Day 380

Over the weekend, I decided to check out some of San Francisco’s beautiful parks. Located mainly in the city’s west side, they’re known for stunning views and a vast amount of relaxing green space. My first stop was Alamo Square Park, which most people will recognize from the opening credits of Full House. I never realized just how close my AirBnB is to the park, but I’m actually only 5 or 6 blocks away. It’s crazy how much the scenery can change just a mile or so down the road.

Next up, I ventured through the Presidio neighborhood, which is kind of like a park—aside from the houses and whatnot. It’s a really beautiful area, filled with rolling hills, well-manicured trees and pristine fountains. I’m going to go out on a limb and say it’s probably a bit out of my price range though. From there, I headed south to Golden Gate Park, a spot I nearly hit the prior weekend because it begins just one block west from Amoeba Records. 

The park itself is home to a Japanese Tea Garden, a handful of waterfalls, a buffalo sanctuary, several windmills and the rather stunning de Young Museum. If you’re ever in the area, I highly recommend taking a hike through the park over to the bay. It’s filled with an endless number of gorgeous views, which is one thing SF never seems to run out of. To be honest, the space actually reminds me a lot of Central Park, because of it’s oblong shape, massive size and collection of venues.

That brings me to something rather odd I’ve noticed about San Francisco. There are a lot of things here that seem to parallel many New York City locations. From places that honor the Big Apple, like Manhattan Hub and Hotel Astoria to parks with the same name, like Union Square and Washington Square. They even have a rival bagel culture here, which I’m sure there’s plenty of debate about. Heck, both cities even have their own light-up billboard courtesy of Old Navy.

It’s all kind of weird to me and I’ll admit that I’m completely in the dark as to why there are so many similarities. Come to think of it, I do tend to get some curious looks anytime I bring up NYC too. I have to imagine there’s some sort of competition going on that I'm unaware of. So, I guess if you love NYC but not the cold, try a visit to San Francisco. Or if you love San Francisco, but not the west coast, try NYC.

Regardless of what’s going on, San Francisco has proven to me that it’s a great city with a lot to offer creatives—from the tight-knit communities I spoke of last week to the endless number of great restaurants and its proximity to hike-able mountains and forest-lines paths. It has all the drive of NYC, but somehow maintains some semblance of natural wonder all around. It’s a curious city indeed and I can certain see why people love it here.

-Steve-

Day 373

Wow! I completely misjudged the size of San Francisco. Perhaps it’s the fact that I’ve been frequenting smaller cities as of late, but I just had no idea how massive SF was. If you add in the rest of the bay area—cities like San Jose and Oakland—the scope just grows and grows. I don’t foresee myself running out of things to do this month, that’s for sure.

That’s why, for the first time on our journey, I actually sat down Friday night to plan out my weekend. Usually, I just tend to wander around until I find something cool. But I’ve had so many recommendations flood in over the past few weeks; I don’t have nearly enough time to visit them all. So, sadly I’m forced to pick and choose my destinations this month.

So, I went about hitting up as many of these recommended locations as possible. On Saturday, I started out with the biggie—the Golden Gate Bridge—and then ventured east to Ghirardelli Square. They're both located on the north side of the city and there’s no denying that the area is absolutely beautiful. You can’t help but feel relaxed as you walk down the beach with the waves crashing in the background. Once I finished up there—and soaked my shoe via a rouge wave—I headed south and caught a glimpse of the tourist trap known as Lombard Street. I didn’t dally there too long though; instead opting to snap a quick picture and be on my way.

Next, I ventured an hour or so southwest to check out Amoeba Records. Now, I’ve been to a lot of records stores across the country at this point and I was still in awe when I walked through their front door. It’s huge! I’m talking Best Buy or Target huge. There are just endless rows of records, CDs, DVDs and music memorabilia. I think I ended up spending a good two hours there, just sifting through their stock. Seriously, if you’re a music fan, you have to visit Amoeba once in your life. It’s like a haven for collectors. As the day turned to night, I wrapped things up with a quick dinner at Cha Cha Cha, another recommended spot. It didn’t disappoint and I’m definitely glad someone put it on my radar.

The following day, I decided to keep things pretty relaxed. I started out by attending a 49ers / Raiders tailgating party in Mission Bay. It was jam-packed with fans—I’d say at least 200—and located in the SoMa StrEat Food Park. They had a rather impressive selection of food trucks, accompanied by a few giant TVs sprinkled throughout the area. I had a good time chatting it up with locals, even though they didn’t really enjoy my love of the Browns. After the game, I grabbed a beer at Anchor Brewing, before journeying a bit north to 21st Amendment Brewery—one of my absolute favorites. I immediately got to ordering a Hell or High Watermelon and then kicked back to enjoy some more football for the rest of the afternoon.

All in all, I’d say it was a rather eventful weekend. I hit up several of San Francisco’s neighborhoods and even got a chance to bond with some locals. If I learned one thing about this city though, it’s that no matter where you go there’s always a beautiful view just around the corner.

-Steve-