- North America,
- San Francisco,
- United States
This will be my first trip to SF to celebrate my birthday and a whole new decade with my Boyfriend.
San Francisco, California 94117
Tel: 415 626 5939
If you want to look cool without seeming like you're trying too hard, Villains is the place to go. The look is understated but youthful and urban. The great selection of designer T-shirts includes the quirky Gama-Go brand, a local favorite. The cute staff members really know their denim and will help you pick the perfect pair of jeans from their vast selection, which includes 7 for All Mankind and Citizens for Humanity. Sneaker fetishists will have a hard time resisting Villains Shoes next door.
Open daily 11 am to 7 pm.
Founded in 1977 to offer sex information and toys geared toward women, this store is no dimly lit back-alley den. Rather, it's bright, comfortable, and friendly, stocked with condoms, lubricants, books, and videos, as well as state-of-the-art vibrators and other playthings. The knowledgeable personnel will discourse on the finer points of the Rabbit Pearl or the Magic Wand, and on occasion, founder (and sex therapist/educator) Joani Blank displays her "museum"—dating back to 1869—of antique vibrators.
Polk Street location open Sundays through Thursdays 11 am to 8 pm, Fridays and Saturdays 11 am to 9 pm. Mission location open Mondays through Wednesdays 11 am to 8 pm, Thursdays 11 am to 9 pm, Fridays and Saturdays 11 am to 10 pm, and Sundays 11 am to 9 pm.
Foreign Cinema/Laszlo Bar, California
San Francisco, California 94110
Tel: 415 648 7600
One wall of this restaurant's expansive heated courtyard functions as a screen for art-house foreign films—but most patrons don't actually watch the movies. Rather, the flickering frames of Antonioni's Blow-Up and Reggio's Koyaanisqatsi serve as a glamorous nighttime backdrop for cocktails and flirting. The California-Mediterranean cuisine is reliably good, although—again—it plays second fiddle to the scene. The adjoining industrial-chic Laszlo bar has rotating DJs. The whole ensemble makes this a great date spot.—Updated by John Vlahides
Open Mondays through Fridays 6 pm to 2 am, Saturdays and Sundays 11 am to 2 am.
Swan Oyster Depot, California
San Francisco, California 94109
Tel: 415 673 1101
Opened in 1912, Swan Oyster Depot isn't a restaurant, it's a landmark. Today, the fifth generation is behind the original marble counter, and the ground rules remain unchanged. Except for the rich, creamy clam chowder, everything here is served cold. "Cooking" means tossing shrimp salad with Louie dressing (sort of a homemade Thousand Island), shucking oysters, or cracking crab (ask Frank to make you the special Dijon-butter-mayo sauce for dipping). The stools at the long, narrow counter fill up during the lunch hour, so try to get there before or after noon. But be warned, the owners close when they sell out. '
Open Mondays through Saturdays 8 am to 5:30 pm.
San Francisco, California 94115
Tel: 415 922 0337
Located in one of Japantown's quirky malls, Mifune draws crowds not for its decor—red and black Formica tables are about the extent of it—but for authentic noodles at rock-bottom prices. Served on lacquered trays with pickled vegetables and an assortment of dipping sauces, the soba, ramen, and udon all have that perfect al dente bite of freshly made pasta. Order them hot, in a comforting broth enriched with miso or shaved bonito, or cold, sprinkled with hijiki seaweed. Either way, you'll get a meal that's traditional and delicious.
Open daily 11 am to 9:30 pm.
See + Do
Telegraph Hill/Coit Tower, California
Tel: 415 362 0808
Telegraph Hill, once the site of a semaphore that signaled the arrival of ships during the Gold Rush, is now home to Coit Tower, a stark 212-foot monument completed in 1933 with money donated by Lillie Hitchcock Coit. Admire the WPA murals decorating the first floor and take the elevator to the top for the view. If you don't fancy the climb up Telegraph Hill, take the #39 bus (every 20 minutes). Descend via pretty Greenwich Stairway, which runs through terraced private gardens; if you're lucky, you might spot some of the wild parrots that live here.
See + Do
SFMOMA (San Francisco Museum of Modern Art), California
San Francisco, California 94103
Tel: 415 357 4000
This architecturally arresting black, gray, and white museum, designed by Mario Botta and built in 1995, has five floors of 20th-century art, including works by Matisse, Pollock, Georgia O'Keeffe, Diego Rivera, and Ansel Adams. Regular free gallery tours help you wrap your head around the vast collection. If you prefer to explore on your own, start with the third-floor photography gallery and work your way up to the rooftop sculpture garden; then descend via the stunning staircase to hit the remaining galleries. Check the Web site to learn about upcoming—and always excellent—temporary exhibits.—Updated by John Vlahides
Open Thursdays through Tuesdays 10 am to 5:45 pm.
See + Do
Traditionally an Italian neighborhood, North Beach was also the hangout of Beat writers such as Jack Kerouac and Gary Snyder. A necessary stop for any bibliophile is City Lights Bookstore, the bookseller and publishing house founded by poet Lawrence Ferlinghetti, which first printed Allen Ginsberg's Howl. After browsing, grab a cappuccino at Caffe Trieste, where opera singers enliven Saturday afternoons. Stroll through Washington Square Park, where Marilyn Monroe and Joe DiMaggio posed for wedding pictures in front of the Church of Sts. Peter and Paul. After dark, there's no place like Tosca. Opened in 1919, this retro watering hole is a favorite stomping ground for local literary types and international celebs.
See + Do
Chinatown is a prime tourist destination, but it's also a bustling residential neighborhood, where dim sum scents the air and grocery stores sell chicken feet and Chinese greens. You'll find stores that seem to sell everything, from slippers and cheongsams to gorgeous fish-shaped kites. Admire the ornate balconies of Waverly Place then climb up to the Tien Hau Temple (125 Waverly Pl.), lavishly decorated in gold and vermilion.
See + Do
Surrounded by icy water and treacherous currents, Alcatraz was an ideal site for a high-security prison, and unsurprisingly, nearly all of those who tried to escape were caught, shot, or drowned. Enjoy a chilling tour of the jail, closed in 1963, and while strolling the exercise yard, imagine how the dazzling view of San Francisco must have tantalized inmates. The ferry departs several times daily from Pier 33. In peak season, book in advance by calling 415-981-7625, or go to www.alcatrazcruises.com.
See + Do
Angel Island, California
The largest island in the Bay, Angel Island was home to the Miwok Native Americans before being taken over by the Spanish, and it was later used as an immigration and quarantine station. The hiking is gorgeous, despite a 2008 wildfire that charred half the island. Come between February and April for the best wildflower displays. You can tour the immigration station year-round. Climb to the top of 800-foot Mount Livermore to enjoy a picnic while contemplating the spectacular view. The ferry to the island departs from the Ferry Building and Pier 41 (415-705-5555; www.blueandgoldfleet.com).—Updated by John Vlahides