Get out and enjoy San Francisco

By Damon Lewis


There are many, many things to do in San Francisco week in and week out. To actually sit down and pound out a comprehensive article on the keyboard of my computer would take weeks, perhaps months to accomplish. And unfortunately, I would most likely barely scratch the surface. One of the alluring qualities of living in The City is that there are endless great things to do in San Francisco, regardless of your age, race, sexual orientation or gender. San Francisco is, in no uncertain terms, a cornucopia of activities that cross the spectrum from good to not so good; and nowhere else is the art of having something fun to practiced as well as in San Francisco. Like the distinct personalities of the twenty-five different neighborhoods, there are just as many distinct things to do in San Francisco’s precincts. It should be noted that this is not the synoptic shake-down of all things to do in San Francisco; it is instead a generalized conglomerate of some of my personal favorite “goings-ons” that I feel are worthy of mention in respect to The City’s various methods of passing the time of day. Of all the great things to do in San Francisco, most can unanimously agree that Golden Gate Park most probably has the most to offer. While the weather is very seldom cooperative, it is generally accommodating to anyone willing to don a few layers to combat the temperamental climate for a few hours of the day. Around the central region of the park near Fulton Street and 30th Avenue is the wildly heralded Golden Gate Park Disc Golf Course; a tightly wooded 18-hole course that is both easy enough for the beginner and still challenging to the seasoned veteran. While Northern California is littered with hundreds of Disc Golf Courses, not coincidentally concurrent with the various pockets of marijuana growing regions, the Golden Gate Park Disc Course is generally regarded as one of the finest. The cost to play is free, aside from the cost of purchasing your own discs, and it is only suggested that those who take the time to play the course also take the time to volunteer at the course. And since there are very few free things to do in San Francisco, this is arguably the best deal you can find in The City. While visiting such popular destinations as the de Young Museum, the Conservatory of Flowers and the Academy of Sciences are all phenomenal things to do in San Francisco on any given day, there are plenty of other activities amuck in Golden Gate Park to participate in. Another activity I find to be wildly entertaining is spending an afternoon relaxing on “Hippie Hill” at the far east side of the park around the intersection of Stanyan and Haight Street. Since catching some rays on a beautiful sunny day is not always something you can count on as things to do in San Francisco, the “street kids” that coalesce in this area are a performance all their own in the rain, sleet or snow. There is always a good bit of drama to watch around this area as sure as the day is long, and it is usually not long before these “hippie” kids lose interest in peace and love and trade these ideas for fist to cuffs. Just picking a stationary place anywhere in this area yields some of the most unique “people watching” on all of the West Coast. And this also is one of the few free things to do in San Francisco. But be warned; if you are a smoker you will most likely be conned into giving up more than a few of your smokes. When the granola eating and tree hugging gets to be a bit too much for you, as it does, there are many other things to do in San Francisco that are reasonably affordable. One thing I advise visitors and residents alike to do at least once is bike across The Golden Gate Bridge. Whether or not you own your own bicycle this is an easily accomplished activity as there are many different places to rent two wheels in San Francisco. For those who do not own their own bikes, I recommend Blazing Saddles in Fisherman’s Wharf at Pier 41 or on Columbus Avenue in North Beach strictly for the convenience of the route across the bridge. For just under thirty dollars, you can bike from Fisherman’s Wharf through the Marina District with a brief stop off at The Exploratorium next to The Palace of Fine Arts. From here, it is past Crissy Field and into the Presidio before crossing the Golden Gate, where a ferry is generally awaiting in Sausalito to bring the trip full circle back to Pier 41. While not a free activity, this is one of the best things to do in San Francisco that encompasses a comprehensive self-tour of the city’s more historic districts complete with a fresh breath of sea air at the end of the journey. And since the bike rental is generally for a full day, if your trip happens to coincide with the last Friday of the month, participation in San Francisco’s Critical Mass is one of the more original things to do in San Francisco. Critical Mass was started on September 25th, 1992 as a way to raise awareness to the thousands of daily bike commuters who must share the city streets with the unforgiving chrome bumpers of San Francisco’s vehicles. This three-plus hour, twenty-mile ride around the city starts at the foot of Market Street at Embarcadero and makes it’s way across most of the eastern side of the city. Riders peddle past Delores Park, through The Panhandle and into the Financial District and beyond, all the while forming a mile or more long “chain gang” of outlandishly dressed bicyclists. It is a dramatic turn of the tables as bikers run cars off of the road and do their best to cause mayhem and confusion with locals and visitors alike. While one of the more dangerous things to do in San Francisco, it is even worth posting up along the route just to witness the hostility of the drivers when forced to stare at their own aggressive reflection. No story about the many things to do in San Francisco would be complete without at least a mention of The Mission Districts’ infamous pub-crawls. While rarely an officially sanctioned event, this activity generally occurs seven days a week with the volume obviously turned up on the weekend. There is no right or wrong path to take; and the route between point “A” and point “B” generally contains every other letter of the alphabet in between. Start at The Beauty Bar on Mission Street and make your way south to Cha Cha Cha, Medjool’s roof top bar, Laszlo, and The Docks Clock for some shuffleboard before shooting across 23rd Street and into The Velvet Cantina for some mid-crawl tacos. Then straight back up Valencia Street to Amnesia for a bit of Karaoke and onto The Elbo Room, The Casanova Lounge and finally to Zeitgeist Bar and Grille to relax in the beer garden and wait for the Tomale Lady to show up for some end of the night snacking. And if you can make it through that host of bars, perhaps a few aspirin and a few glasses of water is in order before crawling into bed. While not the most productive list of things to do in San Francisco, a pub-crawl through The Mission District is a must at some point in time while living in The City. While I never mentioned a Giants/Dodgers or Raiders/49ers pre-season game, nor a ride on the cable cars to and from a shopping spree in Union Square, I also had to leave out many thousand other things to do in San Francisco as a way to elaborate a few of my favorites. And even though a night show of Beach Blanket Babylon or a Saturday morning at The Ferry Building Farmers’ Market might seem a bit more mature and productive, I think the previously detailed events are more in line with the underbelly of things to do in San Francisco. Though I can’t begin to even justly list many of the great activities that make living in San Francisco such an interesting lifestyle, it’s half the fun finding out for yourself all the other things to do in San Francisco.