San Francisco - what not to miss?

I will be going to San Francisco next week. I am on a very tight budget, so I already booked a bed at the Pacific Tradewinds hostel (I think that is in the Financial District). Plus I compiled a list of the cheapest, yet good restaurants in SF:
I don’t plan on spending more than $10 on a meal. I know that limits me to a certain kind of restaurants, probably more take-outs than a full meal. But that is fine. If you have any lesser-known cheap places to eat, please post them.
I am also looking for cool things to see besides the obvious tourist attractions. I will be in the city for 9 days and I think I can cover most of those. The city pass will probably be a good deal.
I think renting a bike for one day would be fun, how much would that be?
The best theatre to see Episode II at would be the AMC 1000 Van Ness, right? Should I reserve tickets if I want to see it on about the 22nd? I checked if there are any cool (rock) concerts the time I’m there (May 20th-29th), but I don’t think there are any.
Any other recommendations/stories/warnings appreciated!

You should really go to Los Angeles instead, it’s much nicer!

Just kidding. :smiley:

Haha, I wish I could do both. Some other time I will do a California road trip with my friends, I hope.

Lloyd Lake, in Golden Gate Park. Few people seem to know about it—it’s the city’s only memorial to the 1906 earthquake/fire. It’s a doorway and entry stairs to one of the old Nob Hill mansions, set up on one side of this bucolic little lake, tucked away in the park. Really lovely.

Goddammit, how did that post? I never hit “submit reply!” Anyway, you can find photos here.

Oh, good idea! Frisco is nice and flat and just a dandy place for taking a leisurely spin on the velocipede!

(Okay, sorry. For all I know you’re an Olympic-quality bicyclist and you’ll snap your fingers in disdain at the landscape. But if you’re an ordinary joe, I’d recommend ditching the bicycle idea.)

Don’t miss City Lights Bookstore on Broadway and Columbus, though. And I’m very fond of the WPA murals in the base of Coit Tower.

I meant to get the bike to get to some more remote corners of the SF area. Like the GG bridge. has a calendar of events and lists of restaurants and local happenings.

Chinatown has lots of shopping, nice restaurants and outdoor food markets.

Twin Peaks has a good view of the city, the GG Bridge and the Bay Bridge if it is not too foggy.

Enjoy your holiday! :slight_smile:

rule one, don’t call it 'Frisco.
No local ever calls it as such. usually its just ‘the city’.

IIRC, the SFMOMA is free on tuesdays after 6. not sure, though.
I also think that museums are closed on Mondays. Best to check before hand.

are you looking to do touristy stuff?

there is of course, the trolley. I know you said not to pick the obvious stuff, but not many people realize that it is best to catch it on Powell(sp?) and Market street. There will be a line, but its better to wait in line and be guaranteed a spot. if you try and catch it along one of the stops, it will more than likely pass you up. Take it all the way down to pier. You can also take bay cuises for about 15 bucks. These are nice when you are tired of walking but still want to experence the city.

get a 7 day muni pass. That way you can just hop on buses willy nilly. Take a bus, any bus and stay on it until you see something interesting. The city is small enough so that truly getting lost is impossible.

nice picture opportunities are at the exploratorium. People like to take pictures of the dome. Its also nice to eat your lunch there and feed the ducks/swans.
is there any type of shopping you like? museums? any hobbies you may have?

Re: the bikes-- you may already know this, but there are a lot of bike shops along Stanyan St., which runs north-south along the eastern end of Golden Gate Park (the western end of Haight-Ashbury, which is an interesting place to walk around as well!) Many of them rent bikes, and the park is a good place to ride. They also have a SF bike map which I found very useful when I lived in Potrero Hill for two months last summer. The map shows the designated bike lanes, other bike routes, and trails within city limits, and also color-codes the grades block by block for the entire city (which is of critical importance in a place like SF. Hint: avoid the red areas with grades over 18 percent!) The Presidio, which is an old military installation with one or two square miles of hills, forests, and roads located right at the southern end of the Golden Gate Bridge. It too is a good place to ride a bike, and not too difficult to get to if you’re in Golden Gate Park. (You can go north up 15th ave or 23rd ave., or go all the way west to the Pacific and up the Great Highway. But you’ll be riding in traffic, so be careful.) You can ride across the bridge (windy) and go to Sausalito and Tiburon. If you want to get from the Financial district to the other end of the city (park/presidio), an easy way to go is to follow the Embarcadero, which is pretty level. Bike Route 5 north and 2 west will take you to Fort Mason and the Presidio.

Another amusing thing to see is the Musée Mechanique, which is located sort of “below” the Cliff House, along the Great Highway between Golden Gate Park and the Presidio. It contains dozens of old mechanical games and coin-operated carnival attractions (think “Zoltar” from the movie “Big.”) I heard it is closing soon and moving to a new location.

One nice neighborhood where I used to take walks was located atop a steep hill that looks north towards the big domed building next to the exploratorium. I think this area is part of Pacific Heights. Seacliff, next to the SW corner of the Presidio, is also a pretty (and very exclusive) neighborhood.

IMHO you should NOT go to Fisherman’s Wharf. There is no reason to go there and you would be wasting time better spent elsewhere.

Lombard St. between Hyde and Leavenworth is famous for its winding curves, but if you want to see a similar road that is not full of tourists, go to Vermont Street one block south of 20th street in in Potrero Hill, which is south of “South of Market,” which is south of the Financial District. The first block of twenty-second street at the bottom of the winding block of Vermont St. is the only hill I’ve ever biked up where my wheel actually started to skid on dry ground and I couldn’t keep riding. That is one steep hill.

One more: If you’re in the neighborhood, take a walk through City Hall, a domed building pretty close to Market Street. It’s a very attractive building, if you’re into that sort of thing.

Heh. I know.

That’s why I take every opportunity to do it.

And while we’re not calling it Frisco, let’s also not call the cable cars trolleys.
But if you want trolleys, there are the historic trolleys on the F Market line.

I agree with the Muni 7 day passport. That will get you around a lot quicker and probably cheaper than renting a bike.

Another vote for the Musee Mechanique and City Lights!

Hmmm… One of my roommates is from San Francisco - he almost always calls it 'Frisco (occasionally “the city”). shrug

I really enjoyed the hike up to the top of Angel Island (you can rent bikes to do it as well). It’s an impressive view of the whole bay area. Here’s the site for it.

I lived pretty near San Francisco from 1985-1991. There’s a hole in the wall Italian restaurant called Little Joe’s. I’m pretty sure that it’s on Broadway, in the Italian district. I don’t know about the $10.00 for a meal there, but the food was to die for . . .
I agree that Fisherman’s Wharf is just a tourist trap, and probably so is Pier 39, but there’s a bar on the second floor of Pier 39 that has an excellent view of the Golden Gate Bridge. If you get there a few minutes before sunset, order a drink and watch the last few rays of sunlight dance over the Golden Gate Bridge. I miss San Francisco.

Would you like to get together for lunch or dinner or are you planning on keeping this a solo outing? My job is pretty flexible and have been itching to hit the Stinking Rose restaurant for a while now. I could probably rustle up a few more BAD’s (Bay Area Dopers) if you’d like a larger group?

Thanks for everyone’s recommendations so far!

I won’t be doing too much shopping since I spent most of my money on the flight. But I would still like to wander around a mall just for fun and I am looking for good second-hand clothing shops.
Museums, well since I’m kind of a geek, a technical one would interest me, maybe even a computer museum.
Hobbies: I like reading, doing graphics design, listening to alternative/hard rock, playing basketball, watching movies, trying out new food, learning Japanese.
Check my homepage for some more:

Sounds like fun. Keep in mind though that my friend and I are not even 21 yet (he’s 18, I’m 19) and we are German :wink:

I lived there 1977-1989.

SF has ALWAYS been highly overrated. The tourist bureau is one of the world’s most effective propaganda machines. The city has been ruined by real estate speculation. Nobody can afford to live there anymore unless they owned a house or quadrupled up four wage earners to pay rent.

I suggest that you spend a couple of days there and don’t even go to fisherman’s wharf. Don’t go. Spend the rest of your time out of the city. Go to the hills above Oakland and Berkeley for the best view. Go to Yosemite, up and down the coast on Highway 1. Explore the tide pools at Jenner-by-the-sea. Explore small towns in the Sierra. Go south to Monterey.

Don’t waste your time going to movies. They’ll be there when you get back to Deutschland.

Eh, not a problem, let us know what your schedule looks like when you get it a bit more nailed down and we’ll see who’s available. (Will you be bringing a computer with you? If so keep in touch via email if your hotel room hookup allows it.)

I would take a walk down Polk, Violet &/or Lombard streets @ night. These can be very full of local
culture if they haven’t changed too much.