If your family enjoys a little bit of living history, there's plenty to discover within San Francisco's 49 square miles. Make a whole day of it by exploring a whole neighborhood, or make a quick trip back in time at one of the city's perfectly-preserved throwbacks.
Beatniks, Dapper Dans, and Old World Flavors in North Beach
For a big day out, North Beach is a great destination to give you an authentic flavor of San Francisco's past intermingled with new and equally cool spots. It's packed on weekends, but for those who can make a mid-week trip you will be rewarded with a laid back, locals vibe and maybe even a parking spot. You could while away a whole day roaming eccentric alleys and tasting your way around some of San Francisco's oldest eateries. Start by grabbing a slab of focaccia from Liguria Bakery (1700 Stockton Street, at Filbert), a slice of old school San Francisco at its best. The Soracco family has been baking up authentic Italian focaccia since 1911. Walking into the bakery with its spare counter, simple rolls of white butcher paper and twine will conjure up another era and the flavors will transport you straight to Genoa, Italy. Other worthy old school foodie stops in North Beach are Molinari Delicatessen (373 Columbus Avenue at Vallejo), Mario's Bohemian Cigar Store Café (566 Columbus at Union) and Little City Meats (Stockton Street and Vallejo) to name just a few. Stop in at the new (but old in spirit) Goorin Bros. Hat Shop (1612 Stockton) to revel in dapper retro style, and have a Beatnik moment at the famed City Lights Bookstore 261 Columbus Avenue at Broadway).
Historic Trolleys and a Greasy Spoon Lunch Along the Embarcadero
A ride on the historic trolley cars of the "F Line" (jump on along Market Street and ride out to the waterfront), followed by lunch at Red's Java House (Pier 30 on the Embarcadero near Bryant Street) and a walk along the Embarcadero is another great excursion to take you back into time. Prime yourself for the trip by reading up on Muni's fleet of historic streetcars and check out Sepia Town, a cool website that knits together historical photographs of San Francisco on an interactive map. Red's Java House is the kind of place where time stands still. This is an unapologetically no-frills dive, and the patio out back is the perfect spot for imagining the busy working docks of yore while you fuel up on a greasy spoon menu of burgers, dogs and fries. Walk, bike or scooter your lunch off with an extended waterfront stroll where there are plenty of both old and new sights to take in.
For shorter trips in the San Francisco time machine:
Noe Valley has become one of the most family friendly neighborhoods in the city. Even if you do not live in Noe Valley or close to it, it is definitely worth a visit to check out the family-friendly options. The weather is often better than th... read more
Calling all nature detectives! The ultimate winter pajama party draws thousands of red and black revelers cozying up in the woods each year and yet you might walk right by them without even noticing the buzz. Why is that? Because a thousand l... read more