Travel Postcard: 48 hours in San Francisco

Fri Oct 10, 2008 10:55am EDT
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SAN FRANCISCO (Reuters Life!) - Got 48 hours to explore San Francisco? Reuters correspondents with local knowledge help visitors get the most from a short visit...


6 p.m. -- Start your visit off with a meal at one of the city's hot dinner spots, Zuni Cafe. The restaurant sits in a glass-enclosed space overlooking Market street and offers a menu of Mediterranean-inspired dishes that change daily. Sample fresh local oysters at the always-buzzing downstairs bar or grab a table upstairs and try the signature roast chicken with bread salad and taste why San Francisco is famous worldwide for food.

8 p.m.-- See what's playing at the American Conservatory Theater, which puts on a mix of classical and new productions and whose alumni include actors Denzel Washington, Annette Bening and Benjamin Bratt. If music is more your thing, head to the city's North Beach neighborhood to Jazz at Pearl's in a club styled on a 1930s speak-easy.

10 p.m. -- Finish the night with drinks at Tosca Cafe next door to Jazz at Pearl's. The bar is popular with locals and tourists alike and the VIP back room is a gathering place for local celebrities and politicians like Sean Penn and Mayor Gavin Newsom. Throw a few quarters into the opera jukebox and sip one of the bar's famous brandy-spiked cappuccinos made with Ghiradelli chocolate at the long mahogany bar. You can also check out the former beat bar Vesuvio Cafe across the street or for a more local experience, wander up Columbus Avenue and take a right on Stockton Street to Tony Niks, a hip, friendly neighborhood bar.


8 a.m. -- Begin the day at the historic Ferry Building at the foot of Market Street and stroll through dozens of shops and restaurants that sell everything from fresh local fish to artisan cheeses to just-baked breads. Nosh on caviar at Czar Nicoulai Caviar or try some chocolate from Scharffen Berger Chocolate Maker. If the weather is nice, grab a coffee, some pastries and enjoy breakfast outside while watching the ferries dock. On Saturdays the plaza teems with local farmers who set up stalls at a twice-weekly Farmers Market to sell fresh California fruits, vegetables, jams, breads, cheeses and other locally produced foods.

10 a.m. -- Jump on a street car or take a leisurely walk up the Embarcadero to Fisherman's Wharf. Board the ferry to Alcatraz Island for some jaw-dropping views of the city and spend some time wandering through the notorious federal prison located smack dab in the middle of San Francisco Bay and whose inmates included Al Capone and Robert Stroud, better known as the "Birdman of Alcatraz."

12 p.m. -- Make your way back toward the city center by way of North Beach. Jack Kerouac and the Beat poets called the cafes and bars of this neighborhood home and many of their favorite haunts still exist. For lunch, crowd into Mario's Bohemian Cigar Bar overlooking Washington Square Park for their famous meatball sandwich slathered on locally-made focaccia bread. Head up Grant Street to check out the boutiques and then walk back to Columbus Avenue for a snack at Stella Pastry. If coffee is your thing, turn the corner to Cafe Trieste for java the locals swear by. Make a last stop at Lawrence Ferlinghetti's legendary City Lights bookstore to find radical political titles not available at mainstream shops. If you are up for it, climb the stairs to Coit Tower for views of the Bay and Lombard Street, known as the crookedest street in the United States.   Continued...

<p>The Maltese Falcon, a clipper sailing luxury yacht owned by U.S. venture capitalist Tom Perkins, sails into San Francisco Bay September 27, 2008. REUTERS/Robert Galbraith</p>