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Trying something new with Github. Help make my US holiday awesome? (github.com)
78 points by xzyfer on Mar 30, 2013 | hide | past | web | favorite | 47 comments

Thinking of "non-touristy" things for a tourist to do is difficult, especially one from a similar western country like Australia. I'm pretty sure they have bars, restaurants, etc. in Australia. I guess a HN'er would enjoy hitting up user groups and what not.

But in reality, all the stuff that makes America "America" is considered touristy. Heck, half the stuff he lists is something I'd consider touristy.

In any event, I think a grand tour in America from any other country and not visiting a Disney park is just Plain Wrong™. :) Then again, it might be too "touristy."

Well theres "touristy", the theres "touristy". Last summer I went with a friend to visit southern Utah. We did a day in Zion National Park. It was cool and utterly beautiful. Then, because she knew the area and had friends there, we went off into the actual wilderness of the Grand Staircase. We hit some real back woods areas, explored canyons and hiked a lot of crazy places. We rarely saw evidence of other people, let alone actual people. I think in the 3 days we were out in the back country we only saw 2 other people and that was close to (what passes for) a road. When we went back through Zion on the way home, I actually experience civilization shock - there were like 20 people visible at once, and other cars!

They were both great experiences but I value the latter far more for a couple reasons:

* I would never have been able to find it, known how to do that exploration, and been too timid to do it without local knowledge.

*It was an adventure rather than a curated experience. The park is great, but I never felt like I was seeing reality. Like going to Epcot vs going to actual places.

It was still a totally touristy experience. The locals thought I was cute for wanting to go wander in the desert to see places I had to walk for a long way to get to, without knowing anything about the desert. I was still just there to see the sights. Yet different - they all were really eager to tell me about their favorite spots off the beaten path.

I guess what I'm saying is that I tend to interpret, and mean, touristy as "not really worth the effort, it's too curated and sanitized and expensive. It's designed to Disneyify some approximation of local experience and does so poorly".

Similarly when I talk to people visiting my hometown of Chicago, I always recommend the Museum of Science and Industry, and the Art institute. "touristy" yeah, but also the stuff I would do once or twice a year when I lived there, and I still try to do it every couple of years when I'm visiting the family.

For bars and the like: It's not the bar (well, some and/or some places do have atmosphere), it's the people you meet.

If your visitors are from "out of town" in some significant fashion, and if they are nice enough that you don't think they'd be an imposition, arrange to meet with some of your friends.

Any place can become magical, if you're there with good people and making friends.

(Plus, someone's always doing something, or has some time free, and maybe they'll extend an invitation. (Just don't expect anything.))

P.S. This may be a bit OT, I realize, with respect to the idea of an online resource of things to do/see.

P.P.S. This is somewhat personality dependent, but when I visit my cousin in the Bay area, we end up stumbling into all kinds of small encounters because she simply, directly -- if politely -- asks questions. If something peaks her curiosity, she simply asks. She has no fear!

Walking through Chinatown, we decide to try some tea with tapioca balls -- she's heard they're useful in dieting. She asks some questions of the server. We also end up talking with one of the other customers. A random "tourist" encounter turns into a few pleasant minutes learning a number of things and getting a bit of the local "vibe".

Multiply that by several-fold through the day, and it ends up being a pretty interesting day. Thanks, cous'!

I would take a foreign visitor out to the suburbs to see how big and spread-out everything is. Stand at the intersection of two huge roads with a little traffic and unused sidewalks. See the lawns bordering some drug store parking lot full of big cars. On the one hand, it's a waste of land, but on the other it's so spacious and open feeling.

I'm more of a Lego Land man myself :)

I'll be up there working in our SF office, so I'll be spending a lot of time with locals.

I think crowd sourcing should be for gaining knowledge you don't have yourself. It should not be a replacement for being lazy - you can google tour dates for all those bands and comedians yourself - you don't need others to do that for you.

And also, you might want to spell San Francisco correctly :)

I got the impression that it wasn't about seeing those specific artists, so much as "these are bands I like, any similar music in the area in that time frame?"

Yes, there may be a certain amount of laziness to it, but there is also something else. When I travel, I have a tendency to leave a lot of gaps in my plan, and just go find locals at the watering hole or whatever, and flat out ask: "hey I'm visiting the area, whats neat to do around here" and usuall get great ideas from people. They know the good stuff locally, they know the stuff that is overhyped, and so on. I see this experiment as an extension of that.

Correct :) Discovering new music is awesome. Plus someone put me onto Songkick. Awesome discovery

My bad on the spelling error. Fixed here: https://github.com/xzyfer/us-travel-checklist/commit/781b63d...

On the up side my shame is public :/

Is that necessarily true though?

I reckon it's cool to draw on the collective experience of a group to find out nichey stuff, underground bands in that genre, for example.

Agreed - some of the stuff he's asking for is plain lazy. @OP: Google it yourself!

I'm feeling pretty lazy this morning, too... certainly too lazy to fork a repo, clone it, edit a file and save, commit and push, and create a pull request just to give you some travel advice.

Try starting a Reddit thread instead. :-)

You can accomplish this all in exactly three clicks, without ever leaving your browser. Hell I'm pretty sure there's even a keyboard shortcut for it somewhere.

Already done :) http://www.reddit.com/r/technology/comments/1bau70/trying_so...

An issue would do just fine as well

Github as a GUI which lets you edit text files in the browser.

I've been managing the whole thing via the UI. It's been great

Without knowing you personally, it's hard to suggest things to do. I would suggest you check out wikitravel.org. I found it a great guide when I was backpacking through Europe.


Edit: Switched to wikivoyage due to comments below.

Please, avoid Wikitravel. Use Wikivoyage instead.


For more information, see http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Wikitravel#Community_fork_in_20...

This was interesting. Thanks.

This sort of seems like a misuse of Github. Github is a place where individuals or organizations can store an actual product and the community can interact with and contribute to said product. It's not a place where one should solicit life advice or ask the community to perform trivial tasks unrelated to development or an actual product of any sort.

It's not that asking for this kind of thing is necessarily bad, but I think that it's inappropriate for Github. Quora or maybe HN itself would be a better forum on which to ask for suggestions about travel to the US.

Why? I don't see any reason that Github has to be that just because that's how most people use it. I find this particular project a bit silly, but there's nothing wrong with it as a use of Github.

I don't see how it's any different from a gist. By using Github I've intentionally limited my audience.

Wow the response has been way beyond my expectations. 13 issues in less than an hour :) too cool.

FWIW this isn't about being lazy. The intention was to tap into the minds of like minded locals, and past travellers for hidden gems. Anyone who's travelled to Melbourne, Australia (my home town) knows that that is the only way to experience Melbourne.

My hope is that this will reach some demi-viral state and be forever remembered in Google for anyone else wanting to experience SF the way I do.

My theory on visiting a city is to do/see things that are unique to the city, but are not tourist traps, and to experience local flavor. I don't want to do a pull request because I don't want to do one pull request per item, which I would have to do so you can pick and choose what interests you.

Things to do:

- Go to a Giants baseball game. Sit in the Bleachers. Even if you aren't that interested in sports, it's a worthwhile experience. If you are working for a startup you are probably in SOMA/South Beach, so the baseball park in near by. Get tickets on http://www.stubhub.com/ they are dirt cheap ($5-15). Remember, sit in the bleachers. Drink Lagunitas IPA while you are there. And eat garlic fries and hot dogs.

- Go to the Castro, and go to a bar there. It's a nice neighborhood, not very touristy, and quite unique to SF. http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/The_Castro,_San_Francisco

- Eat Mexican food from a run-down looking taqueria. I think the best one outside the Mission (in SOMA-ish) is Taqueria Cancun. I recommend trying an Al Pastor Super Burrito. And then the next time get some tacos.

- For fancy Mexican food + Tequila check out Tres, probably closer to where you will be working than Tommy's. http://tressf.com/

- You like drinking early on Sunday? Try brunch with bottomless mimosas. Lots of places have them. Ironside has an all-you-can-eat brunch buffet and bottomless mimosas. Farmerbrown has an all-you-can-eat brunch buffet, no bottomless mimosas, but they will happily serve you cocktails (I think the mimosas come in pitchers).

- Eat at a food truck (Korean tacos are yummy!). http://roaminghunger.com/sf http://offthegridsf.com/

- Hmm, pizza. It depends on the type of Pizza you like. Tony's Pizza Napoletana is probably the best traditional Italian pizza. If you've never tried a deep dish pizza you should give Patxi's or Little Star a try. Other than that, whatever pizza place is open near you when the club/bar closes at 2am is probably where you will go, which might be DNA Pizza, but I'd cross the street and go to Crepes A Go Go. Or maybe I'd get a bacon wrapped hot dog from a push cart, mmm, with peppers and onions.

- American beer doesn't suck, you wouldn't want us judging your beer by Foster's, so don't judge our beer by Budweiser! For brew pubs in SOMA check out 21st Amendment Brewery and ThirstyBear. If you are at a bar, find out what beer is local and order it, it will be way better than the big name beers.

- Drink cocktails at Bourbon & Branch (need to make reservations well in advance).

- Take a tour/tasting of Hanger One Vodka (really good vodka). http://www.hangarone.com/

- No need to see big name comedians, just watch local comedians at any comedy club. http://www.yelp.com/c/sf/comedyclubs

- Alcatraz is actually interesting if you like historial things, even though it is a tourist destination.

- Use Yelp to find places. http://www.yelp.com/

- Use Meetup to find meetups. http://www.meetup.com/

(Damn, you are going to be very drunk and full after completing my list.)

Things to avoid:

- Pier 39 and Fisherman's Wharf should be avoided, they are just tourist traps. If you get stuck there, the Sea Lions and Musée Mécanique (Penny Arcade) are the best things there.

- People in San Francisco don't eat bread bowls, and neither should you.

- Cable cars are pure tourist.

I personally love the bread bowl. Locals may not eat them, but the Boudin Bakery at the Fisherman's Wharf has the best sourdough bread I've ever had in my life and their bread bowl with clam chowder is something that everyone should try at least once!

Boudin's bread is decent, but not great, the soup is mediocre. There are lots of Boudin cafes around, most of them are much more conveniently located than Fisherman's Wharf. They even have them in Southern California, including Disneyland which is 400 miles from San Francisco.

As for bread, my favorite is Acme Bread. They have a retail location at the Ferry Building. If you are going to the Ferry Building you might as well go on Saturday for the big farmer's market, which is the most touristy of the farmer's markets in SF, but the stuff there is still really good.

I had a cousin visit me from England, and he had to get a bread bowl, he thought that's what we ate here. The reality is the burritos are much more San Francisco than bread bowls. The Mission style burrito was popularized here, and has come to be what a lot of people around the world think of as burritos. And people all over Northern California eat them on a regular basis. http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/San_Francisco_burrito

If someone wants a bread bowl they should certainly get one. I just think it's sad that people visiting San Francisco feel their experience won't be complete without a bread bowl. There is so much great food in San Francisco, so many things that make this city special, bread bowls are just not one of them.

Eating bread bowls of clam chowder or crab bisque (but no other kind of seafood) from the outdoor kiosks at Fisherman's Wharf is totally acceptable and a tourist moment worth indulging in.

You had me at "Damn, you are going to be very drunk and full after completing my list". Love this btw. I'll give it a proper look over at a saner hour (it's 5am here).

I'm curious what the law are around hitching a tow from a cable car on my skates Marty McFly style.. :/

Heh, I don't know about the law. I've had someone on a skateboard hitch a ride on my car. If you want a safer way to skate head to The Embarcadero, which is the street along the bay. The sidewalk on the bay side is wide, flat, 3 miles long, has no cross traffic/intersections, and you are allowed to skate and bike on it. Also, look out for Sunday Streets events, they close down streets, like all 3 miles of Embarcadero so people get walk, skate, bike, and do whatever they want. http://www.sundaystreetssf.com/

I didn't mention basketball before (SF is more of a baseball town), but the Warriors play in Oakland (across the bay). You can take BART to get there. Unfortunately Aug-Sept is not basketball season, it is baseball season. If you come another time of year you can get tickets on StubHub. I see tickets on there now for as low as $2. http://www.stubhub.com/golden-state-warriors-tickets/

There are public basketball courts if you want to shoot hoops yourself. You can probably find one near where you are staying/working: http://sfrecpark.org/wp-content/uploads/Basketball.pdf

I hate to break it to you, I'm a Lakers man :) I'd make the trek to Staples.

Added Sunday Street fests though :)

Headed to SF for a summer internship in June. I won't be 21 until July, but I'm bookmarking this anyway. You had me at tacos. Thanks for the write-up!

Just make sure it's one commit per suggestion and then he can cherry-pick what he likes.

I eat breadbowls all the time! Although I live in Santa Cruz, so YMMV.

Awesome list dude!

Hey, fellow Aussie here.

Swing by our offices in the Mission and I can show you around the area. Email is in my profile.

Wow, this is super relevant. I'm traveling to SF for a couple weeks next month and will watch out in case any advice pops up!

My advice, though: offer something in return for the best advice. I dunno what, maybe free lunch. That'd be an interesting activity in itself.

I like your idea though. Lunch is on me! https://github.com/xzyfer/us-travel-checklist/commit/c09178e...

I was hoping that adding updates to repo in the form of videos, pictures and mini-blogs would accomplish just that.

A really great way to see a place like a local is to use Couchsurfing(.org) for your accommodations - more often than not your host also ends up being a tour guide.

(Disclosure: I work at Couchsurfing, but I was a very satisfied user before I was an employee.)

A list on Github (or anywhere else) is an inefficient format for this...why not a google spreadsheet that anyone can edit, so that you can sort by city, category, cost, etc?

I felt like that would be mayhem to manage, and curate. I'm trying to curate a list of unique, individual experiences.

I live in the city and I will be following this to get suggestions for what I should do too :)

Had a power nap, and now I'm back. Your feedback has been awesome

Pull request sent.

Haha I should have guessed!

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