The Vallejo, Oakland, and Larkspur ferries make their way into and out of the Ferry Building in San Francisco.
(Eric Risberg - AP)
This Union Square spot owned by Wolfgang Puck continually garners guidebook gush for the elegant cuisine of executive chefs Steven and Mitchell Rosenthal. But be prepared for a hefty tab: Dinner entrees typically range from $30 to $40.
The brothers Rosenthal opened this less-glitzy South of Market spot just over a year ago -- too recent for most guidebooks to include it. Dinner entrees are in the $20 to $25 range, with a focus on regional American food, ranging from roasted veal meatballs over pureed potatoes to duck with toasted wild rice, pecans, spiced dates and gingersnap gravy. Co-owner Doug Washington maintains calm in the dining room, despite onslaughts by the desperate and reservation-less, so book well in advance.
Town Hall (415-908-3900, www.townhallsf.com) is at 342 Howard St.
Sure you need caffeine, but you're in the coffee town that was a coffee town before Seattle was a coffee town.
Farley's and Caffe Trieste.
Art displays, live music, a hip magazine rack, a set of Lincoln Logs and a no-skim-milk-dammit policy all make Farley's a beloved hangout for Potrero Hill denizens. Over in North Beach, swing by Caffe Trieste and sip your joe to the tune of Italian opera. It's one of the original Beat coffeehouses; others can be found along nearby Columbus Avenue.
Farley's (415-648-1545, www.farleyscoffee.com) is at 1315 18th St. between Texas and Missouri streets. Caffe Trieste (415-392-6739, www.caffetrieste.com) is at 601 Vallejo St.
Hyde Street cable car line.
San Francisco's cable cars are rolling National Historic Landmarks. The most popular routes run north to south, hauling masses of tourists from Fisherman's Wharf to Union Square hotels and stores.
California Street cable car line.
Don't want to spend your vacation standing in line? Try the California Street line instead. It runs east to west, with views of the bay. Best of all, you can usually hop right on and enjoy a clear shot of the scenery as the conductor exchanges pleasantries.
The California Street cable car line ($3) travels between Van Ness Avenue and Drumm Street. Details: 415-673-6864, www.sfcablecar.com.