Adventures with Friends: San Francisco’s Diverse Districts

Last week when I returned from my LA visit I managed to convince my friend Sydney to road trip back to San Francisco with me!  We first bonded at Jewish summer camp when we were 12 because we have the same birthday and have been the closest of friends since.  An eternal wanderer, Syd has been in Massachusetts, Virginia, Scotland, and now Australia since high school, so we don’t see each other much anymore.  Her being in LA for a few weeks was rare, so I grabbed the opportunity to spend more time with her and take her up north with me.  Syd had never been to San Francisco and is always down for a new adventure so it was easy to persuade her to come.  She is also a great photographer, and all of the photos in this post are courtesy of her.  She is a blogger to boot and you can see her blog here.

Zac and I had a few other things going on so I let Sydney do all the touristy stuff I hate without me, including visiting my archnemisis Ghiradelli Square.  That meant that in our time together we could explore many of the wonderful neighborhoods that make up San Francisco.  The Sunday that we spent together we hit up Haight-Ashbury, Japantown, The Mission, and The Castro all in one day.  Much walking was done.  That’s pretty much what we did, walk around and take the odd bus or train when necessary to get to our next location.  But that’s how I like to travel.  Seeing the popular sites is great, but I’m more fascinated by poking in the areas where people actually live, feeling the pulse of the city through it’s streets.  I love architecture, and seeing houses and shops and things like that.  I’ve already spoken a lot about these various neighborhoods in posts like this one and this one, and again in this one, so I’ll give you the highlights of our rambles and some pretty pictures.

It was pretty early for the Haight at 10:30 am on a Sunday.  Places were still opening up and there weren’t a ton of crazies out yet.  I almost made the mistake of using the bathroom at McDonald’s by the park and discovered that all the crazy people were in there instead of at the park.  What was cool to see was all the street art.  I don’t go to the Haight very much and had forgotten how much is there.  Syd love it and snapped many pictures.

The one and only Syd Michelle
The one and only Syd Michelle
Myself lookin' groovy in Haight-Ashbury
Myself lookin’ groovy in Haight-Ashbury
Music and art
Music and art
A few "painted ladies" by the Haight
A few “painted ladies” by the Haight

Next stop was Japantown, to meet my friends John and Sasha for lunch.  John is my bandmate/friend/surrogate brother from LA and they were up to check out grad schools for Sasha.   I will never stop loving Japantown.  It feels like such a different world.  A world where everything is cute, little, and Asian.  A world where you can eat delicious plates of sushi off of a little boat floating in a canal.

Don’t you just want to eat this???

After stuffing our faces with sushi and helping John and Sasha pick out some Japanese knick-knacks (a few pairs of chopsticks and sake glasses with half-naked geisha on them- classy!) Syd and I hoped on a bus that took us to the Mission.  I’ve been spending a lot more time in the Mission these days since I’m picking up more shifts at Lost Weekend Video.  I’m not sure that Syd cared for the area, too much pot smoking and hipsters for her taste.  And pot-smoking hipsters.  But she loved it when I took her down Clarion Alley, an alleyway that is like a city art gallery full of murals.  It is a constantly changing space, and every time I go there is a new mural to see.  They are always fantastic.


Syd is a huge language nerd and had to hug the wall of words
Syd is a huge language nerd and had to hug the wall of words


This was my favorite.  It was a tribute to 4 women who have been huge contributions to the SF GLBT scene.  I want to live in this house and have murals all over it!
This was my favorite. It was a tribute to 4 women who have been huge contributions to the SF GLBT scene. I want to live in this house and have murals all over it!

From the Mission, it is but a skip and a jump to the Castro, so off we went.  The Castro is one of my favorite neighborhoods.  I have been an active supporter of GLBT rights since I was in my high school Gay-Straight Alliance and find I always gravitate to the GLBT neighborhoods of cities.  And let’s face it, if you want a group of people to clean up a neighborhood and make it nice and fabulous, go with the gays!  Night was beginning to fall and it was nice to walk the dusky streets.  I took Syd to the Human Rights Campaign shop in Harvey Milk’s old Castro Camera location, and then at her suggestion we went to the GLBT History Museum.  It is a tiny museum, but well worth a visit.  The current exhibit that we visited was “Our Vast Queer Past: Celebrating San Francisco’s GLBT History”.  I like the way the exhibit was done.  It didn’t follow a specific narrative or timeline, but rather used artifacts from personal collections and archives to illustrate various themes in GLBT history.  We stayed until we were kicked out at closing time.

It was now getting dark and chilly, so we made a voyage to Trader Joe’s to get provisions for dinner.  Back at the apartment, we whipped up a spectacular vegan pizza, guacamole, and margaritas.  A fun night of cards and hanging out ensued.  It was great to spend some quality time together since in a few weeks Syd goes back to Australia and I’m honestly not sure when I will see her again.  We did have another day of exploring ahead of us, but I will make that a separate post.  I’m having a Chanukah party tomorrow and have cookies to bake!

This vegan pizza will not be featured at the Chanukah party but it was fantastic
This vegan pizza will not be featured at the Chanukah party but it was fantastic

Happy Chanukah!

Good Luck and Happy Travels,


7 thoughts on “Adventures with Friends: San Francisco’s Diverse Districts”

  1. So. What you’re telling me is that if I ever come visit you I’m shit out of luck as far as you taking me to Ghiradelli Square and the rest o’ the city “highlights?” I kid. I kid. I’ve been to them all. Once was plenty. The rest of your adventures sound awesome. I completely agree with you; I think to truly experience a city you have to explore the backstreets.

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