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A Brief Neighborhood Guide to San Francisco: The Upper Haight

(Note: This is part of my San Francisco neighborhood guide to be published individually, then in its entirety at completion. As a result of the ongoing business restrictions during the pandemic, some of the restaurants and retail businesses mentioned may close with no warning.)

Besides its location as the gateway to the treasures of Golden Gate Park, the Upper Haight is just a fun place to hang out and explore, a daily carnival that packs a lot into its seven commercial blocks. (Is there a better/livelier neighborhood event than the annual Haight Ashbury Street Fair?) It’s famous cross street (Haight-Ashbury) has been

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5 Things to do in the Bay Area this weekend

stARTup Art Fair
One of the cooler art events in the city (though that’s something of a tallest pygmy contest with the dearth of art culture in SF), the fair is now in its third year at Hotel Del Sol on Webster St. in the Marina. Over 50 artists participate in the take-over of individual rooms and the courtyard pool area of the hotel, with artists conversations and a seminar on women in art. 4/28-30, Fri 7-10pm, Sat noon-9pm, Sun noon-7pm.

King’s Day Celebration
There’s a Dutch community in San Francisco, apparently. Because each year at this time they gather round the Murphy Windmill in Golden Gate Park to celebrate King’s Day, the biggest event of the year for Nederlanders. Flea market, music, beer garden, food trucks, kid’s games are all part of the fun, as well as typically nice weather this time of year. 4/29, Saturday, noon-5pm.

Dancing in the Park
The 10-day event that is Bay Area Dance Week culminates this weekend with various workshops and free performances. Dancing in the Park is one of the highlights, with some 30 top Bay Area dance troupes and schools performing in the band shell next to the de Young Museum. 4/29, Saturday, noon-4:30pm.

Caesar Chavez Day Parade
The largest event honoring the late labor and rights activist, the parade begins at 11am and makes its way from Dolores Park and ends at a street fair at 24th between Treat Ave. and Bryant St., which features a car show and plenty of food. 4/29, Saturday, 11am-6pm.

“Summer of Love” Block Party
It’s been 50 years since San Francisco became famous for hippies, tie-dye and psychedelic drugs during its famous summer of love in 1967. The festivities for what promises to be a summer of events kick off with a block party on Telegraph Ave. in Berkeley with free concerts from 60s cover bands, food, crafts and kid’s games. 4/29, Saturday, noon-5pm.

Top 5 things to do in the Bay Area this weekend

Fleet Week
Fleet Week is back for its 35th year with a panoply of festivities to beat the band. Seven different ships are available for tours all day Saturday through Monday (a holiday) at various piers along the Embarcadero. Of course the highlight is the airshow over SF Bay, starting at 12:30 and culminating at 3pm with the Blue Angels. Saturday – Monday, 10/10-12, all day.

Ocean Beach Music+Art Festival
At the opposite corner of SF in the Outer Sunset, the Ocean Beach fest packs a lot into its two-blocks. Six stages feature over 20 bands, along with live art installations, 10 food vendors, two beer gardens, a petting zoo and a pumpkin patch. Saturday, 10/10, 11am-7pm, Noriega at 47th St.

Corgi Con
One corgi dog running along the beach as fast as its stubby legs will let it is funny/cute enough. But 500? LOLZ. For corgi owners and lovers, this is obviously a must attend, but also for anyone who enjoys a spectacle. A costume contest and corgi races highlight the event. Saturday, 10/10, 10am-2pm, Ocean Beach.

This week-long event brings in hundreds of writers, poets and journalists in venues throughout the Bay Area. Sessions are by theme, such as thrillers, travel and erotica. Saturday – Saturday, 10/10-17, all times.

Viva CalleSJ
Downtown San Jose is a no-car zone on six miles of city streets, and open for biking, walking, skating, yogaing, whatever, as long as it doesn’t involve a motor. Moveable Feast food trucks will be on hand to administer fuel, while the Bay Area’s eight Lombardi trophies (Niners and Raiders) will be on display. Sunday, 10/11, 10am-3pm.

Top 5 things to do in the Bay Area this weekend

First Friday Shorts
Escape the rain and huddle in a nice warm theater for First Friday short films by Bay Area filmmakers. There are a lot of dedicated and talented storytellers in our midst, and the wonderful New Parkway venue in Oakland is an ideal place to enjoy it. Friday, 2/6, 6-8pm, 474 24th Street, Oakland.

KNBR Giants FanFest
Get an up close and personal view of the Commissioner’s Trophy given each year to the world champion, which we all know who that is. Roam the outfield like Hunter Pence, meet Buster Posey, MadBum and other players, and get pumped for opening day at AT&T Park on April 13. Rain or shine. Saturday, 2/7, 10am-3pm.

SF Beer Week
Kick off beer week with a number of beerlicious events on Saturday and Sunday, including a brewing class and tasting at Pyramid Alehouse in Walnut Creek, and a Trumer Pils StrEat Takeover at SoMa StrEat Food Park, 428 11th St. Meet the brewmasters and enjoy good food and beer. Sunday enjoy the Lagunitas Beer Parade in San Jose. Saturday 2/6 through Sunday 2/15, various times and locations.

Coit Tower Guided Mural Tour
The recently restored murals inside Coit Tower date from the 1930s and 25 local artists, and tell a vivid story of the city’s early days. Now get the scoop on what exactly all those scenes relate to with this docent led tour. Saturday, 2/7, 11am, 1 Telegraph Hill Blvd.

12th Annual Big Lebowski Party
A film and fandom that’s taken on a life of its own, no more evident than at this annual event celebrating all things Lebowski. Dress as your favorite character, like the purple-suited Jesus or the tittering Knox Harrington, jump on a trampoline Jackie Treehorn style, or mini-bowl like the Dude. Saturday, 2/7, Grand Theatre, 2665 Mission St, SF.

Top 5 things to do in the Bay Area this weekend

Russian Festival
There’re a lot of Russians in San Francisco – 10,000 by one count – with a history that goes back as far as the early 1800s. In honor of that past and present, the Russian Center of San Francisco is hosting its annual celebration of food, dance, music and art. Expect big crowds for the stroganoff, blinis and borscht, and the ensuing fun and impressive performances. And of course there’s a vodka tasting. The biggest draw might be the magnificent old building itself, built by SF’s first wave of Russian immigrants. Saturday 1/31 from 11am-10pm, and Sunday 2/1 from 11am-7pm, 2460 Sutter St., SF.

Pancakes & Booze Art Show
This is basically what art and the art world has come to, just one big excuse for a party. “Wait, there’s art here too?” And yet some of my favorite times in LA have been art crawling on gallery nights. And Minna is one of the top galleries in SF. So combine those two, and add in booze, pancakes, and body paint. Oh, and there’s like 50 underground and emerging artists represented too. Saturday, 1/31, 8pm-2am, 111 Minna St., SF.

SF Live Arts: Folk and Bluegrass Music Night
The excellent and innovative music/performance series continues with Patchy Sanders, a six-member band from Ashland, Ore, performing alt bluegrass, or as they claim, noir-grass/neo-folk. Following is duo Misner & Smith, with lovely harmonies and memorable songwriting. Saturday, 1/31, 8-11pm, 2097 Turk St., SF.

Exploratorium Free Day
In celebration of Groundhog Day, the Exploratorium is free all day. Explore and tinker with the hundreds of exhibits. Did I mention it’s free? Sunday, 2/1, 10am-5pm.

Super Bowl L
The list of pubs, sports bars and theaters hosting viewings and parties is long and varied. Pick your favorite spot and chances are they’re having some kind of super bowl soiree. Or, check this list of popular city sports bars. Sunday, 2/1, kickoff 3-ish.

Top 5 things to do in the Bay Area this weekend

Fort Point Civil War Days
In commemoration of the Civil War’s Sesquicentennial, Fort Point honors its Civil War legacy with re-enactors in period uniforms, artillery drills, music and marching. Plus there’s the usual interesting exhibits and docent-led tours, and views of the underbelly of the Golden Gate Bridge. Saturday, 1/24, 10am-5pm.

San Francisco Fine Print Fair
This annual event features some beautiful prints, especially the Japanese woodcuts from the early part of the 20th century when printmaking was still popular in the country. Also on display, and for sale, are 19th century etchings and impressionist lithographs. Saturday and Sunday, 1/24-25, 11am-5pm, Golden Gate Club, Presidio, SF.

January Snow Days
Sure, you can head back east for this season’s Snowpocalypse, or visit winter for a day at the Treasure Island Flea market. A special wintertime celebration will feature 10 tons of snow dumped on the Great Lawn each day this weekend. Build a snowman or join in the fun of a big snowball fight. The flea market will also be open for business, with over 400 vendors and food trucks. Saturday and Sunday, 1/24-25, 11am-close.

Autodesk Artists in Residence Art Show
Where art meets technology, specifically 3D printing, with artists from around the world exhibiting more than 70 pieces. Also on display are interactive maps, culinary arts and large scale architectural installations. Saturday, 1/24, noon-5pm, Pier 9, SF.

The Run & Only BBall Tourney
Check out the next Damian Lillard in this 3-game basketball tournament featuring some of the best talent Oakland and the East Bay have to offer. Four teams representing their respective neighborhoods will square off for prize money as a live DJ spins. Saturday, 1/24, 6-7:30pm, Bushrod Recreation Center, Oakland.

Top 5 things to do in the Bay Area this weekend

KPFA Crafts Fair
If you want to buy a gift both unique and local for the holidays, this is your best bet to find something of interest. The fair boasts 200 juried exhibitors offering ceramics, housewares, textiles and furniture. There’s even items from indigenous communities across the globe. Saturday, 12/20, 10am-6pm, Craneway Pavilion, Richmond.

The Great Dickens Christmas Fair
To a journey to Victorian London, complete with teashops, pubs, and street performers, all within the cozy confines of the Cow Palace. Some visitors get in on the act as much as the performers, accents included, and you can actually buy things like hand-tailored great coats a la Sherlock Holmes. Saturday and Sunday, 12/20-21, Cow Palace, SF.

Christmas in downtown San Francisco
It’s not quite New York, which often has the benefit of snow, but there’s a lot to see and do to get you in the Christmas spirit. Start with Union Square’s towering Christmas tree and ice skating rink, visit Santa at Macy’s, window shop you’re way around the square, see the snow fall at the Hyatt Regency atrium, and visit the elaborate gingerbread house at the Fairmont atop Nob Hill.

Winter Solstice Eve Beach Celebration / Hike & Campfire
It’s that time of year when the gods save us from eternal darkness and decide to bring back the sun, also known as winter solstice. Celebrate with your fellow druids on Ocean Beach for dancing, singing, drumming and non-alcoholic beverages, 4pm. Or join a family-friendly walk in the Presidio, starting at Rob Hill and ending with a campfire at the Rob Hill campground, 5-6:30pm. Saturday, 12/20, SF.

BAM/PFA Moving Party
It’s the final day of the Berkeley Art Museum and Pacific Film Archive at its current, long-time location, before they reopen in their brand spanking new location in early 2016. Celebrate with music, sound and performance art, and art-making for kids, and join a procession to the new home currently under construction. Sunday, 12/21, 11am-5pm, 2575 Bancroft Way, Berkeley.

Top 5 things to do in the Bay Area this weekend

Hole in the Head Film Festival 
Indulge your cheesy dark side at this unusual festival of quirky and classic horror, sci-fi, fantasy and exploitation films. Poltergeist and Aliens are two of the classics, and new entries include Jennifer Help Us, filmed entirely on an iPhone4. Special events include Nosferatu with live vinyl record score (Saturday) and Scary Christmas Stories with a live theater group on Friday. Friday-Monday, 12/12-15, various times, New People Theater, Japantown, SF.

San Francisco Zoo Lights
It’s fitting that the coldest spot in San Francisco (at least in summer) is the site of a winter wonderland of lights. The SF Zoo will be loaded with the spectacle of lit Christmas decorations, live reindeer, costumed characters and real fake snow. Friday-Sunday, 12/12-14 (and each weekend through December), 5-8pm.

SFMade Holiday Gift Fair
If buying local is on your list of priorities, then you’ll definitely want to visit this Fort Mason show for your holiday shopping. Vendors will be selling chocolate, bags, jewelry, homewares, apparel, toys, beauty products, etc, and all of it made right here in the city. Check out the DIY workshops while you’re here. Saturday-Sunday, 12/13-14, 10am-5pm, Fort Mason Center.

Don your fuzzy red suit and step outside your door, and you’re sure to be met with fellow SantaConners wherever you are in the Bay Area. The annual party and pub crawl starts off at Union Square in San Francisco, and the Fairmont Hotel for San Jose where Santas ride Caltrain for their crawl. There’s also a party in Soma raging late. Saturday, 12/13, all day.

German Holiday Market
Mountain View’s City Hall Plaza is the scene of Weihnachtsmarkt, a German holiday market put on by the German International School of Silicon Valley, with lots of food, drink and handcrafted gifts from Germany. There’s also musical performances and an ice rink.

Top 5 things to do in the Bay Area this weekend

21st Amendment Brewery Repeal Day Party
Imagine a country where drinking a beer was illegal. Now show your support by heading down to 21st Amendment Brewery and raising a toast to your freedom to imbibe, thanks to the passing of the 21st Amendment on December 5, 1933. The brewery plans a march against prohibition at 4:30, with a speakeasy party at the upstairs loft at 6pm. Friday, 12/5, 563 2nd St, SF.

Jack London Square Tree Lighting
O Christmas Tree indeed! As in a 55-foot fir from Mt. Shasta with 5,000 lights and 600 ornaments. Get further into the spirit with holiday sing-a-longs, choral groups, Oakland Ballet’s sugar plum fairies, and real live reindeer! Plus a pop-up craft fair from 90 local vendors. Friday, 12/5, 5-7pm.

Union Street Fantasy of Lights
Besides a festival of lights along the street, you can enjoy a horse-drawn carriage ride, cupcake decorating, live “reindeer”, and a visit from Santa and his elves. Saturday, 12/6, 3-7pm.

Caltrain Holiday Train Tour
And you thought Caltrain was all work commuting and no play. The world’s largest toy train, complete with decorations of 70,000 lights, makes whistle stops at all the familiar stations along the Caltrain route. Bring a toy for donation, and marvel at the spectacle. Saturday and Sunday, 12/6-7, 4-9pm, check schedule for stations.

Lower Haight Holiday Art Walk
The best damn neighborhood in the city, so they say, gets the holiday treatment with four blocks (and side streets) of art exhibits/parties, store sales and deals at all your favorite local bars and eateries (e.g. $7 PB & J (PBR and Jameson) at Danny Coyle’s). Saturday, 12/6, 5pm-?

Top 5 things to do in the Bay Area this weekend

Fall Holiday Chocolate Salon
Like everything else artisanal, there’s been an explosion in the chocolate-making world of late, a win for chocolate lovers everywhere. The Fort Mason event features 30 chocolatiers, as well as other confectioners, wineries and culinary crafters. Saturday, 11/22, 10am-5pm.

Christmas Bazaar Norwegian Seaman’s Church
Looking for a jar of home-made cloudberry jam? How about an exquisite double-knit sweater with traditional patterns? Or maybe some fresh lefse with coffee? Find it all at this annual holiday fair to get you in that old-world Christmas spirit at the Seaman’s Church on Russian Hill. Saturday, 11/22, 10am-4pm, 2454 Hyde St, SF.

SF Bike Expo
Did you leave your bike in San Francisco, unlocked, and someone made off with it? You’ll find plenty of options at this event, as well as any number of parts and accessories to trick out your existing bike. Or just meet and talk shop with other riders. Saturday, 11/22, 11am-, Cow Palace.

Stanford vs Cal Football
It’s Big Game day! in the Pac 12, and this is as good as it gets for NorCal college football fans. On paper there’s not much at stake, with both teams a middling 5-5, but that gets thrown out the window for this annual showdown first played in 1892. Go to the game, or at least find a friendly sports bar. Saturday, 11/22, 1pm, Memorial Stadium, Berkeley.

3D Light Show/SF Ballet Meet n Greet
It’s Nutcracker season again for dancers all across the US. Here in the Bay Area, the SF Ballet will hold a meet and greet to kick off the holiday season under the dome at Westfield Mall. Included is the 3D light show every night until the end of the year. Saturday, 11/22, 5-6pm.