The City for Beginners

A guide to San Francisco, the city across the bay

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Aleli Balaguer/Senior Staff

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So you made it into Berkeley, and here you are, ready to begin a brand new chapter of your life in a place you may know nothing about. And my advice to you? Leave.

Let me elaborate: there’s no reason to limit yourself to campus, no matter how much fun you find beer pong. If you want to be a worldly sort of person, then you can’t let yourself be sucked into the “college bubble” so deep that when you emerge from its depths you’re shocked to learn that most people don’t eat Chipotle three times a week.

To help you get out there, we’ve thrown together a couple of destinations to visit in San Francisco.

To get to San Francisco via public transportation, take a southbound BART train — by far the quickest route — or hop onto the AC Transit F bus, which is free with your Class Pass. For more directions, go to 511.org.

North Beach

Home to San Francisco’s Little Italy,  North Beach was the epicenter of the Beat Generation in the 1950s. It’s also a red light district, home to America’s first topless bar and the world’s only worker cooperative strip club. Check out beatnik Lawrence Ferlinghetti’s City Lights Bookstore, on Columbus Avenue by Broadway Street.

How to get there: Get off at Embarcadero BART station and catch the northbound Muni bus route 41.

Coit Tower

A logical next step from North Beach is Coit Tower. Built in 1933, the tower is named after Lillie Hitchcock Coit, who had a special affinity to firefighters, cigars and dressing like a man in order to gain entrance to the gambling salons that dotted North Beach.
The top of Coit Tower has a view of your new home, plus Alcatraz Island. Entrance fee costs $7 for adults. Hours are 10 a.m. to 5:30 p.m. daily in the summer, and 9 a.m. to 4:30 p.m. in the winter.

How to get there: From North Beach, head north on Kearny Street and walk up Telegraph Hill.

Golden Gate Park

Of the many hidden treasures in Golden Gate Park, two highlights are the California Academy of Sciences — a museum of natural history featuring a green roof and an albino alligator named Claude — and the de Young, a museum of fine arts.
Both museums are free the first Tuesday of the month.

How to get there: Take Muni rail route N-Judah from Embarcadero, off board at Irving Street and 9th and walk one block north on 9th to reach the park.

The Mission

Many have wasted years in search of the Bay Area’s best burrito, but you don’t have to. Head to the Mission, the city’s Latino district. The place is La Taquería on Mission Street by 25th, and the secret is no rice. Try the carnitas.
To polish that off, head down 24th to Harrison Street, where you’ll find Humphry Slocombe, an ice cream shop with a flavor made from bourbon and corn flakes. No fake ID necessary.

The Mission is also the city’s hipster haven. Head over to Dolores Park on a sunny weekend to mingle with the crowds of people drinking Tecate out of paper bags.

How to get there: Exit at 16th St or 24th St Mission BART stop.