Fisherman's Wharf, Chinatown, North Beach, Union Square, Pier 39, Telegraph Hill -- all well known to most travelers headed
for San Francisco. But what of the city's many vibrant and varied neighborhoods? It's there that visitors can experience the
true ambience of San Francisco, in the company of San Franciscans rather than crowds of other tourists.
Golden Gate Park, another tourist favorite, certainly is a must-see. But while you're there, walk up to Irving Street,
just a block south of the park entrance at Ninth Avenue and Lincoln Way. In the half-dozen blocks between Sixth and Eleventh
Avenues, you'll find another interesting neighborhood, with a lively mix of people, including students from the University
of California's San Francisco campus nearby.
Also lots of restaurants and cafes of a wide ethnic variety along Irving Street and on Ninth Avenue leading away from
the park. Among them is PJ's Oyster Bed on Irving near the corner of Ninth -- a place to get excellent seafood without having
to join the tourist hordes on Fisherman's Wharf.
For a much different neighborhood, hop aboard a Bay Area Rapid Transit train headed for Daly City/Millbrae/SF Airport
at any of BART's downtown stations and get off at the Glen Park station. The neighborhood there, centered around the intersection
of Chenery and Diamond Streets, is highly reminiscent of Europe, with twisting, narrow, hilly streets and alleys, and small,
old and individually distinctive cottages and flats. Several interesting places to eat, drink and shop here, too.
Glen Park, just a few blocks up Chenery Street, is a great place for easy hiking. The trails are relatively short, but
wind through secluded, forested areas. If you'd prefer tennis, at least one of the park's courts is usually open.
Far across town you'll find the Mediterranean-looking Marina District. It's on the northern waterfront at the end of Fillmore,
one of the city's principal north-south streets. The many large flats and apartment buildings on Lombard and Chestnut Streets,
many with distinctive touches of art deco design, give the Marina the look as well of a 1930s or 1940s film. Some of San Francisco's
oldest and wealthiest families live along the edge of the bay a few blocks north, in mansion-sized homes. Their large bay
windows overlook a yacht harbor crammed with pleasure boats and fronted by a grassy shore, the lush and crowded Marina Green.
The area's Italian legacy is reflected in the neighborhood businesses, but so is the presence of the young professionals who
have moved into the Marina in recent years.
Copyright (c) Dick Meister