Difference between revisions of "San Francisco"
Revision as of 10:54, 27 January 2007
San Francisco  is a bustling, cosmopolitan city in California, the centerpiece of the Bay Area, well-known for its diverse ethnic and political communities, hilly terrain, world-class restaurants, and scenic beauty.
San Francisco is located on seven-by-seven mile (11x11km) square of land at the tip of a peninsula between San Francisco Bay and the Pacific coast. It has a population of almost 800,000, but is the center of a metropolitan area of millions. San Francisco is blessed with a mild climate. In most months, you can expect the temperature be in the 60s or 70s. Be prepared for cool weather, even in the summer. The hackneyed quote -- often mistakenly attributed to Mark Twain -- ("The coldest winter I ever spent was a summer in San Francisco.") is a bit exaggerated, but it's true that the hottest selling items in San Francisco's tourist shops are always sweaters. Don't be afraid of a cool Pacific air or fog, though. Everybody's Favorite City's refreshing air and radiant skies are reason enough to visit.
San Francisco was founded in 1776 by the Spanish and has been a vibrant city ever since. Known today for its mixing of cultures, its liberal outlook, and its beautiful sights, it remains one of America's top tourist destinations.
A good book on the tumultuous early history of San Francisco is Herbert Asbury's ("Gangs of New York") "Barbary Coast", which details the years from the gold rush in 1849 to the earthquake in 1906.
The name of the city used to be Yerba Buena.
San Francisco is just one of the cities which makes-up the entire San Francisco Bay Area. San Francisco's neighbors, cities and towns to the east of the Bay Bridge, north of the Golden Gate Bridge, and south of San Francisco are all in separate counties, each with their own city government and local public transportation systems.
There are three airports in the San Francisco Bay Area:
San Francisco and Oakland Airports are connected to downtown SF by the Bay Area Rapid Transit (BART) system, which costs about $5. Taxis are considerably more expensive: a taxi from SFO to the city can easily cost upwards of $40, and over $60 from OAK. Shared vans will cost around $14. If you plan to drive from a car rental area near the SFO airport to downtown San Francisco, you can take the 101 freeway.
Note that taxi and van prices from San Jose to San Francisco are significantly higher.
Passengers arriving in SFO can walk (5 minutes from United's terminals) or take a free airport shuttle (AirTrain) to the BART station. From Oakland Airport, BART operates a regular shuttle to the nearest station. The cost of this bus is $2, and it takes 10-15 minutes. Trains from there run directly to San Francisco, with a 5-15 minute frequency.
BART trains head directly to downtown San Francisco and the Mission District, from where taxis and the MUNI can take travelers anywhere in the city.
The San Jose airport is served by a free shuttle to both VTA Light Rail and Caltrain. Passengers arriving in San Jose can use Caltrain to reach San Francisco directly. Caltrain also links with the BART system at the Millbrae intermodal station. Be aware that public transportation within the South bay is not as developed as around San Francisco.
Private pilots should consider Oakland (ICAO: KOAK) rather than SFO, as the separate general aviation field there is more accommodating to light aircraft.
Amtrak  serves the Bay Area with long-distance and intercity trains, San Francisco’s long distance station is across the bay, outside city limits. Passengers arrive in Emeryville in the East Bay and may take an Amtrak California  Thruway bus over the Bay Bridge to San Francisco's Amtrak stop at 101 The Embarcadero (near the Ferry Building) and several downtown destinations. Travelers on some shorter distance Amtrak routes can also transfer to BART trains at the Richmond or Oakland Coliseum stations (see below). Alternatively, riders approaching the Bay Area from the south may transfer to Caltrain  at San Jose's Diridon Station for a direct ride to Fourth and Townsend Streets in San Francisco. Amtrak can be contacted at +1 800 872-7245.
Amtrak routes serving the Bay Area are:
Caltrain  operates a regional rail service from San Jose to its San Francisco terminal at Fourth and Townsend. The service also runs between San Jose and Gilroy during rush hour. Caltrain is very useful for travel between San Francisco and cities of the Peninsula, Silicon Valley or South Bay. On weekdays Caltrain provides two trains per hour for most of the day but run more during commute hours, including "Baby Bullet" limited services that cruise between San Francisco and San Jose in 57 minutes; on weekends and public holidays trains run hourly, except that after 10PM only one train runs, leaving at midnight. The 4th & Townsend terminal is served by Muni Metro (see 'Get around' below) giving connections to the rest of the city. Fares vary depending on how far you go. Tickets must be purchased before boarding the train from ticket vending machines at all stations or from ticket clerks at staffed stations. Tickets are checked on the trains and anyone found without a ticket is liable to a substantial fine. Caltrain can be contacted at +1 510 817-1717.
Bay Area Rapid Transit (BART)  provides a regional frequent rail service connecting much of the East Bay and Contra Costa County with San Francisco and the San Francisco Airport through the Transbay Tube. BART operates five routes, of which four reach San Francisco; there are three or four trains per hour on each route. In the East Bay and outer parts of San Francisco BART runs mostly on elevated track; in downtown San Francisco it runs in a subway under Market Street, and several underground stations provide easy access to downtown areas and simple transfers to Muni Metro, also running in a sub-Market subway. BART also meets Caltrain at Millbrae. Bicycles are allowed on BART except between the Embarcadero and Oakland City Center stations during commute hours. Fares vary depending with distance traveled, and start at $1.40 for trips within the city. You will need to insert your ticket into barriers when entering and exiting the system. Tickets hold a balance, deducting the appropriate price for each trip, so someone who plans to use the system several times can by a $10 or $20 ticket and not worry about fares until the card is used up. BART can be contacted at +1 415 989-2278.
Greyhound  has frequent intercity service from San Francisco’s beautiful but decaying Transbay Terminal, First and Mission streets.
Several regional bus systems serve San Francisco from the immediate suburbs:
In many ways a boat is the ideal way to approach San Francisco. The city's spectacular skyline is best appreciated from the water, and from the deck of a boat the bay and its bridges and islands can be viewed as a whole. Cruise ships and private yachts are regular visitors to San Francisco, and passenger ferries regularly link other Bay Area cities to San Francisco.
Ferries run to San Francisco from Larkspur, Sausalito and Tiburon in Marin County, from Vallejo in Solano County and from Alameda and Oakland in the East Bay. In San Francisco the ferries dock at one or both of the city’s two piers at Fisherman's Wharf and the Ferry Building. For more information:
There are four major highway approaches to San Francisco. Interstate 101 comes up the eastern side of the SF peninsula and is the most direct route from the south, although it often backs up with traffic. Interstate 280 is a more scenic route into the city from the same direction, but with poorer connections than 101. Interstate 80 approaches the city from the east over the San Francisco Bay Bridge. From the north, Interstate 101 takes you over the Golden Gate Bridge.
Walking can be an enticing option to get from one neighborhood to another, so long as you are aware of where you are and keep your street smarts-- San Francisco is a city of friendly neighborhoods, but it is also "big city" --be aware of your surroundings and keep in mind the dangers that commonly accompany a city of San Francisco's size. Streets which often go straight up and down hills may make driving difficult, but make for breathtaking views (as well as good exercise) for the pedestrian. There are many stairway walks scattered throughout the city when the streets are too steep. You can find maps that include hiking trails, bikeways, and the grade pitch of all streets marked in varying colors by how steep each segment is, that can help you orient to city walks suitable to your ability and temperament, such as the downloadable map issued by the San Francisco Bicycle Coalition . Note that locals rarely use the designations "street" or "avenue," except in differentiating the numbered streets and avenues. Numbered roads designated "Street" are located south of Market in Downtown, Castro, Noe Valley, and Mission. Roads designated "Avenue" put you in the Richmond and Sunset districts.
Highlight walks include:
By public transit
San Francisco's Municipal Railway or Muni runs a network of local transport that covers most areas of touristic interest well. An all day Muni Passport good on all Muni vehicles, including Cable Cars costs $11. Other passports and passes are available for longer periods: a 3-day pass costs $18, while a 7 day pass costs $24. The passports come in the form of scratch cards; be sure to scratch off the appropriate dates before using. Passports, as well as maps of the public transport system, can be purchased from the information booths at San Francisco airport, the Cable Car ticket booth at Market and Powell, and many other locations. Monthly “FastPasses” can be a good investment, especially for those under 18. They are $10 for youth and $45 for adults and offer unlimited rides on the entire system. Muni can be contacted by calling +1 415 673-6864. . A portable wallet-sized map of San Francisco, called PocketBay, and all its public transit (MUNI, BART, Caltrain) is also available at stores around the city or through their website . Nearly all of the city’s bus stops also have posted copies of this map with the location of the stop marked, a godsend for lost pedestrians.
90 minutes of travel on the Muni system (Metro, F-line, Buses) costs $1.50; be sure to get and keep a transfer ticket when you pay for your first ride; Muni inspectors may demand it at any time as proof of payment. Cable Cars are not included in these transfers and cost $5 per ride (one way, no transfers), or $10 per day. Before 7AM and after 5PM, Seniors pay $1. Muni Passports and FastPasses greatly reduce this cost, including cable cars in the regular daily, weekly or monthly fares.
Muni consists of:
Other public transportation options include:
If you have strong legs and can tolerate traffic with intermittent bike lanes, bicycles can be a convenient form of transportation in San Francisco. The City is fairly small -- about 7 miles on each side (11 km) -- and it's fairly quick to get from one end to the other. But much of the terrain is hilly and hard to pedal up. Do not be misled by maps depicting the city's strict, regular street grid, as even the straightest of San Francisco's streets might include steep hills or even staircases instead of a roadway. A classic and relatively easy ride is from the tip of Golden Gate Park’s narrow Panhandle in the Haight, along paths and JFK drive through the park to Ocean Beach. JFK drive is lightly trafficced, and closed to cars on sundays.
Downtown, SoMa, and the Sunset and Richmond districts are relatively flat. There are a number of bike paths and bike routes on city streets; the San Francisco Bike Coalition keeps a lot of information about them.
Taxis in San Francisco are, for a large city, surprisingly inefficient and expensive, starting at $3.10 just for getting in the door. Except for taxi stations at or near downtown business hotels, or cruising just a few major arteries, taxis can be hard to find and hail -- and calling for a cab can mean a 30-45 minute wait, if the cab shows up at all. Now, if you're anywhere near Union Square and are holding shopping bags, just by standing on the curb and hailing passing cabs will usually get you one quite quickly. It is significantly easier to catch a taxi on weekdays, not including Friday night. If you are heading to the airport, your best bet is to call ahead with a specific pickup time to one of the many taxi companies (Yellow by far has the most cabs and they all accept credit card).
Perpetually-clogged traffic, steep hills, a confusing system of one-way streets downtown, expensive parking, and a fleet of meter-maids who enforce parking laws with zeal can make driving in downtown extremely frustrating; visitors to the city should seriously consider alternatives to automobiles when possible. In addition, traffic from the Golden Gate bridge uses surface streets either along CA-1, 19th Avenue or US-101 on Lombard and Van Ness.
The most difficult problem with your car in San Francisco will be parking. Parking throughout the city is scarce. Garages, where they are available, are quite expensive ($20-30/day downtown). San Francisco has some of the strictest parking laws and enforcement in the country. For day trips into the city, consider a park-and-ride at a Peninsula Caltrain  station or at an East Bay BART  station.
Finding your way around
Cross streets: As San Francisco streets are numbered (100 per block) from the beginning of the street, and even and odd numbers are always on opposite sides. It is best when asking directions to ask for a cross street or neighborhood name. For instance, if you are at the intersection of Haight Street and Clayton Street, and you ask the driver of the 33 Stanyan bus "Does this bus go to Market Street?" it will get you a yes, but the bus won't get you downtown, it will get you south from that intersection to Market and 18th in the Castro district.
Numbered streets and avenues: San Francisco has both numbered streets, in the Mission, the Castro, Noe Valley, and SoMa, and numbered avenues in the largely residential Sunset and Richmond districts. Mixing numbered streets and avenues when asking directions may leave you miles from your destination. This can be confusing, as San Franciscans will not say "Street" or "Avenue" unless it is required to avoid ambiguity. Thus, "I live on Fifth Avenue" but "I live near Fifth and Geary." Street signs generally don't have "Street" or "Avenue" either; they just say "GEARY" or "MASONIC".
San Francisco has much to see. For more detail see the district sections, often linked from this entry.
Golden Gate Park
Once an area of sand dunes, Golden Gate Park is a roughly two-by-four mile urban oasis, with windmills, bison, museums, and a carousel hidden among its charms. At 1,017 Acres, it is 174 acres larger than New York's Central Park, so unless you rent a bike , you'll want to plan which area you want to visit, especially along the East (Stanyan street) to West (the Ocean) axis. During the summer to October a free shuttle bus circulates. On Sundays only bicycles are allowed on most park roads. The number 5 trolleybus runs along its North boundary, and offers the most frequent service across the park and to downtown. The N streetcar two blocks south of its South boundary with similar service. The antique palatial greenhouse of the Conservatory of Flowers is near 2nd Avenue (4 small blocks West of Stanyan). To the South are tennis Courts, a classic Carousel, and playing fields for Frisbee. At 8th Avenue is the Shakespeare Garden with roses and other flowers mentioned in his plays. The modern and ethnic art focused de Young Museum has recently reopened (see "Hide in a Museum"), although its neighboring museums are still under construction. West of the de Young it is the large Japanese Tea Garden at 12th Avenue, and South of that is the Strybing Arboretum, a collection of plants from across the temperate world. Boating (several types for rent) on Stow Lake is available at 18th Avenue. The Marx and Speedway meadows for picnicking and music festivals are near 30th. Ave. Model boating is at 35th Ave., fly-casting at 36th Avenue, and a Petanque (lawn bowling) field is at 38th Ave, just north of the Bison Meadow, where buffaloes roam. Golf and Archery are available at at 47th Avenue. Finally, beyond 48th Avenue are the Dutch windmills that were used for Park irrigation in the past and the beautiful 1930’s Beach Chalet for lunch, drinks, or dinner overlooking Ocean Beach and it’s brave surfers.
Golden Gate Bridge
Highway 101 N (from Park-Presidio or Lombard Street entrance), +1 415 921-5858 (Email: firstname.lastname@example.org) . Open 24 hours, occasionally closed Sunday morning for events. $5 (toll driving south into San Francisco; free on foot or bike)
The Golden Gate Bridge is one of the most famous bridges in the United States, and has been called one of the Seven Wonders of the Modern World. The bridge spans the Golden Gate, a strait between San Francisco and Marin County to the north, and is one of the major road routes into and out of the city.
Vehicular traffic in both directions share a single deck; yellow pylons are used to allot lanes to one direction or the other depending on traffic conditions. Observation areas and parking lots are provided on both the north and south sides of the bridge; the best way to enjoy the bridge is to park and walk across, not least because you don't have to pay a toll. Note that winds are high and it can be cold and foggy; dress appropriately. Bikes can also be difficult to navigate in the high winds and narrow pathway.
The masterwork of architect Joseph B. Strauss, whose statue graces the southern observation deck, the bridge took seven years to build, and was completed on May 27, 1937. Not actually golden in color -- a common misconception -- the bridge is painted a deep red-orange. Erroneous legend has it that the bridge is continuously painted, with crews starting at one end and, on getting to the other end, turning around and starting over again. In fact, the bridge is only painted once every few years, with some touchup done continuously.
The San Francisco end of the bridge is accessible by the Muni 28 bus line from Fort Mason in the Marina District near Fisherman’s wharf. The fastest way to reach it from downtown is to take the the 38 or 38L up Geary to “Park Presidio” (after 12th ave) and transfer to a Fort Mason bound 28. Golden Gate Transit busses serve the bridge on request, but busses are very infrequent and unpredictable except at afternoon commute times, when they are crowded.
At Steiner and Hayes, it has the famous Painted Ladies row of Victorian houses on its east side, but many other pretty Victorians throughout its surroundings. The Hayes street Muni bus #21 goes along its south side, for the postcard view. If you enjoy walking and don't mind modest grades you can get there by walking west from Hayes Valley or north from the Lower Haight.
Fisherman's Wharf is both a "tourist trap" and a place to see amazing street entertainers, eat excellent seafood, watch sea lions, and go to the, Aquarium Marine Museums and exhibits. Working fishing boats still come into the small harbor at Jones and Jefferson, the endpoint of the Muni Historic F-streetcar. There are also small day and party boats available. The fresh breeze from the bay can provide a bracing setting. Since it is frequented almost exclusively by tourists, it is the place to be most attentive for thieves or scam artists.
The Civic Center has impressive Beaux Arts buildings and the celebrated Asian Art Museum, but the main reason for going there are its music and theater venues, including large concert halls and a renowned Symphony and Opera. On an historic note, the Charter for the United Nations was signed in the War Memorial Veteran's Building at the corner of Van Ness Avenue and McAllister Street. Nearby Hayes Valley along Hayes Street (West, past Van Ness Avenue) is a neighborhood known for its sophisticated yet funky shops, bars and restaurants. The large, modern public library bordering Market is great for browsing, free internet connections (card not required) and occasional events in its theater.
The Yerba Buena Gardens, above the Moscone Center, at Mission and Third streets provide a nice urban oasis. There is a carousel, a museum, and play places for kids, movie houses, various exhibit spaces, and the Museum of Modern Art across the street. A big garage at Mission between Fifth and Fourth streets makes it quite accessible for drivers. The Moscone Center itself houses major exhibits and conventions. Half of all Muni lines come with a few blocks of the area. The conference center itself is home to a number of major (especially IDG) expos that occur each year, including Apple Computer-related expos such as Macworld and Apple's WWDC, and LinuxWorld.
The original Chinatown, centered around Grant Street from Bush to Columbus is part tourist trap, part an exhibit of local life. Good eating places remain, and the side streets especially have stores one wouldn't find in a mall. Stockton Street, the street paralleling Grant to to west is the main street where most locals do their shopping for groceries. Be sure to sample some of the Dim Sum and other specialties offered in the many bustling shops. However, many local Chinese prefer to eat and shop in the new Chinatowns located in other neighborhoods such as the Inner Richmond neighborhood or on Clement Street between 2nd and 12th Avenues. The Muni #1 (California) and #2 (Clement, does not run at night) buses get people from one Chinatown to the other.
Chinatown is easily accessible from the downtown area via the 30 Stockton or 45 Union-Stockton Muni bus routes. Expect frequent crowding during peak hours. The Cable Cars also run fairly close to Chinatown as well.
Lincoln Park defines the extreme Northwestern corner of San Francisco. It provides majestic views of the Marin Headlands, the Golden Gate Bridge from the Ocean side, and the Pacific Ocean itself. At the extreme western end the well known Cliff House provides both semi-casual and a more formal eating and drinking place. The #18 Muni bus goes from the center of the park via the Cliff House to Golden Gate Park, while the very frequent #38 Geary buses terminate in between. Drivers will want to take the El Camino del Mar Drive through the small Seacliff area on the northwest side to view some fancy mansions between Lincoln Park and the Presidio.
A relatively cheap and easy way to cover many attractions of the city is a so-called "city pass". This is a passport to the most exciting tourist spots of the town and allows you to explore them by yourself whenever you like. For a fare of $49 (adults) and $39 (children 17 and under) you get the chance to visit the San Francisco Museum of Modern Art (SFMOMA), the Exploratorium, The Legion of Honor, the California Academy of Science (OR if you wish the Asian Art Museum instead) on 9 consecutive days starting with the use of your first ticket. The pass also includes a Bay Cruise and seven days of Cable Car and MUNI fares. Official CityPass SF website
One of the best ways to see San Francisco is from the waters of San Francisco Bay. There are many companies offering San Francisco harbor tours of varying durations and prices but they all provide marvelous views of the bay, the bridges, the island of Alcatraz and the city.
Only specific island tours are allowed to land at Alcatraz, but the typical harbor tour will circle the island at a slow crawl, giving you plenty of opportunity to photograph the now-inactive prison from the water.
Most tours leave from docks between San Francisco's Fisherman's Wharf and adjacent Pier 39. Tickets can be purchased at kiosks along the waterfront walk. Buy tickets a day or two in advance during the summer high season.
Boats leave hourly starting around 10am and ending around 5pm. Multi-lingual guides are available on some tours. Prices range from $20-$40, more for sunset, dinner, or whale watching tours.
Companies offering tours include:
San Francisco is a sensual, epicurean city with a vast array of restaurants. If money is no object, you can have an unparalleled dining experience at Chez Panisse, Gary Danko, Michael Mina, Masa or Boulevard. But less budget-busting restaurants exist for every type of cuisine. Vegetarians and vegans will find SF a paradise. Sushi is a local obsession, and though you can find a sushi bar on almost every street corner, the Richmond district has more than its fair share of excellent sushi chefs. San Francisco also has the largest Chinatown in North America, as well as one of the largest Chinese communities in the West, and many exceptional restaurants serving dim sum and other Chinese delicacies are found throughout The City. This localized Chinese cuisine has its feet in Hong Kong and America, and is different from what many visitors are accustomed to. Fisherman's Wharf serves fresh seafood, especially clam chowder and crabs cooked to order. North Beach is the place to go for Italian food, and the Mission for Mexican restaurants (and Latin American cuisine of all sorts). San Francisco restaurants are also very corkage friendly. Average corkage fee appears to be in the $15 range, with some of the more pricey places charging $25-35.
You can also visit Ghirardelli Square  to pick up some of their world-famous chocolate. Just a visit to the shop gets you a free piece!
Look also in the Districts section for more local recommendations.
For you travelers who like the grit of the city, go to local favorite, Zeitgeist. It is a charming little dive with plenty of shaded outdoor seating. The tattooed bartenders are friendly enough, and will have information about staying in one of the rooms above the bar if you hit the sauce too much, or if you believe in love at first sight. They have a nice selection of beer on tap. After the in-house food stops being served, you may see local celebrity, the Tamale Lady. Feeling buzzed and looking for late night grub? Get a tamale.
If you like soccer (football) and all things English, you should stop into the Lower Haight's Mad Dog In the Fog. Located at Haight and Fillmore, the pub quiz and bar food are good. Swill some pints and stay in the dark. Good for an entire day's worth of drinking. It is also central to other "dive" bars on Haight.
Toronado  in the Lower Haight neighborhood has the city's largest selection of beer. Toronado allows you to bring in food from outside, and the block offers plenty of takeout (Rosamunde for sausages, Memphis Minnie's for barbeque, Ali Baba's for falafel, Mythic for pizza, as well as others).
Thirsty Bear Brewing Company  is an upscale brewpub/restaurant and favorite expense-account spot for the trade show crowd from nearby Moscone Center. The cask-conditioned ale is satisfying, but the place can get crowded.
==Sleep== LOOK UP ALAMO SQ INN
Decide if you want to be in walking distance of your destinations, or are up to driving and parking. If you have a specific destination in mind, look also in the Districts sections.
The area code for San Francisco and Marin is 415. You need to only dial the seven digit phone number for calls within the city. For calls within the US or Canada, dial 1+area code+number, and for international calls, use the prefix 00.
Pay phones are relatively common, but only take coins and phone cards with a dial-to-use number. Local calls start at $.50.
Internet Cafes are available at a sprinkling of city center locations. For a more scenic email check try the Apple Store on Powell at Market near Union Square or the public library on Market near Civic Center station. Wireless access is free in Union Square, and available for a fee at countless cafés.
Mail: Blue mailboxes for letters and postcards to any destination are on many street corners. USPS post offices sell stamps and ship packages, and several private companies provide additional services.
As with many other major cities in the world, San Francisco has its share of problems. The areas that one should be most cautious in are around the southeast and midwest sections of the city, such as Bayview-Hunters Point, Western Addition east of Fillmore, Tenderloin (northwest of Civic Center), Sunnydale, and parts of the Mission district. The South of Market (SoMa) district used to be somewhat dangerous; however, recent development have transformed it into a rather hip and much safer neighborhood with plenty of art galleries (such as the San Francisco Museum of Modern Art, or SFMOMA) and clubs.
San Francisco attracts a large homeless population, the largest per capita in America. If someone begs from you, you may either politely say that you do not have any change or just keep walking, and he or she will generally leave you alone.
Pickpocketing can be expected, as with any other large city. Be especially cautious on crowded MUNI buses and during the busy holiday shopping season.
St. Patrick, 756 Mission St. (between 3rd & 4th Streets, across from Yerba Buena gardens). Sun: 07:30, 09:00, 10:30; 12:15, 17:15; Mon-Sat: 07:00, 08:00, 12:10 (except Wed: 12:00), 17:15
St. Boniface, 133 Golden Gate Ave. (10 min, direction west). Sat: 17:15; Sun: 07:30, 9:00, 10:30 (span.), 12:15, 15:30 (vietn.); Mon-Sat: 07:30, 12:15
Notre Dame des Victoires, 566 Bush St. Sat: 07:00, 17:15; Sun: 07:30, 9:00, 10:30 (french), 12:15, 17:30; Mon-Fri: 07:00, 12:10, 17:15
Old St. Mary's Cathedral, 660 California St./Grant Ave. Sat: 12:05, 17:00; Sun: 08:30, 11:00; Mon-Fri: 07:30, 12:05
1900 Pacific Ave./Gough St.,  Sunday: 9:00, 10:20am
It is important to remember that San Francisco is one of the most open-minded and progressive big cities in the country. With this open-mindedness comes a variety of languages, skin tones, sexual orientations, and hair colors; it is all a part of the joy of San Francisco, and as a visitor it is something that you have to learn to accept and welcome.
Smokers beware: as in the rest of California, smoking is illegal in bars, restaurants, and other public places. Bay Area people can be particularly vocal about your personal habits. Be aware of nonsmoking areas, and try to be courteous about smoking in other places. They will probably not bother you about standing and smoking outside a restaurant or bar. However, smoking is not dead in San Francisco —there are a small number of bars that take advantage of loopholes in the law, and cater to the short-of-breath. The Zeitgeist (a motorcycle-themed dive bar) on Valencia in the Mission District is one of the better known. The Eagle (a gay biker/leather-themed bar) and the Lone Star (a gay bear-themed bar) both feature large outdoor smoking patios.
On the other hand, smoking marijuana is remarkably well-tolerated by American standards. If you are visiting from elsewhere in the U.S., you may be very surprised to find that pot is really not considered to be a problem by San Franciscans, and even by The City's police. In fact, a law was passed in 2006 officially making marijuana THE lowest priority for the SFPD. This does not mean that you should smoke pot just anywhere -- as with cigarettes, it is considered improper etiquette to smoke weed in crowded areas. However, if you're at a concert, it is impolite not to share your green (don't worry; there will be plenty passed your way in return). Also, please be advised that coastal Northern California produces some of the finest and most potent pot on earth. You may be alarmed by its intensity.
For laid-back, involved-with-your-fellow-travelers kind of travel (cooking is shared, the sleeper busload camps ensemble), check out the Green Tortoise. GT runs buses up to Seattle and down to Baja California; to Black Rock City, Yosemite National Park, a National Parks loop including the Tetons, Yellowstone and more, and to New York.
Bikes can be rented from around the northern waterfront (Pier 41/Fisherman's Wharf/Aquarium Park area) or near Golden Gate Park for trips to Marin County via the Golden Gate Bridge. Stanyan near Haight at the end of the park has several good shops. Golden Gate Transit also sporadically serves the North Bay from San Francisco, and has bike racks on most buses.
Nearby destinations suitable for day trips include: