Where to Go in 2020: 3 Ways to Experience San Francisco

by Andy Smith

EDGE Media Network Contributor

Monday January 6, 2020

Tennessee Williams once quipped that "America has only three cities: New York, New Orleans and San Francisco. Everywhere else is Cleveland."

While we may disagree with this sweeping statement, if you've had your fill of The Bigs (Apple and Easy) and are looking for a vacation adventure for 2020, why not check out America's third great urban destination?

A Taste of the Golden Gate City

San Francisco is a foodie's paradise. And while the city has a well-earned reputation for priciness, its menu of restaurants boasts robust options for every taste and budget.

Sears Fine Food — Start your day in this 71-year-old San Francisco institution as famous for its 18 little Swedish pancakes as it is for the long lines down Powell Street. Get here early and be prepared to eat!

Fog Harbor Fish House — Touristy? You bet, but also delicious. This Fisherman's Wharf institution is a can't-miss for seafood lovers, and the award-winning clam chowder is worth every carb in the sourdough bread bowl in which it's served.

The Slanted Door — A varied Vietnamese and Asian Fusion menu and unparalleled views of the Bay Bridge make this popular ferry district haunt worth the crowds and the price.

Mokuku — This Japanese hot pot spot with its sprawling space, full bar and karaoke has quickly become a must for lovers of interactive dining experiences. And with a $34.99 price tag for all-you-can-eat shabu shabu, you can't go wrong!

Where Else for a Weed Weekend?

In 2018, retail cannabis shops opened their doors in California for the first time. The $3.1 billion farm-to-bong business has spawned a variety of retail experiences where buds, oils, vapes and edibles can be bought in a range of locations—from vintage interiors to sleek pharmacies to chic lounges.

Barbary Coast Dispensary — Formerly a medical cannabis dispensary, this trendy shop with red velvet wallpaper, carved wood bar and Persian floor runners harkens back to the days when its namesake was a Gold Rush red-light district. Despite its high-rent location, products (including edibles) are surprisingly affordable.

The Apothecarium — With well-lit modern facilities in the Marina District, Castro and SOMA neighborhoods, this popular chain of dispensaries has an almost open-kitchen feel. Order online and pick up in person.

Medithrive — Not fancy, but their prices can't be beaten! They promise to beat competitors advertised prices by five percent. And if their full range of strains and options weren't enough, they also deliver.

Walking Tours for Film Buffs

From 1941's film noir classic "The Maltese Falcon" to last year's top-grossing "Avengers: Endgame," the romance of San Francisco's Victorian homes, ubiquitous fog, and iconic Golden Gate Bridge has long provided the ideal Hollywood backdrop. Walking tours and a selfie stick are a great combination to put yourself in the action. Bring your sense of adventure and wear comfortable shoes.

Tales of the City — Spanning the years 1978 to 2014, Armistead Maupin's series of novels, "Tales of the City," has chronicled in real-time the early LGBTQ rights movement, AIDS crisis, and fight for marriage and transgender rights. Thanks to the city's tradition of preserving its landmarks, lovers of the novels (as well as the PBS versions and 2019 Netflix reboot) can walk in wide-eyed Mary Ann Singleton's shoes by seeing everything from Barbary Lane to The EndUp, where Michael Tolliver won the dance contest but nearly lost his doctor boyfriend.

Hitchcock — The Master of Suspense loved Northern California. So much so, that he chose the region's dramatic landscape as the backdrop for numerous classics like "Rebecca," "Shadow of a Doubt" and "Vertigo." Now, visitors can see San Francisco through Hitchcock's lens live in-person with this guided tour where you can view iconic landmarks from his films and learn how he used the city's unmistakable character to create his signature sense of paranoia. If you're in the mood to get out of town, rent a car and drive north for just over an hour to experience the scenery and windswept villages of Bodega and Bodega Bay, which look much the same as they did in 1963's "The Birds."

What's Up Doc? — From Barbra Streisand's lighthearted days, relive the chase scene from the last 15 minutes of Peter Bogdanovich's "What's Up Doc?" — the underrated 1972 homage to the screwball comedies of the 30s. From the posh townhouse in Pacific Heights, through winding Lombardi Street, ending up at the panoramic Sausalito Ferry Port just north of town, at any speed this self-guided tour is a downhill ride of fun.