Our staff knows just where to go!
Getting off the beaten path and discovering hidden gems is one of the wonders of travel. But how do you find those special places? Ask a local. The Harbor Court Hotel helps you make the most of your San Francisco stay by sharing our staff's favorite picks and insider tips.
We asked our intrepid staff: If you had only two days in San Francisco, what would you do? Take a peek, have some fun and live like a local.
Hang Gliding (Fort Funston)
If you're up for a little thrill, Fort Funston provides one of the best "hang three" intermediate level hang-gliding spots in the US. If hang gliding isn't your thing, you can always watch them from the observation deck. Also be sure to check out the former military buildings and artillery battery in the protected area.
Green Apple Books (Inner Richmond)
Remember paperback books before you got your Kindle? If you're still a bookworm without the tech, Green Apple Books is the place for you. Peruse thousands of new and used books, or attend one of their many weekly in-store events. These include poetry nights, readings and more! And if you're into a fun treat, join the Apple-A-Month Club, a subscription club where Green Apple sends a new fiction pick to your doorstep every month.
-- Aubria, Housekeeping Supervisor
CandyBar (Western Addition)
If you've got a sweet tooth, Candy Bar is the place for you. Serving up a dessert-only menu, prepare for a night of decadence. All desserts are made in-house, and frequently change on the whim of the chef, so there's always something new to try. And if you can't choose, order the dessert sampler so you can try a little bit of everything! Drinks and dessert -- I'm in!
-- Jessica, Front Desk Agent
Bourbon and Branch (Tenderloin)
A modern speakeasy in the heart of San Francisco, this hot spot gives you the chance to imbibe with a generous cocktail and spirit list. Grab a reservation and don't forget your password (it's how you get in!). Enjoy Prohibition-inspired cocktails at the bar or the library room, or grab one of the many whiskys on their extensive list and soak up the view. Either way, you'll find something to take pleasure in, whether you're a bourbon aficionado or novice.
-- Chris, Assistant Front Desk Manager
Glen Canyon Park (Glen Park)
Grab BART to Glen Park Station and take a short jaunt to the end of Chenery Street -- just beyond there you'll find one of the best hiking spots in San Francisco. Deep canyons and natural beauty surrounds you, making the perfect backdrop for a hike or jog. The sight is even better at sunset when the lights hit the rocks.
-- Brad, Front Desk Supervisor
San Francisco City Guides (Citywide)
SF City Guides provides free walking tours around the city, every day of the week. Choose between dozens of different themed tours, ranging from Downtown Deco to Land's End: Sutro Heights. You'll be sure to find something that will pique your interest!
-- Michael, Engineering
Keith Haring: The Political Line (Golden Gate Park)
Head over to the De Young for one of the most exciting exhibits in San Francisco at the moment.
Over 130 of Haring's graffiti-inspired pieces have made their debut in the US, making a splash with their influences based in political activism and social justice.
-- Luis, Bellman
ONE OF A KIND
Musee Mecanique (Pier 45)
If you're looking for a unique museum to check out in San Francisco, don't miss out on Musee Mecanique. This museum boasts one of the largest privately owned collections of mechanically operated arcade games, musical instruments and more. The collector has over 300 items in his collection, most of which is housed in the Pier 45 location.
-- Kit Yee, Housekeeping
North Beach Edition
Beach Blanket Babylon (North Beach)
An outlandish night combining cabaret and political satire is waiting for you at San Francisco's own Beach Blanket Babylon. Uproarious shows cover topical stories and timeless classics. Running since 1974, Beach Blanket Babylon celebrated 40 years on stage just last year.
City Lights Bookstore (North Beach)
Bring back the Beat Culture at Lawrence Ferlinghetti's legendary bookstore in the heart of North Beach. Home to all the celebrated San Francisco artists and authors (think Kerouac and Ginsberg), City Lights is both bookstore and piece of history. Browse the racks of books, and head upstairs to the poetry room. A great place to linger or pick up your next read.
Mama's (North Beach)
Mama's is one of those SF institutions that you NEED to have breakfast from at least once in your life. They serve up the usual crowd favorites, but a definite must-try is one of their French Toast dishes made with fresh house-baked breads. Grab a coffee beforehand and be prepared to wait, but you will not be disappointed!
--Alexa, Sales Coordinator
Original Joe's (North Beach)
Although technically a restaurant, Original Joe's has an excellent bar area that is perfect for a few drinks before dinner or a show when in the area. Joe's boasts an excellent wine list, but what I come in for are the yummy (and quite reasonable) house cocktails -- particularly the house Manhattan and martini. Cheers!
--Jazmin, Front Desk
Filbert Steps (North Beach)
Get that heart pumping on these series of stairs (almost 400 of them!) leading from the financial district up to Coit Tower. Start your journey on Montgomery and Filbert Streets, and wind your way through the gardens flanking private residences of Telegraph Hill on your way up to Coit Tower. Don't forget to look for those infamous green parrots and soak up those incredible views.
Washington Square Park (North Beach)
Stretch out (and rest those tired feet!) on your journey through San Francisco at Washington Square Park. A green mini-oasis in the middle of North Beach, Washington Square park is the perfect place to watch the hustle and bustle of the neighborhood. Right between Powell, Stockton, Union and Filbert Streets, watch groups practice Tai Chi and neighbors walking their dogs. Grab a slice of Tony's Pizza, relax in the shade, and you're all set!
Saints Peter and Paul Church (North Beach)
Right next to Washington Square, the neo-Gothic cathedral built in 1924 is definitely a must-see for architecture fans. The church originally served as a parish for Italian Fishermen in the area, and still serves as a fully functioning church and school for the North Beach community. The beautiful and dramatic Gothic architecture is breathtaking both inside and out.
Coit Tower (North Beach)
Both a city landmark and integral part of the San Francisco skyline, Coit Tower is both stunning and curious. The structure was donated in 1929 by a volunteer firefighter, and has been both a tourist and local destination for years. On the inside, a large mural depicts the Depression's effects on the Bay Area. Don't forget to treat yourself to the magnificent views of San Francisco at the top.
East Bay Edition
Friday Nights @ OCMA (Lake Merritt)
Join locals from the East Bay at this favorite Friday night activity at the Oakland Museum of California. Enjoy a rotating selection of food trucks from Off the Grid, live music, DJs, dance lessons, free art workshops and more! Event-goers also enjoy half-price admission to the museum (free for 18 and under), for a fully immersive experience. Dont fret -- you can also sample local beers and wines at the events beer garden to wash down all that yummy food-truck grub as well!
--Moni, Night Auditor
Fourth Street Shops (Berkeley)
Hop on BART into Berkeley for a little retail therapy -- Fourth Street Shops (referring to the stretch of 4th Street between Virginia St. and Hearst Ave.) have a little bit of everything for everyone. Mosey down the street and find the usual retail suspects (Sur la Table, Crate + Barrel), artisan goods (Bette's Bakery), unique one-of-a-kind stores and tons of great restaurants and cafes. The area is also dog-friendly, so don't forget to bring along your favorite furry guy for your stroll around Berkeley.
Step back in time at Flora, an Oakland landmark of art deco architecture. Enjoy classic American meals with a twist, and a wonderful menu of craft cocktails. Flora is not only a flavorful experience, but visually stunning as well; the building was built in 1931 by Albert Evers and was originally the Oakland Floral Depot. Flora exudes an intimate and sexy vibe, all while very cool and unpretentious. Food is always excellent and cocktails are always on point.
Jupiter is a favorite Berkeley hangout for great house brews and drinks. Grab one of Jupiter's IPAs and a seat on one of the old church pews inside (courtesy of St. Johns Church in the area) or, if it's a sunny day, a seat on the outdoor patio. Located in busy downtown Berkeley, right on Shattuck Avenue, and housed in an old livery stable from the 1890s, Jupiter is an interesting and unique spot to enjoy a few brews and some wood-fired pizzas.
--Artem, Revenue Management
Redwood Regional Park (Oakland)
No need to cross the Golden Gate Bridge for breathtaking redwoods -- head east to one of the East Bay's hidden gems at Redwood Regional Park. Minutes from downtown Oakland, take in over 1,800 acres of natural beauty; redwoods, evergreens, rainbow trout and even the rare golden eagle can be seen here. Take a day trip and hike one of the many trails, or reserve a picnic spot and bring lunch to the park as a perfect escape from busy city life.
Alameda Point Antiques Faire (Alameda)
Looking for a unique piece of furniture, or just like to browse around? Spend a Sunday morning at the Alameda Point Antiques Faire, the largest antiques fair in Northern California. Enjoy over 800 booths with items ranging from furniture to clothes, to collectibles -- all items need to meet the requirement of being at least 20 years old. You're bound to find something you'll fall in love with. Every first Sunday of the month.
Morcom Rose Garden (Oakland)
The Morcom Rose Garden is a beautiful green oasis in the middle of Oakland. Boasting over 7 acres for the community to enjoy, the garden has a long and wonderful history in the neighborhood. Created in the 1930s by Arthur Cobbledick, it was originally dubbed the Morcom Amphitheatre of Roses. Today, although the name has changed, the garden has retained the 1930s formal rose-garden style for the last 80 years. Definitely a must-see when in Oakland!
Tour of Paramount Theatre (Oakland)
Are you an Art Deco, architecture, or theatre fan? Take a tour of the historic Paramount Theatre of the Arts! Every first and third Saturday of the month, the Paramount Theatre provides public tours starting at 10:00 a.m., at a very reasonable $5 per person. The two-hour tour of the national historic landmark showcases the beauty and opulence of the Art Deco style. Ornate walls and decorations, vibrant colors, and magnificent decor are some of the many highlights you'll catch on the tour.
--Karyn, Front Desk Agent
For more information about any of these suggestions, and for additional favorites, contact our front desk at 1-415-882-1300.