Tuesday, June 15, 2010

24 Hours in San Francisco

Penny Watson for The Age Traveller fuels her creativity in San Francisco's bookshops, anarchist cafes and fine-food emporiums. Here are her suggestions on how to spend 24 hours in San Francisco...


The 110-year-old Ferry Building is the city's best-known landmark. It still serves as a hub for ferry commuters from across the bay but the main building has evolved. Its central airy corridor has been transformed into a foodie paradise, crowded with Italian delis, a wine bar, tea shop, organic markets, cafes, speciality shops and patisseries. For a meet-and-greet with the artisans whose fare has brought the building to life (and a taste test or two), take a tour with the knowledgeable epicurean concierge, Lisa Rogovin (inthekitchenwithlisa.com).

1 Ferry Building, The Embarcadero, ferrybuildingmarketplace.com


After a tour, settle in for breakfast. Perhaps a Dungeness crab breakfast burrito from San Francisco Fish Company? Or a salmon benedict from Tsar Nicoulai Caviar? Or bombolone and cappuccino from I Preferiti di Boriana and freshly squeezed organic juice from Frog Hollow Farm? For a more leisurely brunch, the communal table amid the hanging copper pots and home-made produce of Boulettes Larder (+1 415 399 1155, bouletteslarder.com) is the perfect place to pore over the newspapers. Brunch specialties at Boulettes Larder include creamy scrambled eggs with seasonal squash, herbs and hollandaise.


With the Bay Bridge in sight, San Fran's waterfront promenade (aka The Embarcadero) is the perfect place to spend a leisurely hour or two. Hire a bike and follow the path from the Ferry Building along the water's edge to the Golden Gate Bridge. Pit stops along the way include the TCHO chocolate shop and factory, the oh-so-kitsch Pier 39 and the aquarium. Keep your eyes peeled for Alcatraz Island.


If two wheels don't appeal, raise the adrenalin and the glamour factor with a scenic helicopter ride and clap eyes on the rust-red harp-like spans of the Golden Gate Bridge from above. Don't be surprised when the pilot-cum-tour guide changes direction suddenly and loops under this engineering marvel. It's a tricky manoeuvre only a lucky few have experienced.

San Francisco Helicopters, +1 800 400 2404, sfhelicoptertours.com


The chopper experience finishes back at Fisherman's Wharf, where lunch should be one of the city's famed dishes: clam chowder served in a bowl made of sourdough bread. From here, turn your back on the bay and stroll down Taylor Street to the Cable Car terminus. Climb aboard one of San Fran's famous open-air cars, fully operational since 1873 and the last of their kind in the world.


Alight for a spot of shopping. San Francisco has a reputation for fine home-grown designers and you'll find many of their shops on the steep streets of North Beach, the city's Italian hub. Al, of Al's Attire (1314 Grant Avenue, +1 415 693 9900, alsattire.com), has a penchant for bespoke shirts, dresses and jackets tailor-fitted and designed from his own collection of vintage cloth. For matching accessories, Goorin Bros. hat shop (1612 Stockton Street, +1 415 402 0454, goorin.com) has ceiling-high shelves piled with fedoras, trilbies, flat caps, woollen scarves and gloves.

To read how Penny spent her remaining hours in San Francisco visit The Age Traveller.

Penny Watson travelled courtesy of California Tourism.

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