I'm not one of those elitist travel writers. I am not going to tell you that the touristy things are inherently bad. However, I am a huge fan of getting off the beaten track. I love enjoying some of the things the locals treasure. In each of my favorite cities, I have a list of places I have to go. Here are my must sees for San Francisco:
- Borderlands Bookstore: Mission Delores and my obsession with the movie Vertigo brought me to the Mission. Now that was fabulous…it really was. Still, it this little gem that brings me back every time. It is a great store with the best Sci-fi, horror, fantasy, etc. selection. I love the atmosphere and the staff is awesome. Plus, they have Ripley Here is more about Ripley from the store website. Ripley is a sphinx cat…yeah she's hairless. Admittedly, she scared me a bit the first time I went into the store. I didn't see her until I was at the checkout…and then she moved. The next time I was there, she curled up in my lap and I had to have an employee help me move her.
- Huntington Park: If you are in Union Square take Geary to Taylor. Then turn right and make the trek up the hill. There you will find a great little park. Huntington Park is on California and Taylor. If you aren't a fan of the hill, pick up the California Cable Car line, and you can hop off at the park. It is a great place to sit, relax and people watch. The view of the city is fabulous, and the surrounding buildings give the park great scenery.
- Golden Gate Bridge: I know. This is the ultimate tourist spot. However, there is just something about the history of the bridge and it's majestic presence that I have to see every time. I love the grounds at Fort Point. You can spend hours just walking around and taking it all in.
- Chinatown: Again, I know the tourist factor. I had the opportunity to stay in a hotel on Grant Street. The hotel was okay. I mean it was clean and the staff was amazing. The rooms were just tiny and a little too underwhelming for me. Still it gave me the opportunity to get off the beaten path with their suggestions. Yes, Grant is the "heart of touristy Chinatown," but there are other great places that are off the main stretch.
- Ghirardelli Square: Best Hot Fudge Sundaes ever!!! Seriously, they are amazing. It is worth the bus trip out there.
- The Citrus Club and Amoeba Records in Haight Ashbury: Get some great thai at the low key Citrus Club, and then check out the selection at Amoeba. Yes I know this is the digital age, but there is something about all those records, CD's….imports…that makes me all kinds of happy. There is also a great coffee shop just a few doors down. It is a great spot for a post shopping latte.
- Pinecrest Diner: Geary and Mason is home to this 24 hour diner. I've told this story too many times, but I love it. I had just flown in and checked into Adelaide Hostel. I was tired, hungry, and on a budget. The staff recommended Pinecrest. Now it is a tradition. It is the first place I eat when I get to the city, and I usually make at least one late night stop there after enjoying some time out on the town.
- Japan Center: It isn't as hyped as Chinatown, but it is well worth the stop. It has great little shops, and of course wonderful places to get sushi!
I'm sure I will find more must sees in the future…but this is a good start!!