8) Tired? Take a load off in Washington Square Park, one of the few consistently sunny spots you’ll find in San Francisco. The park is across from the landmark Saints Peter & Paul’s Church, with it’s gleaming white double spires. This is another great spot for people watching, a more traditional (and eccentric) collection of long-time North Beach locals.
9) If you walk down Columbus a few blocks and take a left on Lombard for another couple, you can gander at the world’s crookedest street with the rest of the tourist throng. But then walk north to Chestnut St. and the famed San Francisco Art Institute, which has seen some of the country’s greatest artists come through its doors. Housed in a wonderful Mediterranean style building, you can view a mural by Diego Rivera painted during his residency in the 1930s, along with other pieces by students or visiting artists.
10) On our near Columbus, you’ll find a number of bike rental shops, such as Blazing Saddles or Bay City. Rent one. But before you head off into the sunset (or fog), stop in at Buena Vista Cafe at Hyde and Beach Sts. for their famous Irish coffee. The place has been around since 1916, and is a true slice of SF history.
11) Saddle up and ride. Keep going north toward the bay, and you’ll find a bike/walking path that runs along the water. Head west and enjoy the views of the bay and Alcatraz Island, and remember to shift down when tackling the hills. You’ll ride through Fort Mason, Marina Green park, Crissy Fields, into the Presidio and up to the Golden Gate Bridge. Ride or walk across the bridge, which is always busy with tourists no matter how fogged in and chilly it might be (or often is). On the other side, take Alexander Ave all the way down to Sausalito and the main drag of Bridgeway. Relax, stroll the quaint downtown, and if you’re hungry, get a burger at the closet-size Hamburgers and eat in the park across the street. Or if you’re inspired, bike another mile or so to Clipper Yacht Harbor and Fish restaurant, with picnic tables outside along the water (and blankets if/when the fog rolls in).
12) What time is it? Who knows, who cares. Sometime in the afternoon. Hop the Sausalito ferry for the 30 minute ride back to the Ferry Building in San Francisco. You can browse the fine food shops and cafes here, then ride along the Embarcadero back to Columbus to return your bike.
13) Fisherman’s Wharf is just north of Columbus. It’s a busy tourist scene, but it’s usually calmer by mid- or late-afternoon. If you’re a foodie, you probably want to hold out for what seems an unlimited number of options throughout the city. But if you’re happy with good, basic seafood, you’ll find several places along Jefferson St. serving a signature dish of the city, cioppino, a tomato-based seafood stew.
14) If you want another shot at the Buena Vista, now’s your chance. Then walk across the street to Aquatic Park and the the cable car stop. Hop on, and ride it up and over steep Hyde St. and eventually over to Powell, where you can hop off as it passes Union Square.
15) Time for a well-deserved drink. My favorite place downtown for wine is the Barrel Room near Taylor and Post, intimate and low-key, and hidden away in the back of the Fitzgerald Hotel. Great wines and atmosphere, and a great end to a tour of the most beautiful city in the world.