Drink in the evening views over San Francisco before hitting the restaurants and clubs for a fun-filled night
San Francisco has one of the most beautiful sunsets I have ever seen. Seeing the setting sun cast a golden-orange glow on the gorgeous city skyline is simply mesmerising. A great spot for this view is the vista point located on the mountain to the left of the Golden Gate Bridge. It is quite a popular spot among tourists because it offers a fabulous view of not only the bridge, but also of the city.
Once it's dark, San Francisco is a completely different experience. There are two ways in which you can maximise this experience. Drive down Bay Bridge into the city. The view of the Financial District from the bridge is breathtaking. Right before you cross over to the other side of the bridge, take the Treasure Island exit. The vista of the Bay Bridge and the San Francisco skyline is something you should not miss.
You should definitely make a visit to the Twin Peaks. This point has a stunning bird’s eye view of the whole of downtown San Francisco. On a clear day, you might be able to see as far as Oakland Airport.
Apart from enjoying the scenic views, there are lots of other things to do in the city. San Francisco boasts a rich and diverse nightlife that ensures there is something for everyone. Apart from movie theatres, live performances, opera, and sports like ice-skating and bowling, the city has a vast set of options for food and drink connoisseurs.
Where to eat
San Francisco, being home to a host of ethnicities, offers some of the most diverse cuisines in the world. One can find many good restaurants in the Marina, north of Geary on Fillmore, Union Square (too expensive due to the central and touristy location), North Beach, along the Embarcadero by the waterfront and Clement Street. Some of my personal recommendations are:
Thai: Osha Thai – Embarcadero, 2nd Street, Union Street (www.oshathai.com)
Indian: Dosa (www.dosasf.com)
Chinese: House of Nanking, 919 Kearny Street, between Columbus Avenue and Jackson Street
Asian Fusion: Betelnut (www.betelnutrestaurant.com)
Mediterranean: Kan Zaman (www.kanzamansf.com)
Italian: Steps of Rome (www.stepsofrome.com)
Pizza: Pizza Orgasmica (www.pizzaorgasmica.com)
Desserts : Caffé Greco, North Beach – the best tiramisu I have ever tried (www.caffegreco.com)
Cheesecake Factory, Union Square (www.thecheesecakefactory.com)
Ghirardelli Square, Fisherman’s Wharf (www.ghirardellisq.com)
Late night grub: Naan-N-Curry (www.naanncurry.com)
Nizario’s Pizza (www.nizarios.com)
Where to take a tipple
The city’s nightlife offers a wide variety of options, ranging from sophisticated lounges where couples can spend some quality time over a glass of wine, to loud clubs playing great music, to casual bars and pubs where people can get together to watch a match or simply catch up. Popular partying spots are found in the Marina, North Beach and the Mission. Some of my favourite spots are:
Medjool (www.medjoolsf.com) This nightclub in the Mission is a restaurant by day that gets converted into a dance floor at night. They have great music and although their drinks are a little expensive, they offer value for money. They have a small patio on the first floor overlooking the street, and even better they have a huge terrace that has a bar too.
Hobson’s Choice (www.hobsonschoice.com) This casual bar in the Haight is a great place to hang out with friends on a Friday evening. They have the best rum-based cocktails and their house punch is to die for.
Gordon Biersch (www.gordonbiersch.com) This local brewery that is also a restaurant is located at the Embarcadero. If it's your first visit here, they will offer you free testers of all six of their brews. It's a fun experience, especially when you're with a group of friends. The food here is pretty good too.
Where to stay
Hotel 480 (now the San Francisco Marriott Union Square - hotel480.meetingsinthewest.com), 480 Sutter Street. This hotel is conveniently located right in the heart of the city at Union Square.
Holiday Inn Civic Center, 8th Street (www.ichotelsgroup.com). This hotel is located in downtown San Francisco, close to major local transit points. The rooms are well furnished and pleasant and the tariffs are reasonable. However, there are many homeless people in the area.
Tips for first time visitors
Be sure to always carry a light jacket with you. The city is known for its unpredictable weather. One minute it’s hot and sunny and the next it could be foggy, cold and windy!
Avoid areas like the Tenderloin, Haight around the Golden Gate Park, Market around Civic Center and South Vanness, especially in the evenings. These areas are not particularly safe.
Make sure you either call a yellow cab in advance (415-333-3333) or head to the closest busy street to hail a cab on the spot. It is quite difficult to find a cab on quiet streets, especially at the weekend.
It is quite easy to find your way around the city with the help of the excellent Muni (underground subway/bus) network. It costs about $1.50 to ride the transit network for around three hours. This network is not good for transit outside the city. In order to go to the Golden Gate Bridge, you need to take the Golden Gate Transit.