November 10-15

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Hidden gems abound for visitors to San Francisco


5 minutes

GoldenGateWhen it comes to iconic spots, few cities in the world beat San Francisco: Golden Gate Bridge, Alcatraz Island, Lombard Street, cable cars. But the city and the Bay Area have a lot more to offer visitors.

Members of the Osteoarthritis Initiative Team in the Department of Epidemiology and Biostatistics at the University of California, San Francisco, working under Principal Investigator Michael Nevitt, PhD, Professor of Epidemiology and Biostatistics, agreed to share their favorite spots.

This just scratches the surface, so the team’s best advice to meeting attendees is to stay an extra few days after the meeting so you can do it all — or most of it, at least.

Emily Scott, MA, Senior Research Associate/Data Release Coordinator
A trip to the Mission District, especially the Mission Dolores section, is an easy and rewarding adventure. Visitors should take the self-guided tour at Mission Dolores at 16th and Dolores streets ( The closest BART stop to this neighborhood is 16th/Mission.

From there, walk two blocks and visit Dolores Park (

After that, walk a half block and eat at (listed from most to least expensive):

Your San Francisco tour guides (from left): John Lynch, PhD; Robin Hermias; Maurice Dockrell, MSc; Emily Scott, MA; Jason Maeda, MPH; and Michael Nevitt, PhD.

John Lynch, PhD, Imaging Director
Visitors can enjoy more of the Mission District by heading along 18th Street to Valencia Street. There are many, many good places for brunch and dinner between about 16th and 19th streets. Most are relatively casual places where you can dress down and still get great food:

  • Limon Rotisserie ( Simple menu with Peruvian cuisine — the roast chicken makes mouths water.
  • Hawker Fare ( Asian street food in a nice restaurant environment.
  • Cha-Ya ( Vegan/vegetarian Japanese food.
  • Bar Tartine ( Always-changing menu of fresh local produce — worth going for their bread and desserts alone from their bakery.
  • El Toro Taqueria ( Go here if you want a “traditional” San Francisco burrito.
  • Range ( I used to live a block from here and haven’t been for a while, but it was really good (it has a Michelin Star from 2007-2010).

There are also a lot of good places to get coffee on Valencia — including Four Barrel Coffee (on Valencia at 15th) and Stanza Coffee (on 16th near Valencia) — and some eclectic shops.

Jason Maeda, MPH, Data Systems Analyst
Check out Japan Town at Geary Boulevard and Fillmore Street for Japanese and some Korean food plus shopping for Japanese goods and a Japanese bookstore. It’s not really “tourist-y” although it is a “tourist destination.”

For a modern take on English “high tea” or to try the local Blue Bottle coffee, head to Crown & Crumpet’s Tea Stop Café ( inside the New People building in Japan Town.

Catch the 38 Geary bus westbound from Market Street between 1st and 3rd streets, or along O’Farrell Street if near Union Square, and get off at Geary and Fillmore. This is the same bus to take to the Cliff House/Lands End area overlooking the Pacific Ocean and western edge of Golden Gate Park.

The 7th and Irving avenues area is worth a few hours with its multiple restaurants and cafes. From any of the downtown Muni Metro stations as far west as Van Ness station, take the N train OUTBOUND, past the UCSF campus, and get off at 7th and Irving.

Walking a block north on 7th will take you into Golden Gate Park and close to the Botanical Garden, California Academy of Sciences, de Young Museum, and Japanese Tea Garden.

paintedladiesMaurice Dockrell, MSc, Data Systems Analyst
For some slightly more traditional tourist activities, go to:

  • Mandarin-Oriental Hotel (222 Sansome Street): A stunning view of the Transamerica Pyramid and Coit Tower can be seen from the sky bridges that connect the two towers at the Mandarin-Oriental Hotel.
  • Top of the Mark Restaurant and Bar (999 California Street): Inside the InterContinental Mark Hopkins hotel on Nob Hill.
  • Alamo Square Park: For a classic view of the iconic “Painted Ladies.”
  • Lands End Trail (Near Lincoln Highway and 32nd Avenue) and Coastal Trail (El Camino Del Mar) to Mile Rock overlook at Lands End: Spectacular views of the Pacific Ocean. Parts of the trail also offer great views of the Golden Gate Bridge.

Robin Hermias, Administrative Coordinator
Take the time to get out of San Francisco and visit the East Bay — Oakland and Berkeley.

In Oakland, Jack London Square is an easy ferry ride across the Bay departing from the Ferry Building at the foot of San Francisco’s Market Street. The Square area has lots of dining options: Scott’s Seafood, Kincaid’s, Bocanova, and Il Pescatore. The Japanese restaurant Yoshi’s is one of the best venues in the Bay Area for live music. On the way, you can also visit the San Francisco Ferry Building for shopping and dining. Downtown Oakland and Berkeley are easily accessible by BART.

Some top downtown Oakland restaurants are:

  • Pican (2295 Broadway): This restaurant serves southern cuisine and is an easy walk from the Oakland 19th Street BART stop.
  • Le Cheval (1007 Clay Street): Good Vietnamese food and an easy walk from the Oakland 12th Street BART stop.
  • Lake Chalet Seafood Bar and Grill (1520 Lakeside Drive): Good views of Lake Merritt, and you can also arrange for a gondola ride at the Lake Merritt boathouse near the restaurant.

Other things to do in San Francisco:

  • Philz (399 Golden Gate Avenue and 201 Berry Street): The best made-to-order drip coffee in San Francisco.
  • Take the ferry to Sausalito from the Ferry Building.
  • Le Fringale (570 4th Street, not far from Moscone Center): Best French restaurant in San Francisco.
  • Spend a few hours at the new Exploratorium ( on the Embarcadero.
  • Walk along Pier 14 (just south of the Ferry Building) and watch the sunset.
  • Walk along the Bay from the South End Rowing Club, west of Fisherman’s Wharf, all the way to the Golden Gate Bridge. Stunning views of the bridge from Crissy Field, Marine Drive, and Fort Point (under the bridge!).