Many years ago, I lived in Berkeley and regularly took the BART into the City; and more recently, I’ve visited SF with my family, so I’m familiar with many of the tourist “greatest hits” already. But this time I had 2 ½ days completely on my own, so I decided to focus on feeding my surface pattern design soul. I thought you might want to follow along with what I did and saw. I walked everywhere, wandering into awe-inspiring places of worship, fun shops and parks along the way. The weather was superb, luckily. It’s hard to eat badly in SF. Google maps was my friend.
8:30 Coffee and a pastry at the Ferry Building, sitting in the sun and watching the water ferries.
10:00 I am of Japanese heritage, so I wanted to check out Japantown. Had a great chat with a curator at the National Japanese American Historical Society and then headed over to the Kinokuniya Bookstore in the Japan Center Malls. Bought some books that would be pretty hard to find where I live (limited myself to just 2).
12:00 Lunch at the Chao Pescao Latin Caribbean Kitchen, with a table looking out onto the Tenderloin People’s Garden, located just across the road from the Asian Art Museum.
Spent hours checking out the rest of the fantastic Asian Art Museum. Took SO many pics, including the ones below just because I loved the faces, they look so kind to me.
4:00 Headed back to the hotel with lots of stops along the way, including at the Gump’s Holiday Shop (now open temporarily just down the street from Gump's San Francisco) and checked out all the ornaments.
6:00 Italian dinner in North Beach.
8:00 Coffee and a pastry at the Ferry Building (again).
9:00 Headed out to the Mission District.
11:00 Tour of the Heath Ceramics Tile Factory and Clay Studio. In addition to seeing how their made-to-order tiles are formed, glazed and fired, we also got to see where the studio manager works. In his studio, he experiments with new ideas and forms, and prepares for upcoming themed shows. All the tables and counters were filled with these experiments and examples from past shows. We weren’t allowed to take photos here, sadly, but trust me when I say it was wonderful. Heath Ceramics has a great Shop and Magazine Stand too!
12:30 Instead of having lunch at the Tartine Manufactory outpost of the famous bakery (which is in the same building as Heath Ceramics), I instead wandered over to the original Tartine Bakery on Guerrero Street.
1:00 Checked out the murals of the Clarion Alley Mural Project.
Headed up Valencia Street to stop in at the Nooworks shop. I love this fashion brand famous for their super colourful prints and wanted to see them all in person. Wouldn't it be fun to design patterns for them?!
Checked out more interesting-looking and vintage shops along the way.
3:00 Complete inspiration overwhelm in the San Francisco Design District, centered on the San Francisco Design Center. Huge interior design showrooms, strangely nearly empty of people, but completely FULL of every kind of gorgeous patterned fabric in giant swatches, often organized by theme, colourful modern furniture, and the newest rug designs. All the drool-worthy designers are represented here and you're free to walk around and drool…Who knew?
5:00 Back to the hotel. Dinner at Kaiyo Rooftop (excellent Japanese-Peruvian food and cocktails), and then finished the evening at the Tonga Room & Hurricane Bar in the Fairmont Hotel. More cocktails!
DAY 2 ½:
9:30 A bit of a rocky start (I blame the Tonga Room).
10:00 Headed off to the SFMOMA. Unbeknownst to me, it was Community Day so admission was free! I also didn’t know that the “Yayoi Kusama: Infinite Love” show which encompasses two of her famed Infinity Mirror Rooms was on. I managed to snag one of the limited number of same-day tickets (otherwise tickets are sold out through November). In my opinion, SFMOMA is a must-see museum on any trip to San Francisco. If you’ll be there anytime soon, book ahead to see the Yayoi Kusama show!
Other MUST-SEE shows at SFMOMA: the Pacita Abad retrospective (images below, until Jan 28 2024), and the musical video installation "Ragnar Kjartansson: The Visitors” (until Oct 13 2024). This last was probably my favourite of the entire museum. I haven't included images here because you really just have to stand in the space and experience it for yourself!
1:30 Relaxing lunch on the museum’s Café 5 outdoor terrace.
3:00 Back to the hotel to pick up my bags, and then off to the airport!
I’ll be back, so if you have any suggestions for NEXT time, please do direct them my way!
Jackie Tahara of UnBlink Studio