Jennet Liaw’s Guide to San Francisco

Author: Jennet Liaw
07.25 / Travel

Growing up near the city, I was raised on openness, diversity, tech dreams, and hip-hop. San Francisco draws in the geeks and it welcomes the freaks. You can explore the city on foot for hours, from wining and dining -- and wining again -- in the lively Mission, to taking in salt water air by the Embarcadero. Every corner is its own mecca and there is a subculture to serve every soul. If all else fails, complain about how much the tech boom has changed the city and you’ll fit right in with the locals. So, read on for my unbiased travel guide to the most beautiful city in the U.S.

CHILL: Dolores Park
It’s that scene in a movie when the world runs at light speed while the protagonist stands on a plot of land and takes their sweet time. That's you in Dolores Park. Here, you’ll see the SF population sprawled out on the grass like a Seurat painting. Try to refrain from questioning unemployment rates as the rest of the city lazes all around you at 3 pm on a Wednesday. Grab your fam and a Bi-Rite cone, and kick back under the clouds.

EAT: San Tung
I won’t admit the number of times I've booked a trip home and gone straight from the tarmac to this joint. Real friends back home ask no questions. Order the wings, order the potstickers -- game over.

TREATS: Polly Ann’s
For how nippy the weather is during the better part of the year, this city has no shortage of quality ice cream spots. From the very hipster to the deceivingly humble, Polly Ann's falls toward the latter end of the spectrum and has forever been the real deal. Want durian-flavored ice cream? No? No worries, there are just 499 other flavors on rotation to choose from.

EXPLORE: Mt. Tamalpais
Taking to the forest trails of SF is like existing inside of a moody Tumblr post, may be a cringe-worthy claim but it’s true. The infamous fog, an unmatched shade of blue-green, and a golden hour that rules them all…you don't have to be an outdoor fanatic to appreciate the magic. Bonus shout out to Mt. Davidson, Twin Peaks, the Presidio, and Land's End for even more views.

EAT AGAIN: El Farolito’s
Two words: Suiza Lengua. My God. My. God.

PLAY: Japantown
It’s not shiny and it’s not new, but it’s a must. SF’s Japantown is one of the city’s most treasured lasting havens for culture. You could easily make a day of sifting through trinkets and photo-booth filters, exploring the famed Kinokuniya Bookstore, and topping it all off with ramen and sake bombs.

CAFFEINATE: Sightglass Coffee
Throwing a curveball here and recommending a spot with zero wifi or outlets, but the coffee is on point and its two light-filled stories are always buzzing. Sightglass is the perfect place to eavesdrop on a Tinder date or catch up with a friend working in tech. Right before convincing them to show you around their yuppie digs at Airbnb/Dropbox/Adobe HQ.

SHOP: Hayes Valley
Though major fashion labels are headquartered down in SoCal, the boutique curation is what people come for. If you want to uncover some retail gems, away from the Union Square crowds, here are some personal highlights: Azalea, Darkside Initiative, Everlane, Benny Gold, Welcome Stranger, Dispatch SF, and General Store.

GET CULTURED: SF MOMA & Academy of Sciences
This might be a no-brainer, but both museums are engaging and truly worthwhile. Aside from the consistently refreshed exhibitions, it’s worth a day trip for the remarkable architecture.  I would keep A) an eye out for free Museum days and B) Google live updates of peak hours to avoid before heading out.

Art by: Jennet Liaw

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