April 29, 2011 1

10 Things I Did in San Francisco

By in Photopalooza, Roundups

Several weeks ago my Mom traveled to San Francisco for the National School Board convention and I was lucky enough to be able to accompany her! Everything I’d heard was true: it was hilly, chilly, had a huge technology bent, and I instantly loved it. When she wasn’t in convention panels we jumped all over and saw an incredible amount of stuff in less than 4 full days (and when she was in panels, I wandered off on my own to explore). Of the many things we did, here are 10 of my favorites:

1. Took a boat tour around the bay

Mom picked up some free tickets, so we got to ride around on a boat for an hour. The dialogue was cheesy, the score (!) over-dramatic, and it was windy as all get out, but we had a really great time! It was cool to go underneath the Golden Gate bridge and right along Alcatraz island.

2. Had clam chowder in a sourdough bread bowl

We ate dinner at “Chowders” at Pier 39. Besides the chowder and wonderful “Wham, Bam, Thank You Clam!” signage, the fried zucchini with freshly made tartar sauce were fantastic.

3. Played turn-of-the-century arcade games at the Musée Mécanique

Mom and I spent several hours exploring the warehouse arcade and trying out various machines: pinball, shooting galleries, fortunes told, watching a man hanged. Good ole’ fashioned times. There’s just something about cast iron and wood.

4. Viewed a plastic-camera photo exhibition

While Mom was in some of her panels, I ventured down to the RayKo, a community darkroom hosting a juried show of plastic camera (Holga, Diana, etc.) prints. I had an awesome talk with the gal behind the desk (Thanks Audrey!) and really enjoyed the show! I wish I’d written down the names of some of the photographers I liked, but prints of Coney Island, birds flying away from a lake in very minimal light, and a shot of Chinatown signs in Toronto were some of my favorites.

5. Ate a burrito outdoors at the Yerba Buena Gardens

This was an amazing burrito. Easily in the top 3 I’ve ever had. Tiny little restaurant (Taquerua Cancun) with a big mural down one side, chunks of the menu in Spanish, and delicious homemade salsas. I walked to the Yerba Buena park so I could eat outside, amongst students studying, couples making out, and 2 kids having a lightsaber battle; ambient noise in the afternoon sun. It was pretty perfect.

6. Visited the Legion of Honor in Lincoln Park

After finding the correct line, riding the bus, and walking uphill through a golf course we finally reached the Legion of Honor. The top of the hill and park surrounding the building were gorgeous, with spectacular views. The “Pulp Fashion” exhibit that we came for was interesting: dresses made from paper attempting to recreate fashion from famous / historical paintings. We also spent awhile browsing the Legion’s permanent art collection upstairs, from an antique armoire to an original Monet.


7. Spent an afternoon wandering the SF MoMA

Although it’s expected with modern art, there’s only so much “artist bullshittery” that I’m willing to take, which sometimes hinders my ability to enjoy “Urinal Sitting on a Stool” sorts of work. Thankfully, most of what I saw in the SF MoMA was really cool! The “headline” exhibit about wine & wine culture was extremely (sometimes overly) informative, and showed a wide mix of wine-culture-related stuff: terra-forming experiments to grow better grapes, a wall of bottle-label designs, and sniffers with different wines in them coupled with text from their reviews. A sound-distortion “garden,” stranger-spotlight tracking system in the lobby, cool exhibit on work from the last 10 years (my 2nd favorite behind the wine), rooftop sculpture garden & coffee bar, and exhibit on photography as a voyeuristic, intrusive art all made for a very fascinating afternoon.

Wine Wall SF MoMA Sniffers

8. Walked to & through Chinatown

On our first night, Mom and I decided to walk around the Union Square / Downtown / Financial District area. Halfway through our walk, Mom mentioned that she wanted to see the Chinatown gate so that because our ultimate destination before heading back to the hotel. It was a great little unguided walking tour to start out with (and this is a good moment to say “Thank You!” to my iPhone, without which I don’t think we would’ve seen half as much stuff and prevented us from ever getting lost!).

9. Had breakfast at a sidewalk cafe

La Boulange was a short walk from our hotel, but we weren’t able to get there until the morning of our departing flight. Beautiful old wood display cases, a charmingly cramped condiments counter, and, above all, delicious food. Mom had a small & fluffy french toast while I had asparagus “pizza” on puff pastry. We sat at tables out on the sidewalk, planned our last-morning shopping, and ended up going back inside to get pastries for the plane.

10. Rode a trolley & a cable-car (and learned the difference between them)

I feel like a cable-car ride was the quintessential thing that had to be done when visiting San Francisco. We ended up riding a fair amount of varied transportation: airplane, boat, shuttle vans, metro bus, cable-car & trolley. The trolley was retro-tastic, reminding me of Lionel train sets and was very much like riding a bus. The cable-car, on the other hand, was a bit of a roller coaster ride: wooden, groaning and creaking around corners, and with 2 operators who had to manually apply the brakes and jump out to rotate the car at the end of the line.


There’s a huge list of things I didn’t see or do this time around, and now that I’ve been I can’t wait to go back! Thanks for a great trip Mom!

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One Response to “10 Things I Did in San Francisco”

  1. Awesome pictures and some great description! My favorite is the art display at SF MoMA…especially the wall art…

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