San Francisco: Tips and Tricks

PC www.layoverguide.com

By Lauren Herber, Co-Editor

The Golden Gate Bridge. PC Lauren Herber

The Golden Gate Bridge. PC Lauren Herber

A few weekends ago I took a four-day trip to the charming city of San Francisco with my two roommates, one of whom lived in SF for several years before moving to Phoenix. The city is full of fun things like trendy foods (think sushirritos- a sushi burrito), glute-burning hills, colorful homes, and hypodermic needles (here’s my first tip: never go barefoot at the beach). There’s plenty to do in the city once you get there, like biking the Golden Gate Bridge, taking the ferry over to Sausalito, driving out to Napa Valley for an afternoon of wine and cheese, and playing fun games as you walk through the streets like “Is it human’s or dog’s?” (I’ll leave the “it” to your imagination). San Francisco is a great weekend destination because you can find reasonably priced flights from Phoenix and, once there, your options are virtually endless: you’ve got the city, the ocean, the Redwood forests, and (most importantly) wine country. Before you hop on the next plane out of the nightmare that is Phoenix Sky Harbor Airport, take a minute to consider my experience-based tips for how to make the most out of your trip.

View from the AirBnB. PC Lauren Herber

View from the AirBnB. PC Lauren Herber

First, look into AirBnB. Flights to SF may be cheap, but hotels often are not. With AirBnB, you and your friends have the option of renting a place all to yourselves, which has many perks: ideal locations, full kitchens for cooking breakfast (thus saving money on meals so you can afford $40 pizzas—this is not a joke), a local’s tips on the neighborhood, and amazing views. The place I stayed in was right in the middle of Chinatown, impeccably decorated, and had absolutely incredible views of the city and bay. Plus, I got to sleep next to an extremely lifelike portrait of Marilyn Manson constructed entirely out of yarn. You just can’t get that kind of experience at the Hyatt.

The Castro Theater. PC Lauren Herber

The Castro Theater. PC Lauren Herber

Second, try to visit as many of the different neighborhoods as possible. Each neighborhood—whether it’s the Tenderloin, North Beach, Pacific Heights, or Snob Hill—has its own personality and characteristics. My favorite neighborhood to go out in is the Mission, and you should definitely check out the Castro if you’re into theater (or cabaret). On a similar note, try to balance the touristy excursions with places and activities recommended by locals. The Golden Gate Bridge and Coit Tower are certainly not to be missed, but local tips are the best way to find hole-in-the-wall eateries and funky dive bars like the Kozy Kar.

Muir Woods. PC Lauren Herber

Muir Woods. PC Lauren Herber

Third, while the city itself has plenty to offer, try to check out the surrounding areas as well. Oakland is just a bridge away and has a completely different personality than the rest of the city. Sausalito is adorable and relaxing, and riding the ferry gives you the chance to see the city from a whole new vantage point (plus it gives you an excuse to explore the Ferry Building—don’t miss Searchlight coffee or Humphrey Slocombe’s “secret breakfast” ice cream). A short drive beyond the city gets you to Muir Woods, where you can revel and reflect amongst the truly awe-inspiring Redwoods. There’s no better way to recover from that brutal marketing midterm than meandering the peaceful forest. If you’ve got a little extra time, Napa Valley and Sonoma are about a 2 hour drive out from the city. Stop at the Boon Fly Café for chicken and waffles on the way and then spend the rest of the afternoon relaxing and sipping merlots at some of America’s best wineries.

My last tip is one of the most important: do not leave your belongings unattended. Not for one moment. I had to learn this one the hard way. If the bar you’re at doesn’t have a coat check, don’t set your jacket down at a random table and hope it will still be there when you leave. It might be, but it might not. It’s best to just hold on to it or tie it around your waist. The 90s are back anyways. Keep your wallet and phone in a front pocket or zipped in your purse, and do not—I repeat, do not—leave anything important to you visible in a parked car. Car break-ins are exceedingly common in San Francisco, so do yourself a favor and either put your backpack in the trunk or take it into brunch with you. Take it from me, the last thing that you want is to have your laptop stolen two days before midterms. This advice may seem like common sense, but it could just save you a mental breakdown in the middle of Sutter Street outside of Sweet Maple (excellent brunch spot, by the way).

So pack your bags (maybe just leave the laptop at home), slip into your favorite closed-toe shoes (re: hypodermic needles), and get ready for some of the best seafood and most expensive cocktails you’ve had in awhile.

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