Best Place to Stare at the City's Beauty While Smoking a Joint - 2013
Alamo Square Park
Once in a while, you just gotta sit back, light up, and savor the city's aesthetic prowess. And it's almost as if God created Alamo Square Park for this specific purpose. From the top of the park's lush, green hill, the city feels satisfyingly intimate. You can plop down on the eastern slope — where it's vibrant, sunny, and dotted with people sipping wine on picnic blankets — and take in one of the region's legendary vistas: the Painted Ladies in the foreground with downtown's skyscrapers gleaming on the horizon. Or, for more seclusion, you can kick back on the west side and observe the city's contours, with landmarks defined by their geographic location — on a hill, in a valley — instead of by the street signs and intersections of modernity. You can see how close everything really is — or at least seems to be — and realize that our perception of distance is defined by the control that highways and stoplights and bus schedules have over our notion of urban travel. Or you can just lay down on the grass, put on some Tribe Called Quest on the iPod, and stare at those elegant and haunting Victorians. And let the mind wander.