Jenna Broughton is a USF alumnae and a freelance writer living in the Bay Area. She’s got some thoughts on what to do for Bulls fans heading to the #BestCoast for the game on August 26th. Follow her on Twitter @jennabroughton.
8 Things to Do While Visiting SF
For the first time in 18 years, the USF Bulls will be traveling to California to take on the San Jose State Spartans. While it is a long way from the Sunshine State, the Bay Area has lots to do to make the trip time and money well-spent.
San Francisco is home to many famous landmarks like Alcatraz and the Golden Gate Bridge that should not be missed (except Fisherman’s Wharf - definitely skip that). While this is by no means a comprehensive list of what the city has to offer, here are some of my favorites after living out here for the last decade.
1. Visit the Home Team - The Giants might be struggling this season but having won three World Series in the last six years, the team is still the hometown pride. Even if you don't share San Francisco's affection for the Giants, any sports fan can appreciate AT&T Park, which is easily one of the best stadiums in Major League Baseball. If you cannot take in a game, check out one of the daily ballpark tours, and go behind the scenes to places usually only seen by players and staff.
2. Take in the Tiki Lifestyle - Perhaps it was growing up by the beach in Florida, but there is something about tiki bars that make me feel at home. Lucky for me, San Francisco has no shortage of options. Smugglers Cove is the city’s most famous tiki bar having been rated one of the World's 50 Best Bars by Drinks International since 2011. Personally, I am partial to relative newcomer, Pagan Idol, which has the same kitschy decor as Smugglers Cove but for my money has tastier drinks. For a more economical option, stroll on over to Bamboo Hut. It is short on the tiki decor, but it does offer lava bowl cocktails that it sets on fire.
3. Experience Golden Gate Park - If you hear the calls of nature, then look no further than Golden Gate Park. Fashioned after Central Park in New York City, the man-made park consist of more than a 1000 acres of beauty and activities. Take a boat ride on Stow Lake or enjoy a tranquil stroll through the Japanese Tea Garden. The California Academy of Sciences is a truly unique experience - housing an aquarium, planetarium and natural history museum all under one roof. And when you are all done, head over to Park Chalet for some nosh and some delicious handcrafted brews.
4. Imbibe the Local Brews - The craft beer movement has swept the nation and going to school in Tampa, we are no strangers to good beer. California is known for its loud mouth IPAs, which if I am going to be honest I find offensive to the tastebuds. But I appear to be in the minority, because the local brews regularly snatch up awards in competition. Whether you like big tasting IPAs or are like me and prefer a kinder, gentler pilsner, the San Francisco beer scene has something for you. Harmonic Brewery is off the beaten path, but you will be rewarded with a variety of tasty brews -- from Belgian white ales to cold-press nitro stouts. Southern Pacific Brewery is the perfect place to enjoy a cold one and dine on its upscale pub food. If you are beer connoisseur, then don't miss Anchor Brewing. Founded in 1896, it is a piece of San Francisco history as the pioneer in craft brewing.
5. Check out Alamo Square - This is probably the most touristy recommendation on the list, but if you are like me and have a soft spot for the Tanner family then you cannot miss the chance for a photo op by the home featured in the show Full House. After you are done reenacting the opening sequence to the show, channel your inner San Francisco hipster and stop by the Mill for fancy toast (yes, it is a thing) or enjoy funky flavors of ice cream like basil, balsamic strawberry and black sesame with local honey at Bi-Rite Creamery.
6. Get Caffeinated - If you are like me and have to mainline coffee in order to feel human, then you will be excited by the plethora of craft coffee shops in the city. Every San Franciscan has an opinion on which one is best, but I am Team Sightglass all the way. A trip to any of its five cafes in the city will be an up close and personal experience with unadulterated happiness, but its flagship location in SoMa is especially cool. It features the roastery as the centerpiece of its large, airy cafe and also includes an affogato bar. Four Barrel is another mainstay in the city's coffee scene, and its Mission cafe is the perfect place to sip on a latte and enjoy pieces of art created by locals. With almost 40 coffee shops, Philz Coffee is by far the largest of the three mentioned here. Although, it may have gone corporate, it hasn’t stopped Philz from making a mean cup of joe.
7. Bask in the City’s Culture - San Francisco’s art scene may be smaller in scope when compared to other major cities like New York, but it is no slouch. After a three-year closure, the San Francisco Modern Museum of Art reopened 15 months ago after a $305 million expansion. It now offers 45,000 square feet of art-filled public spaces that highlights pieces from its collection by artists like Andy Warhol, Roy Lichtenstein, Frida Kahlo, Pablo Picasso and Jackson Pollock. Founded in 1895, the de Young Museum has been part of the city’s cultural fabric for more than a 100 years. Its permanent collection showcases modern and contemporary art, American paintings and sculpture and textile arts. The Contemporary Jewish Art Museum is interesting in that it is a non-collecting institution, so it partners with institutions around the world to keep a fresh set of exhibits coming through its doors.
8. Drink with a View - San Francisco boasts one of the most beautiful skylines that is only improved by experiencing it with a drink in hand. Visit one the city’s iconic bars with a view to take in all the city has to offer. Perched at the top of Nob Hill, Top of the Mark at the Mark Hopkins Hotel is a classic with a history stretching back to 1939. Get there before sunset to take advantage of its 360-degree panorama of the city. The View at the Marriott Marquis offers equally stunning views coupled with modern elegance and late hours. If you are looking to paint the town red while partaking in the city’s view then the Starlight Room at the Sir Francis Drake Hotel in Union Square is your spot. Its drag brunch on Sundays is quintessential San Francisco, and it is one hell of a show.