Sunday, April 27, 2014

One day in San Francisco: Top five things to do

Tony Bennett couldn't be more spot on when he sang, “I left my heart in San Francisco”.  As a former San Franciscan, I always get a pang of pride and nostalgia when I am back in the city. Since San Francisco is only approximately 7 miles wide and 7 miles long, (7.5 miles by 9.5 to be exact) it is very easy to get around the city and explore all the amazing things it has to offer. I could write post after post on the wonders of the city by the bay, but instead I would like to share the top five things I would do if I only had one day!

1. Get my burrito on.

One of the things I miss most in Paris is the ability to have a burrito whenever I want. As a native Californian, it's something I took for granted until I lived abroad (and holy guacamole, how I miss them!). San Francisco is littered with amazing Taqueria’s that dish up superb burritos. However, it’s fair to say that most San Franciscan’s have their own special burrito spot and can spend a great deal of time explaining why their taqueria spot makes THE best burrito. My friends who live in the Mission - where many of the best Taqueria’s are (on 24th street) - rave about Taqueria Guadalajara As for me, my favorite burrito spot is Gordo’s. Gordo’s isn’t the best taqueria in San Francisco, but it has my favorite burrito. The burritos are always consistent and you know exactly what you are going to taste with each bite. The Gordo’s I go to is on Geary Blvd., however there are three in the city. Gordo’s has no frills and the menu is simple: the gordo plate, tacos, quesadllia’s, burritos or the super burrito. A burrito with meat (chicken, carnitas, beef, chile verde) will cost you just under $5.00. For a whopping $7.10, you can get a super burrito (the size of most small babies). Because Gordo’s is open between 10:00am and 10:00pm I can pop in and get a burrito at any time of the day!

Veggie SUPER burrito coming right up!
Even these folks are getting their Gordo's on! 
5450 Geary Blvd, San Francisco, CA 94121
Oh yeaaaaaaa.
2. Spend AT LEAST an hour in the Golden Gate Park.

For me, the Golden Gate Park in San Francisco is like Disneyland; it’s one of the happiest places on earth. The look and feel of the park changes so drastically due to the unpredictable micro-climate of San Francisco. You can visit the park several times but depending on the weather, have a completely different experience. In the fog or in the sunshine, there are plenty of activities to do in the park.
Beach entrance 
Springtime flowers
Take a moment to walk through the Eucalyptus trees
Walking through the giant ferns feels as though you have been teleported to Jurassic era 
A Victorian confection of wood and glass, the Conservatory of Flowers, which opened in 1879, is the oldest building in Golden Gate Park
The Music Concourse, between the California Academy of Sciences and the de Young Museum
Sometimes you have to stop, smell the wild flowers and soak up the sun when it's shining! 
Just take a leaf out of this San Franciscan's manual, she looks pretty happy from where I am standing.

3. Visit one of San Francisco’s coffee houses.

San Franciscans take their food and drink very seriously and this of course includes their coffee. Most independent coffee houses focus on the quality of the bean as well as the process but of course aesthetics of WHERE you drink your coffee is extremely important. Most of the “serious” coffee houses have been very carefully curated to provide the perfect environment for their coffee aficionado’s. A friend of mine who takes her morning caffeine kick with a paramount of importance, took me to Trouble coffee shop in the Outer Sunset district. But don’t expect to come to Trouble coffee to catch up on your emails or surf the web, technology is not allowed! Ok, they don’t actually say that BUT they strongly discourage smart phone use and try and promote customers to take time away from technology. There is no wi-fi or outlets in the coffee shop, and indoor seating is scarce (there's two bar stools at the bar). However there is seating in front of the coffee shop, the perfect environment to meet locals and be outside.

That's one tasty cup of Joe!
4. Browse through and pick up a book (or two) from City Lights Bookstore.

Every time I am in San Francisco I make the pilgrimage to this literary landmark. City Lights bookstore (booksellers AND publishers) was founded in 1953 by poet Lawrence Ferlinghetti and Peter Martin. City Lights is one of the last great independent bookstores in the United States…and it is a gold mine. Resting in the heart of North Beach, City Lights was also the birthplace, nucleus, platform, and meeting center of the “beats” generation. With three floors both of new-release hardcovers and paperbacks, one can spend an endless amount of time skimming through the collection of books they offer (poetry, fiction, translations, politics, history, philosophy, music, spirituality and more...). The staff themselves have a deep love for the written word and are extremely knowledgeable, friendly and helpful. City Lights also offers a weekly reading by an author. Whenever I go into City Lights I have an idea of what type of book I want, but I always end up coming out with something completely different than planned (and I am so happy I did).

Every book you want and more!
And the beat goes on....
An endless sea of beautifully colored stacks of knowledge
Don't forget there is an entire basement filled of books! 3 levels of glorious words.
Open door. Open books. Open mind. Open  heart.:  City Lights-Booksellers & Publishers
5. Have a drink at a dive bar with friends.

A pass time of many San Franciscans is drinking around town.There are countless options when getting boozy in the city. You can take your pick from beer gardens (Zeitgeist), speakeasy’s (or even a speakeasy with in a speakeasy (Wilson and Wilson), tiki (Trader Sams), cocktail (Trickdog), specialty beer bars (Toronado), dive bars (Phone Booth), tequila bars (Tommy’s) and there are even family-friendly soda and ice cream bars (The Ice Cream Bar)! AND the list goes on and on... All are great fun but when I am in the city I love to have one dive bar night with the locals and friends. Since my first encounter in the early 2000’s, Casanova has never let me down. In my experience, the course of the night is always altered at this bar and good things happen. Located on 527 Valencia St, San Francisco, it has stood against the gentrification of the mission and thus far managed to keep all the qualities of a good solid SF dive bar.

Casanova! Hey guy!
Mustaches and hipsters 
Standard dive bar ingredients 
Always a great place to kick back and enjoy the company of friends (heeeey sexeh lady!)
Nothing like a pint of Guinness to end a full day of San Francisco amazingness! 

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