3 SF Neighborhoods You Must Visit this Summer
Each of San Francisco’s neighborhoods has its own distinct culture and charm. The diversity of the city can be experienced in the rich Italian heritage of North Beach, the delicious izakayas and festivals of Japantown, and San Francisco’s iconic Chinatown, the oldest and one of the largest in the United States. There are so many things to do, see and eat this summer that it can be difficult to narrow down where to go. Be sure not to miss these three neighborhoods.
The liveliest time of year to visit the Castro is summer. One of the largest gay pride festivals in the world, San Francisco’s homegrown version explodes June 23-24 with rainbow flags, visiting revelers and fabulous events. Everyone is welcome to experience the two-day bash, featuring live music and a massive parade down Market Street. But even if it you can’t make it in June, the Castro and nearby Noe Valley offer plenty of attractions. Grab upscale tavern food and craft cocktails at Finn Town or hit up the delicious Indian buffet at Clay Oven. Starting on the Castro’s eponymous main drag, visit the Castro Theatre. Built in 1922, this ornate movie palace features a Mighty Wurlitzer-playing organist before every show. Continue on to pick up souvenirs and maybe a tiara or two at Cliff’s Variety. Founded in 1936 this emporium of all things wonderful has been dubbed “the best neighborhood store anywhere.” For more history and fun, consider Urban Hiker SFwhose Urban Jungles hike begins at the Castro Theatre and goes to Twin Peaks (and back) in three short hours, or a guided tour with Wild SF Walking Tours.
Golden Gate Park
Whether you want to stroll among spring blooms, enjoy a scenic summer picnic, play a round of golf or visit world-class museums, Golden Gate Park is a must-see. This green oasis in the heart of the city features the de Young Museum and the California Academy of Sciences, which includes a planetarium, aquarium, rainforest and more under one plant-covered roof. Flower lovers should head to the San Francisco Botanical Garden and the historic Conservatory of Flowers. The park’s far west is home to the Polo Field sporting green, where every August the hugely popular Outside Lands Festival (Aug. 10-12), featuring top performers, occurs.
Named for the Mission Dolores built in 1776, San Francisco’s oldest neighborhood may also be its most of-the-moment. From diverse restaurants like Flour and Water, Central Kitchen, Lolinda and Lazy Bear to hot night spots such as Foreign Cinema, The Chapel and Urban Putt, you’ll definitely want to add the Mission District to your itinerary. Allow yourself plenty of time to walk up and down Valencia Street and 24th Street, two of the Mission’s busiest thoroughfares, to explore the neighborhood’s vibrant murals and local shops. On a hot summer day, stop at Humphry Slocombe for artisanal ice cream made with ultra-premium ingredients. For a unique cultural experience, exhibitions featuring local and world-renowned artists can be found at the Mission Cultural Center for Latino Arts.
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