Insider Favorites: Karla’s Guide to San Francisco
I lived in San Francisco for more than 20 years. It is a city with which you will fall in love. Originally I moved for a job, but the climate, culture, and the endless things to see and participate in kept me there.
San Francisco has a rich history and culture dating back to the Gold Rush. It still retains its “Wild West” roots and is constantly reinventing itself. It is a city best experienced on foot. There are so many things to discover and enjoy, many of which are hidden gems. I love the beautiful vistas that are everywhere in San Francisco. You can walk from one end of the city to the other since it is only seven square miles.
One of my favorite things to do is to ride the cable car; it is a rolling museum of San Francisco history and engineering prowess. It is the best way to get to Fisherman’s Wharf or Ghirardelli Square, where you can visit the Buena Vista for an Irish coffee (they invented them here). Whatever you enjoy, you can find in San Francisco: recreation, culture, sports, music, and wine. It is an innovation center so the people are truly exceptional.
I want to share with you my favorite…
- Quick-service restaurant: Roam Burgers is quick and tasty and uses organic ingredients.
- Mid-range restaurant: Alfred’s Steakhouse is classic San Francisco with chandeliers and red leather booths, makes a strong martini, and serves delicious grass-fed aged beef.
- Fancy restaurant: For a beautiful seafood dining experience Farallon is a treat. The beautiful “under-the-sea” décor makes you feel as if you are in an underwater paradise. The seafood is fresh caught and delicious (and expensive). It is named for the rugged islands off the coast of San Francisco.
- Al fresco dining spot: MarketBar at the Ferry Building has outdoor seating and a nice menu for either drinks or dining.
- Chill bar: The Big 4 at the Scarlet Huntington Hotel is a classic San Francisco place where you will run into the Nob Hill elite. I love ordering a glass of champagne at the bar.
- Cocktail bar: Reed and Greenough for a cool upscale lounge atmosphere and artisan cocktails.
- Dance club: I really like concerts and live music so when there is a band at Bimbo’s I love to dance there. It is owned by a San Francisco family and is classy and elegant.
- Live music venue: The Fillmore is my favorite place for live music. It is legendary; the most famous rock and roll bands performed here in the 1970s.
- Sporting event: A Giants baseball game on a warm day!
- Hiking trail: Crissy Field provides spectacular Golden Gate Bridge views while walking along the bay and beach.
- Place to get a view of the city: View Lounge at the Marriott Marquis.
- Place to watch the sunset: Top of the Mark with a glass of champagne!
Culture and Attractions
- Museum: California Palace of the Legion of Honor is a gorgeous building with Rodin sculptures in the courtyard and a dramatic fountain and beautiful art.
- Historical landmark: The Palace Hotel for afternoon tea or champagne Sunday brunch.
- Place to take your family: The Exploratorium on Pier 15. There are all sorts of educational displays and hands-on activities to stay amused for hours, plus there are beautiful bay views and a café to keep everyone happy.
- Place to take your special someone: Stow Lake at Golden Gate Park—rent the paddle boats, take a picnic, and enjoy the beautiful scenery.
- Brand-name shopping mall: Westfield San Francisco Centre is a vertical urban mall with Bloomingdales and Nordstrom as the anchors. There is a movie theater, lots of restaurants, and a day spa.
- Boutique shopping spot: Fillmore Street has one-of-a-kind boutiques and only a few chains. There are global brands that may only have a few US stores located here including Ruti (Israeli designers), Elizabeth Charles, and so many others.