advertisement
  • A Colorful Old Wise Man Teaching Tea in Chinatown: No visit to Chinatown is complete without visiting Uncle Gee at his tea shop on Grant Street. A San Francisco institution for years, he will give you a Chinese name, offer you some sound advice, and share with you a dizzying array of teas for all that ails you.
  • A Soul-Stirring Sunday Service at Glide Memorial Church: Every city has churches, but only San Francisco has the Glide. An hour or so with Reverend Cecil Williams (or one of his alternates) and his exuberant gospel choir will surely shake your soul and let the glory out. No matter what your beliefs may be, everybody leaves this Tenderloin church spiritually uplifted and slightly misty-eyed.
  • Cruising Through the Castro: The most populated and festive street in the city is not just for gays and lesbians (though some of the best cruising in town is right here). This neighborhood shows there is truth in San Francisco’s reputation as an open-minded, liberal city where people are free to simply love whomever they want. If you have time, catch a flick and a live Wurlitzer organ performance at the beautiful 1930s Spanish colonial movie palace, the Castro Theatre.
  • Catching Big Air in Your Car: Relive Bullitt or The Streets of San Francisco as you careen down the center lane of Gough Street between Ellis and Eddy streets, screaming out “Whooooeee!” Feel the pull of gravity leave you momentarily, followed by the thump of the car suspension bottoming out. Wimpier folk can settle for driving down the steepest street in San Francisco: Filbert Street, between Leavenworth and Hyde streets.
  • Experiencing AsiaSF: The gender-bending waitresses—mostly Asian men dressed very convincingly as hot-to-trot women—will blow your mind with their performance of lip-synched show tunes, which takes place every night. Bring the parents—they’ll love it. Believe it or not, even kids are welcome at some seatings.
  • Browse the Haight: Though the power of the flower has wilted, the Haight is still, more or less, the Haight: a sort of resting home for aging hippies, ex-Deadheads, homeless kids, and an eclectic assortment of young panhandlers. Think of it as a people zoo, as you walk down the rows of used-clothing stores, hip boutiques, and leather shops.
  • Seeing the Sisters of Perpetual Indulgence: A leading-edge “Order of queer nuns,” these lovely “ladies” got their start in the Castro back in 1979 when a few men dressed in 14th-century Belgian nun’s habits “and a teensy bit of make-up so as not to be dowdy on a Friday night” to help chase away visiting church officials who regularly came to town preaching about the immorality of homosexuality. With their Adam’s apples, and sometimes beards, these dames appear at many public events, and have devoted themselves to community outreach, ministry, and helping those on the fringes of society. Amen!

  • Deemed “the most psychedelic place one can legally reach within the city limits” by SF Weekly, Magowan’s Infinite Mirror Maze (magowansinfinitemirrormaze.com; tel. 415/835-0019) at Pier 39 will have you completely dazed and confused within minutes. And the entrance fee of $5 (5 and under free) lets you come and go all day.

  • Climbing through pitch-black tunnels, rooms, and chutes with only your sense of touch to guide the way may not have been how you’d planned to spend your time in San Francisco, but it’s definitely a one-of-a-kind experience and especially fun if you go with a bunch of friends. The Tactile Dome at the Exploratorium is a hot commodity, so plan ahead and make a reservation by calling tel. 415/528-4444 (exploratorium.edu/visit/west-gallery/tactile-dome).

  • Slides are typically the domain of the elementary school set, but these two small parks’ offerings please adults and kids alike. The long, steep concrete slides at Seward Mini Park (30 Seward St.) are not for little ones—you can really build up speed! Don sturdy jeans, grab a piece of cardboard, and head to the top. While less imposing, the slightly shorter metal slides at Esmeralda Slide Park (at the corner of Winfield St. and Esmeralda Ave.) will still have you giggling as you swoop down the hill.

Note: This information was accurate when it was published, but can change without notice. Please be sure to confirm all rates and details directly with the companies in question before planning your trip.