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Globespotting: 24 Hours in San Francisco

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Globespotting: 24 Hours in San Francisco

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Sep 28, 2012 —  San Francisco, the city known for launching the Free Love Movement and inspiring the beatnik legacy of Jack Kerouac, has more than its fair share of unique restaurants and interesting destinations to explore. You could spend hours meandering through quirky shops selling crucial items like tie-dyed Led Zeppelin shirts and vintage lava lamps, or you could head over to the waterfront to sightsee at some of the city’s most picturesque spots. The city’s nightlife is just as diverse: from the vibrant gay clubs of the famous Castro district to the artsy bars on Hayes, the City by the Bay truly has something for everyone.

Start your day off in the foggy city with the ultimate in Creole comfort at Brenda’s French Soul Food in the Tenderloin. Although the neighborhood is known as one of the more questionable areas of San Francisco, Brenda’s reputation for delicious sweet and savory beignets never fails to attract crowds of stylish twenty-somethings and suburban families.

After you’ve finished stuffing yourself with comfort food, head over to Golden Gate Park to take in gorgeous waterfront views of the city or wander through the de Young Museum or the California Academy of Sciences.

To get a taste for the San Francisco of the 1960s, check out Haight Street, or as the locals call it, “the Haight.” Explore the endless vintage clothing stores, record shops, and tiny pubs and hookah bars packed with an impressive number of authentic socks-with-Birkenstocks wearing hippies. Stop by the Red Victorian, a popular turn-of-the-century hotel made famous by the Grateful Dead to experience a taste of San Francisco’s “sex, drugs, and rock and roll” culture.

As dinner approaches, journey over to Hayes Street, an artsy strip of popular bars and cafés located near the heart of the city. Absinthe Brasserie & Bar is the perfect spot to grab a romantic drink paired with a plate of crusted char, coq au vin, or heirloom squash. After dessert, enjoy some quality live entertainment at the Great American Music Hall, a stunning venue complete with marble columns and chandeliers that was once the city’s most upscale den of prostitution; these days the venue hosts a variety of performances from every possible style.

After the show stroll to Bourdon & Branch, an incredibly popular speakeasy that will take you straight back to the 1920s. In fact, the bar takes its prohibition theme so seriously that you must present the password that came with your reservation in order to be let inside. A staff decked out in 1920’s attire will lead you to a dimly lit room with floor-to-ceiling bookshelves where you can enjoy one of the bar’s specialty cocktails.

If you’re in the mood for a bit more of an energetic night, check out a show at The Fillmore instead of the Great American Music Hall. The iconic music venue has hosted a number of legendary performers over the years and is now recognized for attracting well-known artists from every genre. After the show, finish off your night the rock and roll way with a night cap (or three) at the Madrone Art Bar. This off-beat bar offers a dance floor that seems to always be packed, making it the ideal place to end a perfectly exhausting day.

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