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People & Places

  • Best View

    Golden Gate Ferry

    Most of the advertised great views only provide, well, one great view. Ferryboats, on the other hand, offer an ever-changing selection of photo ops and panoramas that you don't have time to get used to. Our favorite is Golden Gate Ferry's Sausalito-San Francisco run, preferably on a sporadically foggy evening at sunset. The city is distant and shrouded in mist… More >>
  • Best View, Sans Tourists

    San Francisco Art Institute

    On a quiet stretch of Chestnut, where North Beach's brio accedes to Russian Hill's bankbook, you'll find the San Francisco Art Institute. Step through the portal, stop to admire the goldfish pond, then veer left and continue past the art-laden walls to the open-air piazza at the rear of the building. Procure a refreshment at Pete's Cafe and head skyward,… More >>
  • Best Lunchtime Napping

    Alice Street Community Gardens

    Hidden amid high-rise senior centers a short walk from Moscone Center lies a tiny, green oasis. Alice Street Community Gardens -- nestled at the end of the one-block Lapu-Lapu Street, off Harrison between Third and Fourth streets -- offers the SOMA wanderer a leafy respite from the glass and steel of downtown. Over 160 small plots in wooden containers… More >>
  • Best Place to Feel Transcendent

    Grace Cathedral

    Towering 174 feet above the crest of Nob Hill, this hushed, dramatic place of worship is Episcopal in origin but inclusive in its welcome. Wander about and marvel at the building's majestic flourishes: Beniamino Bufano's huge, outstretched black and beige St. Francis of Assisi; the 15th-century Greek icons and the 13th-century Spanish crucifix; the beautifully restored stained-glass windows. There… More >>
  • Best Alleyway

    Macondray Lane

    Charming lanes, staircases, and alleyways are tucked away in odd corners all over town, but Macondray Lane is especially enchanting. It links two of Russian Hill's steepest blocks with meandering tranquillity, offering the urban stroller winding brick-and-flagstone pathways limned in gardens and undergrowth. Fuchsias, violets, and poppies sprout from the tumbling, vine-twisted southern greensward, while rock walls and koi ponds… More >>
  • Best Muni Adrenalin Rush

    48 Quintara

    In many ways, Muni's buses are not unlike those ancient, rickety Coney Island roller coasters. Not just because of the dips and twists of the city's plate-tectonics-ravaged terrain either. Like those old coaster cars, Muni's aged buses rattle just enough to raise doubts about whether they could stop if they had to. As for which lines are most in need… More >>
  • Best Local Self-Publishers

    Lisa Miya-Jervis, Andi Zeisler, and Ben Shaykin - Bitch magazine

    Working from a small Mission office space, the founding staff of Bitch magazine -- Lisa Miya-Jervis, Andi Zeisler, and Ben Shaykin -- are considered gurus in the world of independent publishing. For nearly six years, they've been writing, editing, marketing, and distributing Bitch, a magazine about feminism and pop culture. The threesome has nurtured the publication from a 36-page, stapled… More >>
  • Best Place to Park Your Car for a Looong Time

    Upper Noe Valley

    On certain hills southwest of Noe Valley, the streets are so steep that no street cleaning truck will venture up or down. No parking meters foul the sidewalk; no painted curbs obscure the welcome gray. Though the DPT's evil one-person ticket-machines still patrol the area, their occupants don't tag tires. Should you find yourself in need of a place to… More >>
  • Best Place for View Hounds

    Corona Heights Park

    Shaped like the satanic hand-sign guys make at Metallica concerts, the rocky outcropping called Devil's Chair sits atop Corona Heights Park between the Castro and Buena Vista Park. Below it to the south is the Randall Museum; to the north, a fenced-in off-leash area for dogs. High atop the rocks the canines meander unfettered, and the view is spectacular, stretching… More >>
  • Best Place to See the Logic Behind Critical Mass

    Bridge on 18th Street over 101

    Stuck in your car behind a wall of bicyclists on the last Friday of the month, you might be inclined to think, as one SF Weekly letter writer did, that "Critical Mass [seems] like little more than a monthly festival for hating cars and drivers that was deliberately intended to screw up traffic for the rest of us." But if… More >>
  • Best Historical Locale

    The Original Shoreline

    In the early 1850s San Francisco had multiplied itself 75 times since gold was discovered, had burned to the ground six times in two years, and was already the fourth-busiest port in the nation. In a crowded and impatient mood, the city unceremoniously filled its chief anchorage, shallow Yerba Buena Cove (rough coordinates above), with "conglomerate layers of cookstoves, boxes… More >>
  • Best Destination for Swingers

    Huntington Park

    California Street between Mason and Taylor With swings, as with many things in San Francisco, you have to hit the upscale neighborhoods to find quality. Surrounded by the stately Grace Cathedral, the stately Union Pacific Club, and the stately (are we being clear here?) Huntington Hotel, Huntington Park has long been a quaint and grassy spot for local dog walkers… More >>
  • Best Street Name

    Dashiell Hammett Alley

    Many a prominent San Franciscan has earned the ultimate honor of his or her own thoroughfare. There's Isadora Duncan, mother of modern dance, tucked away near her birthplace at Geary and Taylor; realist novelist extraordinaire Frank Norris presiding over his favored milieu, Polk Gulch; jazzman Turk Murphy forever enshrined among North Beach's neo-N'awlins hustle-bustle. And best of all there's Dashiell… More >>
  • Best Mockery of Our Social History

    The Gap at Haight and Ashbury

    Flower power wilted long before the Gap opened its doors on the corner of Haight and Ashbury. But the store's low-key khakis can't camouflage the fact that this national chain is woefully out of place on the landmark corner once synonymous with counterculture. A neighborhood boycott has been in effect since the store opened its doors in 1986, but the… More >>
  • Best Meat Market

    The Muni 1 California Line

    Certain Muni lines are so unique in character they practically spawn cults. The 38 Geary is well known for being the city's workhorse, snapshot-of-the-city line -- it's all business as it stretches from one end of San Francisco to the other. The 7 Haight draws a patchouli-meets-pin-stripes crowd, with the groovy types sloughing off as the bus drifts into the… More >>
  • Best Unlikely Vista

    Miniature Train Ride, Oakland Zoo

    9777 Golf Links Road, Oakland, (510) 632-9525, www.oaklandzoo.org The underappreciated Oakland Zoo has an even less appreciated feature -- the C.P. Huntington, a miniature replica of a Civil War-era train, which circumnavigates the grounds of the zoo. The idea of a mini-choo-choo is fun enough for the young at heart, and it's cheap too: Tickets are a mere $1.50 for a… More >>
  • Best Place to Park Downtown

    Sutter-Stockton Garage

    It's not easy to admit you actually like a parking garage in San Francisco, but, well, you've got to commit to something. And as parking goes, the Sutter-Stockton Garage does a nice job. For starters, it never seems to fill up. Really. Even on a busy weekend afternoon, when you have to wind all the way to the top, there's… More >>
  • Best Window Gorilla

    Alex's Odds and Ends

    Naked, he's just a gorilla in an easy chair, but proprietress Alex Heimerl dresses her wood-carved, 18-inch simian in joker's masks, tutus, Viking helmets, Mardi Gras feathers, milk mustaches, and Native American beads. For a long time last December he posed as the mauling victim of a lawn-ornament reindeer made of twigs. He's unobtrusive but still famous on the street;… More >>
  • Best Bureaucrat

    Carl Friedman, Director of Animal Care and Control

    If you live in San Francisco and are interested in animal welfare issues, you have the ear of Carl Friedman. "You pay my salary, so the least I can do is be accessible," says the affable Friedman. The head of a city department who personally returns calls almost immediately? Who answers e-mails himself? Who makes himself readily available to Joe… More >>
  • Best Private Library

    The Mechanics' Institute Library

    The Mechanics' Institute Library looks the way a library should look. It takes up two floors of the Mechanics' Institute building downtown, each floor tiered with a mezzanine or two of books on every conceivable subject. The setting is hushed, pristine, and ambient with brass rails, burnished wood, comfortable armchairs, and the pleasant smell of a used bookstore. In addition… More >>
  • Most Unlikely Social Event

    A Dot-Com Launch Party

    Can we reminisce about those good old days, back in '99 and '00? On any given day of the week, a dot-com launch party -- or two -- awaited your presence (even if you had to give a fake name at the door). There were huge crowds, live music, and incredible cuisine (foie gras, ahi, baby greens, crème brûlée, washed… More >>
  • Three Best Launching Pads

    Although San Francisco is a marvelous and cosmopolitan city, sometimes the call of the open road is so overwhelming you just have to dig out the passport and get out of town. The question is, how? Which modes of recreational locomotion are suitably anticipatory, bon voyage-friendly, and encompass the old adage "Getting there is half the fun"? The following are… More >>
  • Four Best Hotel Lobbies

    To the tourist it's a place for arguments over check-in times and attempts to pronounce "concierge," but to the resident connoisseur the hotel lobby is an architectural constant as open to contemplation and criticism as a public statue or the latest skyscraper. We expect our hotel lobbies to be comfortable enough for relaxation, central enough for assignation, and striking enough… More >>
  • Best Sound Effect

    The Foghorns

    San Francisco is blessed with several unique sound effects ideally suited to its sweeping views, tactile mists, and multicultural fragrances. Strolling over Russian Hill you can experience many of them at once: the hum and clang of the Hyde Street cable car; the flatted wail of the Chicago-bound Zephyr; the chimes and gongs of a Chinese funeral. Yet nothing… More >>
  • Three Best Murals

    Murals are the grandest and most effusive of art forms -- and the oldest, if the evocative beauty of the cave painting is any indication. A good mural can tell a story, evoke an era, or embolden a landscape with panoramic brushstrokes. San Francisco is blessed with several fine examples of this boundless medium; here are three of them. San Francisco… More >>
  • Best Grumpy Old Man

    Rob Morse

    Well, here we are, six months after the merger of the Chronicle and Hearst-owned Examiner. The two decks have been shuffled, and who should emerge as the ace columnist but Rob "Man With an Opinion" Morse. Apparently, Chron management feels this horseshoe-jawed Mill Valley resident should be the voice of the new paper, allowing Rob to dig deeper than ever… More >>
  • Best Graveyard

    Washington Square

    In 1900 the Board of Supervisors declared cemeteries illegal within San Francisco's city limits (with the hallowed exceptions of Mission Dolores and the Presidio), resulting in wholesale excavations of city graveyards at Geary and Masonic, Powell and Lombard, 19th and Dolores, and Franklin and Broadway (and the coffins' subsequent reburial elsewhere). Yet rumors persist that during the outbreak of bubonic… More >>
  • Best Flora

    Blooming Wildflowers at Menzies Native Plant Garden

    From late March to early June this feral retreat blooms with poppies, irises, blue and yellow lupine, Mariposa tulips, California lilacs, and much, much more -- a veritable Monet's garden of native wildflowers. The Technicolor splendor levels off a bit through August, and the autumn and winter months are fairly unimpressive. But nothing could be finer than passing a springtime… More >>
  • Best Way to Rekindle Your Love Affair With San Francisco

    Take a Trip to New York

    The Big Apple has a lot to offer, no doubt about it. The nightlife never ends, you can get quality meals after 10 p.m., the arts are world class. And an East Coaster in both birthright and heart is warmed at the sight of brick and stone buildings again. But the unending concrete has a way of suffocating a converted… More >>
  • Best Reason to Leave San Francisco

    The Intolerance

    S.F. may posit itself a liberal, open kinda town, but the last year or two has proven otherwise. The city no longer welcomes all: It's them vs. us, artists vs. dot-commers, bohemians vs. yuppies, anti-dog people vs. dog owners, "true" (we use the word lightly) San Franciscans vs. newcomers. Fresh factions seem to pop up weekly. Whatever group you associate… More >>
  • Best Urban Beach

    Dolores Park

    Warm, sunny days are so rare in San Francisco that at the slightest hint of elevated temperatures a swarm of sunbathers -- mostly male, mostly hunky -- descends on the upper slopes of Dolores Park. As the smell of coconut oil wafts through the air, chiseled gay men in teeny, tiny bikinis rotate on their colorful towels like chickens on… More >>
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