Archive for the ‘San Francisco’ Category

The Barnes Hotel is Base to Discover San Francisco’s Hidden Gems

February 28, 2023

Discover San Francisco’s Mission neighborhood where hundreds of walls and fences are adorned with colorful and inspired works of art featuring themes ranging from cultural heritage to social-political statements © Karen Rubin/goingplacesfarandnear.com

San Francisco is loaded with hidden treasures, unknown gems, and unexpected attractions that only the locals know. The Barnes hotel at Union Square is an ideal base for exploring this vibrant city and discovering these treasures. The hotel has put together its tips to explore the city as only an insider could.

Tony Bennett crooned over this fog-cloaked city back in 1962, and more than 25 million visitors per year now leave their hearts in San Francisco too. While Pier 39, Union Square, Fisherman’s Wharf, the Golden Gate Bridge, and Alcatraz are some of San Francisco’s tried-and-true attractions, there are 49 square miles to explore, each with quirky nooks and colorful crannies. We can’t name them all (you’ll just have to return), but here are 10 secret spots that will have your heart flipping for the city by the bay. 

1.    Tin How Temple

Step back in time in the country’s oldest Chinatown where alleyways and streets are lined with dim sum joints, tea shops, and even a not-obvious Taoist temple, hidden on the third floor of a building at 125 Waverly Place. Dedicated to the Chinese sea goddess Mazu (known as Tin How in Cantonese), the temple’s wafts of burning incense hit you before you step inside the small but ornate red and gold room. This is a place of peace and contemplation, not a tourist attraction, so no pictures are allowed. But you can light incense, have your fortune read for a small donation, and relish the hidden-away serenity. 

2.    Mission Murals

Throughout the eclectic Mission neighborhood, hundreds of walls and fences are adorned with colorful and inspired works of art featuring themes ranging from cultural heritage to social-political statements. Balmy Alley and Clarion Alley, where, since 1992 more than 900 murals have been created, are good places to start. Go it alone or drop by Precita Eyes Mural Arts and Visitors Center, a community-based nonprofit striving to beautify urban environments. They offer guided informational tours of the murals. 

3.    Sutro Baths Ruins

At the convergence of Geary Boulevard and the Great Highway on the western edge of the city, vestiges of what was once the world’s largest indoor swimming facility remain. Built in 1894 by businessman Adolph Sutro, his eponymous bathhouse once housed seven pools that filled with 1.7 million gallons of Pacific Ocean water during high tide. With more than 500 dressing rooms, restaurants, and arcades enclosed by glass, Sutro Baths could hold more than 10,000 people. Sadly, it closed during the Great Depression, and eventually burned down in 1966. But the ruins still invite visitors to walk around and ponder the past while taking in gorgeous sea and sunset views.

4.    Musée Mécanique

Fun for every age is not a cliché at this museum that doubles as one of the world’s largest collections of coin-operated mechanical musical instruments and antique arcade artifacts. Housed in a warehouse behind Fisherman’s Wharf on Pier 45, more than 300-plus machines, from turn-of-the-century hand-cranked music boxes and antique slot machines to classic video games, are on display. Best of all, you can actually play with each of them. Before you leave, snap a selfie with iconic “Laffing Sal,” the admittedly nightmare-inducing animatronic doll, once a popular amusement park and carnival character. #creepy!

5.    Oracle Park 

It’s no secret San Francisco loves its sports teams, including the three-time World Series Champion San Francisco Giants, and their home field is a superb spot to take in a game or just walk around. Its position on the bay means home runs landing in the water are called “splash hits.” Bring your singing voice along and belt out “Take Me Out to The Ballgame” at the seventh inning stretch, Journey’s “Lights” in the eighth, and “I Left My Heart in San Francisco” after the wins. No games on the schedule? No problem. Join a behind-the-scenes guided tour offered almost every day of the year, which makes several stops around the stadium, including the field, a luxury suite, and the dugout.

6.    Hopper’s Hands

A walk along Crissy Field to take that quintessential photo of the Golden Gate Bridge is a must. But don’t stop with just a picture. Keep walking toward the span until the trail ends. Hooked to the chain-link fence you’ll see a small sign with two big hands and the words, “Hoppers Hands.” Do as the locals do and high-five it before turning around. Ken Hopper was a retired ironworker who maintained the bridge fences, including the one at the adjacent, historic Fort Point. He noticed runners grabbing or touching it and came up with an idea for the welcoming sign. FYI: There is a set of paws, too.

7.    Colorful Stairways

San Francisco’s abundant hills are no secret, but how about its more than 600 stairways, some decorated with gorgeous mosaics? Up your daily step count by climbing a few, such as the 16th Avenue Tiled Steps (Moraga Street, between 15th and 16th Avenues), a 163-stair kaleidoscope of sea, land, and sky. The 52 art deco-inspired Lincoln Park Steps (California Street and 33rd Avenue) are awash in hues of yellow, orange, rust, and green, while the Hidden Garden Stairs (16th Ave., between Kirkham and Lawton) have so many pretty flowers, butterflies, and leaves you’ll almost forget you’re climbing up 148 of them.

8.    The Wave Organ

With water on three sides of the city, celebrating the bay is part of life in San Francisco and this acoustic sculpture does just that. Located on a jetty in the boat harbor of the Marina district, the installation was created in 1986 by former Exploratorium artists-in-residence, Peter Richards and George Gonzalez. Twenty-five organ pipes made of PVC and concrete at various elevations let out eerie gurgles and burbles with every rise and fall of the tides as water is pushed and pulled through the tubes. The organ’s jetty was constructed with granite and marble from a demolished cemetery, which adds a spooky vibe to the otherworldly sounds. 

9.    Great Star Theater

For a one-of-a-kind night out, head to Chinatown’s last remaining theater, built in 1925, and completely renovated and reopened in 2021 by a local couple. Throughout the years, the 438-seat theater has hosted countless Chinese operas, including Lee Hoi-chuen, a Cantonese opera singer and the father of famed Bruce Lee, who spent time here as a kid watching his dad perform. These days the lineup of coming attractions is delightfully diverse and includes concerts, movies, dance troupes, magicians, cabaret, and more.  

10.  Sales Force Park

As far as urban parks go, San Francisco’s newest is an elevating experience, in more ways than one. Located on the roof of the Sales Force Transit Center, the 5.4-acre green space has become downtown’s favorite place to chill, thanks to a garden with 600 trees and 16,000 plants, benches, and 247 water jets that “dance” to the vibration made by the buses below. A half-mile loop trail curves around the permitter, and there’s even a children’s play area and amphitheater. The park is accessible via a free gondola cable car in Salesforce Plaza, on the corner of Mission and Fremont Streets.

11. Exploratorium

In April 2013, San Francisco’s popular Exploratorium packed up its 43-year history at the Palace of Fine Arts and moved to its modern new home on Pier 15, where young and old are invited to get touchy-feely with the more than 600 interactive exhibits spread over 330,000 square feet of indoor-outdoor space. Whether you dance with your own shadow, touch a tornado, break light apart, capture a wave, or listen to a 27-foot-tall harp being strummed by the wind, curiosity for science, art, and human perception is never far from your fingertips. If you happen to be in town on a Thursday night, head over to Pier 15 for the adults-only (18+) Exploratorium After Dark, where you can still play with most of the exhibits, but with a drink in hand and a DJ vibe setting an only-in-SF scene. 

The historic San Francisco Union Square hotel, The Barnes is sophisticated and locally inspired Barnes was born of the spirit of San Francisco. It’s a place with charming global vibe and a local state of mind. A place where classic and contemporary meet, sleep and entertain in the heart of San Francisco culture. The Barnes, built inside a classic building at 225 Powell Street, is steps from the iconic San Francisco cable cars, nearby some of the city’s best shopping and surrounded by culinary excellence. Boasting a retro chic ambiance with an urban accent, The Barnes recently underwent room renovations to complement the hotel’s new name and vibe. Once inside, The Barnes Restaurant and Bar is a bustling social hub, where guests can enjoy a double espresso to kick start the day, meet over shareable appetizers, sip hand-crafted cocktails, or enjoy dinner with colleagues and friends. Menus feature local-artisanal ingredients and flavors unique to San Francisco. Locals are encouraged to make The Barnes Restaurant and Bar their go-to coffee and cocktail spot, social meeting location or post work happy hour bar. Rates start at $179. The Barnes is a pet friendly hotel. 

More information is available at TheBarnesSF.com.

For more travel features, visit:

goingplacesfarandnear.com

Going Places @ theisland360.com

goingplacesnearandfar.wordpress.com

moralcompasstravel.info

www.huffingtonpost.com/author/karen-rubin

travelwritersmagazine.com/TravelFeaturesSyndicate/

goingplacesfarandnear.tumblr.com/

instagram.com/going_places_far_and_near/

instagram.com/bigbackpacktraveler/

‘Like’ us on facebook.com/KarenBRubin

Twitter: @TravelFeatures

Suiteness Startup Suite Contest Gives Startups Chance to Win Stay in Silicon Valley, Mentor with Top VCs

September 15, 2017

San Francisco

Silicon Valley: Luxury travel company Suiteness has launched Suiteness Startup Suite, a contest offering startups the chance to win a complimentary three-night stay in San Francisco plus one-on-one mentoring sessions with leading venture capitalists. © Karen Rubin/goingplacesfarandnear.com

OAKLAND, CA – Oakland-based luxury travel company Suiteness has launched Suiteness Startup Suite, a contest offering startups the chance to win a complimentary three-night stay at the acclaimed Hotel Zeppelin, San Francisco. This travel experience will also include one-on-one mentoring sessions with leading venture capitalists to learn best practices and investment pitching strategies including:

Suiteness is an online booking service for exclusive luxury hotel suites and multi-room accommodations.  The Y-Combinator graduate who recently expanded to the San Francisco area is now offering hundreds of glamorous suites and connecting rooms giving business and leisure travelers the space they need and want when they travel.

To enter Suiteness Startup Suite, participating startups must submit a one minute video describing why their team needs to come together in San Francisco – whether it be to pitch Silicon Valley-based VCs, attend a conference or simply escape for a much-needed company offsite. All entries will then be shared with the public for community voting, during which period, startups are encouraged to promote and share their entries to receive votes. The selected winner will be announced on Friday, October 20th, 2017.

“Suiteness understands the struggles of growing and scaling a new business,” says Suiteness CEO Robbie Bhathal. “It is an exciting experience, but it’s also a stressful one. We believe that connectivity is crucial for young companies to exchange ideas and jumpstart new innovation. Our goal is to bring teams together so that they can succeed at their entrepreneurial goals while also getting a much needed stress reliever.”

Startup Suite Contest Details and Deadlines:

  • Phase 1: Application
    • Upload a video no longer than one minute to YouTube, Instagram or Vimeo, and share why their startup needs to stay together in San Francisco
    • September 7, 2017, to October 6, 2017, at 11:59 PM CDT
  • Phase 2: Voting
    • Share entries with everyone in their community asking for votes. Companies are encouraged to promote entries via email or via social media channels using the hashtag #StartupSuite
    • October 7, 2017, to October 20, 2017, at 11:59 PM CDT

To apply: https://www.suiteness.com/blog/suiteness-startupsuite

Link to video: https://vimeo.com/231952183#at=3

Suiteness is an online booking platform that allows users to access an inventory of thousands of exclusive luxury hotel suites. Suites range from standard one-bedrooms to spacious apartment-style stays with multiple attached rooms. The company is carving a niche for itself in the international travel industry as the leading website dedicated solely to luxury suites and is finding success with group travelers and families looking for a nice place to stay together.

Suiteness was launched in 2015, with funding and support from investors including Y-Combinator, Structure Capital and Keystone Capital. The platform currently has access to 30,000 luxury suites in San Francisco, Las Vegas, Miami, Los Angeles, New York, Orlando, Chicago, and London. The company is expanding its suite inventory rapidly in key markets across the world.

For more information on Suiteness, visit http://www.suiteness.com.

For more travel features, visit:

goingplacesfarandnear.com

http://www.huffingtonpost.com/author/karen-rubin

goingplacesnearandfar.wordpress.com

moralcompasstravel.info

travelwritersmagazine.com/TravelFeaturesSyndicate/

goingplacesfarandnear.tumblr.com/

instagram.com/krubin0830/

instagram.com/famtravltr/

‘Like’ us on facebook.com/NewsPhotoFeatures

Twitter: @TravelFeatures

San Francisco’s Arts & Culture Scene is Bustling

April 16, 2015

The Palace of Fine Arts is one of the unexpected cultural treasures of San Francisco © 2015 Karen Rubin/news-photos-features.com

The Palace of Fine Arts is one of the unexpected cultural treasures of San Francisco © 2015 Karen Rubin/news-photos-features.com

Creative people have always been attracted to San Francisco, from the inventor of Levi’s blue jeans to the wizards of the latest tech startups to the creators of Burning Man.  Artists find the city’s atmosphere of innovation and freedom of expression irresistible, resulting in a diverse collection of remarkable museums, exhibitions and events that are equally irresistible to those who love the arts.

Here are some recent and upcoming developments in San Francisco’s arts and culture scene.

@Large: Ai Weiwei on Alcatraz

Art lovers (anyone interested in human rights) have only seven weeks left to see the works of world renowned artist Ai Weiwei at Alcatraz, the notorious prison turned national park in San Francisco Bay. @Large: Ai Weiwei on  Alcatraz, a site-specific exhibition of works, is on view through April 26, 2015.

The Chinese artist is internationally recognized both as a maker of potent and provocative art and as a passionate advocate for human rights and freedom of expression. His art and ideas find a compelling new context in this exhibition of large-scale sculpture, sound and mixed media created specifically for Alcatraz.

Ai’s sculpture, sound and mixed-media works occupy four locations in the former prison: the New Industries Building, A Block, the Hospital and the Dining Hall. With the exception of the Dining Hall, these spaces are usually off limits to the public, but all will be open throughout the run of this unprecedented exhibition.

The exhibition is included in the regular Alcatraz ticket prices.  Special guided @Large Night Tours will be offered on Thursday through Monday nights.  Tickets can be purchased at http://www.alcatrazcruises.com/website/ai-weiwei.aspx. In anticipation of high demand for @Large: Ai Weiwei on Alcatraz tickets, a limited number of seats on the Early Bird boat (departing Pier 33 at 8:45 a.m. seven days a week) will be set aside each day to accommodate exhibition visitors. These Early Bird tickets and tours may be reserved by contacting the Golden Gate National Parks Conservancy at 415-561-3021 or aiweiweialcatraz@parksconservancy.org,

For more information on ticket options, see http://www.parksconservancy.org/events/park-interp/ai-weiwei-alcatraz.html.

@Large: Ai Weiwei on Alcatraz is organized by the FOR-SITE Foundation in partnership with the National Park Service and the Golden Gate National Parks Conservancy.

Art Along the Waterfront

San Francisco has long been a city committed to accessible art.  After experiencing Ai Weiwei’s work on Alcatraz, people will be ready to discover more public art and they will be in exactly the right place.  The Embarcadero is home to more than a dozen public art installations.  It’s hard to miss Cupid’s Span, the gigantic bow and arrow by Claes Oldenburg and Coosje van Bruggen in Rincon Park.

On the south side of the Bay Bridge, on the Embarcadero at Second and Townsend streets, is Mark DiSuvero’s Sea Change.   Seventy feet tall and weighing 10 tons, this elegant and kinetic sculpture serves as a gateway to the newly refurbished South Waterfront.

Some installations blend history and culture.  Between Piers 35 and 39, Roger Barr’s Skygate, a 26-foot-high mirror-polished stainless steel sculpture, is dedicated to the memory of Eric Hoffer (1903-1983), a longshoreman, poet and philosopher.

Many of the public art installations along the waterfront and throughout the city are part of the city’s civic art collection.  For a map of public art, visit www.sfartscommission.org/pubartcollection/pubart-projects/2008/10/21/public-art-projects-map.

San Francisco Museum of Modern Art (SFMOMA) More Than Doubling in Size

A major expansion is underway at the San Francisco Museum of Modern Art (SFMOMA), which has embodied bold vision and innovation from its founding in 1935 to the 1995 opening of its Mario Botta-designed building.

With more than 30,000 works, SFMOMA has built definitive collections in painting and  sculpture, photography, architecture and design, and media arts, including significant examples of the art of the Bay Area and California. The SFMOMA collection is internationally recognized and continues to grow.

In 2016, SFMOMA will reinvent itself yet again by more than doubling its current capacity for the presentation of art, providing almost six times as much public space as the current building.

The centerpiece of SFMOMA’s expansion is the remarkable building design developed in collaboration with the architectural firm Snøhetta. The approximately 235,000-square-foot expansion will seamlessly join the existing building.

One of the catalysts for the expansion is the addition of the Doris and Donald Fisher Collection, one of the greatest private collections of contemporary art in the world.  Learn more at www.sfmoma.org.

Museum of the African Diaspora Reopens after $1.3 Million Renovation

The Museum of the African Diaspora (MoAD) is one of the few museums in the world focused on African Diaspora culture and on presenting the rich cultural art works of the people of Africa and of African descendant cultures around the world.  The Museum is currently featuring “The Art of Elizabeth Catlett” through April 5, 2015.

MoAD reopened in December, 2014, after a $1.3 million renovation with added gallery space, a more open layout for the ground floor and lobby, a redesigned Museum store, and an upgrade to all of its technology including interactive iPad kiosks in the lobby and a new website.

MoAD recently was chosen as a Smithsonian Affiliate and now has access to the Smithsonian Institution’s collection of 136 million artifacts for research, exhibits and programming.

Situated in the heart of the Yerba Buena Arts District, home of the Yerba Buena Center for the Arts, MoAD is actively engaged in building a community that inspires, educates and connects people of all ages and backgrounds. MoAD seeks to build a deeper understanding of the African Diaspora through art, programs and events that cultivate wonder and excitement about the ways in which personal histories are connected. As a nonprofit organization, the museum’s operations and programs are supported by grants and contributions from public and private sources.  To learn more, visit www.moadsf.org.

SFMOMA Partners with MoAD and the Oakland Museum of California

As part of SFMOMA’s On the Go series showcasing the museum’s collection at other cultural venues in the region, the Oakland Museum of California features “Fertile Ground: Art and Community in California” through April 12, 2015 and MoAD presents Portraits and Other Likenesses from SFMOMA, opening May 8.

Organized in partnership with the Museum of the African Diaspora, “Portraits and Other Likenesses from SFMOMA” considers how artists from the early 20th century to the present have negotiated a vast array of European, African and American visual-cultural forms to redefine what it means to make a portrait. Together, the works suggest that as people move between geographies, meanings drift, too.

“Fertile Ground” illuminates local histories and social forces that changed the face of art in — and beyond — the Golden State. Weaving together art and ephemera from the collections of the Oakland Museum of California and SFMOMA, the exhibition tells the stories of four creative communities at decisive moments in the history of California art: the circle of artists and influences from Diego Rivera and Frida Kahlo in San Francisco in the 1930s to the streetwise, uncompromisingly idealistic artists at the center of a vibrant new Mission scene that took root in the 1990s through the present.

For more information, visit http://www.sfmoma.org/exhib_events

The Bay Lights to Become Permanent in Time for Super Bowl 50 in 2016

San Francisco has become a national leader in light art.  No recent development underscores this more strongly than the news that The Bay Lights, the world’s largest LED light sculpture, will become a permanent icon on the city’s landscape.   Illuminate the Arts has successfully raised $4 million in private funds to pay for new equipment and re-installation.

Since its debut on March 5, 2013, the vertical cables of the Bay Bridge’s western span (also known as the Willie L. Brown Jr. Bridge) have come to life nightly with 25,000 LED lights “performing” in patterns created by light artist Leo Villareal.

The originally planned two-year installation of The Bay Lights by artist Leo Villareal will end on March 6, 2015 and the sculpture will be removed to allow Caltrans to perform maintenance on the bridge cables.

The Bay Lights will be re-installed in time to shine for Super Bowl 50 in February 2016.   Learn more at http://thebaylights.org/about/.

San Francisco Illuminated by Light Art

Two other temporary light art installations are drawing crowds:

Soma by the Flaming Lotus Girls at Pier 14 on the Embarcadero debuted at Burning Man in 2009 and has been organized by the Black Rock Arts Foundation.   It will be illuminated at 10 minutes after sunset until 2 a.m. nightly through July 2015.

On Treasure Island, Bliss Dance by Marco Cochrane (2011) is on display on the Avenue of the Palms at the Great Lawn.  Though no end date has been announced, the installation is considered “temporary, until further notice.”  The 40-foot-tall sculpture’s lighting effects are on from 8:30 p.m. to 1 a.m. nightly.

Permanent light art pieces within the city’s 49 square miles include:

  •  Three Gems, by James Turrell (2005), de Young Museum, Osher Sculpture Garden, Golden Gate Park
  •  Skygarden, by James Turrell (2007), San Francisco Federal Building, 90 Seventh St. at Mission Street
  •  Ocean Mirror with Fragments, by Jim Campbell (2007), Saunders Court, University of California, San Francisco, Koret Way
  •  Constellation, by Nayland W. Blake (1996), San Francisco Main Library, 100 Larkin St., Civic Center
  •  Firefly, by Ned Kahn (2012), 525 Golden Gate Ave. at Polk Street, Civic Center
  •  Language of the Birds, by Brian Goggin and Dorka Keehn (2008), Intersection of Broadway and Columbus Avenues, North Beach
  •  …and my room still rocks like a boat on the sea…(Caruso’s Dream), by Brian Gogginwith Dorka Keehn  (2014), 55 Ninth St., south of Market Street
  •  Bayview Rise, by Haddad-Drugan (2014), Pier 92, Bayview near Third Street and Cargo Way

At San Francisco International Airport, permanent light art installations include:

  •  Wind Portal, by Ned Kahn (2000), International Terminal between BART Station and AirTrain
  •  Four Sculptural Light Reflectors, by James Carpenter (2000), International Terminal, Main Hall, Level 3, Pre-Security
  •  Spirogyrate, by Eric Staller (2014), Terminal 3, Boarding Area E, Level 2, Post-Security
  •  Sky, by Merge Conceptual Design (2014), Terminal 3, Boarding Area E, Level 2, Post-Security
  •  Light Beams for the Sky of a Transfer Corridor, by Vito Acconci (2000), International Terminal, A-G, Level 2, Pre-Security
  •  Ceiling Flood, by Keith Sonnier (1999), International Terminal, Boarding Area G, Level 2, Post-Security

Light-centric events and tours are currently being scheduled around the summer solstice, on June 21, 2015.  San Francisco Travel,  the city’s tourism marketing organization, is also planning the third annual IlluminateSF festival to celebrate these eclectic, electric installations in December 2015 and January 2016.

For more information on the light art installations and related events, visit www.illuminatesf.com

San Francisco International Airport (SFO) offers non-stop flights to more than 34 international cities on 29 international carriers. The Bay Area’s largest airport connects non-stop with 78 cities in the U.S. on 15 domestic airlines. SFO offers upgraded free Wi-Fi with no advertising. For up-to-the-minute departure and arrival information, airport maps and details on shopping, dining, cultural exhibitions, ground transportation and more, visit www.flysfo.com. Follow on www.twitter.com/flysfo and  www.facebook.com/flysfo.

The San Francisco Travel Association is the official tourism marketing organization for the City and County of San Francisco. For information on reservations, activities and more, visit www.sanfrancisco.travel or call 415-391-2000.  The Visitor Information Center is located at 900 Market St. in Hallidie Plaza, lower level, near the Powell Street cable car turnaround. 

 

For more travel features, visit:

www.examiner.com/eclectic-travel-in-national/karen-rubin

www.examiner.com/international-travel-in-national/karen-rubin

travelwritersmagazine.com/TravelFeaturesSyndicate/

goingplacesnearandfar.wordpress.com

‘Like’ us on facebook.com/NewsPhotoFeatures

Twitter: @TravelFeatures