Imagine that you’ve just purchased 614 21st Avenue (or another wonderful property) and you’re new to the Richmond district. Lucky you!
You need some ideas about things to do in the neighborhood. A prized quotable quote of mine is “I’ve never met a neighborhood I didn’t like.” Yet of all the spots in our cool grey city of love, the Richmond is among my top-five favorites. There is so much to explore and enjoy.
Reliable tourist guides will send you to Golden Gate Park, the California Academy of Science, the Japanese Tea Garden and many other worthwhile places. And be sure to consult the Not For Tourists guide, for tips on restaurants and shops, many of which are “under the radar.”
But here are my less-than-obvious suggestions for things to do:
1.) Skip the Japanese Tea Garden and instead bring a thermos of tea to the Moon Viewing Garden in Strybing Botanical Garden. Even better, join a Full Moon nighttime walk, scheduled at different times throughout the year. Next one is on Earth Day, April 22nd.
2.) Enjoy a pizza pie and a pitcher of beer at Gaspare’s. It’s been on Geary Boulevard since 1985 and yet it feels like you’ve time traveled to 1963. The food is delicious and the ambiance is straight out of central casting.
3.) Pop through the park (on foot) to enjoy a plethora of restaurants and shops at 9th and Irving. A really fun route is to enter Golden Gate Park on the southeast corner of Park Presidio and Fulton. Walk through the Rose Garden, take the pedestrian path from JFK to MLK between the Japanese Tea Garden and Stow Lake, then either shortcut through Strybing Botanical Garden to its south gate, or follow MLK until it meets Lincoln and turns into 9th Avenue.
4.) Walk west through GG Park all the way to Ocean Beach and have a snack at Beach Chalet or Park Chalet. While you’re there, check out the sensational wood carvings, mosaics and murals that were part of a 1936-1937 WPA project.
5.) It doesn’t look like much from the outside, but the Richmond District YMCA is one happening place. You can’t go wrong if you’re looking or a great workout, inspiration and community. The group exercise schedule ROCKS.
6.) Go to Sutro Park and head for the ruins at the far west of the property. The view south over Ocean Beach is magnificent. Sunsets aren’t bad either. Roll downhill to the Cliff House’s Zinc Bar for a cocktail afterward.
7.) Keep it simple. Stop and smell the roses in the Rose Garden of Golden Gate Park.
8.) Have the Beet Borscht at Katia’s. Or the Potato Vareniki (with carmelized onions, YUM). Or the Pel’meni. Or the Piroshki. Or anything else on the menu. (Tell Katia that I sent you!)
And keep your eyes peeled for Part II of this post for more ideas on how to help you settle in and explore!