without a day exploring historic North Beach. Begin your morning at Caffe Trieste, the first espresso coffee house on the West Coast, established in 1956. Much-loved by the Beat Generation, who made its home here in the 1960s, North Beach still has a feeling of Old Italy and poetry. A walk up Telegraph Hill to view the resident flock of wild parrots will burn off the breakfast pastries.
Come sundown, North Beach turns into one of the most vibrant nightlife areas in San Francisco. Head to any of the bars on Columbus Avenue for live jazz and saucy revelers. Vesuvio has long been a favorite. The more daring will adventure up Broadway Avenue, home to most of San Francisco’s legendary strip clubs.
Golden Gate Park stretches nearly halfway across the seven-mile peninsula of San Francisco and is home to attractions like the Japanese Tea Garden, a traditional tea house surrounded by stone gardens and bridges. Don’t miss the Dutch windmill or the bison paddock, which has held American Bison since 1894.
Golden Gate Park’s crown jewel, the de Young Museum, was founded in 1895 and recently received an ultra-modern remodel, which includes a piece by Andy Goldsworthy at the entrance and a copper exterior that will eventually oxidize to a dark green. The tall, twisting tower provides one of the best 360-degree views of the entire city (climbing the tower is free), and the museum’s collection includes American art and indigenous art of the Americas, Africa and the Pacific.
For the athletic, a bicycle ride over the Golden Gate Bridge is a wonderful way to soak up some San Francisco scenery. Cycling from San Francisco north to Sausalito (a sister city to Viña del Mar) takes about an hour. Taking the ferry back to San Francisco costs $6 and provides the best view of Alcatraz Island and the San Francisco skyline. After disembarking at the Ferry Building, head to Perbacco, a striking eatery with soaring ceilings, a marble bar and a very modern atmosphere. The seasonal menu is heavy on pasta and meats, with house-cured salami as one of the highlights.
South of Market street, the Mission District is home to San Francisco’s large Latino population. From 14th Street all the way to César Chávez Avenue, this district has always had a place in the cultural life of San Francisco. A tour should begin at Mission Dolores, the oldest building in San Francisco. The church, which is still a functioning parish, is home to a historical museum dedicated to the Catholic religion and to the neighborhood. A tiny graveyard is the final resting place of some of San Francisco’s shadiest characters, like Belle Cora, the Gold Rush-era’s most notorious madam.
For one of the best Bloody Marys in SF, head to the “Biergarten” at Zeitgeist, a down-and-dirty biker bar with an outdoor seating area that catches some great sunshine. But a word to the wise: while the tattooed hipsters that hang out here are certainly photo-worthy, they don’t take well to having their pictures snapped. Valencia Street between 16th and 20th Streets is great for people-watching and shopping by day and turns into a street party after the sun goes down. For simple and delicious Italian food, try Delfina or its more casual pizzeria next door.
As you wander the streets, peering through the fog and climbing the city’s 43 hills, try to hold onto your heart. After all, as Tony Bennett famously sang, it’s easy to leave it in San Francisco. In
San Francisco & Beyond
1. Napa Valley: About an hour northeast of the city, California’s most famous wine region has been producing Bordeaux-style wines since 1861. The area, which includes the towns of Napa, Rutherford, Oakville, Yountville, Calistoga and St. Helena, is today home to world-class restaurants like The French Laundry, spas and more than 300 wineries.
2. Tiburon: Located on a peninsula reaching into the bay, this charming town boasts a complete view of the city skyline from just across the Golden Gate Bridge. Quaint shops and restaurants offer a respite from urban bustle, just a 15-minute drive from the center of San Francisco.
3. Alcatraz: No trip to San Francisco would be complete without a visit to “The Rock,” an island in the San Francisco Bay that once housed famous criminals like Al Capone. Tours are led by day or night.
4. The Castro: Perhaps the most famous gay neighborhood in the world.
5. Stinson Beach: Dress in layers for a trip to this beach north of San Francisco. This area was settled after the 1906 earthquake and maintains its historic charm.
LAN Flights: Four times a week, non-stop, from Lima with direct connections to/from Buenos Aires, São Paulo and Santiago (Chile).
Where to Sleep
$$$ InterContinental San Francisco: Though the InterContinenal is a chain, the elegant service and well-designed rooms of this hotel make it feel like an elegant home away from home.888 Howard Street Tel. 1-415-616-6500 www.ichotelsgroup.com
$$$ Clift Hotel San Francisco: Old-world elegance fused with contemporary glamour, designed by Philippe Starck. In the evening, belly up to a bar carved from a single redwood tree at the Redwood Room, where a DJ lends a cool dance vibe.495 Geary Street Tel. 1-415-775-4700 www.clifthotel.com
$$$ Phoenix Hotel: How many renovated motels can boast of Joan Jett, Little Richard and the Red Hot Chili Peppers among their frequent guests? The Phoenix was designed to rock.601 Eddy Street Tel. 1-415-776-1380 www.jdvhotels.com
$$$ Marina Inn: This Victorian-era inn provides a peaceful respite with clean, cozy rooms and basic amenities. The Marina District has a life of its own, with plenty of scenic beauty like the marina, the Golden Gate Bridge and Chrissy Field.3110 Octavia Street Tel. 1-415- 928-1000 http://www.marinainn.com/
Where to Eat
RN74Millennium Tower, 301 Mission Street Tel. 1-415-543-7474 http://michaelmina.net/rn74/
R & G Lounge631 Kearny Street, Chinatown Tel. 1-415-982-7877 http://rnglounge.com/
Caffe Trieste609 Vallejo Street, North Beach Tel. 1-415-392-6739 www.caffetrieste.com
Vesuvio255 Columbus Avenue, North Beach www.vesuvio.com
Perbacco230 California Street, Financial District Tel. 1-415-955-0663 www.perbaccosf.com
Zeitgeist119 Valencia Street & Duboce Avenue, Mission District Tel. 1-415-255-7505
Delfina3621 18th Street, Mission District Tel. 1-415-552-4055 www.delfinasf.com
What to doFerry Building Marketplace Embarcadero & Market Street www.ferrybuildingmarketplace.com
San Francisco Museum of Modern Art, SFMOMA151 Third Street www.sfmoma.org
Japanese Tea GardenTea Garden Drive & Martin Luther King Jr. Drive Tel. 1-415-668-0909 www.parks.sfgov.org/site/recpark_index.asp
de Young Museum50 Hagiwara Tea Garden Drive www.famsf.org
Blazing Saddles: Bicycle rentals at Pier 41.2715 Hyde Street, near Fisherman’s Wharf Tel. 1-415-202-8888 www.blazingsaddles.com
Mission Dolores Parish3321 16th Street, Mission District Tel. 1-415-621-8203 www.missiondolores.org
$$ Moderately Priced
In San Francisco, a mix of high and low perfectly expresses the city’s ever-evolving cuisine, as...