When I’m traveling abroad and I tell people I’m from San Francisco, the response I often get is a big smile followed by an “I love San Francisco” declaration. I’ve been collecting my favorite things to do in San Francisco throughout my ten years here, and these are at the top of the list.
1. The Farmer’s Market at The Ferry Building
The Ferry Building is home to Blue Bottle Coffee, artisan breads, chocolates and cheese shops, and loads of other wonderful treats for your sweet and savory tooth — all in a gorgeous building with 180 degree views of the San Francisco bay, ferries coming and going, and the Bay Bridge. On Saturday mornings and Thursday afternoons, the ferry building hosts The Farmer’s Market, and the feast of free tastings and fresh, organic fruits and food stands grows even greater in abundance.
2. Walking from Chrissy Field to The Golden Gate Bridge
Get your exercise on while watching locals and visitors run and bike pass you on this part-sidewalk, part-gravel walk that takes you past a dog beach, The Presidio, and plenty of windsurfers and sailboats. Along the way, stop in at the Warming Hut for hot chocolate to keep you toasty on your way to the base of the Golden Gate Bridge. On your walk back, views of Alcatraz will be front and center.
3. Valencia Street
Valencia Street, in the heart of the hipster Mission District is chock full of free street art, cute cafes, small boutiques, and delicious eats, ranging from cheap authentic Mexican food to thin and thick crust pizza, California cuisine and Peruvian food. At night, the dive bar scene is hopping – perfect for mixing with locals.
4. Dolores Park
Dolores Park, in the middle of the Mission District, is the ultimate playground for adults in San Francisco. There are six tennis courts, a multi-million dollar kiddie playground, and a series of rolling lawns where hipsters abound, eating Bi-Rite ice cream, playing the bongo, tossing frisbees, and soaking up the sun. All the elements that combine to make San Francisco the unique place it is come together at the park — the hippies, preppies, gays and hipsters — making for rather interesting people watching.
5. Golden Gate Park
Rent a bike and ride through Golden Gate Park, all the way to Ocean Beach. Stop off for a wander at the Japanese Tea Garden, the the botanical gardens and Stowe Lake, where, if you get tired of biking, you can rent paddle boats and row boats to mix things up. In San Francisco, your pick of outdoors activities, delicious cheap eats and stunning surroundings are endless.