Time Out San Francisco Contributer
Lauren Sheber contributes to Time Out San Francisco on culture, lifestyle and food, writing listings, reviews and features on San Francisco and the Bay Area.
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Lauren Sheber contributes to Time Out San Francisco on culture, lifestyle and food, writing listings, reviews and features on San Francisco and the Bay Area.
It’s no secret that San Francisco oozes cool. From endless thrift stores for vintage bargains to rows of antiques and incredibly chic bars and small plates, once you visit this city, you’ll never want to leave. But the best way to get your teeth into the city, and truly experience it as a local would? That’s San Francisco’s flea markets. These flea markets are the hidden gems of the city, found by the water, in local communities and in huge, sheltered marketplaces. You’ll find vintage clothing, retro radios, random bric-a-brac, food stools and furniture, and a whole load more, and you can spend hours browsing (sometimes to a backdrop of live music). See the city in a different light, and visit one of the best flea markets in San Francisco. RECOMMENDED:🛍️ The best shopping in San Francisco📍 The best things to do in San Francisco🍴 The best restaurants in San Francisco🍷 The best bars in San Francisco🍸 The best rooftop bars in San Francisco
Big city life can be plenty stressful. The best wildflower hikes in the Bay Area are the perfect antidote to the chaotic day-to-day tumult of life in San Francisco, Oakland, and the rest. Worry not; you don’t need to be a botanical expert to wring every last drop of beauty out of these gorgeous strolls. Sometimes, all you need is a clifftop view of the Pacific Ocean (and a filled water bottle, hydration is vital). As mentioned, a degree in botany isn’t necessary to enjoy these hikes, but it is never too late to learn about the glorious world around us. After all, what better way to impress the love of your life than by correctly identifying miner’s lettuce, owl’s clover, and more? The Bay Area is a magnificent playground, and these wildflower hikes are a great way to embrace the beauty.
When it comes to defining a romantic restaurant in San Francisco, there's a vast spectrum. For new couples on first or second dates (or anyone who hasn't had "the talk" yet), a cheap date idea, featuring affordable grub and tea lights, might be all that is necessary to get the heart racing. For others, white tablecloths and an affordable tasting menu might have you playing footsie all night before looking up the nearest luxury hotel. Whether the mood calls for classy and comfortable or a special-occasion splurge, we found a few romantic restaurants in San Francisco that cover every scenario—all you need is your appetite. RECOMMENDED: The best things to do in San Francisco
A trip to Napa Valley is not to be rushed; Wine Country is meant to be savored. That being said, you should definitely swallow it and not spit it into the proverbial bucket. Thankfully, there's no shortage of standout Napa hotels for relaxing, swimming, and wining and dining (and wining and wining), in style. You'll find historic vineyard estates, stylish boutique newcomers, scene-y rooftop decks, and truly luxurious digs. (Soaking tub with a view, anyone? Well, they'll have that, obviously). To help you focus on the good stuff: Cali vino, and not the: oh my god there are so many places I can't be bothered I'm going to stay at home and get some expensive wine from the bodega... We've rounded up the best places to stay in Napa Valley. You're so welcome. RECOMMENDED: The best Airbnbs in Napa
San Francisco has plenty of world-class art museums, from SFMOMA to the de Young, where visitors can take in masterpieces covering all disciplines, styles, and centuries. But the city is also bustling with smaller art galleries you can take in paintings and other works of art. A decade ago, Bay Area art buyers would flock to Union Square, where exclusive galleries mingled with high-end boutiques. Not anymore. As gallerists have fled rising rents downtown, the resulting dispersal sparked an art resurgence in the Dogpatch, Potrero Flats, SoMA, and beyond. From international standbys to intriguing up-and-comers, and classical painters to cutting-edge video artists, the best art galleries in San Francisco run the gamut. If you're interested in checking out a more boutique art gallery experience and supporting a local business, here's where to start. RECOMMENDED: The best things to do in San Francisco
San Francisco rooftop bars are few and far between — which is surprising in a city with temperate weather year-round and stunning views around every corner. But the sky-high bars that do exist in the city are some of the best places to grab a drink in town, and to be fair, the number of them has finally expanded in just the last year. Newcomers like Rise Over Run in the brand new LINE Hotel and local favorite Good Good Culture Club are some of the hottest openings in the city. Our favorite rooftop bars in San Francisco are perfect places for a refreshing cocktail or glass of wine to celebrate any occasion, whether it's a date night or an average Friday night. They're a great choice during those scorching hot days, but also a good pick year-round with most locations offering heaters on chillier evenings. One thing's for sure, of all the places where you can kick back with a drink in San Francisco (cocktail bars, breweries, speakeasies, wine bars), those with fresh air and awe-inspiring vistas always come out on top. RECOMMENDED: Complete guide to the best bars in San Francisco
There is no such thing as a bad time to get out of the city, and San Francisco offers plenty of opportunities to do just that. The hiking here is fantastic, and California is packed with beautiful national parks that showcase the shimmering magic of the world around us. Fancy sleeping under the stars? The best camping spots near San Francisco have you covered. You don’t need to be an expert adventurer to make the most of these. The best camping spots in these parts offer something for everyone, and they usually come with incredible views. Does that sound right up your street? Okay, rhetorical question. Pack the tent and supplies and get going.
San Francisco may have more dogs than children, but that doesn’t mean it is a city void of kid-friendly activities — in fact, the city offers a huge amount of things to do with children that will leave them engaged, laughing, and learning. The city is full of mind-bending museums, from the sprawling California Academy of Sciences to the more hands-on Exploratorium. If they need to blow off steam, there are endless options for high-energy playspaces and playgrounds, including a brand-new and stunning one at the Presidio Tunnel Tops. There is so much for families to enjoy, so grab your tots and have a blast with our 25 favorite things to do in San Francisco with kids. RECOMMENDED: Full guide to the best things to do in San Francisco
So you've booked that ticket to San Francisco, lined up all the best restaurants to dine at, and have plans to visit every museum in town. All you need is the perfect place to stay. You could reserve a room at one of San Francisco's best hotels, but for something a little homier, consider staying at one of these amazing Airbnb San Francisco homes. From a garden oasis to a geodesic dome to a luxurious artist's retreat, these Airbnb options are the perfect way to experience SF in style. This article includes affiliate links. These links have no influence on our editorial content. For more information, click here.
There's no better way to celebrate the fall season than from the finish line of a corn maze in the Bay Area. With tons of Halloween events and autumn things to do in San Francisco, pumpkin patches in the Bay Area are packed with visitors seeking decorative gourds, pumpkin-spiced treats, and fields of cut corn to get lost in. You'll find everything from massive mazes with impressive designs and towering stalks, to more manageable ones for kids — either way, when you've finally exited, you'll usually find plenty of other activities to check off your fall bucket list, too. We've rounded up the best corn mazes in the Bay Area — from the East Bay to the North Bay to the South Bay, there's bound to be convenient to you. Most of the mazes are open all of October. So grab your layers, a flashlight, and a buddy (you always need a buddy in a maze), and check out one of these top corn mazes in the Bay Area. RECOMMENDED: Your full guide to Halloween in San Francisco
The Internet is basically the world’s biggest singles bar, but that doesn’t mean you should limit yourself to swiping left or right. There is still something to be said for getting out of the house and meeting someone new the old-fashioned way—in a bar. And it all feels novel again coming out of the pandemic. Fortunately, San Francisco offers bars for singles and everyone and anyone who is on the prowl. Whether you are looking for a hookup, a booty call, or true everlasting love, there is a spot for you. Choose from casual bars in the Mission with outdoor patios, a downtown beer hall, or the hottest cruise bar in SoMa; These bars are welcome proof that seeking connections with living, breathing humans doesn't have to be soul-sucking. Here are 12 of the best places to grab a drink — and meet someone, too. RECOMMENDED: Full guide to the best bars in San Francisco
If you’re craving an intensely comforting dish — one that will make you feel all the feels — the best pho in San Francisco and Oakland will have you smiling from ear to ear. Pho, a Vietnamese soup dish made up of broth, rice noodles, herbs, and meat, is a year-round staple in the unpredictable (ok, mostly foggy) San Francisco climate. The beloved Vietnamese noodle soup offers up a wide range of northern- and southern-style interpretations in kitchens across the city. Some of the best pho shops in San Francisco have been around for decades and offer a homey atmosphere, while others bring modern vibes that are no less heartwarming. From recipes passed down through the generations to new spins on this delicious comfort food, no two bowls are alike. In other words, you’ll need to try them all, won’t you? Get started by checking out our list of the best pho in San Francisco and Oakland. RECOMMENDED: The best restaurants in San Francisco
The ambiance is colorful and informal at this Michelin-starred Thai restaurant, from the decor to the bold curries. Kin Khao—which translates to “eat rice”—is the passion project of chef Pim Techamuanvivit, who was born and raised in Bangkok. (Her stated mission: “To liberate her beloved Thai cuisine from the tyranny of peanut sauce.”) All Techamuanvivit’s produce, mushrooms, meat, and seafood is sourced from local Northern California purveyors, from Half Moon Bay to Napa. The menu is separated into bites, meats, seafood, greens, and curries. The dishes are shareable and generously spiced, from the “Pretty Hot Wings” glazed with fish sauce, garlic marinade, tamarind, and Sriracha to the dry-fried Duroc pork ribs in a turmeric curry paste. Don’t miss Kin Khao’s modern spin on curries, like the rabbit green curry or the mackerel gaeng som sour curry.
The Asian Art Museum contains one of the most extensive collections of Asian art in the world, with more than 18,000 works in its permanent collection. Though the museum originally shared a space with the de Young, it quickly outgrew its cramped digs. In 2003, after extensive renovations by architect Gae Aulenti, the museum took over the former San Francisco city library building in Civic Center; you can still read the quotes about books and literature etched into marble walls on the second floor. The building is split into galleries devoted to South Asia, the Persian world, West Asia, the Himalayas and Tibetan Buddhist world, Korea, Japan, and China. In particular, the Chinese collection, considered to be the best outside of China itself, is a point of pride. That section reveals jade carvings, Buddhist sculptures, decorative ceramics, ritual bronzes, and more. The museum is slated to expand further still in late 2019 with the addition of a new pavilion on the first floor.
Originally founded in 1984, this petite but well-appointed museum displays a slew of comic art, including comic strips, comic books, anime, political cartoons, graphic novels, zines, and underground comix. The museum relocated to this waterfront location in fall 2017, which affords nearly 8,000 square feet of exhibition space, as well a screening area, a library, and a collections facility. Visitors can browse everything from early Disney and Warner Bros. stills to obscure graphic art from around the world. The museum houses nearly 7,000 works in its permanent collection, including the work of illustrators like Roz Chast, Robert Crumb, Wally Wood, Edward Gorey, and Chuck Jones. Tables stationed around the space are stocked with drawing utensils for adults and kids to create their own comic art.
Located across from Yerba Buena Park, the Jewish Museum fills the former space of the landmark PG&E Power Substation, originally built in 1881. Designed by architect Daniel Libeskind, the retrofitted building is an architectural marvel, swathed in more than 3,000 color-changing blue steel panels and shaped to reflect the Hebrew letters chet and yud, which together spell the Hebrew word for life. On the second floor, the 2,200-square-foot Yud Gallery soars to 65 feet high and is dotted with 36 diamond-shaped windows; that inspiring space is devoted to audio installations, performances, and special events. The three-story, 63,000-square-foot museum showcases a vibrant range of group shows and rotating exhibitions, including the works of Israeli musician and composer Kutiman, famous illustrator and New Yorker cartoonist Roz Chast, legendary director Stanley Kubrick, and contemporary artist Cary Leibowitz. Plan your visit on the first Tuesday of the month, when admission is free.
The modern art museum’s new building, which opened in 2016, merges seamlessly with its original structure, completed in 1995. Global architecture firm Snohetta designed the ambitious addition, making it one of the largest modern art museums in the country. The distinctive, textural facade was inspired by San Francisco’s fog and rippling bay. Inside, you’ll find 33,000 works of art, including painting, photography, architecture and design, and media arts. The light-flooded space features six sculpture-decked terraces, as well as the largest living wall in the country. (It’s bursting with more than 19,000 plants, including nearly two dozen species native to California.) Even if you don’t shell out for a ticket—which, trust us, you should—there are still over 45,000 square feet of free public art spaces to explore for free. Even the vibrant, monochromatic restrooms are endorphin-spiking feats of design.
Local legend Edward Galland Zelinsky founded this museum as a showcase for his unparalleled collection of antique oddities, namely coin-operated mechanical musical instruments and antique arcade machines. It’s a must-see for vintage lovers and history buffs. The assortment spans more than 300 items, including coin-operated pianos, antique slot machines, hand-cranked music boxes, salvaged bits of local history, a steam-powered motorcycle, and various vintage arcade games. The arcades are all in working condition and can be played—most cost $.25 or $.50 apiece.
Cal Academy is an aquarium, planetarium, rainforest, and natural history museum wrapped into one. Though it’s considered California’s oldest museum—originally established in 1853—it has morphed over time to remain a vital, vibrant space. In all, the 400,000-square-foot building contains over 26 million specimens. The Kimball Natural History Museum is perhaps best known for the Africa Hall, where taxidermied animals are displayed behind glass, while the Project Lab showcases real scientists doing research in public view. The Morrison Planetarium features the world’s largest completely digital planetarium dome, measuring 90 feet in diameter. You can meander among the butterflies, marine life, and birds of the rainforest within a humid, 90-foot glass dome. And the impressive Steinhart Aquarium includes exhibits of coral reef, tidepool, and swamp habitats, as well as a colony of African penguins. The museum also has one of the most striking rooftops in the city, covered in seven rolling hills and home to an estimated 1.7 million plants.
Located in the middle of Golden Gate Park, this 125-year-old museum specializes in art from America, Africa, Oceania, and the Americas. In recent years, it’s become particularly known for its sprawling costume exhibits, from contemporary Muslim fashion to the contemporary designer Oscar de la Renta. The permanent collection spans the gamut from gowns, paintings, and textiles to ancient artifacts. In addition, you’ll find an impressive collection of 19th-century American and European photography with a focus on historical California photographs. The museum deftly mixes historic gems with modern technology, as evidenced by the new “de Youngsters Studio,” a multimedia space for kids to interact with art through cameras, AR, and digital works. Don’t miss the Hamon observation tower on the 9th floor: the stunning, glass-encased space overlooks all of Golden Gate Park, downtown San Francisco, the Bay, and the Marin headlands.
This grand Beaux-Arts building is a feat of architecture in itself, clad in white limestone, marble, and gleaming chevron wood. Devoted to ancient and European art, the museum contains more than 800 European paintings in its permanent collection—of which around 250 are on view—including works by masters like Claude Monet and Fra Angelico. The emphasis on sculpture is evident from the moment you arrive—you’ll encounter Auguste Rodin’s The Thinker in the outer courtyard. The permanent collection spans from medieval times to the early 20th century, showcasing decorative arts, paintings, sculpture, and ancient artifacts. Ancient art from Egypt, Greece, and Rome fills the Hall of Antiquities (don’t miss the mummy room). The Legion is also home to the Skinner Organ, a beautiful mahogany, ivory, and ebony instrument built by the Ernest M. Skinner Organ Company in 1924; check deyoung.famsf.org for a schedule of free concerts.
This eye-popping art and science museum mesmerizes kids and adults alike. Reopened after massive renovations at Pier 15 in 2013, the museum touts over 500 exhibits, including hands-on activities, science experiments, and interactive galleries incorporating sight, touch, memory, and perception. The clever, mind-bending exhibits blend light, tricks of physics, and sound. Whether you’re ogling rare plants or awe-inspiring art (a sculpture made from 100,000 toothpicks?!), it’s easy to spend a full day here.
This Presidio museum is devoted to the life and work of Walt Disney, the man behind the iconic mouse. Opened in 2009, it was founded by the Walt Disney Family Foundation and overseen by Disney’s daughter, Diane Disney Miller. The space is split between historic photographs and media from Disney’s life (spread across 10 permanent galleries) and rotating exhibits highlighting the significant animators and stylists behind the company’s beloved movies. That includes original artwork and concept art from all of Disney Studios’ animated features, from Snow White and the Seven Dwarfs (1937) to present. Throughout, interactive galleries contain multimedia video, listening stations, early renderings, and a 12-foot diameter model of Disneyland.
The vibe at Udupi is cheerful and low-key, and colorful string lights and a smattering of Indian instruments deck the walls. The South Indian cuisine here is strictly vegetarian and the dosas are as big as they come, made with rice flour, stuffed with fillings and served alongside sambar and coconut, tomato and ginger chutneys. The uttapam, a thicker lentil and rice pancake topped with vegetables and chutney, is equally satisfying. First-timers can opt for the South Indian thali, a sampler platter that includes rice, various curries, soup and dessert.