San Francisco: Locals' Favorite Places

You can't beat the Great American Music Hall. Legend has it that the space used to be a brothel. The Hall maintains a bit of a raucous atmosphere, but the candlelit tables, gilded columns, and great acoustics make it an intimate spot for performers.
—Oliver Imkamp, logistics analyst

One of the best places in the city for Chicano art is the Mexican Museum at the Fort Mason Center. It's still undiscovered.
—Cheech Marin, actor

The best linen store in San Francisco is Frette. The store is understated elegance, which I like, and the quality speaks for itself.
—Denise Hale, philanthropist

I love North Beach—visiting the coffee shops, trying the restaurants, and browsing the bookstores.
—Jerry Brown, Oakland mayor

On Alcatraz Island, you can hear the sound of seagulls, and imagine the torture of someone sitting in a cell, there for life. It's very moving.
—Steve Young, former 49ers quarterback

The art deco Maritime Museum, near Fisherman's Wharf, looks like some sort of beached ocean liner. Ship models are on display, and the interior walls are decorated with fish murals.
—Wyatt Starosta, student

Sunday mornings in San Francisco are a ritual of newspapers, coffee, and the spirit at Grace Cathedral. I order a cafe latte at the gift shop and then read the arts and travel sections in The New York Times and San Francisco Chronicle. At 10:50, I head for the sanctuary to sing hymns, chants, and psalms.
—Vance George, director, San Francisco Symphony Chorus

Many surfers gather at Ocean Beach. Generally the biggest swells, the ones that can reach up to 20 feet, hit the beach in a more "rideable" form from Taraval Street to just south of Sloat Boulevard. If you have binoculars, bring them. Surfers can be as far as 150 yards from shore.
—Jeff Weaver, surfer

At the Exploratorium, visit the Glowing Worms exhibit to see the cutting-edge genetic tool of green florescent protein at work. Transparent roundworms, common to almost everyone's backyard, have been genetically engineered to carry a gene from the glowing jellyfish. About a third of worms' cells are associated with their nervous systems, and all of them glow green under a special fluorescent microscope.
—Dr. Goéry Delacôte, Exploratorium director

My favorite spot in San Francisco is the corner of 18th and Castro streets. Ever since Harvey Milk set up his ironing board there to register voters in the early '70s, it's been the heart of the gay community. You can visit the Castro anytime, but the neighborhood really exudes a festive atmosphere during the Castro Street Fair in October, Halloween, and the Pride Parade at the end of June.
—Teddy Witherington, executive director, San Francisco Pride

Visitors to the California Academy of Sciences's multimedia Earthquake Theater experience the intensity of tremors that have hit the Bay Area without fear of injury. It's a must-do for anyone who has ever wondered how or why an earthquake occurs, or is simply curious to know what it feels like.
—Dr. J. Patrick Kociolek, executive director of the California Academy of Sciences

There are three murals that visitors should see. Start out by visiting the beautiful Beach Chalet Visitors Center, where the 1930s WPA murals have been recently restored to their original splendor. Then head over to the Women's Building mural, which covers the entire building's facade. Finally, go to Bryant and 10th streets to see Rigo's "One Tree."
—Richard Newirth, San Francisco Arts Commission

When I need a new suit, I often turn to legendary San Francisco retailer Wilkes Bashford, where you can find classic clothes with a contemporary flair. For great specialty hats, I turn to Mrs. Dewson's Hats on Filmore Street.
—Willie Brown, mayor of San Francisco

My favorite place to shop is Gumps near Union Square, and my favorite place to eat is the French restaurant Fleur de Lys. But what I love most about San Francisco is the diversity, the weather, the history, and the culture.
—Dianne Feinstein, U.S. senator

Start at the top of Fillmore and Broadway and walk down the steps toward the marina. You can see the bridge and the bay speckled with sailboats. Walk along the marina past Crissy Field, beneath the bridge, then back by the Palace of Fine Arts, up the steps, past the spectacular houses in Pacific Heights. On a warm, pretty day there's nothing better.
—Richard North Patterson, author of the bestseller Protect and Defend

One of my favorite spots is the Ramp on Saturdays. It's a restaurant that's mostly outdoors and a little divey, although it's become a lot less divey in recent years. The food is basic: a salad or a cheeseburger. But there's a great mix of people, and they often have live salsa music or jazz.
—Phil Bronstein, executive editor, San Francisco Chronicle

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