In one of the count 'em six maps my dad bought me there's a list: "12 things not to miss in San Francisco." Well, in the six days I've been here I've seen nine, though you can argue some are a technicality. Here's a run-down (* indicates I've seen the site) along with both the map's commentary and my own:
*01. Alcatrez:Former fort and jailhouse, now one of the city's top tourist attractions. Put yourself in solitary confinement. Maybe because I've been before to what is certainly a one time thing, or maybe or maybe because I come from a town that boasts its own famous prison, but I was underwhelmed by #1. The sea lions on the dock next door, however, are kind of my favorite thing ever. I've already been three times this week.
*02. The Presidio: You could easily get lost in the hidden trails that wind around the chunk of land between downtown and the Golden Gate. We passed this on the bus tour to Muir Woods (amazing) and wine tasting in Sonoma Valley (also great) so I saw this on a technicality but I plan to go back.
*03. Lombard Street: Ten hairpin terms along one block. You can zoom down by car, or better yet, walk down and smell the hydrangeas. Ok, another technicality. I've walked on Lombard St., which is three blocks from my apartment, but I've only seen the Lombard Street from a distance thus far.
*04. Chinatown: The world's largest Chinese community outside China is a jumble of hidden temples, curio shops and neon-lit restaurants. This is the next neighborhood south of North Beach so I've passed by every day and even bought a deck of cards here.
*05. Cable Car: Not the quickest way across town but perhaps the most fun. Grab a seat or stand on the side. Super-fun, though it made a headline this week for being an expensive tourist trap, for some reason we didn't have to pay.
06. Golden Gate Park: On sunny weekends, San Franciscans throng to this three-mile long park with its gardens, bufflalo paddock, and excellent museums. Not yet. But I totally will throng to it soon.
*07. Coffee in North Beach: The beachfront property is long gone, but 'Little Italy' maintains some of the best restaurants and cafes in the city. I live North Beach, and the restaurants thus far seem amazing. But I'm not much of a coffee person. However, I am quite a 'cross things off list' person so I specifically drank my first cup of coffee since final's week yesterday in order to earn my asterik.
*08. Golden Gate Bridge: The great red towers of this famed bridge are the guardians of San Francisco. The quintessential backdrop for pictures to send home. Check. No interesting story.
*09. Coit Tower. The structure represents the nozzle of a fire hose, and was dedicated to the firemen who died in the 1906 earthquake. Located two blocks from my house.
10. Berkeley: The campus and nearby Telegraph Avenue, with its mishmash of head shops and sixties survivors, has prompted the city's nickname 'Bezerkley'. I will go to 'Bezerkley' soon hopefully, though Tony (who I'm not sure if he reads this, but I'll namedrop him just in case) told me to make sure I actually take it in and not just go to the shops and be touristy.
11. SBC Park: A great place to watch baseball, not to mention the flotilla of surfers and kayakers who fight over the balls that are hit into the bay. Ok, my dad wanted to go but I resisted, and now I'm kind of sad because it's on the list.
*12. Haight Ashbury: The Summer of Love is now just a memory, but the tie-die shops, tattoo parlors, bars and cafes still draw throngs of dreadlocked youths. I saw more tourists than dreadlocked youths, but whatev. I shopped while my dad waited outside (I noted to him the gender normativity that somehow prevailed despite all odds- I wanted to shop, he wanted to watch baseball) and picked up a cute orange dress from a thrift shop. However, the more I look at it the more sure I am that this dress came from H&M.