Posted June 15, 2021

“Touristy” SF Spots Locals Actually Love


SkyStar Wheel, Photo by Jon Finck

Kimpton’s hometown is teeming with incredible food, cocktails, attractions and unconventional parties. Here’s what to mark on your social calendar for your next visit to the City by the Bay.

Restaurants, Bars & Their Signature Items

Not one but TWO acclaimed cocktails trace their hallowed history to San Francisco’s top bartenders. The Buena Vista in Fisherman’s Wharf pours countless Irish Coffees, having invented and mastered it since the 50’s. The popular drink is made of hot water, sugar cubes, piping hot local brew, Tullamore Dew whiskey and hand whipped cream floated just so – it’s seen as the gold standard in Irish Coffees worldwide. For a different flavor profile, Pisco Punch also made its debut here at the former Bank Exchange Saloon in the late 1800s (!) during the height of the Gold Rush. Mark Twain was a fan! The original recipe had Pisco (strong Peruvian distilled brandy), pineapple, lime, sugar and gum arabic and well, packed a “punch.” You can still order a modern version at Comstock Saloon in North Beach.

Fortune cookies have a fuzzy origin story but we know this: they’re sweet buttery staples in Chinese American restaurants across the country and some of the very first were created and enjoyed in the City. Down Ross Alley, the Golden Gate Fortune Cookie Factory has been making upwards of 10,000 cookies a day since 1962. Instead of being limited to one per entree, you can snack on them by the bag here and see the intricate hand folding techniques in action.

Golden Gate Fortune Cookie Factory, Photo by Meritt Thomas

People flock to its taquerias for the classic Mission burrito – a foil wrapped heavyweight that’s customizable but usually includes rice, beans, cheese, sour cream, guac and usually arrives the size of your forearm. Everyone has their particular favorites here but La Taqueria and El Farolito in its namesake Mission District will leave you happily satiated. Be prepared to load up at the salsa bar too with wide selections of pickled veggies, molten peppers and punchy sauces.

Views on Views on Views

San Francisco is ridiculously photographable from its colorful Victorian architecture to its rolling hills, bridges, sailboats and more. Bike or hail a car to the 923-foot high Hawk Hill across the Golden Gate Bridge at the start of the Marin Headlands to take in a different snapshot of the city. If you trekked here from Embarcadero, you can coast downhill to Sausalito to check out its waterfront shops and restaurants before leisurely taking the ferry back.

Coit Tower in Telegraph Hill is one of the most recognizable landmarks. On a non-foggy day, you can see a 360 view of the Bay and bridges. Take the Filbert Steps and scan the trees for flocks of chatty parrots that have made their home here after a domesticated pair took flight in the early 90s.

Coit Tower, Photo by Ronan Furuta

In Golden Gate Park, you’ll see the new SkyStar Wheel which celebrates the park’s 150th birthday. Pro tip: you can go up to the glass enclosed Hamon observation tower at de Young for free!

Last but not least, catch a Giants home game at Oracle Park for a gorgeous sunset and protect your Gilroy garlic fries from those feisty seagulls.

Only in SF Parties & Activities

San Francisco has been called Neverland because there’s a certain lightness and spirit that feels like you’re only as young as you feel. Its celebrations are plentiful and unique and costumes aren’t relegated to Halloween, they’re must-have closet staples. In spring, Bay to Breakers blends from serious runners in the morning to a rollicking crew of costumed revelers who go from the Embarcadero to the shores of Ocean Beach. Bands set up shop along the route and the spectacle is unlike any other. It’s considered the oldest consecutive footrace in the world! Bring Your Own Big Wheel is a similar concept but with tiny trikes and costumed grown ups and kids alike speeding down 20th and Vermont on Easter Sundays. Near Eureka Valley, there’s a playground with twin rock slides where you bring your own cardboard or plastic sled. Google map Seward Street Slides for exact cross streets.

de Young Museum, Photo by Bruce Warrington

Come one, come all because San Francisco is anything but ordinary.

P.S. Make sure to check out the new Kimpton Alton Hotel for the perfect home base for your San Francisco adventure!


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