(Earlier this month Steven Shalowitz, host of the One Way Ticket Show podcast, interviewed TravelSkills editor Chris McGinnis about recommendations for visitors to San Francisco– from that interview, he prepared the following post for us to share with readers. Enjoy! And please share YOUR best SF tips in the comments)
Chris McGinnis is the Founder of the Travel Skills Group, and the purveyor of the popular travelskills.com website, which offers money-saving, comfort-enhancing travel advice, with a business travel bent.
In my recent interview with McGinnis on The One Way Ticket Show, he chose San Francisco for his one-way ticket destination.
He shared with me some of his top picks in “The City by the Bay”, which he’s called home since 2005.
1. Hang Like a Local
Chris loves Dolores Park, one of the most popular parks in America, and only blocks from his Noe Valley neighborhood. According to McGinnis: “It has just gone through a $28 million redo. It’s a site to behold. It’s a place where you’ll find local San Franciscans. It’s where everybody that lives in a cramped little apartment in San Francisco (goes) when they want to get outside and get some fresh air and hang out with their friends and drink a beer and take in the view. It’s always busy, and it’s always full of locals”.
Plus, Chris notes, you might even catch a glimpse of Noe Valley’s most famous resident, Marc Zuckerberg, walking his dog in the park.
2. Get Outta Town
McGinnis enjoys heading just 30 minutes south of the city to the Devil’s Slide Trail. This was a precarious part of Highway One where, according to Chris, “You’d take those drives along the cliff and see the waves crashing and the birds flying over and whales jumping out in the ocean”. As spectacular as it was, the road kept giving way and sliding down the cliff (thus the name). Last year they put in a large tunnel so cars could avoid the danger. They nevertheless preserved the roadway which is now a bicycle and pedestrian path
For Chris, Devil’s Slide is especially ideal for biz travelers who just want to take in something a little extra in an afternoon and don’t have the time to make it down the Pacific Coast Highway to Big Sur. “You can even take Uber down there and and take a fantastic walk with one of these just spectacular Highway One views that is so iconic about California”, he says.
3. Come Hungry!
“I think it’s the best food city in the world”, Chris says of his adopted hometown. “We’ve got such a diverse ethnic population so we’ve got all kinds of great food that way. We live close to so many sources of fresh produce, we’ve got the ocean, it’s just such a fantastic place for great food”.
When it comes down to the must-try, typical San Francisco fare, McGinnis opts for the Mission Style Burrito. “It’s about as big as a shoe”, he says. “It has your typical rice and beans and meat and whatever else you want”.
Generally found in taquerias in the Mission District, Chris’ personal favorite is Pancho Villa on 16th Street. He also likes La Taqueria for their Tacos Dorados, a crunchy style taco stuffed with meat and avocado which he describes as “outstanding”. It’s a popular place though, and apparently there’s always a line, especially at weekends.
Alongside San Francisco’s thriving burrito culture, lives cuisines whose origins are on the opposite side of the Pacific.
For Asian, Chris believes “The best Chinese food in San Francisco is not in Chinatown.” He suggests heading to the western side of the city to the Sunset or the Richmond Districts where, with its large and vibrant Asian communities, you’ll discover the best Chinese food (Chris recommends asking locals where they like to eat), Vietnamese (he likes Thanh Long with its special roasted garlic crab), and Burmese (McGinnis’ choice is “Burma Superstar”).
4. Linger Before Flying Off
A frequent flyer like McGinnis knows a thing or two about airports, and for him, SFO is “one of the best managed and most interesting airports in the country”. With several entrances and security stations you don’t find the long lines you do at other airports. And while it’s easy to access, once in, you may not want to leave. For McGinnis, the highlight is Terminal 2, home to Virgin America, which he says feels like you’re walking into a four or five-star hotel lobby (it was built with that intention). “There are designer chairs, there’s beautiful views, water stations, there’s lots of good food…And they’ve taken that Terminal 2 concept and they’re applying (it) in the other terminals”, McGinnis said.
If you want to take in a little culture before you take off, Chris states “San Francisco is the only airport in the country that is recognized as a museum”. One can not only find a museum in the airport, but mini exhibitions throughout the terminals from the San Francisco Fine Arts Museum’s superb collection.
Whether for its outdoor spaces, food or culture, it’s easy to understand why Rudyard Kipling is reported to have said “San Francisco has only one drawback, ‘tis hard to leave”.
Click here for Chris McGinnis’ interview where he talks San Francisco, plus, offers valuable travel tips.
Steven Shalowitz is the Host of The One Way Ticket Show where he explores with his guests where they’d go if given a one way ticket (no coming back!). Destinations may be in the past, present, future, real, imaginary or a state of mind. Visit the site: www.theonewayticketshow.com
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Pretty good tips. On a 10 point scale I’ll go with 7.0 – 7.5.
Chris McGinnis says
Thanks, Bob! Very interesting. And it’s something I’ve definitely noticed. Even today, a small cup of frozen yogurt on 24th St in Noe cost $6- crazy.
Chris McGinnis says
Thanks, Chris! You are right, but most of us who live on the northern fringe of Noe Valley consider Dolores Park part of the ‘hood!
Christopher Stafford says
Dolores Park is in the mission/Castro district, not in Noe Valley.
John R. Grout says
The City’s redlining non-organic food at Terminal 2 is a clear violation of the First Amendment of the Federal Constitution, which states that government bodies may not establish unsubstantiated beliefs… and a government requiring the serving of organic food out of pagan belief is every bit as un-Constitutional as a government requiring the serving of glatt kosher food out of Orthodox Jewish belief would be. [If you believe in organic food “science”, remember that for every one of you, there are at least five yahoos who believe in creation “science”… you have a hell of a lot more to lose from their side winning than you do from your side losing.]
John R. Grout says
The City’s redlining non-organic food at Terminal 2, as in the rest of SFO when food contracts expire, is a clear violation of the First Amendment of the Federal Constitution, which states that government bodies may not establish unsubstantiated beliefs… and requiring the serving of organic food out of pagan beliefs is every bit as much an un-Constitutional establishment of belief is requiring the serving of glatt kosher food out of Orthodox Jewish beliefs would be.
The City’s actions are a part of a pattern of arrogant disregard for the law, most obvious when Gavin Newsom began his jailbreak against state law at the beginning of his first term as The City’s Mayor. Even Senator Feinstein warned him against his arrogant, anarchist act of rebellion… something that should have led to administrative dismissal from office and a lifetime ban on holding political office within the state.
John R. Grout says
“Organic” “good”. Substituting The City’s dietary taboo for others’ judgement, whether in a fit of superiority or just arrogance, is typical San Franciscan behavior.