Annual 2015: Outdoor Fun Between Conference Sessions

This is a guest post from Susy Moorhead, a member of the Local Arrangements Committee for the ALA Annual conference in San Francisco.

In a little over a month Annual will be upon us! The conference is always an amazing event and I am sure this year’s will be another one. Sometimes though you just need a break from the hubbub and somewhere outside is often a perfect fit. These are my suggestions of some places to go right around Moscone when you need to take a walk outdoors or get some fresh air.

The Moscone Center is comprised of 3 halls – North, South, and West. North & South are underground, so you’ll definitely want to head outside periodically.

The main entrances of Moscone are located between 3rd & 4th streets off of Howard Street.  If you have time between programs, for lunch, or even before or after your day at Moscone, here are some places close by to spend some time outside:

  • Yerba Buena Gardens is the closest large park and it is located just west of the main entrances to the North & South halls. It is between 3rd & 4th and Mission & Folsom. Here you can see the beautiful Martin Luther King Jr. memorial which is behind the waterfall. You will want to walk in the memorial from the north side. The waterfall lands in the largest fountain on the West Coast. If you pay close attention to the detail in the stone around the waterfall you will see our often present fog represented – you’ll probably be in the fog too. You can easily get lunch in the Metreon, which you will see to the south, and eat it on the grass.
  • Another park, a little farther from Moscone, where you can sit and eat lunch is South Park. Walk east and north four blocks to get there. It is between 2nd & 3rd street and Bryant & Brannan. This oval park was modeled after a London square in 1852. Initially it was only open to the residents immediately surrounding it. In the late 90s this was “ground zero” of the dot-com boom and after the bubble burst it quickly built up again as the site of web 2.0. It’s a beautiful spot away from the city. If you’ve read Confessions of Max Tivoli you might recognize this as a setting in the novel.
  • If you walk another two blocks east you will get to AT&T Park and there are lots of benches all along the water to sit and look at the Bay. Even though Otis Redding actually wrote “(Sittin’ On) The Dock of the Bay while in Sausalito, you may feel moved to sing it here as you gaze at the Bay Bridge and the Port of Oakland.  By the way, the Giants will be playing the Rockies during conference.
  • A pleasant longer walk is along the Embarcadero from AT&T Park to the Ferry Building. Either way it is a beautiful loop, a little over 3 miles, which you can do from Moscone.
    • You’ll get to walk under the Bay Bridge and marvel at how huge it really is.
    • Along the Embarcadero you’ll see Cupid’s Span, inspired by San Francisco’s reputation as the home of Eros, by Claes Oldenburg and Coosje van Bruggen. I always thought it was an ode to Tony Bennett’s signature song “I Left My Heart in San Francisco” and to me it can be both–and maybe you, too.
    • At various spots along the Embarcadero you’ll find white posts topped with yellow and black stripes that tell some of San Francisco’s waterfront history.
    • Be sure to go inside the Ferry Building. There are delicious and iconic food stands and restaurants from the Bay Area inside (just to name a few: The Slanted Door, Hog Island Oyster Company, and Cowgirl Creamery).

If you want to see more of San Francisco’s great outdoors there is going to be a bike ride around the City at 2pm on Friday. Here is a link to the Facebook invite – the ride is open to everyone. The ride will include the Mission Bay Branch Library, AT&T Park, the Embarcadero, Market Street, the Main Library, Valencia Street, Mission Branch Library, and the beautiful Mission Murals. There is a Bay Area BikeShare station close to Moscone at 3rd & Howard. It’s very easy to rent one for either 24 hours ($9) or 3 days ($22) – you just need a credit card. And if the entire ride isn’t for you, you can return your bike at other stations in the City (right now they are only downtown).

And last, if you want a drink to go with your fresh air there are a couple places close by to get one. Dirty Habit is 5 floors up from the street in the Hotel Palomar on 4th St. between Mission & Market.  They open at 5pm every day except Sunday. A beautiful place to go, especially after dark, for drinks and a meal is Claude Lane. It is located on the other side of Market St. parallel and west of Kearny St. (what 3rd St. becomes on the other side of Market). There are French and Spanish cafes and restaurants with beautiful patios and twinkly lights. You’ll think you’re in Europe! Really close by, but technically not outside, is the View Lounge on top of the Marriott Hotel on the corner of 4th & Mission St. Needless to say the view is amazing; check it out even if you don’t stay for a libation.

Have fun and don’t forget your layers! San Francisco can be really cold in the summer and you’ll hear this over and over again as a lot of visitors don’t initially believe it. You’ve been warned.

About Hannah Gómez

School librarian in Northern California. MA children's literature, MS library and information science (Simmons College). Sometime scholar, sometime reviewer, sometime creative writer, always media-obsessed.
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