lazyweb: afternoon in SF?

Lazyweb request:
Hi everyone! I’ve got a business trip to San Francisco and will be taking my team from Japan with me into the City for Sunday afternoon.
I’ve never lived in SF, and whenever I go, it’s either for business or for a personal quest (deep house records on Haight or motorcycle accessories elsewhere) so I have no idea what to do as a tourist or first-timer.
Union Square? Pier 39? Any thoughts would be appreciated.

7 Comments on “lazyweb: afternoon in SF?

  1. hey gen. i’m an SF resident. it depends on what you’d like to show your team, but even more helpful than that would be a rough idea how much time you have in the city. here are some semi-touristy ideas…
    go to the ferry building and get lunch, then walk up (north) the embarcadero to pier 39 to visit the musee mechanique. it’s full of old mechanical arcade games from the early to mid 20th century. then visit the camera obscura (a totally neat off the beaten path thing) on your way to the coit tower. go see the paintings at the top of coit and walk back through north beach for an espresso and canolli.
    go to golden gate park. you’ll have to drive and park since jfk drive is closed to traffic on sundays. check out the de young art museum and the conservatory of flowers. then get back in the car and drive down to the beach. you can eat or drink at the park chalet / beach chalet. or you can head over to the end of noriega south of the park. there’s tons of neat little places down there.
    rent a car. drive over the golden gate bridge. pull over in the park to right after you’ve crossed the bridge for cool pictures. take a walk around the marin headlands. drive the 5 minutes or so to sausalito for lunch on the bay.
    bug me for more…

  2. I second Eric’s excellent recommendations, to which I would add other car-required outings like the 49-mile scenic drive, Alamo Square, Twin Peaks.
    Mopre pedestrian-friendly: the historical district around Jackson square, North Beach, the Castro, Haight-Ashbury.
    If your team members are geeks, the normal touristy stuff might not suit them. Here are a few offbeat alternatives:
    – visit a real Web 2.0 institution. I’m sure you can finagle a tour of Six Apart or the EFF
    – Fry’s Electronics, for retail nerdvana
    – Visit the Nike Ajax SAM battery and museum in Marin Headlands, after they’ve gawked at the views of the Golden Gate. Or look at the old fortifications like Battery Orlando Wagner (the National Park Service has a very detailed guide)
    – Visit the Long Now foundation’s digs at Fort Mason center, see the other arts groups there
    – See the Cable Car museum. SF had a world-class public transportation network up and running a mere 25 years after emerging during the Gold Rush

  3. When the missus and I spent five days there some years back, we had fun doing a self-guided tour of the locations from the movie Vertigo.
    I’m too lazy to re-google one of the several online guides, but they’re awfully fun.
    Oh! You’re a mechanically inclined nerd, right? Must do the cable car museum. Very cool.
    Also, the best deal is to get a transit day-pass, since that is cheaper than a return-trip on the cable cars, and the cable cars are a mandatory (and fun) throwback trip.

  4. Personal favorite things in SF: Hike to the top of Angel Island (kind of an all day thing, but the best view in the bay area) plus you get to experience the bay itself. Also, muir woods: 15 minutes away to peaceful hikes among coastal redwoods — my wife (who is Japanese) describes it as something that could never happen around the big cities in Japan. When you’re in north beach (I lived there for a few years), the place to get coffee is Cafe Trieste, the place to get pizza is Tomasso’s, and the place for jazz and a drink afterwards is Enrico’s. Definitely walk up to Coit tower. For a great chocolate treat, a little ways down Columbus street is XOX truffles, one of the top ten chocolatiers in the US. Jean-Claude, the proprietor, used to be the head chef at Fringale, which is the fufu restaurant two buildings away from six apart. For museums, the de Young is all the rage because it just reopened, but don’t forget SFMOMA, the asian art museum, and the legion of honor at Land’s End. An easy jaunt from Technorati where you’ll find great treats is the (also newly reopened) Ferry Building. If you go there, be sure to try the awesome macarones at Miette. Cowgirl creamery cheese is great…Acme bread is legendary enough that a friend of mine used to bring it back with him to LA every time he visited up here.

  5. If there’s a street festival in the Castro district, I suppose you should avoid it. Given the recent rash of shootings, you know.
    Also, if someone puts too much sugar in your coffee, make sure that you’re armed with a large-frame Smith & Wesson .44 Magnum revolver. It’ll enable you to say something clever later in response to the inevitable “What you mean ‘we’, sucka?”.