San Francisco, California
We asked Andreas Rippel, Chef Concierge at Four Seasons Hotel San Francisco, to gather the savviest sight-seeing suggestions he could find—not just his own, but also those of the local connoisseurs he works with every day at the Hotel. You’ll want to wander San Francisco’s hilly streets (or take a trolley or cable car) to discover the city’s eclectic neighbourhoods and waterfront.
Art and Performance
The Yerba Buena arts district showcases modern art at the Museum of Modern Art; the Contemporary Jewish Museum, itself a dazzling example of postmodern architecture; and the art gallery at the Yerba Buena Center for the Arts, which also houses a theatre. And the nationally prominent American Conservatory Theater stages plays in the nearby downtown theatre district.
Family-Friendly City Tours
Go behind the scenes on a small-group tour of the recently rebuilt California Academy of Sciences in verdant Golden Gate Park for an up-close look at the greenest museum on Earth. Take a night tour of Alcatraz. Ride around in a big, red, shiny Mack fire engine through the Presidio, across the iconic Golden Gate Bridge to Sausalito, where you’ll stop at scenic Fort Baker for a photo opportunity. Or check out the free do-it-yourself walking tours of this hilly but walkable city.
A Must-See Market
Don’t miss San Francisco’s largest farmers market, at the Ferry Building, with its luscious local produce. Located at the foot of Market Street along the Embarcadero, the market offers delicacies such as fresh fish, artisan cheeses, fresh bread, wines and chocolates. The exterior of the building and the main public hall of the building, which first opened in 1898, have both been restored to their original condition.
The Concierge can arrange a tour through the vineyards of the Napa Valley, including the orchards of Talcott Olive estate, where you can sample the small-production olives. The beautiful rolling scenery will whet your appetite for the area’s fine restaurants and world-famous vintages.
A Toast to San Francisco
For a special treat, stop by the Seasons Bar and Lounge and try the Trust Fund, a wicked blend of Tanqueray gin, St-Germain elderflower liqueur, orange marmalade and mint, served over ice and topped with Champagne. It will make you feel like a million bucks.
Many of the best San Francisco restaurants are hidden among the micro-neighbourhoods of the city. In the Mission is Beretta, an extraordinary hip-casual Italian restaurant with an exhaustive cocktail menu. In Dogpatch is Flour + Water, a pizza joint that offers world-class Neapolitan-style pies. In the Fillmore, Dosa is a Southern Indian standout. In the Avenues is Aziza, a Moroccan restaurant that has recently made the mainstream thanks to television appearances. In the Marina, A16 remains pre-eminent for its Italian cuisine and wine list. The ultimate in San Francisco fine dining: Restaurant Gary Danko and Fleur de Lys. These spots have everything you could hope for in a romantic evening.
Everywhere! The jazz clubs in the Fillmore, such as Yoshi’s and Boom Boom Room—the bands just keep on coming. See and be seen at the Marina, which has the best people-watching in the city. The Union Square area is filled with clubs and nightlife, each with its own twist. A recent trend that we love is museums that open up for the evening and have music and drinks. The best is the California Academy of Sciences on Thursday nights. It’s a great way to see the space, enjoy a beverage and avoid the daytime lines.
Head 10 miles (16 kilometres) west to the coast and check out Fort Funston. It features 200-foot-high (60-metre) bluffs overlooking the Pacific Ocean. “Sweeping views” doesn’t begin to describe the grandeur of this natural area, and the kicker is that it is a hot spot for hang-gliders. Grab a picnic basket and enjoy the free show. Fort Point, at the base of the Golden Gate Bridge, is a hidden little spot to watch the surfers and passing boats. It is a great place to start a morning jog up and over the bridge (about 3.5 miles, or 5.5 kilometres, total). Point Reyes National Seashore, about 30 minutes north of San Francisco, is one of the most beautiful places in Northern California. You can belly up to a local bar and eat fresh oysters and watch the sun over the bay, or you can take a morning kayak trip into the bay to see the abundant wildlife. A short 10 miles beyond the Golden Gate Bridge lies Fort Cronkhite, one of the early World War II military outposts, complete with barracks and miles of scenic trails.