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

1. Dress for alfresco dining

Many of us have wondered about the options for outdoor dining during the pandemic, including “parklets,” those makeshift dining areas in places that were once parking lots, perfect for those not yet comfortable eating in enclosed spaces. . Are any made permanent? In San Francisco, the answer is yes.

The provincial board of supervisors voted in July 2021 to make the parklet program permanent. Sure, there are plenty of obligations (not to mention the fluctuating fears of the pandemic), but this changes the eating pattern dramatically. Since San Francisco began its parklet program in March 2020, more than 2,100 permits have been issued for street dining, sidewalk tables, and similar outdoor arrangements.

Outdoor dining at Tony’s Pizza Napoletana in San Francisco’s North Beach neighborhood in March 2021.

(Gary Coronado/Los Angeles Times)

2. There’s a new show in town

For more than four decades, San Francisco’s wackiest, most tourist-friendly live show was “Beach Blanket Babylon,” a silly, song-heavy, fancy-hat-intensive romp that reliably filled Club Fugazi in North Beach until closing in 2019.

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

The co-artistic directors of the show (and the 7 Fingers) are Shana Carroll and Gypsy Snider, both of whom grew up in the Bay Area. The show, approximately 90 minutes without intermission, will run through at least March 31. Seats are $35 to $99 depending on the night and location.

A man jumps over a hanging hoop while seated people watch.

“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 without intermission, was put together by a modern circus collective known as the 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 For-Site Foundation art exhibition called “Lands End” that will run through March 27. Staged in the historic oceanfront Cliff House building (the restaurant is inactive) at 1090 Point Lobos Ave., the show explores climate change and the health of the planet. Admission is free, but advance, time-specific reservations are required. (Also required: proof of vaccination.) Only 49 people are allowed in the building at a time.

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

A black and white image on a screen in the center of a room whose walls are draped.

The exhibition ‘Lands End’ can be seen until 27 March.

(Doug Aitken)

Different sizes of jars with mixed contents on glass shelves.

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

(Doug Aitken)

4. Where to have breakfast?

In San Francisco, I’ve long relied on Café de la Presse, between Union Square and Chinatown, for a hearty breakfast and enjoyable people-watching. (The gate to Chinatown is across the street.) But for months, Café de la Presse slashed its schedule, serving only lunch and dinner. Now – as of January 18 – breakfast is back, offered Tuesday through Sunday, from 8am – 11am. There’s also brunch on Saturdays and Sundays, 11am-4pm. Or consider the alternative I chose when Cafe de la Presse was unavailable: the no-frills Roxanne Café on Powell, which has both indoor and outdoor tables and the entire day breakfast. You can also see the cable cars rumbling past outside.

Customers dine at tables outside Cafe de la Presse.

Customers dine at Cafe de la Presse earlier this month.

(Christina House/Los Angeles Times)

5. Check before you go

Many San Francisco accommodations are still closed, including two in convenient locations that I’ve used many times. One of the still closed spots is the Sir Francis Drake Hotel, half a block from Union Square. It was sold in early 2021. “The monument will open again soon,” the website has said for months. We will see.

The other “temporarily closed” favorite lodging of mine is the San Remo Hotel, a European-style guest house (shared bathrooms in the hall) in North Beach that has been a haven for budget travelers for decades. An alternative with similarly low prices: the Green Tortoise Hostel, also in North Beach, which reopened in August and required proof of vaccination for dormitories and masks in all public areas.

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

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

(Jeff Chiu/Associated Press)

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