9 New Year's Resolutions San Francisco Residents Should Make, Because the City Is So Much More Than Just High Rent Prices
Fog, the Golden Gate Bridge, the Coit Tower, and the Full House house(s): These are some of the iconic sights an outsider may first think of when they think about San Francisco. As someone who has lived in the area all my life, I know that there are so many more cool things about San Francisco aside from landmarks, weird weather, and pretty Victorian houses from one of our favorite childhood shows. All of the neighborhoods are characters that contribute to the City by the Bay's overall charm. Even as a native of this weird and beautiful city, I always feel like I have something new to explore, and it never gets boring.
Apparently, native San Franciscans who stay in San Francisco proper are now hard to come by. People from all over the world want to live here, and who can blame them? Particularly, SF's booming tech industry (and its close proximity to Silicon Valley) gives engineers and entrepreneurs incredible opportunities to start up their own company or app, or join an already-existing giant like Twitter or Uber. At least 30,000 people have moved into San Francisco since 2010 — and counting.
You live in one of the best cities in the world, so enjoy it! Whether SF has been your home since birth, for a few years, or a few weeks, take it upon yourself to do these things in 2015, and get the most out of city living.
1Subscribe to or Bookmark SF-Centric Websites
There are many San Francisco-focused blogs, news sites, and event listings that should be part of your daily reading material and social network feeds. We know getting email every day or every week from a website can be a pain in the ass, but if you find yourself without plans on a Friday night or a holiday, you’ll be thankful you checked out the latest email digest from SFist, SF Station, The Bold Italic, Funcheap SF, and UpOut SF. These websites are essential resources if you want to find out what’s going on in the city (and other parts of the Bay Area too). They always update with grand openings, hip parties, offbeat events, concerts, shows, and more. They even have contests and giveaways for tickets to events and other fun stuff, so keep them on your radar.
2Be a Tourist…
Sometimes it’s fun to play along with the rest of them. Head on over to Powell Street, and take a cable car to Fisherman’s Wharf. Then take a tour around the city on one of those double-decker buses, or take a RocketBoat or Bay Cruise ride. Other edgy ways to explore the touristy areas include going on specialized walking, segway, or bike tours. It may feel dorky to do things that people from out-of-town would typically do, but if you haven’t tried them before, it will feel like something new.
3But Take Your Visiting Relatives and Friends to Non-Touristy Areas
Yup, I’m telling you to reverse roles! It’s so overplayed to take your folks or pals from back home to high traffic areas like Union Square, Chinatown, and Fisherman’s Wharf. Instead of Union Square, offer to take your friend shopping on Union Street , which houses a few high-end brand names amongst local boutiques. Instead of Chinatown, take your family to Japantown, where they can explore shops and restaurants with more diverse offerings and even stop by a karaoke lounge. Instead of Fisherman’s Wharf, go for a hike on the more peaceful side of the water at Land’s End. This is not to say you absolutely can’t go to Union Square if your Auntie Mae insists on shopping at the Macy’s there, but do suggest alternatives and new ideas to show them the true breadth of San Francisco.
4Take a MUNI Bus to the End of the Line
Ah, good ole MUNI! San Francisco residents are all too familiar with late arrival times, sometimes-crowded buses (OK, frequently crowded buses), and the odd characters that can be found hanging out, but we would not be able to function as a city without it. If you have a day off, check out 511.org and pick a bus line to ride all the way to the end. You can land in a neighborhood you love, or dare to visit a neighborhood that’s uncharted territory for you. As dreadful as bus rides can be, it’s also fun to look out the window and see what stores, restaurants, bars, venues, and businesses you pass by. You will also probably come across someone wacky enough for you to Tweet about.
5Go to a San Francisco Giants Game
There has never been a better time to check out the San Francisco Giants. The boys in orange and black won their third World Series championship in five years this past October, and they have one of the best young pitchers in Madison Bumgarner locked in for the next several years. In 2015, the Giants will raise their newest championship flag, receive their rings, and reignite their rivalry against the Los Angeles Dodgers, and you should be at AT&T Park to see it unfold. If you’ve never been to a baseball game, grab a buddy, relative, or man friend who knows baseball to accompany you. The game is a treat in itself, and so are the incredible views of the Bay, the garlic fries, and the lively atmosphere of boisterous fans in one of MLB’s most beautiful ballparks. If you know baseball but have never been to a Giants game at home before, prepare to love every minute of it. Check out the schedule, and plan to buy your tickets soon — and don’t miss out on pre-season fun with the players at the yard for the annual KNBR Giants FanFest in February.
6Take Advantage of the Arts and Entertainment Scene
San Francisco is known for being a destination when large music festivals like Outside Lands, Hardly Strictly Bluegrass, and the Treasure Island Music Festival come to town. However, with state-of-the-art musical, comedy, and other performance venues scattered throughout, you can rock out in the city all year round. For live music (some of these venues also host comedy acts), check out what’s brewing at the Bill Graham Civic Auditorium, The Independent, The Fillmore, The Regency Ballroom, The Warfield, The Masonic, Slim’s, and Rickshaw Stop. If you want a good laugh, you’ll find the best comics performing at Cobb’s Comedy Club and Punchline. If you want to catch Broadway by the Bay, the SHNSF collection of theaters — the Orpheum, the Curran, and the Golden Gate — hosts limited engagements of both well-known hits and new large-scale musicals and plays. For alternative theater, check out the American Conservatory Theater (A.C.T.) and EXIT Theater. And if you haven’t yet, head on over to Club Fugazi to see San Francisco’s signature musical revue, Beach Blanket Babylon .
7Try a New Bar or Restaurant Every Month
We know how easy it gets to feel attached to certain meeting places, but step out of your comfort zone and set aside one day per month to go to a new bar or try a different place that serves your favorite kind of food (or maybe even something you don’t eat very often). Do a Yelp search, ask your friends and coworkers for recommendations, or take a walk around your neighborhood and see what catches your eye.
8Find Your Go-To Hairstylist and/or Aesthetician
Every woman deserves to have a hairstylist and/or aesthetician who makes her feel like a queen. My personal recommendations include B Parlor in the Lower Haight for cuts and dramatic hair changes, Blo in the Marina/Cow Hollow for blowout styles, and Atelier Emmanuel near Union Square for waxing.
While Target, Safeway, and Trader Joe’s are just so easy to come by, and Westfield Shopping Center and Union Square are accessible one-stop destinations for apparel, gifts, and other things, don’t forget to support the small businesses that give San Francisco its flavor. Go to Bi-Rite, Haight Street Market, or a farmer’s market for your groceries and produce. Get your morning espresso from a small hole-in-the-wall coffee shop instead of Starbucks. Buy the book you’ve been meaning to read at City Lights. Instead of Victoria’s Secret, buy your Valentine’s Day lingerie at Pink Bunny. No matter where you live in San Francisco, there’s a market, liquor store, cafe, gift shop, boutique, or other type of small business nearby looking to serve you. Keep them thriving!
Image: Randy Pertiet/Flickr