Tied for the Bay Area? Here are 10 tips to know before you go

1. Dress for al fresco dining

Many of us have marveled at the al fresco dining options that have multiplied during the pandemic, including “parklets,” those makeshift dining areas in what were once parking lots, perfect for those not yet comfortable, to eat indoors. Were any made permanent? In San Francisco, the answer is yes.

The county board of directors voted in July 2021 to make the parklet program permanent. Of course, there are many strings attached (not to mention the faltering fears of the pandemic), but this is dramatically changing the dining picture. Since San Francisco launched its parklet program in March 2020, more than 2,100 permits have been issued for street food, street tables, and similar outdoor spaces.

A covered outdoor dining area in San Francisco.

Diners al fresco at Tony’s Pizza Napoletana in the North Beach neighborhood of San Francisco in March 2021.

(Gary Coronado/Los Angeles Times)

2. There’s a new show in town

For more than four decades, “Beach Blanket Babylon” was San Francisco’s silliest and most tourist-friendly live show, a goofy, song-heavy, chic hat-intensive party that reliably packed North Beach’s Club Fugazi until its closure in 2019.

Now comes a potential sequel in the same room: Dear San Francisco: A High-Flying Love Story, which opened in October. It was put together by a modern day circus collective called 7 Fingers, who describe the production as an “acrobatic love letter” to the city. It dives into local history with video projections, shadow play, juggling, hoop jumping, hand balancing and Korean plank (also known as teeterboard).

The show’s (and 7 Fingers’) co-artistic directors are Shana Carroll and Gypsy Snider, both of whom grew up in the Bay Area. The show, about 90 minutes non-stop, is scheduled to run until at least March 31. Seating ranges from $35 to $99 depending on the night and location.

A man jumps headfirst through a suspended hoop as seated people look on.

Dear San Francisco: A High-Flying Love Story opened in October.

(Kevin Bern)

People dance on a stage around the central figure of a person riding a unicycle.

The show, about 90 minutes non-stop, was put together by a modern day circus collective called 7 Fingers.

(Kevin Bern)

3. Don’t miss this free art exhibition

Doug Aiken, Ólafur Eliasson and 25 other artists are part of an immersive art exhibition hosted by the For-Site Foundation titled “Lands End,” which runs through March 27. The show takes place in the historic Cliff House building by the sea (the restaurant is closed). at 1090 Point Lobos Ave., investigates climate change and the health of the planet. Admission is free, but advance, time-specific reservations are required. (Additionally required: proof of vaccination.) Only 49 people are allowed to enter the building at the same time.

Incidentally, the National Park Service is looking for a new restaurateur to take over the Cliff House (which closed in 2020) and cafe at Lands End Lookout Visitor Center, raising hopes that food service (chic at Cliff House, casual at the cafe) could return before the end of 2022.

A black and white image on a screen in the middle of a room with curtained walls.

The Lands End exhibition runs until March 27th.

(Doug Aitken)

Different sizes of mixed content jars on glass shelves.

The show examines climate change and the health of the planet.

(Doug Aitken)

4. Where to have breakfast

In San Francisco, I’ve long come to the Cafe de la Presse between Union Square and Chinatown for a solid breakfast and good people-watching. (The Chinatown gate is across the street.) But Café de la Presse has been cutting its schedule for months, serving only lunch and dinner. Now – from January 18th – breakfast is back and will be offered from Tuesday to Sunday from 8am to 11am. Brunch is also available Saturday and Sunday from 11am to 4pm at the no-frills Roxanne Café in Powell, which has indoor and outdoor tables and serves breakfast all day. You will also see cable cars passing outside.

Customers dine at tables outside the Cafe de la Presse.

Customers dine at the Cafe de la Presse earlier this month.

(Christina House / Los Angeles Times)

5. Check before you go

Many accommodations in San Francisco are still closed, including two in convenient locations that I’ve used often. One of the places still closed is the Sir Francis Drake Hotel, half a block from Union Square. It was sold in early 2021. “The landmark will be reopened soon,” it has said on its website for months. We will see.

My other favorite “temporarily closed” place to stay is the San Remo Hotel, a European-style guesthouse (shared bathrooms down the hall) in North Beach that’s been a haven for budget travelers for decades. An alternative with similarly low prices is the Green Tortoise Hostel, also in North Beach, which reopened in August and requires proof of vaccinations for dorm guests and masks in all public areas.

Mounted doors and windows at street level in the Sir Francis Drake Hotel.

The climbed entrance to the Sir Francis Drake Hotel in 2020.

(Jeff Chiu / Associated Press) Tied for the Bay Area? Here are 10 tips to know before you go

Russell Falcon

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