Annual 2015: San Francisco on the Cheap (Part 2)

(Did you miss part 1? Click here!)

This is a guest post by Trevor Calvert, a member of the Local Arrangements Committee for Annual 2015 in San Francisco.

As promised, here are even more great ways to enjoy what San Francisco has to offer–on a budget.

Neighborhoods and Landmarks

Twin Peaks
With the 25th anniversary of the television show imminent, why not use this as an excuse to visit a site 1,000 feet above S.F. and with a 360-degree view? It’s a great place to visit but can be windy and chilly, so bring a sweater.

Chinatown is a fantastic place to wander around in, whether you like to eat your way through a neighborhood or prefer to shop or people watch, Chinatown offers it all. It’s the oldest Chinatown in North America, and with its beautiful, historic buildings and landmarks it’s certainly one of San Francisco’s jewels.

The Mission
The Mission District runs along the parallel streets of Mission Street and Valencia. If artisanal coffee, award-winning burritos, fanciful ice-cream, local (and sometimes strange) boutiques, and public art interest you, then the Mission is definitely a place to spend an afternoon. Some highlights, La Taqueria, Humphrey Slocombe ice-cream, murals on Balmy and Clarion alleys, the beer-garden at Zeitgeist, and sitting in the grass at Dolores Park.

Museums and Galleries

Palace of Fine Arts
One of the most lovely places in San Francisco is the Palace of Fine arts in the Marina District. Built in 1915 for the Panama-Pacific exhibition, it’s known for its lagoons (home to geese, ducks, swans, and turtles) and Roman-Greek-inspired architecture. If, after strolling around the lagoons, you feel like exploring the world of science, than look no further the Exploratorium interactive museum housed on site. Few afternoons can beat wandering the grounds with a friend and / or a good book.

Musee Mechanique
If idyllic walks through sculpted gardens to the ambient sounds of ducks and frogs is not your preference, and if instead you prefer the whirly-twirl cacophony of old-timey penny arcades, than perhaps the Musee Mechanique on Pier 45 is just the place. Home to over 200 mechanical marvels (some dating back to the turn of the century), the Musee Mechanique still proves surprising and inspiring.

De Young Fine Art Museum
One of the best fine art museums in the world, the De Young is not to be missed. Admission is $10 for general admission, and it is well worth it. With site specific installations from several artists including James Turrell and Andy Goldsworthy, and architecture which emulates the natural landscape, the De Young is a glorious place to spend an afternoon.

Walking Tours

San Francisco City Guides
Because San Francisco has such a quirky and fascinating history, a guided walking tour may be more up your alley, and luckily the city offers free walking tours.

Wanderers Union
The Wanderers Union is a group dedicated to long-distance wandering. And while no organized trips are available during ALA15, they have graciously added their courses and maps to their site, which you can find here:

Nature and Parks

Marin Headlands
The Northern California coastline is stunning, usually windy and clear, explorers can cross the Golden Gate Bridge and head into the headlands for gorgeous views of the ocean, hiking through California poppies, wild strawberries, monkeyflowers, and more. What used to be a military site (there are still barracks along the coastline to explore) is now governed by the Golden Gate Parks National Conservatory and is easily accessible via the 76 Muni Bus.

There is so much to do and see in San Francisco that this list points more to what has been missed and overlooked than what has been humbly provided. San Francisco has an elusive yet individual personality that I think you will enjoy getting to know during your stay, and I hope these suggestions provide a good introduction.

We’re adding more and more things to do and know on the YALSA wiki all the time. Be sure to bookmark it and keep checking back!

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