How much longer will San Francisco keep changing?
Updated: Dec 25, 2018
This is the question that all locals and visitors ask continuously about the City by The Bay, San Francisco.
Over the last five years the city has seen an incredible influx of people moving in, moving out, investments, new startups, new transportation (more than Uber and Lyft), new restaurants and with that comes a wave that takes the older and more classic SF away with it. It's called reinvention.
I've lived in San Francisco for the last 15 years and kind of qualifies me to explain the recent developments that affect not only locals but the international crowds coming to the classic city that saw its first boom during the Gold Rush in California.
If I had a guide for restaurants and attractions recommendations it would need to be updated constantly as places come and go so fast. These days businesses open and close so rapidly that is even hard for locals to get to see it all before the next trend comes by. For that reason, I wanted to share some trending things in the city but keep in mind that these could be completely different in six or twelve months from now. The key is to go with the flow.
How to see the city and avoid the increased traffic?
The best recommendation is to be flexible and depending on the time of the day and your location this solution may vary. Not only we have Uber and Lyft as ride-and-share services but now we have electric scooters available everywhere, download the Bird and Lime apps on your phone, easy setup. Also, we have Jump and Ford Bikes, where you can rent a bike by the distance/time and pick-up/drop-off at different spots. Walking is always an alternative as well as public transportation (Muni and Bart). Lastly, the classic Cable Car that still runs in Downtown, Union Square and Fishermen's Wharf.
How do you avoid getting lost?
Google Maps. This has proven to be the most reliable maps app in the Bay Area and continues to add functionality to it: remembering your previous spots, locating you, locating popular places around you and soon even using your phone camera to have better orientation sense to provide directions.
Weather is always cold. Mostly cool not cold.
It's so funny spotting tourists in the city when they come in the middle of the Summer and think that we have a summer. So you can spot them buying SF sweatshirts and jackets as they don't count on the gloomy and foggy days in the Summer. Always carry a jacket and dress in layers, weather will change constantly and vary depending on the street you're on, seriously, the wind has a lot to do with this. September and October seem to be the warmest months as we get the Indian Summer, but mostly every night the fog rolls in and cools down the city.
The classic spots that you must visit.
Even though the city is changing, the classics will stay classic. Even as a local it's so wonderful to be able to go and see these places anytime: Golden Gate Park, De Young Museum, California Academy of Sciences, Alcatraz, Ferry Building, SF Giants Ballpark, Union Square (even though going through major Muni expansions, still open for business), Presidio Park, Golden Gate Bridge, The Embarcadero and Bay Bridge light installation, Coit Tower in North Beach.
Where the locals go.
We do find our local places, but honestly they are open to anyone and many visitors find them easily. As we live in a crowded city with small homes, we tend to gravitate to public parks and enjoy afternoons and weekends, my favorites include Dolores Park, Alamo Square Park, Washington Park, Yerba Buena Gardens and Presidio Trust. Around them most likely you'll find restaurants, pop-up shops, custom-made ice-cream and all trendy localized businesses. A trending neighborhood is where I live, Hayes Valley, with many shops, boutiques, restaurants and specialized food, like custom-made nitrogen ice-cream at Smitten.
How about a good bite? It's a foodie town after all.
We are famous for having good food and it's true. Anywhere you go I'm almost sure that you won't be disappointed. Some of my favorite places are: Suppenkuche (pictured below), A Mano, Foreign Cinema, Tacolicious, Cala, Domo Sushi, Radish, Rich Table, Petite Crene, Super Duper Burgers, Park Tavern and Presidio Social Club. But honestly, find any restaurant and give it a try, use your best judgement.
I started this blog mentioning all the places that are no longer in SF, the new comers have taken over and some of the older places that we miss are Marlena's Bar, Hayes and Kebabs, Bar Jules, Hecho, Taylor's Burgers, Mama Tobby's, most of them just in the trendy neighborhood of Hayes Valley.
Leave the city.
Yes, venture out. We are spoiled as we can go anywhere from SF and be there quickly. Places like Lake Tahoe, Napa, Sonoma, Sausalito, Carmel & Monterey, Half Moon Bay and more. Follow my blog as I have other posts with more information around the Bay with many of the mentioned places listed in there.
So we traded some old spots by new spots and we like it, we miss some but that is part of change. Another change that locals and visitors don't like is the increased number of homeless in SF, don't be alarmed as most of them are harmless and they will let you be, just don't engage with them and you should be ok. Another local tip is to never leave anything in your car, and I mean nothing. If you have a rental car look at parking signs as they are confusing and make sure you don't even leave an empty bottle of water as unfortunately there are too many car break-ins. Don't spoil your visit by losing something in your car.
SF is a city of contrasts and that probably won't go away, as chaotic, constantly changing and cold may seem at points, it's all worth it because of the hundred hills that we have, incredible views from so many areas and its people, friendly and diverse like not many other places on this planet.
It is San Francisco, The City or SF. Anything else would probably not be well received.
"The coldest Winter I've ever spent was a Summer in San Francisco" - Mark Twain. Hence, be prepared for a cold Summer.