We're two hackers from Korea, visiting SF from June 13 to June 24.
Our current plan is to just jump around good cafes and parks, while doing Kaggle competitions.
Any recommendations on places to visit? Things to do? Cool meetups?
What's the best way to experience the Bay Area?
On the small chance that anyone is super generous enough to give a tour around their HQ, I'd be greatly appreciative. (email in profile)
Get coffee at Four Barrel, Ritual, Sightglass, Blue Bottle, Philz
Get tacos in the Missions at Taqueria Vallarta, Taqueria Cancun
Go to Noisebridge, Sudo Room, Hacker Dojo
Hike at Hawk Hill, Skeggs, Muir Woods, Mt. Tam
Look up local concerts at funcheapsf.com. There's so many fantastic gargage bands that should have record deals. $5 can get you an amazing show
Have a picnic at Lake Merrit
Walk around some of the university campuses (I quite like Berkeley)
Look at the street art on Clarion Alley
Go to Nightlife at the California Academy of Sciences
To the Conservatory of Flowers
Drive up Twin Peaks on a foggy day and watch Carl roll over the city
Walk around Haight-Ashbury (possibly buy drugs) and check out the shops and food
Walk around Telegraph Ave in Berkeley (possibly buy drugs) and check out the shops and food
Drive CA-1 to Monterey. Stop in Santa Cruz.
While the Computer History Museum in [EDIT: Mountain View] is great, if I were visiting the Bay area from halfway around the world, I really wouldn't spend much time in Silicon Valley proper, tech events, etc. I suppose I get the mystique but there are so many more interesting things to experience on a short visit.
When I'm visiting the Bay Area I like to go to coworking spaces as well.
Other than that I've been trying to wait until a band I really want to see plays at Red Rock until I go there.
The biggest issue is the cost of housing. It's like 5x more expensive in the Bay Area than housing in my area. The higher incomes available don't compensate.
In order to get "cheaper" housing, most people with families then live farther out with crazy commute times and traffic. Some people send four hours of their day in traffic.
Lastly the tech scene can be a little overboard at times with whatever the progressive flavor of the month. For example, is picking conference presenters in double blind fashion without regard to gender or race, a virtue or a crime worthy of a mob? Are men and women the same, or do they have differences? Either answer could get you ostracized, depending on which way the wind is blowing in SF or SJC.
State Income taxes is a small thing but will take an extra 8-10% of your income a year.
Lastly the Bay Area tech companies and startups seem to require a bit more than 40 hours a week of work. This isn't as common elsewhere.
None of these things may bother you if you are a young, progressive, single person with a high paying job.
But as you get older they can get to be an awful daily irritation.
I interviewed with several companies in the Bay Area before deciding on one and moving out here. Yes, the housing market sucks. When we were looking for a place to rent we were shown a house that wasn't on the market yet and already had an interested party who put an application down. Fortunately they went with us but the housing, even out in the East Bay, is expensive and goes fast.
But, for me, that ends the negativity that many seem to be echoing in here.
My family and I absolutely love it here. We lived our whole lives on the east coast and having been in the Bay Area for a year we never want to move back. The weather is amazing, everything is close (we live further out in East Bay but still we're minutes away from just about everything; shopping, restaurants, hospitals; everything!).
The schools in most areas that we looked have phenomenal ratings (some of the ones in SF, not so much and obviously we didn't look everywhere) and my daughter just completed her first year at a school over here and she's crazy sad the year is already over!
The work is interesting! It's also very refreshing to know that there are just so many opportunities here that should I decide I don't like my work anymore it's crazy how many companies will open their doors to interview you ASAP (if you're in the tech industry, I should clarify).
There is a ton of stuff to do here. Beaches, lots of interesting places for kids (like indoor play places everywhere) and for adults (kick ass stores and movie theaters and probably other stuff but I don't do much else lol). I love the california science academy and their planetarium. Fisherman's Wharf in SF has awesome food and is just an interesting place to walk around.
Overall the Bay Area, in my opinion as a semi-recent transplant, is absolutely amazing. I really hope we can make progress on the housing issues.
I'm from Minneapolis as are a number of my friends.
Some of them moved out to CA (Irvine) and some later moved to Seattle.
They /can't wait/ to move back to MN.
For a while, I didn't understand them (usually, when they tell me this in the winter). But the music scene, culture, and comparative lack of traffic make a big difference.
I've yet to go to CA outside of layovers, but I still want to experience it for myself.
Irvine is in Southern California. Southern California is a different state than Northern California, which is where San Francisco and Silicon Valley are.
To me, it presents itself as a kind of Stockholm syndrome.
It develops because your brain is aware of the fact that the weather there is capable of killing you 3 months out of the year and it has to find a way to justify the fact that you're not leaving. Obviously there must be something really great about this place when it's not 20 below.
Minnesotans are unusually aware of the primacy of their bike paths, healthcare coverage, skyway'd cities and educational system. They talk to each other a lot about how great each of these things are, reinforcing the special shared status of this land of hardship, but good working folks.
In my experience, most people don't speak so highly of their hometowns as Midwesterners- Minnesotans in particular. When you move to a place where everyone sees the bad stuff and doesn't try to sugar coat it, it can be offputing. If you don't get enough milage between you and the cult of the midwest, you inevitably return to a land where people endure because everyone talks about how good it is when it's not too bad. It could be worse!
I see stickers saying "Keep Austin weird", and "Keep Portland weird". You never see those for Minneapolis. We don't need 'em.
I personally love being here but I also grew up around here. I'd rather all the people who didn't want to live here move on and out and make room for the people who do want to be here.
That being said the people who appreciate being here generally outnumber the people who don't appreciate it. Anecdotally of course.
As mentioned by others, because of tech, some people move out here despite not actually wanting to live in a place like CS. That number is a minority.
Also, El Farolito is the superior Mission burrito ducks
Dolores park is my trump card for showing off SF to (20 something) out of towners. There's usually nothing even remotely like it (when it gets crowded and boozy) wherever they came from.
And I'm in it for the al pastor and so far El Farolito has my favorite. I love Guadalajara too though, because you can get a burrito that's just two different (huge) portions of meat, and they also have some very spicy and delicious salsa. I've strained friendships arguing whether Cancun or El Farolito was better though.
Be advised that La Corneta also has a location in SoMa (on Mission) but the taste of the food is entirely different, not bad, but not as much to my liking.
That would be unwise. It's not a particularly auspicious time to be a foreigner in the U.S., and the Trump administration just announced a crack down on even minor drug offenses. The Haight is pretty relaxed and the odds of getting caught are low, but the consequences at the moment could be particularly severe. Not a risk worth taking.
But do go to the Haight and watch people buying drugs :-)
Also, strongly second Nightlife at the Cal Academy of Sciences. I try to design my trips to the bay area such that I'll be there on a the day of the week those are so I can go (Thursday I think?). It's a great museum, very hands on, and those nights have always had a really enjoyable vibe when I've been.
Oh, and taking 1 north of the city along Point Reyes for a ways is also an excellent drive. You can cut back inland through some rolling hills and get a very different vibe than the city and coast going south towards Big Sur
I also highly recommend night life at the Academy of Sciences, and I think the exploratorium does something similar.
- Check out Union Street in the Marina, then compare that to the Tenderloin (there are good restaurants around Geary/Hyde)
- Go to the Creamery in Soma (tech ground zero), and then take an Uber to Market & Castro, the historical center of the gay community
- Eat amazing Asian food on Clement Street, and then decent Italian in North Beach
You might find that "SF" is actually dozens of different towns fused into one. There are a few overarching similarities, but the most striking thing to me are the differences -- even the weather is different across neighborhoods.
Hit up Boba Guys if you like bubble tea
Do the Lands End walk (https://goo.gl/maps/UGC651a1Cvt). Some great bridge photos there
Big Sur is not accessible due to landslides.
Other thoughts (with very different ambience, price range, and focus):
Golden Era is generally delicious but maybe not that healthy in terms of salt and sugar.
Udupi Palace for nice dosa and uttapam options.
Dim sum at Lucky Creation for an unbelievably non-touristy Buddhist vegetarian experience.
If you're particularly looking for juice bar-oriented vegetarian places, Judahlicious is probably a clear candidate (they also have a specialty in raw food). Nourish Café is also a great option in this category.
I was personally not impressed by Seed+Salt or Vegan Picnic.
The vegan scene is stronger across the Bay in Oakland than in San Francisco proper. I love two spots that are not especially healthy: Souley Vegan (soul food) and Timeless Coffee Roaster (vegan baked goods that seem kind of impossible, plus coffee and chocolate).
But this is drifting quite some distance away from the original focus of the question.
You can also get a vegan poke bowl at, at least, Veggie Grill (a chain with its nearest location in Larkspur, over in beautiful Marin County) and Eatsa (a vegetarian bowl-oriented automat, with two downtown locations, where your food is made by unseen workers behind the curtain and appears inside of little boxes on the wall).
Schedule your reservation to start before 7 and ask to sit at the Chef's counter with Dave (he's the owner, in his twenties and quite knowledgeable).
If you like Hawaiian/Asian fusion, for about the same price range, there's Liholiho in Lower Nob Hill. Liholiho has blown up for a year, so get there at 4:30 on a weekday to make sure you get a seat in the first wave. Otherwise, reservations are a 4-week wait (last I checked).
You can get good healthy vegetarian at just about any restaurant in SF (minus steakhouses and shabu shabu). For a quick delicious vegetarian lunch, check out Plant in the FiDi.
EDIT: typos, readability.
If you want the opposite of tech bubble, Ninki sushi in the Sunset has half price rolls many weeknights... instead of the tech bubble bursting, you'll be the one bursting because you'll be so full (and it's so cheap!)
Healthy - Project Juice, Gracias Madre, Mixt (have heard good things), Nourish Cafe
Also Ike's, it's not very healthy but they make great sandwiches.
As someone who haven't made it out to SF I've always wanted to see if it lived up to the hype. (if even for nicer weather)
Ahh the legend lives, I see. Unless you live somewhere with unbearable winters it's doubtful that the weather is actually "nicer" in SF. ~60 nearly every day, ~50 nearly every night. Just cold enough to make you wear jeans and a hoodie (what, we just thought that getup looked cool?) and rarely warm enough to take advantage of a pool.
Walk around downtown Palo Alto.
Also there is Hacker Dojo in Mt. View which is a good place to meet others. You can also walk around downtown Mt. View.
There are some good hikes around the coast. Also go see the Golden Gate bridge. Santa Cruz is nice for a beach day.
*EDIT: Alternative lock yourself inside AirBnB for the whole trip, code, code, code, more code, order groceries from Instacart, takeout using DoorDash, sleep under desk. You could also stay at one of the AirBnB hacker mansions on your trip as well.
A lot of people like to take selfies at the Facebook sign if you can get to it without being run over.
Go to some tech meetups you're interested in and just meet people. You might be able to catch someone who is a personal hero speaking. If there's someone you really want to meet (especially if it isn't a pitch!), try just emailing them and asking for lunch! You might get lucky.
Take a day to go north to Marin county. Experience Muir Woods and other natural wonders. Another day to visit Napa is good too, if you like wine.
If you can, I'd really recommend a trip south to Monterey Bay. See Santa Cruz and Monterey, and get to Carmel-by-the-Sea in time to enjoy a beautiful sunset on the beach. (this is really a two day trip). Another possible road trip is Yosemite National Park. But these are ambitious and time-consuming.
Visit the Computer History Museum (must-see!). Walk around the Stanford University campus. Drive up Sand Hill, and admire how much all the VC buildings look like dentist's offices. While you're in Silicon Valley proper, eat at Buck's.
San Francisco itself is tourist heaven. There's so much to see and experience there.
edit: I'm not a local. I've just visited. These are things that worked for me!
* Exploratorium (I recommend Thursday evenings when they serve drinks and there aren't any kids running around)
* Muir Woods (a forest full of gigantic redwoods, 20 min drive North of SF)
* Bike or walk across the Golden Gate Bridge
* Day trip South on Route 1 to Monterey to see the aquarium (the views on the way are stunning)
Interesting fact about it that I only recently found out:
The Exploratorium was founded by Robert Oppenheimer ("the father of the atomic bomb") after his forced resignation. If you keep an eye out, there are some plaques talking about this history at the museum, and there's also at least one uncaptioned atomic-bomb-related photo (of the first milliseconds of an atomic bomb explosion) on the walls.
 - https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Robert_Oppenheimer
 - https://www.exploratorium.edu/about/history/frank
This is for sure a must-do. I would recommend going even further south than Monterey, at least to Point Lobos. This is one of the most beautiful places on earth.
A good park is Lands End. Or, take a bus up to the redwoods in Muir Wood. Or, enjoy the drive up to Hog Island for oysters.
A good cafe is Caffe Trieste in North Beach. While you are in NB, stop by Molinari's for a North Beach or South Beach Special sandwich.
Visit the NoiseBridge hacker space.
Contact Stanford and see if the audio lab (or any lab) will give you a tour. Do the same for Berkeley. I hear San Jose State has a really fun VR lab.
Contact companies located in The Vault coworking space and see if you can get one of them to give you a tour.
You might get lucky and find an event here http://sf.funcheap.com/category/event/event-types/geek-event... or here https://www.eventbrite.com/d/ca--san-francisco/geek-events/ I miss the Laughing Squid calendar...
Go see a random show at Bottom of the Hill. Just go in with low expectations ;) But, you might get lucky and see a band you end up liking.
Take the Anchor Steam brewery tour. Get a drink at Tommy's Mexican, Mikkeller Bar, Bourbon and Branch, Smuggler's Cove.
Avoid Pier 38 and Haight Street. They're tourist traps. The Castro is still fun. The Mission is still dirty, but delicious. The Tenderloin between O'Farrell and Market is still sketchy.
The tech in San Jose is also interesting.
Try to visit a state park or natural reserve nearby. Visit Carmel and point lobos (2hr drive from SF), Half Moon bay...
(spoken from experience)
San Jose: Rent a car and park on the 101. Cruise the suburbs and price snap houses for shock and entertainment!
As for food, SF is full of great places to eat of all types. If you want roast meat at very reasonable prices (for SF), I've always liked Tommy's Joynt.
 http://tommysjoynt.com/ (warning: horizontal-scrolling - their food is much better than their website design)
I’d spend a day, start with breakfast at Hobees in Sunnyvale or Cupertino, check out 1 Infinite Loop, drive around the Google campus area, _maybe_ stop at the NASA Ames visitor center.
Drive down to San Jose to see that peculiar city, and have lunch at yeh newish San Pedro Square Market or SoFA market - or the classics like Henry’s Hi-Life or Original Joe’s.
Maybe check out the old-school tech beomoths like Intel.
Spend some time at the Computer History Museum (and the food trucks there on Friday evenings!). That could be a day trip in itself.
Skip the Tech Museum in San Jose (it’s a great museum, but its not something unmissable if you’re short on time).
End your day with a trip to one of the peninsula city centers and have a meal at a place with good Yelp reviews. I’d recommend Dish Dash in Sunnyvale.
That’s not the most touristy or startup-focused of trips, but you’ll see the Silicon Valley that’s really lived in by the people that make their homes here.
+1 for Sonoma county for wine, and arguably the best brewery in the world too (Russian River ;)
* Bike across golden gate [$50 for a bike] / ferry back
* Check out an amazon loft meeting https://aws.amazon.com/start-ups/loft/sf-loft/
* Computer History Museum (If going south, otherwise skip)
* Presidio picnic is really fun https://offthegrid.com/event/presidio-picnic/2017-6-11-2pm
* See comedy show Cobbs sf
* Take San Francisco cable car to Hyde and Union walk & get a slice of pizza at ZA - then walk to lombard and hyde
Edit. - to highlight what the area can offer - on the food front. I mean. Double edit: to make it more clear - all the other activities are great too (okay, not necessarily all :), don't mean to imply that they are not and that only food is.
Disclaimer: I made this.
Get a Zipcar account and use your instincts.
You will meet people and many of these suggestions are a guaranteed wait in a queue for no real good reason.
Adding to places to visit:
* SF Museum of Modern Art
* Hike Point Reyes - get some oysters in Tomales Bay on the way back
* SF Cable Car museum - Free!
Get off at 24th st BART and start at Ritual Coffee. Walk down Valencia street toward 16th st BART station and stop into the variety of stores. At lunchtime go to 18th street and grab a sandwich from Bi-rite -- eat it at Dolores park nearby. At night go to The Chapel and see what's playing, you might be able to get tickets. If not, try stopping by Noisebridge (google it!)
Start at Philz (300 Folsom) and walk to the Google @ Spear St. If you know someone there you can get a tour. If not, you're now standing near the base of the Bay Bridge and it's quite beautiful. Mozilla is right next door as well if you want a tour. They have a nice monument outside their office. Walk away from the Bay Bridge toward the Ferry Building, and get lunch there. Take the Ferry to Sausalito and work from there in the afternoon -- get dinner there and catch a ferry back to SF. Alternatively you can stick around downtown. If you know someone at Salesforce they are right in the area as well.
Night: Try hitting up some local bars for drinks. Some popular ones include Local Edition, Novela, and Rickhouse.
Bonus: Go see a giants baseball game. It's super cheap and really fun. https://seatgeek.com/san-francisco-giants-tickets?oq=SF+gian... -- the cheap seats high up are the best. You get a great view and you can eat stadium snacks while watching an inconsequential baseball game.
I'm assuming others will give you more tips about San Francisco + tourist stuff, so I'll move on to the Peninsula.
1. Palo Alto
Take Caltrain from 4th and King in San Francisco to the Palo Alto station. Get off and walk down University Avenue. There are lots of coffee shops you can work from (Philz is popular here). There's also lots of good food options. If you know someone who works at Palantir, their office is right here. Paxti's deep dish pizza is a local favorite and they have reasonable lunch specials. In the afternoon you can stop by Stanford Campus (it's on the opposite side of the Caltrain -- head back to Caltrain from University Avenue and walk down a palm-tree lined road). If you know someone there you can tour the insides of the buildings, otherwise the outside of buildings is nice too.
Night: Rose & Crown is an English pub that has pretty yummy food and is something different after a day of Palo Alto.
2. Mountain View
Get off Caltrain and walk down Castro street toward Red Rock Cafe. This is a non-profit cafe with free wifi and is a fantastic place to get some work done. For lunch there are myriad options -- just walk down Castro street some more, you can't quite go wrong.
If you have friends at Google you should ask for a campus tour, as there is a free shuttle from the Mountain View Caltrain to the Google Campus. Even if you can't get a tour inside the building, go to the campus and walk around. You can bike to Shoreline Park (there's a small lake there) and rent paddleboats / kayaks.
You can also visit Y Combinator HQ (320 Pioneer Way) but I'm not sure there's much to see.
For dinner I'd stay around Castro street as well. There are tons of great options. Afterwards try getting drinks at St. Stephen's Green or Tied House. Make sure you catch one of the Caltrains back to the city (they stop running at a certain time in the evening, probably around 11pm is the last train up from Mountain View).
When you get off the Caltrain head to Philz for morning work. Then for lunch go over to S. Murphy Ave -- if you don't know what you want to eat, Dish Dash is a local favorite. If you have friends at LinkedIn you should ask them for a tour here.
There's not much in Sunnyvale -- it's pretty suburban.
4. Menlo Park
I'm running out of steam so the basics here are -- Santa Cruz Ave is their downtown and there's a number of coffee shops to choose from. If you know someone at Facebook, get a tour, but it's not quite walking distance from Caltrain; I'd take an uber once you're in the downtown. Their campus is pretty cool...and their food is ridiculously yummy. Another interesting thing would be to go to Sand Hill Road and walk down -- you can see all the VC firms there. Not sure that's an interesting tourist thing to do, but it's something you can if you're interested.
- Visit the coffee shop in the AirBnB lobby, to at least check out the HQ
- Buy a day pass at a co-working space, such as WeWork or Bespoke and talk to everyone there
There are numerous reports of folks who have found some great magic mushrooms in the park.
There are even folks who will guide you around and show you where they are.
Here is one such field report.
This report found one elusive group of
only five mushrooms.
There are peak times are certain species are certainly psychoactive, but the average person isn't gonna walk around and 'get lucky'.
Have an Irish Coffee at the famous Buena Vista where it was invented.
Take a 1AM ride on the cable car trolley thru the fog.
Wow. Unfortunately, I think this is mostly true. A lot of great meetups out there, but unfortunately the people "on the outside trying to get in" have way more of an interest/time to be able to do this.
My favorite meetup ever was the VIM meetup. The fact that it didn't seem like a plausible way to get a job meant that only people actually really interested in going went and so there was tons of cool people.