The 2019 SRAI Annual Meeting Committee chairs look forward to welcoming you to San Francisco, where, as Tony Bennet once sang, you will leave your heart in this City by the Bay. Aside from a great meeting, there is so much to do that if you can, plan on spending extra time.
San Francisco stretches across 231.89 sq mi and is jam-packed with an assortment of activities that are sure to please everyone; the outdoor types, foodies and curious wanderers of all ages.
The transportation system helps make it easy, but of course, there are always some “must do” places on every tourist list. Many of the sites are an easy walk. There are many ways to get around, including a hop-on, hop-off deal.
A visit to the City would be incomplete without riding one of its famous cable cars accessible at Powell and Market Streets, a five-minute walk from the Hilton Union Square, our meeting hotel, which can take you to Fisherman’s Wharf, another highlight. Don’t feed the sea lions, but do enjoy the clam chowder in a bread bowl. From here, you can book a variety of tours, rent bikes, visit the Musee Mechanique, and enjoy food and shopping.
The Golden Gate Bridge, an enduring symbol of San Francisco is a must see, you can walk it, if it isn’t too windy, or drive it by car or bus; consider a tour that includes crossing the bridge. The Golden Gate National Recreation Area has lots of scenic trails to explore. You can also cross the bridge to Muir Woods, home of the giant redwoods (you may want to check tour options).
Many know of Alcatraz as a prison, which housed among others Al Capone. Its history is rich. It is the site of the first operating lighthouse on the West coast. It was also a military prison for the Spanish-American War and the Civil War. Plan ahead to get tickets to ensure your opportunity to visit.
One of my personal favorites is Coit Tower located in Pioneer Park, in North Beach, it rises 200 feet above Telegraph Hill. It offers a panoramic view of the city and offers historical perspective and murals from the U.S. Government Public Works of Art Project established during the 1930s. It is also the heart of the literary Beat Movement, highlighting authors like Jack Kerouac and Allen Ginsberg. Visit the well-known City Lights bookstore for their works and others. It is also known as the “Little Italy” of San Francisco, so there are many good restaurants.
Another “go to” for me is the Buena Vista Café, credited to be the home of true Irish Coffee. Located just left of the Powell-Hyde cable car’s last stop in Fisherman’s Wharf, it has its own history and tales of many colorful characters, including Herb Caen, noted San Francisco journalist. It is funky, fun, and the typical pub food menu is good.
Anchor Steam Brewery (1705 Mariposa Street), considered to be the birthplace of craft beers, offers tours for those who love, or even just like beer, and/or like to know “how its made.”
The Japanese Tea Garden located in Golden Gate Park is a great spot to unwind as you stroll through the gardens and the koi ponds. It is a beautiful atmosphere to just unwind, relax, and enjoy the Zen.
A drive down Lombard Street will give you the true experience of the hills of San Francisco (car rental facilities are located directly across from the hotel or just get a cab, lyft, or uber) to experience the thrill.
As is true of many major cities, San Francisco is a city of neighborhoods; probably the most famous is Chinatown, a 24 block neighborhood of restaurants and shops, again, a short walk from the conference hotel. It is the oldest Chinatown in North America. Be sure to go to the main entrance and see the Dragon Gate, arching over Grant Avenue at Bush Street. Stop in at one of the many restaurants and sample great food. Visit the shops for antiques and Asian arts and jewelry. Plan a visit to the Golden Gate Fortune Cookie Factory to see how they are made.
For lively entertainment and good food, visit the Castro district, the center of the LGBTQ community, and until this day is one of the most prominent symbols of LGBT activism and events in the world. It is lined with many of the typical Victorian (aka “painted lady”) houses, an architecture for which San Francisco is well known.
Make your pilgrimage to the home of “flower power” at Haight and Ashbury, home of the Summer of Love and much of the modern American counterculture movement.
For those of you bringing family, The California Academy of Sciences has plenty to do and see, including the Steinhart Aquarium, (home to about 40,000 animals and including a tank that replicates the ecosystem of the California coast), a planetarium, a natural history museum, and rain forest.
These are only a few of the many things to do in your spare time. We want you to have a great learning experience at our Meeting and to also enjoy what this marvelous city has to offer. See you in October.