San Francisco is one of California’s most diverse and exciting cities, with rolling hills, Pacific blue, bohemian hangouts, and cosmopolitan hot spots all in one place. If you’re looking for a day out in the city, Coit Tower, Pier 39, and Golden Gate Bridge are great. But if you’re looking for something that the guidebooks can’t give you, these sights will give you the power to time-travel through the city streets and enjoy a taste of San Francisco through the decades—all in one day. All you need the guide below and help from Uber.
Let’s start in the 1950s. Standing across the road from North Beach’s famous City Lights bookstore, Vesuvio Cafe was once the main hangout spot of legendary Beats that included Neal Cassady and Jack Kerouac. The cavernous bar is clad with local artwork of the great Beats of yesteryear, and its comfy leather booths make the perfect spot for grabbing a drink and transporting yourself back half a century to one of the most exciting times in American literature. If only the walls could talk.
Now for the swinging 1960s. Haight-Ashbury was once the at the center of city’s hippie movement, with bands and artists flocking to the area to write and create art and music. Today, the Haight still evokes the same alternative spirit as it did in the 60s, with its many record stores, bookshops, cafes, and bars. Turn off the main drag onto Ashbury Street and at 710a, you’ll find the Grateful Dead house. This mighty townhouse is where the band wrote some their biggest hits and the mere sight of it can transport you back to Haight-Ashbury’s heyday.
The San Francisco Columbarium
Want to take a trip back to 1897? Tucked away in a quiet cul-de-sac filled with mid-20th-century pastel houses, the Columbarium is an architectural sight to behold. The grandiose dome is a peaceful place to relax and think about San Francisco’s colorful background. Many influential San Franciscans are buried or remembered at the Columbarium, including the influential politician Harvey Milk. This is a landmark that spans over a century of San Francisco’s history.
Back to North Beach and the 1950s. Hotel Boheme has strong links with the city’s literary heritage and today the moody color schemes, period furniture, and Beat memorabilia give a nod to a time when North Beach featured some of the greats. Explore the pictures on the walls, wander the bohemian halls and if you can, pay a visit to Room 404, Allen Ginsberg’s preferred place of residence during the decade.
Come back to the present day. Sotto Mare is perhaps San Francisco’s most celebrated oyster and seafood restaurant. This family business has pleased the palettes of locals and visitors for many years, and celebrates San Francisco’s fishing heritage in style. Sotto Mare boasts the freshest oysters and best chowder in town and it oozes the rustic charms you’d expect from a family-run restaurant. It’s the perfect end to a day of time-traveling.