I lived in San Francisco for 5 years back in the day. It's on of my favorite cities, it's vibrant, warm, full of character and characters. It's got some of the best food in the US. But how exactly does one blend into this melting pot of a city?
Its touristy bits are all exposed and dangling. Fisherman's wharf, Alcatraz, Chinatown (unless you know what you're doing) generally I'll avoid these bits with every fiber of my being. And rightfully so, there is no point to going to fisherman's wharf, it's the Disneyland version of San Francisco. Stay... Away...
Side note: it's not " San Fran". There is no such place and the locals will immediately roll their eyes at you.
San Francisco is like an archaeological dig of culture. Wave upon wave of immigrants from China, Italy, gold-diggers, navy gays, hippies, yuppies, tech-bubble billionaires, a different wave of gold diggers, Latinos, hipsters, and the newest wave of techies make this one of the coolest/most self deprecating cities in the world. The amount of eye-rolling from group to group in this city could provide a renewable energy for the entire city if only we had some way to harness it.
That being said San Francisco is one of the most open, hospitable and friendly places in the U.S. In the south they might wave more often but San Francisco's community spirit will put anywhere in the South to shame.
Have I even mentioned food yet in this post? I defy you to find more and better dim sum anywhere outside of Hong Kong. The U.S. slow food movement was started in the Bay Area back in the 60's and is still very much alive today. But they have never sat on their laurels here. The food scene progresses and in many ways leads the rest of the nation. Have you been enjoying artisan tacos at every bar around you on Tuesday nights? SF has been at the heart of the burrito and taqueria wave for the last few decades, the rest of America is only just now catching on.
What should you do if you have any afternoon in San francisco? Do what the locals do? Go sit in a cafe on weekday afternoon and write your silly blog. You will be absolutely astounded at how every cafe is full of laptop toting too fashionable for school people who sit around all day seemingly never with a job or a care in the world... It's fun :)
Go have a stroll through Dolores park, eat a burrito in the mission, and get ready for the reservations you had to make 3 months in advance at Gary Danko or the French Laundry. Have a cocktail at ABV. Grab the best loaf of bread you've ever tasted at Tartine. Find the good life and live it up!
Life is good. San Franciscans are ahead of the curve on this one too.