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The San Francisco Guide

Experiencing the San Francisco Bay Area is entirely different if you live there as opposed to being a tourist in town for just a few days. Residents have some favorite restaurants that are little hidden gems, and visitors tend to go to the top of the search engine for recommendations.
 
Our San Francisco guide is intended to cover both ends of the spectrum from the "must-sees" to the "very few people know about this."
 

At a Glance

San Francisco is both the name of the city and the county and is the second most densely populated location next to New York City. It's known distinct neighborhoods, some of which include elegant Victorian homes, like the ones depicted in Full House. San Francisco offers a combination of a preserved past with all of the amenities of today's living. But, it comes at a price as it's the second most expensive city to live in, also next to NYC.
 
The Bay area is a big financial center. It boasts 220 parks, seven major sports teams, Chinatown, Union Square, Fisherman's Wharf, the Museum of Modern Art, and is "foodie" heaven.
 

San Francisco - Oakland - San Jose

The Bay area is quite large when you go beyond the San Francisco city limits. Nearly nine million people reside in the greater metropolitan area, which includes Oakland and San Jose.
 
Getting from Oakland to San Francisco can take less than 20 minutes with BART, the Bay Area Rapid Transit. BART is the rail system that makes it convenient to live in one area and work in another.
 
San Jose is another story, though. It's farther south and can take an hour or more by car. BART doesn't service San Jose, but many people opt to use Caltrain. Caltrain runs along the peninsula with stops in South Bay, San Jose, and Gilroy.

 

The Bay Area is an Entertaining Area

 
San Franciscans are fortunate to have a long list of free events and things to do in their hometown, as well as theaters large and small, comedy clubs, and music venues.If you're a fan of indie music, you're covered? Do you love plays and musicals? The event calendars of full of performances. How about symphony? opera? ballet? Check. Check. Check.

 

Theater - Plays and Musicals

You can catch your favorite Broadway show without leaving California. The SHN Orpheum Theater, in the Civic Center District, hosts show after show. Check out their website, and you'll see at least a dozen different events coming up that include new titles as well as oldies but goodies. The 2,200-seat theater was built in 1926 and was declared a San Francisco landmark.
 
The San Francisco Playhouse is in the Union Square Theater District. There's also the Victoria Theatre in the Mission District that has the longevity of the Orpheum. It seats 480 for plays as well as other events and was initially a Vaudeville venue, built in 1908.
 
The Castro, The Curran, Theatre Rhinoceros, American Conservatory Theater (A.C.T.), some feature the most talented Bay area performers and others have touring shows. You could also join the OTL San Francisco Seat Filler Club and be introduced to some of the smaller community theaters that rival their larger counterparts.

 

Bay Area Opera, Ballet, Music, and More

The San Francisco Symphony was founded in 1911 and its season runs from September through June at the Davies Symphony Hall in the Hayes Valley area. But, if symphony isn't your taste, there's The Fillmore. It's another century-old venue that started as a dance hall and now features performances from artists like Tom Petty and the Los Lobos, the B-52s, and Willie Nelson.
 
Opera-goers head to the War Memorial Opera House, the home of the San Francisco Opera Company, which offers eight different operas each year. The San Francisco Ballet started in 1933 and has been performing The Nutcracker since 1944 as well as its regular season schedule.
 

Need a Laugh?

When is the last time you visited a comedy club? You know you have a good time but, when you're trying to think of something to do, comedy may not immediately spring to mind.
 
Consider it, though, next time you want to do something in the Bay area. San Francisco's clubs host local talent as well as some of the biggest names in comedy. Cobb's Comedy Club and the Punch Line are the bigger venues, but BATS Improv is the longest running and one of the most highly regarded of improv companies. The Secret Improv Society is also up there and definitely delivers the funny... and you get free oreos, too!

 

Bay Area Professional Sports

 
If you combine San Francisco, San Jose, and Oakland, you end up with a metropolitan area that currently has seven major professional sports teams, plus eight minor league clubs and six collegiate teams.
 

Raiders and 49ers NFL Football

The seven major teams will be reduced to six in 2020 as the Oakland Raiders will be moving to Las Vegas. But, in the interim, the Raiders, which were established in Oakland in 1960 will be playing for their fourth Super Bowl Ring. The team won championships in 1976, 1980, and 1983.
 
The San Francisco 49ers have been in the Bay area since 1946. They've made six Super Bowl appearances and had success with five of them, the last in 1994 at Super Bowl XXIX. The 49ers play their home games at Levi's Stadium.

Major League Baseball - Giants and Athetics

The San Francisco Giants have been team since 1883 but in San Francisco since 1958. AT & T Park is the home for the eight-time World Series-winning team, and it's one of the most successful in Major League Baseball.
 
The Oakland Athletics were also known as the As. While they were established in 1901, they've only been in Oakland since '68. The Athletics share the Oakland-Alameda County Coliseum with the Raiders. They've won nine World Series, four as an Oakland team.
 

NBA's Golden State Warriors

The Warriors began in 1946, and are the only NBA team in Northern California. Golden State has won six NBA championships, the last in 2018. In the 2015-16 season, they broke the all-time league record for best record, finishing the season at 73-9.
 

San Jose Sharks - NHL

If you're a hockey fan, the SAP Center is the place to be as the San Jose Sharks call it home. The Sharks have played since 1991. While the team hasn't won a Cup as yet, it has claimed six divisional titles and a Presidents' Trophy.
 

San Jose Earthquakes

Last, but not least is the San Jose Earthquakes, who have come and gone from the area a few times. The team began as the Quakes in 1996 but moved to Houston as the Dynamo in 2005. However, San Jose retained the Quakes original stats and re-upped a team in 2008. The Earthquakes play at Avaya Stadium.

 

 

A Park Within a 10 Minute Walk

 
San Francisco is built on 43 hills and has 220 parks in the area. Many San Franciscans prefer to walk, and the city prides itself on having a park within ten minutes of every resident. They won't all be the size of Golden Gate Park, but green grass and outdoor living are prevalent.
 

Golden Gate Park

Golden Gate Park dates back the 1800s and spans from the center of the city to the ocean. Its construction and expansion have been managed by the San Francisco Parks and Recreation Department, which was founded in 1871.
 
The park includes ten lakes, the De Young Museum, San Francisco Botanical Gardens, the Strybing Arboretum, an Aquarium, the Japanese Tea Garden, and the California Academy of Sciences, plus much more for kids and kids at heart.

 

San Francisco Foodies Have Plenty of Dining Options

San Franciscans not only have a park within a ten-minute walk, but there are 39 restaurants for every 10,000 households in the Bay Area. Real foodies are in luck as the cuisine is as diverse as it is plentiful.
 

Chinese, Mexican, and a Sourdough Bowl

Both residents and visitors flock to San Francisco's Chinatown area, and you certainly can't go wrong checking out as many restaurants as you can. But, if you're looking for something just a bit different and extremely affordable, you may want to try Hong Kong Clay Pot on Grant Ave. The special style of cooking is known to enhance the tenderness of the meat and cook the vegetables to perfection.
 
La Taqueria has been serving its take on "Mission Style" burritos since 1973. The family-owned and run restaurant is at the top of the list for locals who crave Mexican food.
 
The Boudin Bakery at the Wharf is the flagship location and uses a recipe from 1849. The chowder in a bread bowl is one of the main attractions.
 

Sutro's at Cliff House

If you're searching for dining with a view, you can't do better than Sutro's at the Cliff House. It hovers over the water and has been part of the San Francisco landscape for 150 years.

 

A Few Obscure Facts About the Bay Area

 

Vermont not Lombard

Most people think Lombard Street is the "crookedest" street in San Francisco, But, it's actually Vermont Ave, between 22nd and West 23rd.

 

Escape from Alcatraz not necessary

Alcatraz hasn't been an active prison since 1963 when then-Attorney General, Robert F. Kennedy ordered it to be emptied. The maximum security prison used to house 200 prisoners.

 

Cable Car Honor

Cable cars are the only rolling National Historic Landmark in the country. There are three cable car lines and they travel at nine miles per hour.

 

Delicious fortune-telling

While most people agree that the Fortune Cookie was created in California, there are a few different claimants to the inventor title. Makoto Hagiwara is the probable candidate though. In the early 1900s, Hagiwara made and distributed them to guests at the Japanese Tea Gardens where he was the caretaker.

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