Have you been to Maiden Lane yet? No? Well, then hail a cab and head down to this quaint little alley near Union Square where high end fashion lives. Retailers like Chanel, Yves Saint Laurent, and Marc Jacobs all have cozy little stores nestled away in this posh alley. In addition, you will find the Xanadu Gallery which is housed in a space designed by the infamous Frank Loyd Wright.
Before the 1906 earthquake and fire, this little street was known for its “red light” activity. One can only imagine all the whoring, opium dens, and general crime that found it’s home in these short blocks. The fire destroyed all of the buildings and left piles or rubble, but a jeweler saw potential in the mean little alley and transformed it to its current glamour by first changing the name from Morton to Maiden, and then courting businesses that would help the little lane to compete with the Maiden Lanes in both New York City and London.
Get up, catch a cab, and go window shopping in Maiden Lane. While you are down there, you might as well stroll over to Union Square for some light shopping, and then you can end the excursion with a cup of tea in Chinatown.
Every year people flock to the Macy’s store in Union Square to view the real floral displays and breath in the wonderful scents. To many, this is a ritual that marks the end of winter and the beginning of spring. This year’s event occurred on March 27th – April 10th, and it included a Zen, rooftop, and enchanted garden. In addition, the floral designers created a walk through the tropical rainforest.
If you missed this year’s event, don’t worry. Just keep an eye out for it next year and welcome spring in with a San Francisco tradition that has been around for 65 years.
If you find yourself in San Francisco with a little time on your hands and yearning to take a 3.8 mile journey across the city, then the Barbary Coast Trail is for you. This trek starts at the steps of the old Mint Building at 5th and Mission and takes you on a historical journey through the Financial District, China Town, Union Square, Fisherman’s Wharf, Telegraph Hill, North Beach, and many more streets, alleys, and creative walkways. All you have to do is follow the 170 brass markers embedded in the sidewalk like the one pictured above.
Try not to get too distracted by all the shops and stores that you pass along the way, although a quick dash into City Lights Booksellers and Publishers can’t really be prevented. As you make your way through the city, also consider taking a break and getting a drink at Vesuvio, Specs, or Tosca, better known as the Holy Trinity Bars of North Beach. As an added bonus, if you stay alert you may just catch a glimpse of the wild parrot flock that roams freely in the trees of San Francisco.
Your San Francisco Odyssey will take you by a staircase on Telegraph Hill marked only by a modest plaque stating that it is the Jack Early Park. Hike up the steps and you will find one of the best views in the city. The SF Gate promotes it as the best place to propose marriage.
Put on your walking shoes, fill your water bottle, and get out there and explore this incredible city by the sea.
If you were around Union Square on Saturday, March 26th, you may have found yourself tapping your feet to the sounds of the Persian New Year’s Celebration. The sound of music and the joy of dance surrounded the Square and made it a welcoming place.
Nowruz, the name for the Persian New Year, means “New Day” and marks the beginning of spring. It lasts for 13 days and is a time for visiting and large family gatherings.
It’s time to put on your ruby red slippers, comb down your mane, or oil up your joints because the Castro Theatre is about to present the Wizard of Oz Sing Along from March 25th – 31st. If you want to practice ahead of time and need your memory jogged, you will find below a list of some of the more popular songs:
- Somewhere over the Rainbow
- Munchkin Land
- Ding Dong the Witch is Dead
- Lullabye League and Lollipop Guild
- Follow the Yellow Brick Road
- If I only had a Brain, Heart, Nerve
- Were off to see the Wizard
- If I were the King of the Forest
Below are a list of festivals and events that you may want to mark on your calendar:
- Bay to Breakers. May 15th, 2011. This year we celebrating the 100th anniversary of the race that was originally started as a way to increase the morale of the city after the devastation of the 1906 earthquake. It is now a tradition which defines the eccentricity that is San Francisco. There is a race component, but most people watch and participate for the costumes. Yes, I said costumes. Organizers are limiting the run/walk/crawl to 50,000 participants, and they do not allow alcohol this year. Really? No rolling kegs this year?
- Folsom Street Fair. Sunday, September 25, 2011. Even if black and blue are not your colors of choice, you will find the Folsom Street Fair interesting. Over 400,000 people attend each year, and it covers 13 city blocks. I can’t really describe it here. All I can say is that you have to see it to believe it.
- San Francisco Pride Celebration & Parade. June 25th & 26th, 2011. This year’s theme is “In Pride We Trust.” Around 1,000,000 visitors will flood the city in order to attend the events and show their pride and support.
- San Francisco Fringe Festival. September 7th – 18th, 2011. The fringe festival will present over 200 different theatrical performances by local actors and playwrites. This will get your creative juices flowing. The link shows a list of the plays from 2010, and it will give you an idea of what you will see in 2011.
- Castro Street Fair. The first Sunday in October, 11:00 a.m. – 6:00 p.m. Originally organized by Harvey Milk in order to build community, this event continues to thrive and grow with hundreds of artist booths, vendors, live entertainment, and dance stages.
- Santacon. 2011 – TBA. Grab your big black boots, your red velvet suit, fur lined hat, and head out on the town with hundreds of other similarly dressed individuals to bar hop the afternoon and evening away. Elves and the Mrs. are also welcome.