Foodie Heaven, Gateway to the Wine Country, Cultural Mecca — San Francisco is all this and more. It's a great town for taking in beautiful views, going for long walks in Golden Gate Park, or attending a conference or business meeting. You can spend all day negotiating with clients, but once you step outside for a break, it feels like vacation time.
Usually, even the most packed business trip or holiday lets you enjoy some free time in the evening. You could take advantage of the many theater, music, and dance options (some of the best in the country), go to a movie (which you could do at home), or hang out in your room and order room service. Yeah, right.
But what if you are in the mood to explore? Maybe even to have a little fun. Where do you go that isn't the typical tourist trap?
It's in the Neighborhoods
Head out for one of the villages. San Francisco is a city of small towns within its own city limits. Tourists have heard of some of these villages — Chinatown, North Beach, The Castro, the Haight, Fisherman's Wharf — but many are a mystery to the average visitor. Each has its own flavor and cultural identity (sometimes a blend of several), attractions, restaurants, shops, and homes.
Some are easily accessible; all have their charms. Hayes Valley encompasses the area surrounding the War Memorial Opera House and Davies Symphony Hall. It's trendy, the restaurants geared toward pre- and post-theater drinks and dining and boutique shopping.
Ninth Avenue and Irving Street in the Inner Sunset is near the museums in Golden Gate Park, the University of San Francisco Medical Center, and a quickish hop to San Francisco State. Restaurants and bars tend toward the casual; the food, tends toward the very good.