Blog

This blog is about interesting things to see and do in San Francisco. It's about the many wonderful visit-worthy but lesser-known treasures in our city like public art, gardens, parks, walks, hikes, history, and, of course, pubs.

With my husband, Gary, I venture out and hike the hikes, walk the walks, view the art, visit the parks and gardens, and crawl the pubs. I take the photos and do the research and writing. It's a hobby. I do it for the physical and mental exercise. If you're interested in things to see and do in San Francisco, scroll through the topics. If you find something interesting, you’re welcome. If not, well I did my best.  Ginny Vail

Golden Gate Park Band

01) GGP Band-6:12:11  (Z-13-595)

Five thousand free concerts must certainly be a world record, and giving five thousand free concerts is precisely what our Golden Gate Park Band has accomplished …

Comstock Saloon

1) Comstock Bar (Z-16-209)

The Comstock Saloon is one of the few remaining traces of San Francisco’s rough and rowdy Barbary Coast and, amazingly, this popular watering hole still has much …

The Mission (District)

01) Mission Dolores-Front (Z-15-894)

When there are so many places to go and things to do in San Francisco, you might ask, “Why visit the Mission?” Here are a few good reasons. Go there to tour Mission …

Anchor Steam Brewery Tour

01) Label (Z-15-937)

What could be more fun and more interesting than a microbrewery tour? Add free beer tasting in a memorabilia-filled taproom and you have a great way to spend a …

Stern Grove (and Pine Lake)

01) Redwood Grove (Z-15-819)

If you spend much time in San Francisco, you can’t help but notice that it’s jam packed with people. Go anywhere on any day in the downtown area or the Wharf or …

Japantown

01) Japantown (Z-15-750)

San Francisco is often described as a city of neighborhoods, and it’s true. Neighborhoods like North Beach, Chinatown, and the ever-funky Haight-Ashbury are familiar …

Gardens in the Park

01) C of F (Jul 08-172)

What’s three miles long, half a mile wide, and packed with things to see and do? It’s Golden Gate Park, of course. At more than twice the size of Disneyland, it’s …

Nouveau Street Food

01) OTG-Fort Mason (Z28-12-727)

Maybe a down economy makes it more attractive and maybe social media makes it easier and even edgier, but one thing is certain — street food is booming in America. …

Presidio National Park

01) Fort Point (Z28-12-311)

If you made a list of all the things that are great about America, our National Parks would have to be pretty close to the top. With these parks, we preserve and …

Palace of Fine Arts

01) Palace of Fine Arts (Z28-11-908)

Like the Golden Gate Bridge and Coit Tower, the Palace of Fine Arts is an iconic San Francisco landmark; it is loved by locals and attracts visitors from around …

Pub Crawl 2

01 Durty Nelly's (Z28-11-756)

Way back in July 2009, I did a pub crawl blog about our favorite Irish pubs, and I lamented at the time that we had only been to about half of San Francisco’s 30some …

Carousel Connection

01) Zeum Carousel (FZ28-0-508)

Did you know there are four carousels in San Francisco? Considering how few remain in the world, that’s pretty amazing, and what’s even more amazing is that three …

Nob Hill Treasures

1) Grace Cathedral (FZ28-0-290)

Whether you call them Robber Barons or simply the Big Four, Leland Stanford, Mark Hopkins, Collis Huntington, and Charles Crocker were very rich, very powerful …

Right Up Our Alley

01 Mark Lane (Z28-0-523)

Wandering through back alleys may not be high on your list of exciting things to do, but we have a handful of alleys in San Francisco that are definitely visit-…

Herb Caen Way

01) HCW Sign (Z28-0-272)

Herb Caen Way is the sidewalk that runs along the north side of the Embarcadero between Pier 39 and AT&T Park. It’s wide, flat, and smoothly surfaced, and it’s …

Depression-Era Murals

01) Arnautoff Mural (Z28-8-705)

Size does matter, and it’s because of its size that we call the 1930s depression the Great Depression. It was worldwide; it lasted more than a decade, and the unemployment …

Natural Highs

03) From Russian Hill (Can PS S50-5254)

"Take anything from us — our cable cars, our bridges, even our bay — but leave us our hills" Herb Caen,1959

Herb Caen was right, of course; the hills are the wind …

Ingenious City Tours

1) Mr. Toad's Tour (Z28-0-439)

Like any city that counts tourism among its major industries, San Francisco has lots and lots of companies that offer sightseeing tours. In addition to the ubiquitous …

We ♥ Parades

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San Francisco is a lively and livable city precisely because there is so much to see and do here, and one of the reasons we have so much to do is that we are willing …

Barbary Coast Trail

01 BCT Medallion (Z28-6-304)

A grizzled miner pans for gold. A sailing ship arrives in Yerba Buena Cove. Behind them, a stagecoach rumbles through town, and, in the distance, fog rolls over …

Free Museums

1) Wells Fargo (Z28-6-100)

San Francisco is expensive. Food and lodging in this city cost more than most places in the world, gas here is the most expensive in the country, and tickets to …

Mission Murals

1) Mini Park (Z28-5-809)

In San Francisco’s Mission District, walls, garage doors, and fences aren’t just architectural necessities — they’re canvases waiting to be covered with art. Over …

Flights of Fancy

2) Mosaic Stairway (Z28-2-965)

This stunningly beautiful and wonderfully crafted mosaic stairway is in the Golden Gate Heights neighborhood in the Sunset District. The mosaic is the creation …

Urban Oases

01 160 Spear [36] (Z28-2-827)

… don't it always seem to go, that you don't know what you've got till it's gone. They paved paradise and put up a parking lot!

It’s been 40 years since Joni Mitchell …

Trolley Folly

01) Car 952 Vintage New Orleans (FZ28-2-391)

From the late 1800s until WWII, streetcars were the dominant means of transportation in many cities. Known as trolleys or trams in some locales, streetcars are …

Take a Hike

1) Lands End Trailhead (FX01-6-629)

Communing with nature, fresh air, sunshine, exercise — who doesn’t love all of these things? Perhaps those of us who live in urban areas appreciate them even more. …

Pub Crawl

1) Foley's (FX01-7-113)

I don’t know why this is so, but San Francisco has a lot of Irish Pubs — at least thirty by my count. Some are little more than neighborhood bars, but some have …

Tres Murals

9-1701 Allegory of CA (FX01-1-418)

It took a few years, but this week we finally visited (and photographed) the last of the three murals Diego Rivera painted in San Francisco.

The first fresco, completed …

Writing on the Wall

9-1244 Immigration Station (P1-820)

We took a cable car to Fisherman’s Wharf where we met our friends, Colin & Ethel. Then we took a ferry to Ayala Cove on Angel Island. You know it’s going to be …


© Virginia E. Vail 2012