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33 Places to Play Hooky in SF

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One day this Spring, let's skip work and wander. Here's where you'll find AFAR employees on their perfect day out of the office ("shhh!").
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Ocean Beach, San Francisco, CA, USA
Ocean Beach is a massive, four-mile-long stretch of sand. Surfers talk about it in terms of the block they surf. I surf Pacheco or Moraga Street. This story appeared in the January/February 2012 issue.
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3940 Judah St, San Francisco, CA 94122, USA
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They do their own blend of beans called Elbow Grease, and it’s high-octane stuff.
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4500 Irving St, San Francisco, CA 94122, USA
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Mollusk is a neighborhood surf shop that sells clothing and great boards. They carry my surfboards and handplanes [for body surfing]. They occasionally host art shows and live music. The shop is sort of like the cornerstone of the Sunset. 4500...
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1690 John F Kennedy Dr, San Francisco, CA 94121, USA
In Golden Gate Park, right off Ocean Beach, you'll find two historic Murphy windmills that have just been restored to their former working glory. The surrounding tulips and a picnic area make it a perfect pit-stop on your way to, or from, the...
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San Francisco, CA 94129, USA
Most people driving through San Francisco's Sunset District head to Sutro Baths, the Cliff House, and Ocean Beach. However, if you take a subtle right turn at Fort Miley you will find a beautiful coastal trail that offers unbelievable views of the...
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Presidio, San Francisco, CA, USA
A few blocks east of Goldsworthy's more prominent Spire is this installation of fallen trees snaking through the still standing ones. Wood Line is located within the cypress grove near the intersection of Presidio Boulevard and West Pacific...
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Long Ave & Marine Dr, San Francisco, CA 94129, USA
FREE
The Golden Gate Bridge is probably the most photographed site in California, but this vantage point never gets old. Explore the hollowed out fort, learn some history, and marvel at the view from the top floor.
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75 Hagiwara Tea Garden Dr, San Francisco, CA 94118, USA
Visit the Japanese Tea Garden in San Francisco for a calming escape from the hustle and bustle of the city. It's located beside the De Young and Academy of Sciences in Golden Gate Park, and offers a variety of snacks to nibble on while enjoying...
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50 Hagiwara Tea Garden Dr, San Francisco, CA 94118, USA
The de Young Museum, with its perforated copper facade and spiraling tower in the center of Golden Gate Park, is as dramatic outside as it is inside. Follow the widening crack in the sidewalk into the atrium. It's an Andy Goldsworthy–created...
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100 John F Kennedy Dr, San Francisco, CA 94118, USA
The Victorian-era glass and wood structure, which looks like a sugar-coated castle atop a grassy slope, is Golden Gate Park's oldest building. It's also one of San Francisco's most splendid historic sites. Wander through five different galleries...
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220 Clement St, San Francisco, CA 94118, USA
For a dose of culture, head to Park Life in the Inner Richmond. The goal of this gallery-cum-retail space is to feature today’s most engaging contemporary art. Located in a 1,400-square-foot former furniture store, Park Life showcases 10 exhibits...
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2821 California St, San Francisco, CA 94115, USA
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You'll have a hard time ever leaving B. Patisserie, and you'll know why it's been an over night sensation in lower Pac Heights. The open, modern space feels like something you'd find in the Marais in Paris, and the fact that you can view the...
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560 Jackson St, San Francisco, CA 94133, USA
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There are a handful of stores in San Francisco that sell quirky and distinctive clothing, jewelry, and homewares. Eden & Eden is one. The brother-and-sister owners stock some vintage pieces and a nice selection of funky jewelry from the U.K. I've...
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Alamo Square, San Francisco, CA, USA
Alamo Square is home of the "Painted Ladies," eclectic musicians, and some of the most incredible views of San Fransisco. The trolleys won't take you all the way there, but cabs are easy to catch. We couldn't have chosen a better way to burn the...
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4519, 261 Columbus Ave, San Francisco, CA 94133, USA

In an age when many independent bookstores have surrendered to the advance of chain stores and Amazon, City Lights is a true survivor. Since it was founded by poet Lawrence Ferlinghetti in 1956, it has served as a gathering place for San...

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1612 Stockton St, San Francisco, CA 94133, USA
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In a city charmed by all things retro, the North Beach neighborhood is the place for Prohibition-era fashion (followed by speakeasy-style drinking, of course). Stop by the Goorin Bros. Hat Shop for the kind of boutique shopping experience from the...
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327 Divisadero St, San Francisco, CA 94117, USA
Inside The Other Shop you'll find antique displays of barware laid out stylishly for the treasure-hunting mixologist. The vintage shoes are fanned in a circular display while the sunglasses and jewelry behind department store style displays. The...
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Outer Sunset, San Francisco, CA, USA
This store is a unique concept. They have a book rental program (where you can write in the back of the book as part of its history); a lecture series and offer really interesting services like astrological chart reading and decision making. I don...
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1001 Minnesota St, San Francisco, CA 94107, USA
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They had me at the yellow building. I love wandering the Dogpatch neighborhood of San Francisco and both Piccino restaurant and separate coffee bar, are lovely places to gather. The coffee bar on 22nd Street serves carefully crafted Sightglass...
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600 Guerrero St, San Francisco, CA 94110, USA
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With no sign above its unassuming storefront, Tartine is most easily recognized by the line that snakes out its door and down Guerrero Street. People patiently wait for flaky pains au chocolat (the best outside Paris, in my opinion), decadent...
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1055 Valencia St, San Francisco, CA 94110, USA
This record store is one of the oldest in San Francisco, now in its most recent home on Valencia. The store and website offer incredibly thoughtful descriptions and recommendations, as well as a strong dedication to new and re-releases. I loved...
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3150 18th St #105, San Francisco, CA 94110, USA
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Little Paper Planes carries paper goods, housewares, plants, artists' editions & lots of other fun stuff in this tiny shop. Owl Cave Books is a small book shop within LPP. Spend an afternoon and wander along Valencia street checking out the unique...
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826 Valencia St, San Francisco, CA 94110, USA
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Brimming with everything from eyepatches to pirate manuals, 826 Valencia is San Francisco's "only independent pirate supply store." Much like a playground, proprietors encourage you to explore the secret compartments, treasure chests, trap doors,...
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599 Valencia St, San Francisco, CA 94110, USA
Housed in the gorgeous Harrington Galleries space at 17th and Valencia in the Mission, this PUBLIC bicycles shop is not to be missed. Not only is each bicycle a work of art, but the presentation of the accessories and bike-inspired art will appeal...
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442 Hyde St, San Francisco, CA 94109, USA
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Despite its tongue-in-cheek name, this sweets shop and cafe located in the gritty Tenderloin district is one of my favorite finds in San Francisco. The salted caramels here melt in your mouth. They also have a good variety of coffees from...
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1634 Jerrold Ave, San Francisco, CA 94124, USA
Even the blackest of thumbs can find inspiration at Flora Grubb’s eponymous nursery—or at least a good cup of coffee. Grubb runs the enormous space (complete with Ritual Coffee Roasters bar) with a gallery-like ethos, rotating in new displays...
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One Ferry Building, #17, San Francisco, CA 94111, USA
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The Ferry Building in San Francisco is a must for any food lover, and Cowgirl Creamery is one of my favorite stops. This producer of artisanal cheeses is a place to pick up cheese for a snack or picnic and to ask questions about California cheese....
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30 Beckett St, San Francisco, CA 94133, USA
Often, when I feel overly strapped to my desk, hankering for a trip to another land, I stroll into San Francisco's Chinatown. Once I'm off the main drags and into the residential neighborhoods or the commercial streets chockablock with shops...
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3431 19th St, San Francisco, CA 94110, USA
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Can't beat a buck for an Oyster! Hogs and Rocks is a great happy hour haunt in the mission. Super lively and fun. I shouldn't be telling you all this!
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Lower Nob Hill, San Francisco, CA, USA
Bourbon and Branch is a traditional speakeasy. Their 8 house rules—hushed voices and no cell phones among them—encourage neighborly conversation in a very relaxed setting. It's a great way to meet people if you're traveling alone as...
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24 Pier, San Francisco, CA 94105, USA
Pier 24 Photography is a wonderful photography space with a vastly beautiful collection. The space is large and wonderfully lit, but you have to make an appointment to view the art. Their current exhibit focuses on traditional portrait photography...
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355 11th St, San Francisco, CA 94103, USA
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If their New American–style brunch and dinner menus don’t tempt you to Bar Agricole, in SOMA, maybe their recent James Beard Award nomination for Outstanding Bar Program will. Cocktails run at $11 across the board, and head bartenders Thad Vogler...
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Pier 7, San Francisco, CA 94105, USA
Pier 7 is a secret. I have found myself there many times and never understand why there are rarely any crowds. At sunrise or sunset with your back to the city you can get gorgeous photos of the Bay Bridge and Treasure Island. The beautiful wooden...