Despite travelling to San Francisco twice myself, I have yet to actually write much about the city. And the reason for that is totally nothing to do with SF itself, it’s just a lack of time on my part. Anyway, this means I’m beyond excited to share this week’s local’s interview with you as it showcases just how much there is to love about San Francisco and why you totally need to visit. There’s a reason I’ve gone here twice, right? Rowena – take it away…
1. Could you tell us a little about yourself and where you come from?
I’m a journalist by training and marketer by trade whose biggest passion is traveling. Right now I’m making my way through Asia and trying to inspire others through narrative storytelling and photography.
I’ve lived in 3 countries, 5 states, and even more cities, but San Francisco is the first place I’ve lived as an adult where I’ve truly felt at home.
2. How long have you lived in San Francisco? And what brought you here?
I had just passed my 4-year San Francisco anniversary when I left for this Asia trip. Like many others in the City by the Bay, I moved to SF to work for a startup.
3. What do you love most about your hometown?
San Francisco is a tiny city with a big city appeal. Despite being only 7 miles by 7 miles, it has so many distinct neighborhoods and so much to do, whether it’s soaking up the sun in Dolores Park, experiencing different types of baths at a banya in Bayview, or catching one of the many festivals happening all the time. And of course, there’s an abundance of great hiking within and around the city as well.
There’s so much good food too. I’d recommend all visitors to venture out of the main tourist areas and go into the outer neighborhoods for some amazing ethnic restaurants. For those not wanting to go too far, the Tenderloin has some of the best food as well.
Perhaps most importantly, as it adds to the experience, San Francisco is eccentric, diverse, and welcoming. If you’re like me and have never truly felt at home elsewhere, you might just find your place in San Francisco.
4. Is there anything that frustrates or annoys you when tourists visit San Francisco?
It’s not as frustrating as it is funny. Please look at the weather forecast before you come! I know you’re thinking of California as the sunny beaches in Southern California, but San Francisco is rarely that warm, save for a couple of weeks in the fall. I see so many tourists freezing to death and having to buy those SF sweatshirts to stay warm. (Seriously good point here folks… I was one such tourist on my first trip… that SF fog is cold as!)
5. In your opinion, which places should be at the top of any visitor’s wishlist in San Francisco?
My favorite spots to take folks (and they’re all free, minus the food):
- Palace of Fine Arts
- A walk on the Golden Gate Bridge
- Explore the urban forest that is Interior Greenbelt and Mount Sutro
- Out to the Inner Richmond for good dim sum and Chinese food
- Over to the Mission for some delicious Mexican burritos and El Salvadoran pupusas
- The Clarion Alley murals in the Mission
- Golden Gate Park, especially on Sundays in the summer when there’s often free concerts and events
- A walk through Haight-Ashbury, where the Summer of Love started (also my former neighborhood)
- Catch a show in Stern Grove (summer only)
6. What foods must visitors eat when in your hometown or USA?
There’s too much variety in the U.S. to list here, and San Francisco has basically every type of cuisine. But I’d say you need to have some good dim sum, burritos, ramen, and seafood in San Francisco. If your budget allows, San Francisco is also home to numerous Michelin-starred restaurants. And don’t forget to have lots of wine and craft beer!
7. What advice would you give to somebody moving to San Francisco from another country?
Know that it’s expensive, foggy, and sometimes also dirty, but it’s also eccentric, dynamic, and just absolutely fantastic. If you’re down for people who love life and are a little weird, you’ll love it!
8. If you could describe your hometown in just one sentence, what would you say?
It’s the littlest big city with the coldest summer and the weirdest “normal” people all concentrated into 49 square miles.
9. If tourists were to know one thing about San Francisco’s culture, what should that be?
In San Francisco, we are very open, and we’re all pursuing our own dreams, whether or not it fits with the “norm”. That’s one thing I know has shocked those visiting from more conservative areas (whether in the U.S. or from other countries). We hope you’ll get to know those of us living here who may be a little different from the “norm” and keep an open mind.
Thanks Rowena – we’ve loved getting to know you and San Francisco better!
And if you loved Rowena’s interview as much as I do, share it around now!