Tips from 35,000 Feet: Experience San Francisco like a Local

By: Katie Manning

January 11, 2013

We always look forward to a touch down in the City by the Bay, and we think there’s no better way to get into the city vibe than heading straight to Foreign Cinema for a meal in the Mission District. There aren’t many outdoor restaurants in San Francisco, and even fewer good ones, but we love this romantic eatery and silent movie cinema. The old black and white films are projected on one wall of the most beautiful courtyard and the food is consistently flawless. We are completely addicted to the Kobe bavette steak with truffled potato-celery puree and Zinfandel butter – it’s divine.

Foreign Cinema | San Francisco
Foreign Cinema, San Francisco © Foreign Cinema

When it comes to hotels in San Francisco, and there are some stunning ones, we’ve just got to have a view of the Golden Gate Bridge. The Argonaut is one of our favourites, with its amazing waterfront location and boutique atmosphere. It’s just steps from Pier 39, the sea lions and other Fisherman’s Wharf attractions, as well as having unobstructed views of the city’s coastline and bay. We think it’s perfect for a romantic break as well as somewhere that’s surprisingly child-friendly!

The Argonaut | San Francisco
The Argonaut, San Francisco © The Argonaut

On the first Tuesday of every month, three of the city’s best museums (The SF Museum of Modern Art, The Legion of Honor and the de Young) are free. We love the Legion of Honour with its Egyptian artefacts, Ancient Greek urns, as well as a superb collection of Rodin sculptures, European Impressionist and Post-Impressionist, and works from 20th century artists, from Picasso to Robert Crumb – all in the permanent collection. The building is as beautiful outside as it is inside and we like to stop by the café for an alfresco lunch overlooking the Golden Gate and the Marin Headlands.

Legion Of Honor | San Francisco
The Legion of Honour Museum, San Francisco © Legion of Honour

When it comes to nightlife, as far as we’re concerned, Smuggler’s Cove is firmly on our “˜must-go’ list. This award-winning tiki bar is not of the usual cheap and sugary variety, but serves expertly prepared and painstakingly created cocktails from the Caribbean, Prohibition-era Havana and other island outposts with fresh fruits and spices. It’s also got the largest selection of rum in the country. We love that there are hardly any tourists here – even the locals have a hard time finding the door. We’ll let you in on the secret though: it’s marked only by a nautical navigation light.

Smuggler's Cove | San Francisco
Smuggler’s Cove, San Francisco © Smuggler’s Cove

Have you spent time in San Francisco? What are your favourite spots in San Francisco?


Feature image © jondoeforty1/Flickr


Katie Manning

Katie is an author for the Virgin Atlantic blog. Despite her urban London residency, Katie can often be found exploring far-flung corners of the globe in search of exciting new experiences and stories. A self-confessed night-owl, she makes it her mission to search out the best cocktail bars and live music venues on each and every expedition. Follow Katie @kt_saramanning

Categories: Our Places