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Suggestions for Unique Experiences?

Castro Valley...
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Suggestions for Unique Experiences?

Hi all, I've been living in the Bay area for a couple of months now, and my mom is coming to visit in October. She has been to SF a few times herself.

So here is what I'm looking for: Advice from long-time SF dwellers on unique things to do in and around the city outside of the typical touristy stuff (Alcatraz, GG bridge, FW, etc.).

Any suggestions are greatly appreciated.

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San Francisco...
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1. Re: Suggestions for Unique Experiences?

start with the things listed on this page (some are mere mentions for reference sake, but something you wouldn't consider a place for sight-seeing) http://www.sfbg.com/bob/2008/classics.php

you can gain many ideas that suit your tastes with the Chronicle's 96 hours supplement that comes out every Thursday: http://www.sfgate.com/96hours/

San Francisco
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2. Re: Suggestions for Unique Experiences?

Visit Fort Funston and watch folks hang glide - I took my relatives here and they found it very interesting

Have lunch or dinner at Forbe's Island at Fisherman's Wharf (it's a restaurant located on a little island - the owner takes you there on his boat - http://www.yelp.com/biz/forbes-island-san-francisco)

Visit the De Young Museum, the new aquarium (across from the De Young) will be opened by October & see the Buffalo in Golden Gate Park; if you plan to visit on Sunday, you can take a free swing dance lesson in the Park

Berea, Ohio
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3. Re: Suggestions for Unique Experiences?

<<if you plan to visit on Sunday, you can take a free swing dance lesson in the Park>>

Tell me more. When we visited Chicago two summers ago, we had a free swing/fox trot lesson in Grant Park followed by a dance with live music. It would be fun to do something like that again.

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4. Re: Suggestions for Unique Experiences?

Pat Picks, the free dance lessons are on Sundays from 11AM to 2PM on the road (John F Kennedy Drive) right behind the De Young Museum in Golden Gate Park (just follow the music). I've walked by the dance lessons with my kids and it's always fun to watch. There's people dancing from all levels. Here's the link for more information. http://www.lindyinthepark.com/about/

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5. Re: Suggestions for Unique Experiences?

Yikes...I didn't finish the sentence in my post above. "There's people dancing from all levels of dancing."

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6. Re: Suggestions for Unique Experiences?

Have you been to the Mission District yet? Many tourists find their way there, but not everyone. It's the center of the City's Hispanic community, and a very colorful and lively area.

Mission Dolores was one of the birthplaces of San Francisco, along with the Presidio. It's at 16th and Dolores, a little away from the present commercial center of the neighborhood. Next to it is an early 20th century church. Together they make up a regular parish of the Catholic Church.

http://www.missiondolores.org/

Probably the most interesting parts of the Mission are along 24th from about Valencia east to Potrero. This is a fairly long stretch but level, with scads of shops, restaurants, bakeries, and other businesses. If you haven't experienced a panaderia (Latino bakery), you've missed out on a treat.

The Mission is famous for murals which are murals that are public art. You'll see them on fences and walls around the neighborhood.

www.zurdogo.com/attractions/mmurals.html

The best way from where you are is BART Daly City or SFO line, and get off at either 16th or 24th. The area around 16th and Mission is somewhat seedy, but in daytime you'll be safe.

Valencia from about 16th south is becoming a unique neighborhood within the Mission, with many trendy restaurants, antique and book shops, and other specialty businesses. Valencia is one block west of Mission.

Within wlking distance of the Mission (partly uphill) is Noe Valley. The heart of this area is 24th between about Church and Diamond. It's among the "trendy" places to live. There are independent businesses (eateries, clothing, shoes, books, crafts, etc.), and always lots of people out and about, making this area more interesting than most malls.

If you have energy left from all the walking, Dolores St. has some of the nicest Victorian houses in the City; Guerrero also has Victorians but it is a busier, more fast-paced street. There is a big park at Dolores and 19th/20th if you want to relax or have a picnic.

Castro Valley...
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7. Re: Suggestions for Unique Experiences?

Thanks so much for all the suggestions so far. I'll definitely include these when making up a list of things to do.

San Francisco
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8. Re: Suggestions for Unique Experiences?

Another idea--since you are also fairly new to the area--Golden Gate Park is always a good choice. It literally has something for everyone, and you could only scratch the surface in a day.

If you're into art and culture, there is the De Young Museum; it also has a viewing tower overlooking much of western S.F. You know about the Japanese Tea Garden and the soon-to-open new California Academy of Sciences. All these, and the Arboretum and Conservatory of Flowers, are within walking distance.

Stow Lake is fun for everyone. It's a bit under a mile around, so it makes a great walk. Save your old bread or crackers to feed the ducks. There is a small island with a Chinese Pavilion and a mini-waterfall. On top of the island there was once an entertainment amphitheatre, and you can still see some ruins. At the Boathouse, you can rent paddle or foot-pedal boats, bicycles, scooters and pedal surreys, or get a snack. You can ride the bikes anywhere in the park, not just around the lake.

From Embarcadero BART, I suggest the 7-Haight or 71-Haight/Noriega bus. Yes, the Muni Metro is faster, but it is largely underground and you won't see as much. These two buses go along Market and out Haight, through the renowned Haight-Ashbury. The 7 ends at Stanyan, the east end of GG Park; the 71 continues along the south side of the park and you can get off at 9th Avenue, near the Tea Garden, Arboretum, etc.

If the Haight-Ashbury interests you, you could stop along the way, but it and the park together would make a long day. There are bicycle shops around Stanyan that rent bikes (be sure to ask for a lock so you can park and walk around).

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9. Re: Suggestions for Unique Experiences?

P.S. If your Mom is staying a few days, you don't need to do everything at once! Relax and come over a few times, don't break your neck trying to do it all on the same day.

Don't forget the sights on your side of the Bay, like Mt. Diablo, some of the regional parks, maybe Jack London Square or downtown Berkeley if she is interested in more urban adventures.

San Francisco
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10. Re: Suggestions for Unique Experiences?

I just thought of another idea. How about exploring San Francisco via a self guided walk around some of San Francisco's neighborhoods stairways? There are over 300 stairways throughout the City and many will lead to you scenic views. You'll want to go to the local book store and pick up a copy of Stairway Walks of San Francisco by Adah Bakalinsky.