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Resolved: To Enjoy San Francisco 

Some ways to make the best of the best city in the world, year-round

Wednesday, Jan 19 2005
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Native New Yorkers don't go to the top of the Empire State Building, visit the Statue of Liberty, or ride hansom cabs through Central Park, or so the cliché goes. But this -- what, reverse snobbery? soul-grinding ennui of day-to-day existence? -- isn't confined to Manhattan Island alone. Even here in the Most Beautiful City in the World, we San Franciscans are too lazy or blasé or set in our daily routine to ride a cable car, walk across the Golden Gate Bridge, or indulge in the countless and myriad pleasures others travel thousands of miles to experience. At the dawn of this New Year, resolve to take our world-renowned city for granted no longer and explore the 1,001 attractions available in our own backyard.

One possible itinerary for a fun-filled 2005:

JANUARY: Take in a darkling double bill at the Balboa Theatre's Noir City Film Festival. Celebrate Dine About Town Month with a cut-rate, top-quality, three-course meal at a classy restaurant. Head out to the Presidio's haunted old coastal bunkers in the fog and mist and try to spot a migrating whale. Board the Red & White Fleet's Crab Feast Special and enjoy sourdough and Dungeness at the height of the season.

FEBRUARY: Celebrate Carnaval with samba and caipirinhas at Canto do Brasil. Peruse the vintage bibliomania at the Concourse Exhibition Center's Antiquarian Book Fair, the largest in the country. Check out Pier 39's Tulipmania Festival and then repair to the Eagle Cafe for a shot of bourbon. Spend an afternoon at the Cartoon Art Museum communing with Mutt & Jeff, Nancy & Sluggo, Calvin & Hobbes, and other icons.

MARCH: Attend a performance of David Mamet's new and improved Voysey Inheritance at ACT. Celebrate St. Pat's with a Bushmill's and Guinness at Ireland's 32. Welcome the spring with a visit to the Strybing Arboretum in Golden Gate Park, then head over to Children's Playground for a spin on the 1912 Herschell-Spillman merry-go-round. Go fly a kite from the Chinatown Kite Shop at Crissy Field.

APRIL: Quaff and slurp to your heart's content at the Oyster & Beer Fest in Washington Square, followed by fresh focaccia from Liguria Bakery across the street. Walk to the middle of the Golden Gate Bridge for Opening Day on the Bay. Stroll 24th Street from Noe Valley to the Mission, stopping en route at the 24th Street Cheese Company, Barrasa Market for tamales, and Balmy Alley for the murals. Host a bonfire at Ocean Beach.

MAY: Toast the gorgeous weather with a cocktail at the Carnelian Room. Scale Telegraph Hill and enjoy the WPA murals at the base of Coit Tower. Rock out at the cable car bell-ringing championships in Union Square. Cross the city on foot from Baker Beach through the Presidio and Pacific Heights, up and over Russian Hill and into North Beach, finishing with a margarita and onion rings at Pier 23.

JUNE: Cheer on the crackpots at the 94th annual Bay to Breakers. Take in a Sunday afternoon band concert in Golden Gate Park, then paddle your way around Stow Lake, parasol in hand. Head out to SBC Park and watch Alou pere et fils gamboling in the sunshine, then sup on steak and caramel corn at the Acme Chop House. Break out the rainbow flags for the three-day Pride extravaganza.

JULY: Hop a vintage streetcar to the Embarcadero, read about the waterfront's lively past, and revel in the summertime bounty of the Ferry Plaza Farmers Market. Swing and bop at the Fillmore Street Jazz Fest. Take a stroll around Little Saigon in the Tenderloin and stop for a highly affordable snack at Saigon Sandwiches. Enjoy a free concert of top-flight al fresco music at the Stern Grove Midsummer Music Festival.

AUGUST: Catch the dazzling Saturday night floor show at Peña Pachamama in North Beach. Slake your summertime thirst at Anchor's invigorating brewery tour. Hop the launch to irresistibly kitschy Forbes Island off Pier 39 for an evening of bayside dining complete with lighthouse. Marvel at the Deco resplendence of the Financial District's finest lobbies: the Russ Building, the Hearst Building, and the Hunter-Dulin.

SEPTEMBER: Celebrate the year's balmiest weather with a scoop of cardamom ice cream from Bombay in the Mission, then head to El Rio for the Sunday evening salsa dance. Watch the harvest moon rise in all its pumpkiny splendor from a perch at Broadway and Jones. Make your way to Sausalito and catch a ferry that will carry you back to the city as the sun is setting. Feast on sand dabs and sourdough at Tadich's.

OCTOBER: Head into Chinatown for dim sum at Dol Ho and black bean cakes at the Great Eastern, stroll through Ross Alley and catch the Double Ten parade up Grant Avenue. Hire a kid to take you trick-or-treating through Pacific Heights and Seacliff. Join the Mechanics' Institute so you can enjoy their comfy library during the cold months ahead. Behold the prodigiously talented San Francisco Progressive Jazz Orchestra, Mondays at Pearl's.

NOVEMBER: Explore the noirish haunts of SF's favorite sleuth-turned-scribe on Don Herron's Dashiell Hammett Tour. Light a candle, think of your dearly departed, and join the Noche de los Muertos processional through the Mission. Polish off a dozen oysters at Swan, then head next door to See's for dessert. Heighten your senses on an illuminating crawl through the Exploratorium's Tactile Dome.

DECEMBER: Take the edge off the chill with a steaming cauldron of fondue at the Matterhorn. Contemplate this, that, and the other in the sepulchral recesses of Grace Cathedral. Partake of a most elegant high tea at the Ritz, harpist included. Then cap off the year with a jaunt to Union Square to check out the Christmas lights and the shop windows, the gingerbread houses in the hotel lobbies, and all those little cable cars climbing halfway to the stars.

About The Author

Matthew Stafford

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