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  • Best Urban Camping

    Angel Island

    At night, the scrubby pile of rocks in the center of the bay becomes a magical place. Everything gets silent and peaceful, and you find yourself smack dab in the middle of a major metropolitan city and in the wilderness at the same time. Even in the foggy summertime — when camping reservations are hardest to come by — the… More >>
  • Best Place to See a Man Masturbating in the Street

    Folsom Street Fair

    With an estimated 400,000 visitors, the annual Folsom Street Fair (taking place this year on Sept. 24) is not only an epicenter of the leather lifestyle, but it's also the third-largest parade in the state, right behind the Rose Parade and S.F. Pride. Most important, though, is that it's the best place in the city to see public self-pleasuring. Sure,… More >>
  • Readers' Poll

    Best Comedian Robin Williams Best Designer Sunhee Moon Best Writer Dave Eggers Best San Francisco Icon Golden Gate Bridge Best Cartoonist Don Asmussen Best Place for a First Date Golden Gate Park Best Place to Propose Golden Gate Bridge Best View Twin Peaks Best Historic Spot Golden Gate Bridge Best Weekend Getaway Napa Best Radio DJ Sarah and No Name Best TV Talking Head Dennis Richmond Best Blogger Daily Kos Best Politician Gavin… More >>
  • Best Provocateur

    Eugene Robinson

    Eugene Robinson should have a phobia named after him: fear of hulking bodybuilders trained in mixed martial arts fighting with a thing for exhibitionism who front bands that play savage, jet engine-loud pummel-core and also dabble in porn and journalism. Unlike your night terrors, though, there's no chance that Robinson is going anywhere anytime soon. His group, Oxbow, released its… More >>
  • Best Way to Unleash Your Inner Racist/Homophobe/Sexist/Anti-Semite

    Craigslist's Rants and Raves

    Although San Francisco is known for its left-leaning politics and tolerant attitude toward diversity, its seedy little underbelly of racism, homophobia, sexism, and other undesirable traits can be found in all of its ungrammatical glory on Craigslist's Rants and Raves message boards. Created to move off-topic discussions away from the Missed Connections section, Rants and Raves gives voice to the… More >>
  • Best Place to Hike After a Rain

    Mount Sutro

    This is a lovely, out-of-the-way place to stroll anytime, but it transforms with a little weather. Why? It's the eucalyptus trees. Just find a spot to park on Belgrave Avenue (a short road on top of the hill behind UCSF Medical Center) and take your choice among the several intersecting trails — including a few of the pig-trail variety —… More >>
  • Best Cult

    Church of Scientology

    Although it may be unfair to argue that L. Ron Hubbard's controversial Church of Scientology was the lubricant that allowed Tom Cruise to famously jump up and down like a 5-year-old on Oprah Winfrey's couch, that act doesn't help its case. Started in 1953, the religious movement is yet another group that claims to "provide real solutions" to all your… More >>
  • Best Surreptitious Drink With a View

    San Francisco Art Institute's roof/patio

    If you're looking for the perfect cheap, arty date, sneak into SFAI's gorgeous campus one clear evening with a sweetheart and a bottle of wine. If anyone looks at you funny, just act like you're preoccupied with conceptual hoo-ha on the way to your studio in the basement. You can admire the art hung around the beautiful courtyard, and see… More >>
  • Best Emergency Bathroom Break

    Five-star hotels

    So you're downtown shopping, or you're hitting the bars after work, or perhaps you live in one of those burgeoning high-rise communities — several floors up. Then nature calls. You could make a move for one of the few public toilets-cum-drug dens that line Market Street, or throw down a few dollars at a fast-food joint or cafe to gain… More >>
  • Best Newspaper Columnist

    Mark Morford, the San Francisco Chronicle

    The lefty dogma Morford preaches can sometimes descend into shrillness, and for readers with delicate Quaker sensibilities, his jokes may cause fainting spells. But Morford offers enough ideas, humor, and adrenalized writing to make us more than happy to plunk down our 46 cents plus tax every Wednesday and Friday to read his Datebook column. Peeling the lid off his… More >>
  • Best Gay Archive

    James C. Hormel Gay & Lesbian Center

    Named for the Hormel meat-packing heir who donated $500,000 to help establish the center when the new main branch of the San Francisco Public Library was built, the archive, on the building's third floor, is widely regarded as among the best of its kind in the nation. Its archives and exhibits include art, culture, history, literature, and political activism related… More >>
  • Best Place to Find Asian Candy

    Clement Street

    Among San Franciscans who have a strange fascination with the semi-fetishistic world of Asian-exported candy and packaged food, Clement from about Arguello to Park Presidio is ground zero. Patrons wander through a succession of stores like Super Tokio and Genki Crepes & Mini-Mart, browsing for "worm-green lovely mangoes," chocolate hamburgers, and saki ika (aka, squid jerky). The aisles are a… More >>
  • Best Park for Just the Two of You

    Jack Early Park

    Finding Jack Early Park can be tricky, because on this perilously steep block of Grant Avenue one might get sidetracked looking for something obvious to indicate its presence. But all Jack Early offers is a stairway, which is easy to mistake for a private entry, despite the unassuming plaque set into a retaining wall. Although it's subdued, the entrance isn't… More >>
  • Best Nocturnal Illuminations

    Ocean Beach bonfires

    There's something primal and pyrotechnically mesmerizing about the bonfires that light up Ocean Beach most every weekend night. Like a string of flickering lights, they stretch along the coast, illuminating the sky and the sand and acting as leaping, smoky beacons to the great wet beyond. Unfortunately, the bonfires have inspired more than a few incidents of neighborhood vandalism and… More >>
  • Best Place to Find a Sugar Daddy

    Top of the Mark

    Everyone knows the Top of the Mark for great views, smooth jazz, and overpriced cocktails. But this, the granddaddy of San Francisco hotel bars (which famously refused service to Charles Mingus because he was black), is the perfect place for a single lass to make the acquaintance of an older (read: loaded) gentleman. The bands, usually a parade of slick… More >>
  • Best Street Name

    Vernon Alley

    Bassist Vernon Alley was not only San Francisco's premier jazz musician, but he was also a rockin' repository of the form's great traditions and one of the city's leading exponents of civil rights. Alley made his name in the Fillmore jazz joints of the 1930s, and despite touring and recording with the likes of Count Basie and Lionel Hampton (his… More >>
  • Best Jewelry Designer

    Rebecca Vandersteen

    Rebecca Vandersteen has already contributed plenty to the local fashion climate by opening the widely adored Venus Superstar boutique and stocking it with rad offerings from lots of local designers, including herself. Her jewelry line, Venus Envy, is the icing on her professional cake, and it can top any outfit with glitzy wit and a homey naturalism. Her earrings are… More >>
  • Best Free View

    Atop the new de Young

    When you climb to the top of the 144-foot tower of the new de Young Museum and make your way around its panoramas of the bay, the Pacific Ocean, Twin Peaks, Mount Sutro, and Downtown, it's useful to think of this stunning view of San Francisco as the one that almost got away. Years of fighting between boosters and neighbors… More >>
  • Best Starring Role by a Nonhuman

    The pets on Animal Cops: San Francisco

    Not surprisingly, the folks who give out Emmy Awards don't offer a trophy for best acting in a reality show, since there shouldn't be any acting in a reality show. That said, the wayward dogs, slithering snakes, and preening cockatoos on Animal Planet's Animal Cops: San Francisco deserve some kind of prize. It's not like anyone told them to act… More >>
  • Best Conceptual Public Commentary

    Balmy Alley

    The art of the mural flourishes throughout the Mission District, but nowhere more so than in this narrow, undeniably temperate passageway. Back in the early '70s, with (CIA-sponsored) violence and tyranny in Central America in full bloom, artists and activists and other community-minded folk descended on Balmy Alley, paintbrushes in hand, to promote peace, solidarity, and other worthy causes in… More >>
  • Best Alleyway

    Belden Place

    Encompassed by skyscrapers and mobs of anxious commodities brokers, Belden Place is an oasis of cheerful Euro savoir-faire in the gray and greedy Financial District jungle. Although the Russ Building, the Bank of America, and other towering landmarks surround it, an abundance of sunlight filters onto Belden's block-long surface, attracting scores of the office-bound to its many al fresco establishments.… More >>
  • Best Residential Block

    Belden Place

    The 1000 block of Vallejo isn't just a lovely cul-de-sac lined with trees, lawns, and balustrades; it's a virtual miniretrospective of architect Willis Polk's career. Polk, who designed so many buildings after the 1906 earthquake he was dubbed "the man who rebuilt San Francisco," is best known for the glass-curtain Hallidie Building at 130 Sutter, but his signature brown-shingled houses… More >>
  • Best Place to See a Coyote

    Coyote Gulch in the Presidio

    Once upon a time the Presidio was an untamed place of dune scrub and wetlands where grizzly, elk, and mountain lion flourished. Two centuries of hunting rifles, urban sprawl, and toxic dumping later, only skunks, squirrels, and other diminutive mammalia remain. A new arrival is Canis latrans, the coyote. Sharp-featured, bushy-tailed, brown or reddish-gray, and built along the lines of… More >>
  • Best One-Block Workout

    Filbert from Leavenworth to Hyde

    Why blow your dough on an overpriced, yuppie-infested gym when the hills of San Francisco offer stamina-building opportunities free of charge? If time is of the essence you can even confine your workout to one city block, the steepest and most challenging of them all: Filbert's stretch of vertiginous real estate between Leavenworth and Hyde. (When David Letterman came to… More >>
  • Best Place to Fly a Kite

    Twin Peaks

    Twin Peaks was created, according to legend, when a fed-up Great Spirit split up a mountainous married couple who wouldn't stop fighting. Later on, poetic conquistadores named the peaks the Breasts of the Indian Maiden. Nowadays the second and third highest points in the city (900-plus feet above the center of San Francisco) are most famous for their magnificent panoramic… More >>
  • Best Sports History

    Willie "Woo Woo" Wong Playground

    Back in the mid-'40s, the San Francisco Examiner called Willie "Woo Woo" Wong "the biggest little man in basketball." Standing only 5 feet 5 inches tall, the Chinatown resident played far above his height, starring for Lowell and Poly High before helping the San Francisco Saints win a pair of Asian national tournament championships. Wong — who gained his handle… More >>
  • Best Park With a View

    Sutro Heights Park

    Of course, Golden Gate Park is our fair city's grandest chunk of green space; that's a no-brainer. And Stern Grove, with its descending trails and massive dog park, is pretty darn sweet as well. (Wouldn't it have been cool to have caught the Jefferson Airplane live in the grove back in those hippie days?) But only one city park possesses… More >>
  • Best Dog-Watching for Non-Dog Owners

    Fort Funston

    If, like us, you never recovered from the death of your childhood dog, for therapy you can drive down to Fort Funston, which is home to the largest, most helter-skelter dog park we've ever had the pleasure to survey. Among more than 200 dogs counted during one trip, we encountered an Afghan hound, a couple of Great Danes, a standard… More >>
  • Best Underappreciated Neighborhood

    Ocean Beach

    A real neighborhood is starting to take root out at Ocean Beach. In a little over a year, the 'hood's anchors (Sea Breeze Cafe, Other Avenues, Thanh Long, and Java Beach) have been joined by a juice shop, Judahlicious; a tiny dining spot with great homemade cheesecake, Mango Medley; a surf shop that puts on indie-rock shows, Mollusk (see page… More >>
  • Best Skyscraper

    Russ Building

    The Russ Building is a sprawling, towering, beautifully austere skyscraper in the grand Daily Planet tradition, all sleek lines and proportioned elevation and washed-beige splendor. Architect George W. Kelham, whose predilection for Roman temples and Gothic cathedrals can be detected in his designs for the old Federal Reserve Bank on Sansome and the city's first real skyscraper, the Standard Oil… More >>
  • Best Civil Disobedience

    Critical Mass

    Good luck getting across Downtown on the last Friday of the month, when what cab drivers ruefully call "Critical Mess" — equal parts political protest, bike ride, and rolling party — joyfully locks up San Francisco's streets. You have to ride in one to understand the euphoria of the event, which usually snakes around the city, stopping traffic for a… More >>
  • Best Weekend Getaway

    Mar Vista Cottages at Anchor Bay

    It's not just the immaculately restored 1930s cottages and dramatic coastline that make Mar Vista an idyllic getaway destination. From the moment you pull into the former fishing village about a three-hour drive north of San Francisco, it's obvious that the prattle of everyday life can't touch you. There are no televisions. Wi-Fi? Nope. Cell phone service? Forget it. And… More >>
  • Best Neglected Landmark

    Nimitz House

    Officially, it was called Quarters One, built about 1900 as the Commandant's residence for what later became the Treasure Island Naval Air Station. But for 50 years, the elegant Classical Revival–style house has been known for its most famous occupant: the legendary Admiral Chester Nimitz, who lived there while commanding the Pacific Fleet during World War II. The biggest and… More >>
  • Best Tireless Performer of Thankless and Payless Tasks

    Shani Heckman

    OK, so a lot of people fit into this category. We know there are hordes of you out there busting your butts for zero bucks, for the sake of art and/or justice. Kudos to all! The reason event coordinator and independent publicist Shani Heckman stands out is partly longevity: Before moving here she produced events in Santa Cruz for years,… More >>
  • Best New Addition

    Condo High-Rises in SOMA and Rincon Hill

    For nine years our political columnist has been haranguing city residents to build more places for people to live. In return, readers have turned the page. Somehow, though, during the past few years, the slow, creaking grist mill that is San Francisco's permitting process has allowed a new high-rise neighborhood to push up from the Rincon Hill area near downtown.… More >>
  • Best City Amenity

    The evolving bike lane network

    You still can't venture north from South of Market to the McAllister Street bike lane without battling a multilane automobile slalom. A momentarily safe ride along Market Street is interrupted with an unsettling gap between Van Ness Avenue and Octavia Street. And Fell and Oak streets remain death traps, despite the disjointed bike lane running through the Panhandle. But when… More >>
  • Best Road Trip

    Denny Ranch

    As any cloth grocery bag–toting San Franciscan knows, there are myriad paths to planetary salvation. None is quite so satisfying, however, as buying land outright. The Nature Conservancy dedicates itself to doing just that, in the form of purchasing conservation easements and prohibiting critter- and plant-destroying development on vital swaths of land in perpetuity. Seven years ago the S.F.–based group… More >>
  • Best Street Mural Commentary

    Connecticut & 17th Street

    This marvelous (though heavily faded) street mural on the side of a furniture warehouse, executed in the late 1980s to celebrate the rich history of Potrero Hill, is one of two murals in O.J. Simpson's old neighborhood that reflects his pre-murder-trial legacy. As a poor kid from the projects, Simpson grew up on the hill and played football at Galileo… More >>
  • Best Overlooked Historic Site

    Fort Point

    From the old cannon batteries along its 8-foot-thick walls, Fort Point offers some of the best and (judging from the ordinarily small crowds) most underappreciated views of the bay and the city waterfront. But the real reason to go to this gem of a National Historic Site at the tip of the Presidio is for its rich history. You can… More >>
  • Best Floating Movie Prop


    Despite its bit role in the 1935 movie classic Mutiny on the Bounty, the Balclutha was never a pirate ship. Yet the image has been a long time fading. Indeed, the famed windjammer's brush with Hollywood is an undeniably alluring component of its colorful history. As any local fifth-grader can attest, the Balclutha, built in Scotland in 1886, was among… More >>
  • Best Muni Station in Which to Hear Music

    Civic Center, Montgomery (tie)

    There's the middle-aged bearded man who strums his guitar and croons country-western songs. There's the wispy Asian man who sits straight as a pillar as he plucks at his ehru, a Chinese violin. There's the elderly black man, wearing a suit and tie, whose clarinet bobs and weaves as he blows jazz riffs. Depending on the time of day —… More >>
  • Best Comeback by a Socialite

    Pat Montandon

    Sure, the tirelessly blond Dede Wilsey made headlines over the past year: Her fundraising helped open San Francisco's ode to a rusty nail, the de Young Museum, and she appeared in many dull society pages and graced the cover of a particularly Vanity Fair-esque cover of 7x7, for, well, being filthy rich. But the socialite we all wondered about and… More >>
  • Best Job for Teens

    Exploratorium Explainer Program

    Some people spend the rest of their lives trying to recreate the perfect work atmosphere they enjoyed as a teen in the Exploratorium Explainer Program. While most of us have memories of demeaning service jobs to look back on, former Explainers get a happy, nostalgic look in their eyes when they remember working at the science museum. Something about the… More >>
  • Best Computer Programmer-Turned-Independent Washer/Dryer Repairman

    Josh Scholar

    Josh Scholar (yes, that's his real name) may not be the most experienced washer/dryer repairman in town, but he gets the job done well, and he has a pretty interesting backstory. He spent years toiling from project to project as a video game programmer for the likes of Electronic Arts, then tired of the 80-hour weeks that came right before… More >>
  • Best Flat Full of Underground Musicians

    The Home of Axolotl and the Skaters

    Underground musicians live together because they're slobs who make noise, and only slobs who make noise can live together. It's that simple. And having said that, we insist that the San Francisco flat housing the best collection of "out there" musicians is a pad not far from that hip Mission District bar the Phone Booth. This is where Karl Bauer… More >>
  • Best Little-Known Vistas

    Broadway between Jones and Taylor

    Lovers of the big picture embrace those Twin Peaks panoramas, but the view from this particular Russian Hill roost is a perfect cameo, an essential snapshot of San Francisco's urban elegance. It's the sort of prospect the characters in S.F.–set movies have out of their apartment windows: bridge, bay, and tumbling hill in tactile close-up. This one's especially dazzling at… More >>
  • Best Little-Known Vistas

    Corona Heights

    Imagine sipping a martini at the Twin Peaks at Castro and Market, and then one (undeniably vigorous) 10-minute hike later perching among wild foxglove and geologic outcroppings 510 feet above sea level, drinking in one of the city's finest 360-degree panoramas. Ascending Corona Heights is a workout, but atop a series of increasingly treacherous trails is a forest of climbable… More >>
  • Best Little-Known Vistas

    Grand View Park

    Geologists tell us that if it wasn't for all that ocean sand filling in its valleys and crevasses, the Avenues would be every bit as hilly as eastern S.F. The little-known anomaly that is Grand View Park is a case in point: It's the highest sand dune in the city at 400 feet above sea level, with sheer, clifflike approaches… More >>
  • Best Little-Known Vistas

    Strawberry Hill

    Among the many pleasures of Golden Gate Park is this manmade island rising 412 feet out of Stow Lake. A hundred years ago, its plateaued crest was the site of a pleasure resort with a dance pavilion, a decorative pond, and a windmill-powered reservoir that pumped water over Huntington Falls and fed the park's eight lakes. All that remains is… More >>

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