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.
The Cafe (Castro)
Get those dancing shoes on, you're bound to cut some rug when spending a night out at the Cafe. Tons of space to dance, multiple bars to order your drinks and fantastic themed nights complete with go-go dancers. The Cafe is a must if you need to dance out your work week stress!
--Rebecca, Front Desk Agent
Cliff's Variety (Castro)
Cliff's first opened in 1936 as one of the first variety stores in Eureka Valley. In 1942, they moved a few doors down and haven't left since. Cliff's serves the neighborhood as a quick place to buy hard-to-find tools, housewares, toys and everything in-between. Stop by and peruse -- you never know what you'll find at Cliff's!
Kitchen Story (Castro)
Kitchen Story is a newer restaurant in the Castro District serving fresh, adventurous California cuisine. Known for brunch, it's a not-to-miss spot if you're looking for perfectly cooked eggs or the crowd-favorite Mascarpone Stuffed Deep Fried French Toast (yes, you read that right!). And if you're really looking to indulge, get a side of the sweet and spicy Millionaire's Bacon.
Blackbird (Castro/Duboce Triangle)
If you're looking for a relaxed place to grab a craft beer or excellent cocktail, look no further than Blackbird. Don't forget to stop by for their weeknight happy hour, 5-8pm, and enjoy their housemade Sours, Early Birds, and Margaritas.
--Laura, Front Desk Supervisor
Castro: Tales of the Village Walking Tour (Castro)
Learn about the vibrant community on this free walking tour by San Francisco City Guides. The Castro District started as an Indian foraging ground, transitioned into a working class neighborhood for immigrants and has emerged into the vibrant district it is known as today. The walking tour covers all of this history, and then some.
--Mark, Director of Sales
Castro Camera (Castro)
The infamous "Mayor of Castro Street" first opened Castro Camera in 1972. The store soon became the center of Harvey Milk's gay rights campaigning. After his assassination in 1978, Castro Camera transformed into an art gallery, and into a human rights store in 2011. Definitely a pit stop if you're interested in Castro history.
Castro Theatre (Castro)
Built in 1922, the Castro Theatre is a historical and neighborhood icon. One of the few San Francisco movie theatres built in the 1920s that's still in operation, the Castro Theatre still drives crowds through movie showings, comedy shows and sing-a-long events (we know you know all the lyrics to The Sound of Music!). Stop by Hot Cookie next door for an after-movie snack.
Mission District Edition
Dolores Park (Mission)
Do as the locals do and play at Dolores Park when the sun peeks out of the fog during the summer months. Weekends are perfect for everyone's favorite Mission spot. Grab a blanket, snacks and a six-pack of your favorite beer (maybe some sunscreen too!) and enjoy the city views on a clear day.
Thrift Town (Mission)
The Mission District is THE place if you're looking to find some awesome vintage or thrift shopping options. Thrift Town is the largest in the city, and has a rotating supply of clothes, accessories and housewares. You're bound to fall in love with something during your thrifting adventure!
La Taqueria (Mission)
La Taqueria has been one of the most popular places for great Mexican food in SF for decades. Get ready for a painstaking wait (the smell of looming carne asada is torture!) but it's well worth it. The only question is which is better, the burritos or the tacos.
There is always an amazing cocktail to be had at Elixir -- the Star Gazer is a must! But one of the best times to go is Sunday when they have their awesome Make Your Own Bloody Mary Bar. Pick from a selection of yummy additions (hot sauce, bacon, etc.) to add to your delicious Bloody Mary.
--Carolyn, Front Desk
Mission Cliffs (Mission)
Change up your workout routine with rock climbing at Mission Cliffs. Spanning over 23,000 square feet of climbing space and a 50-foot-high lead wall, there's plenty of space to get your climb on. New to climbing? Take a class or private lesson. Climbing not your thing? Mission Cliffs also offers yoga, indoor cycling and cardio boxing to help you switch it up.
Elbo Room (Mission)
A neighborhood favorite for decades, Elbo Room has been the choice spot to grab a drink and dance to great music. With live music every night of the week ranging from Latin beats to reggae to rock, you're guaranteed to get down while you're there. Stop by while you still can -- Elbo Room is closing its doors in the fall to make way for new condos.
Mission Cultural Center for Latino Arts (Mission)
Established in the late 1970s, MCCLA was created to help promote, preserve and develop Latino cultural arts. Enjoy a wide range of classes, workshops and events for all ages Monday through Saturday, and check out the Artist in Residency for emerging Latino artists in the area.
--Reese, Chief Engineer
Make Out Room (Mission)
A quirky and cozy spot where you can dance and hang out with friends. Try their margarita, one of the tastiest that the Mission has to offer. The wacky and over-the-top decorations will inspire the inner bar-hopper in you, making the Make Out Room a great place to start your night.
--Becca, Front Desk
For more information about any of these suggestions, and for additional favorites, contact our front desk at 1-415-882-1300.