What is the best time to visit San Francisco?

You may be thinking that since San Francisco is in California, any time of year is a great time to visit — not so in this bayside city. Although San Francisco’s climate is mild year-round, the weather does vary seasonally. Winters are cool and rainy, but low temperatures rarely dip below the mid-40s. Summer in this city is a relative term; it’s not unusual to see people wearing knit hats to ward off the chill in overcast June and July. Time your visit between September and November, and you’ll be rewarded with glorious sunny days more typical of the Californian ideal. Bottom line is: No matter what time of year you are visiting, your suitcase better have a couple of sweaters in it.

  • On January 22, 2014
    Caroline Patek answered the question: Caroline Patek

    What are the best fine jewelry stores in San Francisco?

    When it comes to shopping for fine jewelry in the City by the Bay, you only need to know one thing: San Francisco is home to Graff Diamonds’ flagship California store. Located on Post Street, the 2,500-square-foot store was elegantly designed by architect Peter Marino, complete with a limestone façade, parchment paneling and stitched leather desks for an intimate viewing experience. Browse the precious stones expertly displayed throughout the space, and once you’ve picked out your next show-stopping bauble, head to one of the nearby luxury hotels, such as Forbes Travel Guide Five-Stars Four Seasons Hotel San Francisco and The St. Regis San Francisco, to celebrate with a drink.
  • On August 1, 2013
    Maria Hunt answered the question: Maria Hunt

    What is the best new restaurant in San Francisco?

    The best new restaurant in San Francisco is State Bird Provisions, which offers a uniquely warm and casual dining experience with creative small plates served in a dim-sum style. That's not just my opinion; the married chef duo of  Nicole Krasinski and Stuart Brioza just picked up a James Beard award for the Best New Restaurant in America for 2013. While you never know just what might be on the ever-changing menu, you're sure to find signatures like the crispy fried quail (California's state bird) with provisions, savory sourdough and sauerkraut pancakes, guinea hen dumplings in an aromatic broth and an addictive ice cream sandwich. Other dishes like oysters, Dungeness crab with farro or a granita with citrus segments, rhubarb and fennel reflects the best of the particular season. Even though it can take up to two months to snag a table at State Bird Provisions, rest assured the cuisine and genuinely warm service make it worth the wait.
  • On August 1, 2013
    Maria Hunt answered the question: Maria Hunt

    Where is the best sake in San Francisco?

    The ancient rice beverage sake is quite fashionable these days, and San Francisco is the place to explore a fine selection of sakes.  At Nombe, an izakaya (Japanese for "drinking house") in San Francisco's Mission district, co-owner Gil Payne has complied a sake list that’s considered one of the best in the region. Nombe offers sakes ranging from the sweet and fruity nigori to nuanced and subtle junmai daiginjo. His selection goes even deeper with styles like nama, a young a fresh sake; yamahai, an acidic and bone dry sake with hints of leather and tobacco; and koshu, and aged sake that offers aromas and flaovrs of caramel and nuts. All of these styles pair well with cuisine; actually Payne says sake pairs with pizza, grilled meats and even cheese just as well as it does with tempura and sushi. If you're looking for a special bottle to take home, head to True Sake in Hayes Valley — it was the first shop devoted to sake in the U.S. And if you want to do a little tasting and learn more about how sake is made, make the trip to the Takara Sake tasting room and museum in Berkeley. 
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  • On August 1, 2013
    Maria Hunt answered the question: Maria Hunt

    What are the best concert venues in San Francisco?

    The San Francisco area has a vibrant music scene, and whether you like to enjoy live music in a space that’s intimate or one that’s thrilingly expansive, you’ll find it here. For decades, jazz fans have flocked to Yoshi’s in San Francisco’s Fillmore and near Jack London Square in Oakland. San Francisco Symphony Hall’s posh environs may inspire you to dress up to hear a concert starring Janelle Monae, Tchaikovsky or diva Jessye Norman. The Bill Graham Civic Auditorium – named for the legendary concert promoter – is a historic mid-sized arena in San Francisco that draws acts like Macklemore and Ryan Lewis to Lady Gaga. The Fox Theater in Oakland’s trendy Uptown District is a beautifully restored Spanish-Moorish showplace that's hosted Lenny Kravitz; just a couple blocks away the Paramount Theatre offers a stunning Art Deco palace that hosts  symphony concerts, classic movies and the Nutcracker ballet at Christmas. And for mega-concerts with acts like Phoenix or Justin Timberlake, head to the HP Pavilion in San Jose.
  • On July 31, 2013
    Katie Sweeney answered the question: Katie Sweeney

    What are the best Mexican restaurants in San Francisco?

    San Franciscans love their Mexican food and there are lots of places to try authentic enchiladas and tasty tacos. While the Mission District is known for it's super-sized burritos and divey Mexican joints, my favorite place is the more upscale spot Tacolicious on Valancia Street. This bustling taqueria has to die for chili con queso and a rotating menu of tacos as well as traditional sides like beans and rice and Mexican-inspired salads. They also have a super fun menu of chupitos, or shots that are great for celebrating.

    Another favorite Mexican restaurant is Nopalito off of Divisadero Street. The specialty here, the carnitas, are a must try. Another dish not to be missed are the totopos con chile. Nopalitos version of tortilla chips, the totopos come doused in a red sauce topped with cotija cheese and crema with lime.

    Both Tacolicious and Nopalito also have excellent margaritas and palomas. Tacolicious has a massive selection of mezcal and sipping tequilas at it's sister bar next door, Mosto.
  • On July 31, 2013
    Katie Sweeney answered the question: Katie Sweeney

    What are the best vegetarian restaurants in San Francisco?

    When vegetarian friends visit me from out of town, I love to take them to the Plant Cafe Organic. It's a local chain with three restaurants in San Francisco (one in the Marina, another downtown, and a third on Pier 3) and one in Burlingame and another in Mill Valley. It's not a fancy place, so it's best for breakfast or lunch or a casual dinner. You order at the counter, get a number, and the food is delivered to your table. The Plant offers a variety of salads and sandwiches, as well as massive acai bowls, vegetable juices, and fruit smoothies, but the thing I always order is one of their amazing veggie burgers. The pattie is made from lentils, mushrooms, cashews, bulgur wheat, and beets, so it has a wonderful pink color, dense texture, and earthy flavor. Topped with white cheddar and avocado, it is the best veggie burger I've ever had!
  • On July 31, 2013
    Katie Sweeney answered the question: Katie Sweeney

    What are the best wine bars in San Francisco?

    If you love wine, you can find plenty of fun places to drink it in San Francisco. From Napa to Livermore to Monterey, the city is virtually surrounded by wine making regions. This means San Francisco wine bars are stocked with local gems and as well as international varietals.

    The Marina District has two wonderful wine bars, Bin 38 and California Wine Merchant. At Bin 38, the wine list is constantly changing and it features a wide selection of wine from all over the world. They also have a nicely curated list of beer and delicious snacks (like bacon wrapped prawns and heirloom tomatoes with burrata) that pair perfectly with what you're sipping.

    If you want to try hard to find California wines, head to the California Wine Merchant on Chestnut Street. This wine bar is always packed, but they do sell wines by the bottle, so you can stop by and pick up something to enjoy at a later time or different venue.

    Amelie on Polk Street is a lively wine bar with a vast variety of international pours. The French owner and employees make you feel as if you're in a fabulous little European cafe. Terroir in SOMA is another great spot to enjoy a glass, learn about wine, and shop for bottles.
  • On July 31, 2013
    Katie Sweeney answered the question: Katie Sweeney

    What are the best rooftop bars in San Francisco?

    Unfortunately, San Francisco's relatively cool climate — the average temperature during summer months is in the mid 60s — means it's not the ideal location for rooftop bars. The fog is also particularly heavy during the summer making rooftops a chilly spot to hang out. However, on the rare day that the temperature rises above 75 degrees, San Franciscans flock to areas that have outdoor patios and rooftop watering holes.

    A personal favorite is the tenderloin hot spot Jones. The elegant indoor-outdoor space has a massive roof area with large wooden tables and comfy chairs. There are two bars which makes it relatively easy to get a drink. Another great rooftop bar is El Techo of Lolinda in the Mission. Lolinda is an Argentine steak house with excellent cocktails and a vibrant roof top bar. At El Techo, they offer beautiful views of the Mission and a menu of Latin American street food.
  • On July 31, 2013
    Katie Sweeney answered the question: Katie Sweeney

    What is nightlife like in San Francisco?

    While some people believe that San Francisco doesn't have much of a nightlife scene, I disagree. Walk down one of the main streets in any given neighborhood on a Friday or Saturday night and you'll find people bustling in and out of bars, waiting to get a table at a hot new restaurant, and checking out local musicians at a smattering of popular venues. The best thing about San Francisco's nightlife is there is something for every taste in every neighborhood. Whether you want to sip wine and chill, enjoy craft cocktails while mingling, or get your groove on dancing, you can do these things all across the city.

    One thing to realize about San Francisco's night scene is that the dress is always casual; rarely do people get super dressed up. The weather is typically chilly during the evening and night, so there isn't much of a street culture either. Instead people jam inside warm welcoming speak easies and wine bars.
  • On July 30, 2013
    Katie Sweeney answered the question: Katie Sweeney

    What are the best underground clubs in San Francisco?

    There isn't much of a club scene in San Francisco. Most city dwellers don't stay out until the wee hours of the morning dancing. Instead San Franciscans like to go out to eat and drink. Thus, there are some fun underground clubs for partaking in a culinary or spirits driven adventure.

    Take the Press Club for example. This underground bar feels like an upscale and luxurious wine cave. The Press Club offers a selection of wines from an assortment of local and international vineyards including Paradigm Winery, C. Donatiello Winery, Zuani, and Villa Sandi. They have a tasting menu of delectable nibbles, like duck meatballs, castelvetrano olives stuffed with fromage blanc, and empanadas with pork tinga — that are meant to be paired with wine.

    For a different underground dining experience, look to the Stag Dining Group, a well known and popular supper club that has headquarters in an underground radio station. The Phoenix Supper Club also hosts an elaborate underground dinner party that features Champagne, limousine rides, live jazz, and a nine-course meal.
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