NADA2019 Show Attendees: Great Places to Visit While in San Francisco
On behalf of AutoFi, I’d like to extend a warm welcome to our City by the Bay.
When I moved from Boston, I worked in the Financial District. After work, I’d typically walk five blocks to a parking garage. During this walk, I had an eerie feeling something was amiss. I couldn’t put my finger on it for months. I noticed clean streets, approachable outlooks, but people didn’t have movie star complexions. Aren’t Californians supposed to have beautiful tans? I’ll get to that one in a bit.
Then it dawned on me. No one and I mean no one was beeping a car horn. Oh sure, you’ll get an occasional tap on the horn, but no bleating horns. Once I discovered this oddity, I looked deeper. No one gridlocked intersections either. People lined up for buses in tidy sneakers and backpacks.
In Boston, we drove with both feet and hands. One on the gas, one on the break. One hand on the wheel and the other gesturing (you know!) out the window.
Welcome to San Francisco. We’re pretty civil.
However, lately, I’ve noticed some changes. More bikers and scooters (full disclosure, I’m one of them) are haphazardly buzzing around. We all ‘kind of’ share the road dodging Uber and Lyft drivers. We’ve gotten a bit more congested.
The next thing you’ll notice is that we don’t have tans. Why? Well, step outside. Fooled you!
It’s foggy with an average temperature between 60 -70 degrees. Our beaches have freezing water too. I’ve decided it’s all a PR trick to sell more warm jackets. You’ll need one. Dress in layers.
Are you worried about an earthquake? Um, well, ok, we do have that. Sections of San Francisco are built on landfill which doesn’t do so well in an earthquake. In the mid-1800s when the Gold Rush captured the imagination of many, sailors abandoned their vessels in hopes of striking it rich in our gold country. Many ships deteriorated in the bay while fill dirt and other debris began to shape the harbor.
We have a lot of small tremors every day. Mostly, you won’t feel them. Should you experience one and it’s dangerous, here’s what you should do.
Done with that; onto the good stuff.
San Francisco has freckles of little microclimates and neighborhoods. Each neighborhood evokes a cherished flavor of ethnicity infused with the San Francisco flair. There’s a remarkable panorama that stirs a hometown feel.
North Beach is also called Little Italy. In one block you can walk from Italy to China.
If you like Italian food, there’s the standard Stinking Rose, named appropriately after a clove of garlic. They have consistently great food. For classic Tuscan cuisine, which is really a fancy way of saying ‘smaller portions’ there’s North Beach Restaurant. They have a cigar room downstairs where you can have a stogie and drink great wine. You’ll feel like you’ve stepped back a century or two.
There’s so much going on in this sprawling micro-neighborhood. This is the place to buy that lightweight but warm jacket. If you’re hungry for good Chinese food go to Capital Restaurant at 839 Clay Street. They can’t be bothered keeping up a website. The servers are over you, pretty much. You’re incidental. Don’t ask for a restroom, they have one, but don’t go. Order the chicken wings. You’ll thank me for that.
Nob Hill and Polk Gulch
Interested in good Korean food priced reasonably? I recommend Hahn’s Hibachi on Polk Street. Order the Bi Bim Bop in a clay bowl. If you’re not that adventurous go down the street to House of Prime Rib. Named appropriately, they have the best prime rib in town. And if you’re into a late-night meal (experience?) go to Tommy’s Joynt. They have a large assortment of beer and carve meat dishes right in front of you.
There’re many pamphlets at your hotel for visits to Fisherman’s Warf, Coit Tower, and an assortment of bus tours leaving from Union Square. If anything, check out the Cable Car Museum. There’s plenty of history and exploratory exhibits to make your visit worthwhile.
Ready for a short ferry ride to Sausalito? Go to the Ferry Building and get a round-trip ticket. Check the schedule and board your ferry at the back of the building. Don’t rent bikes, that’s for tourists who forgot we have hills. Order a Bloody Mary while enjoying views of the bay. The ferry slows down as it approaches Alcatraz. I guess it’s a courtesy to the ghosts on the island. Nah, really, there are no ghosts. They are all down at the Winchester Mansion.
You can stand outside on the deck where ocean spray dazzles you. Breath the fresh air while gazing at the landmarks. If you have time, the Alcatraz tour is immersive with headsets reminiscent of times gone by. I don’t typically like jails, in general, but this one has nostalgic magic.
You could spot an occasional seal head pop out from the murky water.
In Sausalito, you can wander around, eat ice cream, and enjoy spectacular views of the city. Every restaurant is good! I’ve eaten at all of them. People line up for flame-grilled burgers right off the ferry – straight ahead, across the street. Next to it resides the infamous No Name Bar. The back room is the last place where people still gather to smoke, whatever. You’ll find the salty locals in there.
Across from AT&T Park, home of the San Francisco Giants is Hotel Via. Evenings are cool, as you now know, but there are heaters at this Roof Top hang out. Enjoy a drink and take in views of the city.
If you’re extra adventurous here’s a few best-kept secrets.
I hope I’ve been a good little tour guide for you. Make your reservations early as restaurants and events are sure to fill up fast. Please enjoy your time in San Francisco.
Can’t wait to see you!