A friend of mine is making plans to visit the Bay Area for the first time, and asked me to recommend some things to do here. I explained that now that I have (young) kids, all I could recommend are toddler-friendly places not too far from home in Scotts Valley. (My memory of life pre-kids in San Francisco and San Jose is pretty cloudy.) But I had what turned out to be the good idea to ask for suggestions on the "fun-list" mailing list at work.
I don't think my friend would mind if I described him as a geek. (I'm one too, and I believe we both wear the label with honor.) And he doesn't have a driver's license. Not having a car limits one's choices in the Bay Area. But my co-workers (many of them also geeks, and not into cars) responded with many good ideas:
First a list of places to go or things to see...
In San Francisco:
- California Academy of Sciences ("Night Life" at the Steinhart Aquarium on Thursdays from 18:00-22:00)
- Yerba Buena Center for the Arts
- The Cartoon Art Museum
- Pier 39
- Musée Mécanique
- USS Pampanito Submarine Tour
- Fisherman's Wharf
- Ghirardelli Square
- Union Square
- The Castro
- Point Break Live!
- Golden Gate Park
- Get a bike from Blazing Saddles and ride over the Golden Gate Bridge to Sausalito and come back by ferry
- Or get a "proper bike" at Pacific Bicycle and try one of these tours (if he's really in good shape he might try riding up the road to the top of the Marin Headlands for an amazing view)
Recommended San Francisco walks:
- Hippie Hill (or DeYoung Museum) <-> Haight/Ashbury
- hippies! druggies!
- Giant Robot
- Kid Robot
- Amoeba Records
- Thrift stores
- If he wants a *long* walk, go all the way to Lower Haight for the urban / hip hop scene and Indian Oven
- Castro <-> Dolores Park
- gays! lesbians!
- upper class shopping
- The Castro Theater, as seen in Milk
- dogs & sunshine in the park
- Valencia St
- hipsters! indie kids! moustaches!
- The Pirate Supply Store (826 Valencia) (this is a must)
- Four Barrel Coffee
- Ritual Roasters
- Spork, Dosa, Herbivore are good dinner places
- Burrito joints
On the Peninsula:
In San Jose:
Web sites with ideas:
- California Do-It-Yourself Tours (see San Francisco and Berkeley)
- Weird Treasures of the Bay Area
- Free Walking Tours of San Francisco
- Dr. Weirde's Guide to Mysterious San Francisco
- Caltrain Pub Crawl
Some recommended books:
- Stairway Walks in San Francisco
- A Guide to Mysterious San Francisco: Dr. Weirde's Weirde Tours (I have this one.)
Did I leave anything out?
Update: added The Cartoon Art Museum
Update #2: added Segway Napa