San Francisco is an easy city to get to know. The best way to get your head around it – on your first day, walk up to the Coit Tower, and pay $3.75 to go up the tower to the lookout.
This is the view from the top of Coit Tower, looking back toward downtown. Photoset is here, or read on for more.
I’m staying in the Union Square district, which covers a few blocks of downtown, where all of the trendy shops are. Which is fine – it’s a nice part of town – but what’s the point of travelling to a new city and then shopping at the Disney store or Niketown? A better bet is to start walking north, toward the residential areas.
On the way, I passed the Transamerica Pyramid, which made a cameo in Grand Theft Auto as the Big Pointy Building. (Signs around the base said “Voted San Andreas’ Pointiest Building” and “No Basejumping”, among other things. Unfortunately the real-life building doesn’t have these signs… that would make a cool guerrilla art project.)
This is Coit Tower, and I shot the first photo in this post from the top of the tower.
This photo from Coit Tower looks in the other direction, toward Fisherman’s Wharf (the tourist district) and the Golden Gate Bridge. Unfortunately it was foggy, which seems to be par for the course in SF.
Down the road a bit is the famous “Crookedest Street in the World” (aka Lombard Street), which really is crooked. It’s more crooked than the Victorian construction industry. (Boom-tish!) The view from the top is picturesque, and I noticed a couple of for-sale signs along the block… however, they were asking about $300k over fair value, at least.
Later that evening, I ate dinner at the Metreon – technically it’s a mall, but what a mall. A Playstation store; a Sony Style store; a decent food court; cinemas; Games Workshop store; a comic store… it’s as if it was designed by geeks for geeks. (Sadly, the Bandai store seems to have disappeared.) And if you’re not a Sony fanboy, there’s an Apple store a block away.
Behind the Metreon (if you can drag yourself away from playing Guitar Hero at the Playstation store) is Yerba Buena Arts Centre, and a park overlooking the Moscone Center, spiritual home of Apple’s product announcements. The SF Museum of Modern Art is half a block past Yerba Buena, and it’s worth a visit just for the gift shop. There’s stacks of stuff (including a suprisingly large amount of kitchenware), and the prices are pretty reasonable. So if you’re looking for gifts in SF, you know where to go.
Here’s the route I walked.