To really experience San Francisco, head straight to the hippie haven — the Haight-Ashbury neighborhood. To get there, board any bus that takes you near the intersection of Haight and Ashbury. Let the people watching begin! Take your time strolling through organic coffee shops, trendy clothing stores, and the nerd paradise that is Giant Robot before heading to Cha Cha Cha for lunch.
Cha Cha Cha is a delicious tapas restaurant and bar that serves sangria by the pitcher or half pitcher. You’ll want to order one of those for sure. Fried plantains and Jamaican jerk chicken can only get better when sipping red Sangria. When you’re sufficiently full (and tipsy), head out the front doors and turn left. Golden Gate Park is not far.
It’s easy to get lost in this park, but if you follow the crowds, you’ll be sure to find even more great people watching. Try not to stare as you enter into the grassy knoll. Behold Hippie Hill. Taking a seat is a good idea. It makes it less obvious when you stare and snap pictures of the free-spirited San Franciscans and some flat-out weirdos.
Hidden in the middle of Golden Gate Park is a small meditative oasis known as the Japanese Tea Garden. It will cost you $7 to enter through the wooden gates, but it’s well worth it. Take a relaxing stroll through the peaceful ponds, gorgeous flowers and tress, and colorful recreations. Stop for a tasty cup of (cheap) tea and snacks at the tiny open-air tea house.
If you’re still up for a bit more walking and are comfortable with public transportation (the buses are easy to use in San Francisco), beeline it straight north out of the park to a bus stop. Take it directly west to the Pacific Ocean.