Good Life: Weekend in San Francisco
- June 2012
- • Community
In many ways, San Francisco is the opposite of Las Vegas. The mild weather – complete with foggy days – and the city’s location right on the water makes San Francisco a great escape from the heat of Southern Nevada.
Hop on a plane, and in about two hours the desert will be a distant memory. World-class restaurants, well-preserved historical sites and a relaxed vibe help make San Francisco a perfect weekend getaway.
San Francisco is a foodie’s paradise. Start your weekend off right with dinner at the highly-praised Flour + Water (2401 Harrison Street, 415.826.7000). Chef Thomas McNaughton provides guests with fresh pasta and pizza dishes that certainly aren’t the standard spaghetti and meatballs. The current menu features dishes such as radiatore with braised hen, speck, chard and chili, and agnolotti dal plin. Make reservations ahead of time or expect to wait for a table. This is a popular spot for locals and visitors alike.
San Francisco offers a wide variety of accommodations, from golf-and-spa resorts to luxury boutique hotels. The Ritz Carlton, Half Moon Bay (1 Miramontes Point Road, 650.712.7000) is a fabulous option if you’re interested in the former. Located along the beautifully rugged California coastline, this luxury resort offers fantastic views, access to two championship golf courses and a 16,000 square-foot spa.
For a funky boutique hotel, consider the Palomar Hotel (12 Fourth Street, 415.348.1111), located on the edge of Union Square and the vibrant South of Market District. Contemporary room décor, in-room spa services and the sophisticated Fifth Floor Restaurant and Lounge make this a unique accommodation choice in San Francisco.
Another option is to stay right in the heart of history. The Fairmont Heritage Place, Ghirardelli Square (900 N. Point Street, 415.268.9900) features luxurious one, two and three bedroom suites that come complete with gourmet kitchens and inviting fireplaces.
Explore Golden Gate Park. Green and lush, the park is a nice contrast to the Las Vegas landscape. Take a stroll through the San Francisco Botanical Garden (formerly known as Strybing Arboretum) or stop by Stow Lake. If you’re a kid at heart, rent a paddleboat and hit the water.
The park is home to several attractions including the California Academy of Sciences (55 Music Concourse Drive, 415.379.8000), the historic Conservatory of Flowers (100 John F. Kennedy Drive, 415.831.2090) and the de Young Fine Arts Museum (50 Hagiwara Tea Garden Drive, 415.750.3600). The de Young houses over 27,000 works of art and is particularly well-known for its American painting collection. Before you leave, don’t forget to climb the de Young Museum tower, at the top of which is the Hamon Tower Observation Floor. From 144 feet in the air, you’ll enjoy some of the best views of the city.
Another option for art-lovers is the San Francisco Museum of Modern Art (151 Third Street, 415.357.4000). The first museum devoted to modern art on the West Coast, SFMOMA is home to works by artists like Joan Mitchell, Jasper Johns, Franz Marc, Louise Bourgeois, Mark Rothko and Rineke Dijkstra. Upcoming special exhibitions include a retrospective of photographer Cindy Sherman’s work and Stage Presence: Theatricality in Art and Media, which will focus on the intersection between fine arts and performing arts.
For lunch, head over to Pacific Catch (1200 Ninth Ave., 415.504.6905), located right across the street from Golden Gate Park. Order the classic pisco sour or try an agave margarita. Pacific Catch offers a variety of sushi and Pan-Asian dishes including the Japanese wasabi rice bowl and the spicy mahi mahi sandwich.
After lunch, find a cab and make your way north so that you can take a closer look at the famous Golden Gate Bridge. Celebrate its 75th anniversary by taking a stroll across this engineering icon. The walk takes about an hour round-trip. Make sure you have your camera ready for the spectacular views.
Spend your Saturday evening at Fisherman’s Wharf, the touristy part of town that is anything but soothing. The bright lights and bustling crowds make this a great spot for those travelling with children. For dinner, find a seafood vendor and grab a bowl of clam chowder.
If strolling around Fisherman’s Wharf has made you yearn for a cocktail or two, check out Bimbo’s 365 Club on Columbus Avenue (415.474.0365). Bimbo’s is the place for music and drinks in a swanky atmosphere. This club has hosted a long list of musical acts including Adele, Beck, Train, Concrete Blonde, The Flaming Lips, Chris Isaak, Jill Scott and The Raconteurs. If that doesn’t seem to fit your musical taste, consider a night at the opera. The San Francisco Opera (301 Van Ness Ave., 415.861.4008) is offering several summer performances in the lovely War Memorial Opera House. Arrive an hour early to hear a pre-performance talk by music scholars
No time to sleep in. Today, head over to Pier 33 and take the ferry to Alcatraz. Enjoy a nice view of the San Francisco skyline during the ferry ride, and then explore the former prison. This isolated island is surprisingly pleasant considering that it used to serve as the home to some of America’s most dangerous criminals. The audio tours are excellent and provide visitors with first-hand accounts of both prison guards and inmates. You may be surprised to learn that the families of the guards also lived on the island and felt so comfortable there that they often left the doors to their homes unlocked. Visitors should buy their tickets ahead of time, since tours do sell out on the weekends.
After you return from Alcatraz, walk to the Embarcadero and explore the shops and restaurants in the Ferry Building Marketplace (1 Ferry Building, 415.983.8030). Stop by Ferry Plaza Wine Merchant, which offers a variety of wines, cheese plates and other snacks.
If you have time before your flight, take the ferry to Sausalito, rent a bicycle and do some exploring. The ferry ride takes about 30 minutes and departs from the Ferry Building every day except major holidays.
Looking to end your weekend getaway on an adventurous note? Time it to coincide with this year’s America’s Cup World Series regattas (Aug. 21-26 and Oct. 4-7). Those wanting a taste of the action can enjoy some sailing excitement of their own aboard the racing yacht USA 76, a boat with a long list of racing victories. Public sailings, private excursions and corporate events aboard the ship are available through AC Sailing SF (855.227.3201). What better way to escape than experiencing freedom on the water?