Guidebook for San Francisco

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Guidebook for San Francisco

Food Scene
Nearby, comfortable places to sit.
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Starbucks
675 Portola Drive
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Nearby, comfortable places to sit.
Terrific Middle Eastern Food. Get the Hummus appetizer and some kebabs!
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Bursa Restaurant
60 West Portal Avenue
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Terrific Middle Eastern Food. Get the Hummus appetizer and some kebabs!
Can't go wrong for breakfast here. Everything is excellent. Sometimes there's a line, but it's worth the wait.
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Toast Eatery
160 West Portal Avenue
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Can't go wrong for breakfast here. Everything is excellent. Sometimes there's a line, but it's worth the wait.
This is some of the best Indian food in the city, much better than India Clay Oven on the other end of West Portal.
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Roti Indian Bistro
53 West Portal Avenue
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This is some of the best Indian food in the city, much better than India Clay Oven on the other end of West Portal.
Wonderfully kitschy Mexican decor, dependable Tex-Mex and HUGE servings
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El Toreador
50 West Portal Avenue
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Wonderfully kitschy Mexican decor, dependable Tex-Mex and HUGE servings
Within walking distance of our house. A cute little French bistro.
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ChouChou French Bistro
400 Dewey Boulevard
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Within walking distance of our house. A cute little French bistro.
This is the best nearby Chinese food for delivery. The quality is consistently good, and they deliver in about 30 minutes
Nan King Road Bistro
1360 9th Avenue
This is the best nearby Chinese food for delivery. The quality is consistently good, and they deliver in about 30 minutes
This is a 10-minute bus ride away. Some of the best Chinese food in the city. They don't take reservations and there's usually a line. Don't miss the carmelized chicken wings!
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San Tung
1031 Irving St
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This is a 10-minute bus ride away. Some of the best Chinese food in the city. They don't take reservations and there's usually a line. Don't miss the carmelized chicken wings!
This is a 10-minute bus ride away. Really some of the best Japanese food in town. Go early to avoid the lines. It's a good place for lunch after a morning exploring Golden Gate Park. They close at 2 p.m. and re-open at 5:30 pm.
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Ebisu Restaurant
1283 9th Avenue
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This is a 10-minute bus ride away. Really some of the best Japanese food in town. Go early to avoid the lines. It's a good place for lunch after a morning exploring Golden Gate Park. They close at 2 p.m. and re-open at 5:30 pm.
Excellent, healthy food.
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Fresca Restaurant
24 West Portal Avenue
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Excellent, healthy food.
You'll have to take the bus, but this is the BEST Mexican food in town. Get a crispy taco or a burrito. They only take cash, and there's usually a line. Totally worth it. We have a friend from New York who insists on coming here every time she visits.
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La Taqueria
2889 Mission St
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You'll have to take the bus, but this is the BEST Mexican food in town. Get a crispy taco or a burrito. They only take cash, and there's usually a line. Totally worth it. We have a friend from New York who insists on coming here every time she visits.
If you're going to do a touristy restaurant in Fisherman's Wharf, this is the best one. A terrific view. The kids can watch the boats and the kite surfers while you have a cocktail. My parents took me there when I was a kid because I'd be entertained. I'd recommend this for lunch, or a snack with a drink. Buying dinner there costs a fortune.
Franciscan Crab Restaurant
Fisherman's Wharf
If you're going to do a touristy restaurant in Fisherman's Wharf, this is the best one. A terrific view. The kids can watch the boats and the kite surfers while you have a cocktail. My parents took me there when I was a kid because I'd be entertained. I'd recommend this for lunch, or a snack with a drink. Buying dinner there costs a fortune.
Best soup dumplings outside of China.
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Shanghai Dumpling King
Monterey Boulevard
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Best soup dumplings outside of China.
Excellent Northern Italian food and clay oven pizza.
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Trattoria da Vittorio
150 West Portal Avenue
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Excellent Northern Italian food and clay oven pizza.
This is old-time San Francisco, and also the oldest restaurant in town, around since the Gold Rush. Go for crab, clam chowder and sourdough. It's not cheap, but it's authentic.
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Tadich Grill
240 California St
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This is old-time San Francisco, and also the oldest restaurant in town, around since the Gold Rush. Go for crab, clam chowder and sourdough. It's not cheap, but it's authentic.
It's famous. There's a reason.
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Tartine Bakery
600 Guerrero Street
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It's famous. There's a reason.
It's near Ocean Beach and the San Francisco Zoo. Excellent coffee, salads, sandwiches and pastries. Plus a surfer dude vibe.
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Java Beach At The Zoo
2650 Sloat Boulevard
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It's near Ocean Beach and the San Francisco Zoo. Excellent coffee, salads, sandwiches and pastries. Plus a surfer dude vibe.
This is on the way to Muir Woods. It's as if an English pub teleported to the California coast. Good food, cozy bar with dart boards and everything. Muir Beach, a lovely, less crowded beach is just a stone's throw away.
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Pelican Inn
10 Pacific Way
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This is on the way to Muir Woods. It's as if an English pub teleported to the California coast. Good food, cozy bar with dart boards and everything. Muir Beach, a lovely, less crowded beach is just a stone's throw away.
Best sub sandwiches in town. I have a friend who lives in France and will not miss this place on his visits home.
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Submarine Center
820 Ulloa Street
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Best sub sandwiches in town. I have a friend who lives in France and will not miss this place on his visits home.
Terrific Latin American food. Hipster decor. Great drinks.
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Loló
974 Valencia St
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Terrific Latin American food. Hipster decor. Great drinks.
The Cavallo Point Lodge used to be part of a military base, but it's now a very pricey luxury inn and spa. Go there for dinner or a drink. Lovely views of the Golden Gate, and great quality. Not a budget excursion, though.
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Cavallo Point Lodge
601 Murray Circle
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The Cavallo Point Lodge used to be part of a military base, but it's now a very pricey luxury inn and spa. Go there for dinner or a drink. Lovely views of the Golden Gate, and great quality. Not a budget excursion, though.
This is like a gourmet cafeteria, with everything from macaroni and cheese to sandwiches to salads. Pick up stuff for a picnic, or eat in the large dining room or patio.
Lemonade Restaurant
16 W Portal Ave
This is like a gourmet cafeteria, with everything from macaroni and cheese to sandwiches to salads. Pick up stuff for a picnic, or eat in the large dining room or patio.
This looks like a total dive, and the decor hasn't been updated since the 1950s, but they serve excellent burgers and steaks at a good price. Don't order salad.
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Bullshead Restaurant
840 Ulloa Street
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This looks like a total dive, and the decor hasn't been updated since the 1950s, but they serve excellent burgers and steaks at a good price. Don't order salad.
Fantastic brunch, but there's always a line. Worth it though. Don't miss the potatoes.
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Plow
1299 18th St
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Fantastic brunch, but there's always a line. Worth it though. Don't miss the potatoes.
This is the best soft serve ice cream ever. Truly. Get it dipped in their special chocolate and rolled in nuts or honeycomb candy. Sundaes are amazing. Ditto the gourmet popsicles. Worth the wait (there's always a line) and the money ($5 per cone).
Twirl & Dip Soft Serve
335 Martin Luther King Junior Drive
This is the best soft serve ice cream ever. Truly. Get it dipped in their special chocolate and rolled in nuts or honeycomb candy. Sundaes are amazing. Ditto the gourmet popsicles. Worth the wait (there's always a line) and the money ($5 per cone).
Excellent Greek Food.
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Orexi Restaurant
243 West Portal Avenue
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Excellent Greek Food.
Very San Francisco. It's an employee-owned co-op (read, they pay decent wages, and share in the profits). Incredible pizza by the slice, with a changing special every day. Also amazing breakfast pastries and breads.
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Arizmendi Bakery
1331 9th Avenue
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Very San Francisco. It's an employee-owned co-op (read, they pay decent wages, and share in the profits). Incredible pizza by the slice, with a changing special every day. Also amazing breakfast pastries and breads.
OK. It's a grocery store. But it's probably unlike any grocery store you've ever seen. It's full of very high quality bulk food, produce, cheese, housewares--all very socially conscious and organic. It's another employee co-op, and a San Francisco institution. The cheese department is amazing, as are the German pastries in the bread aisle. Good place to soak up the scene and get provisions for a picnic.
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Rainbow Grocery
1745 Folsom St
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OK. It's a grocery store. But it's probably unlike any grocery store you've ever seen. It's full of very high quality bulk food, produce, cheese, housewares--all very socially conscious and organic. It's another employee co-op, and a San Francisco institution. The cheese department is amazing, as are the German pastries in the bread aisle. Good place to soak up the scene and get provisions for a picnic.
Excellent fast food burgers, and great shakes. A step up from In and Out Burger.
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Super Duper Burgers
721 Market Street
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Excellent fast food burgers, and great shakes. A step up from In and Out Burger.
Absolutely amazing Turkish food. Pricey. But worth it.
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Kitchen Istanbul
349 Clement Street
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Absolutely amazing Turkish food. Pricey. But worth it.
This is a totally unique indoor mini golf course, with artisanal cocktails and good food. We've had several guests go there, and they have loved it. You will too.
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Urban Putt
1096 South Van Ness Avenue
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This is a totally unique indoor mini golf course, with artisanal cocktails and good food. We've had several guests go there, and they have loved it. You will too.
This is in the new-ish neighborhood springing up around MIssion Bay and the new Warriors stadium. The food is amazing, plus you can eat outside in the rooftop garden and patio, or play bocce ball, all with a view of the Bay.
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STEM Kitchen & Garden
499 Illinois Street
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This is in the new-ish neighborhood springing up around MIssion Bay and the new Warriors stadium. The food is amazing, plus you can eat outside in the rooftop garden and patio, or play bocce ball, all with a view of the Bay.
Essentials
This is the closest market, a block away. They just have the basics, but there's also a burrito counter in the market that is excellent.
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Miraloma Market
755 Portola Drive
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This is the closest market, a block away. They just have the basics, but there's also a burrito counter in the market that is excellent.
This market is much fancier than Miraloma Market, and more expensive. On the flip side, the quality is excellent and there's an extensive wine shop and prepared food counter.
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Mollie Stone's Market
635 Portola Drive
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This market is much fancier than Miraloma Market, and more expensive. On the flip side, the quality is excellent and there's an extensive wine shop and prepared food counter.
One block away, a pharmacy with limited selections of groceries as well.
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CVS
701 Portola Drive
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One block away, a pharmacy with limited selections of groceries as well.
A dry cleaners one block away. Owned by a Korean family. Very lovely and quality work.
Portola One Hour Cleaners
725 Portola Dr
A dry cleaners one block away. Owned by a Korean family. Very lovely and quality work.
Do great nails, massages, waxing. Wouldn't recommend the facials, but everything else here is top notch.
West Portal Spa
124 W Portal Ave
Do great nails, massages, waxing. Wouldn't recommend the facials, but everything else here is top notch.
This is THE place to go for a facial. One of the best in town.
Dimitra's Skin Care-Medi-Spa: Wagner Andrew S MD
324 W Portal Ave
This is THE place to go for a facial. One of the best in town.
Drinks & Nightlife
Bar with a dark "Indiana Jones" aesthetic. Terrific artisanal cocktails. Huge collection of rum. No food, and the drinks are STRONG.
Strangely, there aren't that many bars to go to in SF that have a view of the water. This is one. Great view of the Bay Bridge lights. Good for drinks. Pricey, but lots of good restaurants nearby.
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Waterbar Restaurant
399 The Embarcadero
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Strangely, there aren't that many bars to go to in SF that have a view of the water. This is one. Great view of the Bay Bridge lights. Good for drinks. Pricey, but lots of good restaurants nearby.
It's totally touristy and totally worth it. Go for drinks and an appetizer. If you want a meal, you can choose from a high-end gourmet option or a bistro. But a drink is usually enough.
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Cliff House
1090 Point Lobos Ave
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It's totally touristy and totally worth it. Go for drinks and an appetizer. If you want a meal, you can choose from a high-end gourmet option or a bistro. But a drink is usually enough.
We're journalists. This is a news-themed bar on Market. Great to stop in after sightseeing around Union Square.
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Local Edition
691 Market St
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We're journalists. This is a news-themed bar on Market. Great to stop in after sightseeing around Union Square.
Excellent mixed drinks and beers, plus good casual pub food like burgers and chinese noodles. Close to Golden Gate Park.
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Social Kitchen & Brewery
1326 9th Avenue
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Excellent mixed drinks and beers, plus good casual pub food like burgers and chinese noodles. Close to Golden Gate Park.
There is a huge Irish population in San Francisco, many of them in the western part of the city. There are half a dozen Irish bars on West Portal. This is one of the good ones.
McCarthy's Irish Bar
46 W Portal Ave
There is a huge Irish population in San Francisco, many of them in the western part of the city. There are half a dozen Irish bars on West Portal. This is one of the good ones.
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Last Rites
718 14th St
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Parks & Nature
We love to walk our dog at this beach. You can see the container ships coming in, the kite and wind surfers zipping around. Plus, it's not uncommon to see pelicans, seals and otters just offshore.
Crissy Field Center
1199 E Beach
We love to walk our dog at this beach. You can see the container ships coming in, the kite and wind surfers zipping around. Plus, it's not uncommon to see pelicans, seals and otters just offshore.
This is a great place to go to watch surfers, to hike, to hang out at the beach. It's not incredibly touristy, and if you rent a bike, you can combine it with cycling across the Golden Gate. You can hike along the cliffs and see all the old World War II gun placements and bunkers. The Marine Mammal Center, known locally for rescuing sea lions, seals and otters up and down the coast, is on the way. Worth the extra effort.
Fort Cronkhite
This is a great place to go to watch surfers, to hike, to hang out at the beach. It's not incredibly touristy, and if you rent a bike, you can combine it with cycling across the Golden Gate. You can hike along the cliffs and see all the old World War II gun placements and bunkers. The Marine Mammal Center, known locally for rescuing sea lions, seals and otters up and down the coast, is on the way. Worth the extra effort.
This park, part of the Golden Gate National Recreation Area, is little known by tourists, but it has one of the most spectacular views in town: You can see from Pacifica to the south, all of SF, including the Golden Gate, and then north to Point Reyes. It's a lovely place for a beach walk, and a favorite of dog walkers. Admission is free and it's gorgeous. Don't go on a foggy day, though, or you'll freeze to death!
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Fort Funston Road
Fort Funston Road
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This park, part of the Golden Gate National Recreation Area, is little known by tourists, but it has one of the most spectacular views in town: You can see from Pacifica to the south, all of SF, including the Golden Gate, and then north to Point Reyes. It's a lovely place for a beach walk, and a favorite of dog walkers. Admission is free and it's gorgeous. Don't go on a foggy day, though, or you'll freeze to death!
This is probably the most beautiful view of the Golden Gate and the city. It's a little less crowded than the usual vista points, and well worth the drive and the short hike to the lighthouse.
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Point Bonita Lighthouse
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This is probably the most beautiful view of the Golden Gate and the city. It's a little less crowded than the usual vista points, and well worth the drive and the short hike to the lighthouse.
A bit of a drive, but the drive is gorgeous and it's a typical California beach town. Great place to learn to boogie board or surf. There are pricey restaurants in the tiny village, but a couple concessions stands both on the beach and nearby that are good for burgers and such.
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Stinson Beach
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A bit of a drive, but the drive is gorgeous and it's a typical California beach town. Great place to learn to boogie board or surf. There are pricey restaurants in the tiny village, but a couple concessions stands both on the beach and nearby that are good for burgers and such.
This is our favorite place to walk our dog. The views of the bay and the Golden Gate are great, as is the windsurfing/kitesurfing/dog scene. There's a small cafe at the East End of the parking lot. Great place for a walk and selfies. On warm days, relatively rare in San Francisco, the beach is crowded, but there's plenty of parking.
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Crissy Field East Beach
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This is our favorite place to walk our dog. The views of the bay and the Golden Gate are great, as is the windsurfing/kitesurfing/dog scene. There's a small cafe at the East End of the parking lot. Great place for a walk and selfies. On warm days, relatively rare in San Francisco, the beach is crowded, but there's plenty of parking.
Shopping
Vintage inspired. Huge selection.
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Ambiance
756 Irving Street
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Vintage inspired. Huge selection.
A local bookstore with a large selection and frequent author events. Great place to browse on a rainy or foggy day.
BookShop West Portal
80 West Portal Avenue
A local bookstore with a large selection and frequent author events. Great place to browse on a rainy or foggy day.
If your feet are hurting from sightseeing, this is the place to take action. They have a huge selection of walking and athletic shoes, and a staff who will do a fit analysis for free.
On The Run Shoes
1310 9th Avenue
If your feet are hurting from sightseeing, this is the place to take action. They have a huge selection of walking and athletic shoes, and a staff who will do a fit analysis for free.
Getting Around
You can get trains out to the beach and the zoo and the Cliff House, or to the Castro (one stop east), Civic Center, Union Square (Powell Street Stop) or the Embarcadero.
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Laguna Honda Blvd/Forest Hill Sta
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You can get trains out to the beach and the zoo and the Cliff House, or to the Castro (one stop east), Civic Center, Union Square (Powell Street Stop) or the Embarcadero.
You can catch the 43 Masonic bus across Portola Drive, next to the stop sign across from St. Brendan's School. The bus goes straight to the Haight-Ashbury District and ends at Fort Mason, next to Ghirardelli Square.
Masonic Ave & Fulton St
You can catch the 43 Masonic bus across Portola Drive, next to the stop sign across from St. Brendan's School. The bus goes straight to the Haight-Ashbury District and ends at Fort Mason, next to Ghirardelli Square.
Pay no attention to the map. The app doesn't let me enter it accurately for some reason (Ditto the 43 info below). 44 O'Shaughnessy Bus: Walk two blocks up Portola Drive to Woodside, where you can catch the 44 Bus. Go to the stop across Woodside, in front of the gas station and the Juvenile Justice Hall. From there, the bus will take you to Golden Gate Park in about 10 minutes. The line ends at the Presidio in the Richmond District. 48 Quintara Bus: If you want to go East, the stop is right at the foot of our driveway. Get on there, and the bus will take you to the Mission District and Dogpatch. Get on across the street, in front of St. Brendan's School, and the 48 goes to Ocean Beach.
Bus Stop
Pay no attention to the map. The app doesn't let me enter it accurately for some reason (Ditto the 43 info below). 44 O'Shaughnessy Bus: Walk two blocks up Portola Drive to Woodside, where you can catch the 44 Bus. Go to the stop across Woodside, in front of the gas station and the Juvenile Justice Hall. From there, the bus will take you to Golden Gate Park in about 10 minutes. The line ends at the Presidio in the Richmond District. 48 Quintara Bus: If you want to go East, the stop is right at the foot of our driveway. Get on there, and the bus will take you to the Mission District and Dogpatch. Get on across the street, in front of St. Brendan's School, and the 48 goes to Ocean Beach.
Arts & Culture
A bit off the beaten track of the usual museums, but an excellent place to learn about how Silicon Valley became Silicon Valley.
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Computer History Museum
1401 North Shoreline Boulevard
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A bit off the beaten track of the usual museums, but an excellent place to learn about how Silicon Valley became Silicon Valley.
the de Young is a relatively small museum by global standards, but what it has is excellent. The view deck at the top of the museum is one of the more beautiful views of the city.
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M.H. de Young Memorial Museum
50 Hagiwara Tea Garden Drive
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the de Young is a relatively small museum by global standards, but what it has is excellent. The view deck at the top of the museum is one of the more beautiful views of the city.
One of the best nature museums in the country. Not as large as the Natural History Museum in New York City, or the Smithsonian, but the place has been recently remodeled and has a stunning green roof and a several story rainforest complete with butterflies and waterfalls. The academy also supports world-renowned research. Well worth a trip, even though it's expensive.
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California Academy of Sciences
55 Music Concourse Dr
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One of the best nature museums in the country. Not as large as the Natural History Museum in New York City, or the Smithsonian, but the place has been recently remodeled and has a stunning green roof and a several story rainforest complete with butterflies and waterfalls. The academy also supports world-renowned research. Well worth a trip, even though it's expensive.
Silicon Valley money has made SFMOMA, which has just finished a huge expansion, a world class museum. In Situ, the restaurant, is expensive but worth it (It features an ever-changing array of dishes from famous restaurants from all over the world).
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San Francisco Museum of Modern Art
151 3rd St
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Silicon Valley money has made SFMOMA, which has just finished a huge expansion, a world class museum. In Situ, the restaurant, is expensive but worth it (It features an ever-changing array of dishes from famous restaurants from all over the world).
This museum is really tiny by global standards, but the small collection is lovely, and it has some of the best views of the city.
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Legion of Honor
100 34th Avenue
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This museum is really tiny by global standards, but the small collection is lovely, and it has some of the best views of the city.