Once you get acquainted with San Francisco’s public transportation system, you’ll realize that you don’t need a car to get around this city anyway. You can use Bay Area Rapid Transit (BART) to get to your hotel from the airport, as well as the city’s Municipal Transportation Agency (MUNI) buses or streetcars to get around all weekend.
7 p.m. Check into to your accommodations for the weekend, get settled in and cleaned up before heading out for the evening. Exit the BART at Powell Street or take the Line F to Market Street and Stockton, and you’ll be at Hotel Palomar (12 Fourth St.). The hip boutique hotel is sleek and contemporary without being stuffy. Not only is Hotel Palomar walking distance from the SoMA and Union Square districts, it’s offering a 25 percent discount through December if you reserve your room at least 14 days prior to your arrival with payment in advance.
Hostelling International offers extremely low rates with the traveling student in mind. They have three hostels – Downtown (312 Mason St.), City Center (685 Ellis St.) and Fisherman’s Wharf (Fort Mason, Building 240) – in the area that offer both private and dorm-style rooms. All three hostels provide free breakfast daily for guests. Some have private bathrooms available, too, just check out sfhostels.com.
8 p.m. I can’t think of a better way to kick off the weekend than having dinner at Suppenküche (525 Laguna St.). Have a seat at one of the family-style wooden picnic tables that line the German restaurant and relax with a long sip of Hefeweizen and a plate of their special salad with carrots, cabbage, potatoes, beets and butter lettuce. A plate of Bratwurst with sauerkraut and mashed potatoes and the festive atmosphere of Suppenküche will leave you satisfied and energized for the next stop.
9 p.m. 111 Minna Gallery (111 Minna St.) is a cool art space that exhibits work from Bay Area artists, film screenings, music and DJ performances. Friday, Sept. 12, the gallery hosts Unidos por El Arte, featuring Latin art pieces, bands and DJs.
11 p.m. Before heading back to your hotel, stop by Frjtz Fries (581 Hayes St.) for a late-night snack. Dive into a paper cone full of Belgian Fries with your choice of dipping sauce (You must try the chipotle remoulade and the creamy wasabi mayo.) or one of the delicious dessert crepes, like the strawberry, crème fraiche and wild berry coulis topped Lichtenstein or the Nutella, banana and whipped cream covered Magritte.
8:30 a.m. Wake up for the breakfast to end all breakfasts at Kate’s Kitchen (471 Haight St.). The Cornmeal Buttermilk Pancakes with lemon curd and fresh fruit toppings and Cheese & Green Onion Biscuits with sausage or veggie gravy will fuel you up for the entire day.
10 a.m. A great way to explore the city is a guided tour, and a unique and fun day can be planned with Bay City Bike. The company offers four different routes, so whether you’re a beginner or more advanced cyclist you’ll enjoy your trip.
I recommend the Golden Gate Bridge to Sausalito trip – Fisherman’s Wharf, over the bridge to Sausalito or Tiburon and return by ferry – for newbies and the City Coast to Golden Gate Park ride – Fisherman’s Wharf and the Marina to the park, Haight/Ashbury and the Presidio paths – for more proficient riders. Reserve a bike and space on a ride at their Web site (baycitybike.com) to receive a 10 percent discount.
2 p.m. Now that you’ve worked up an appetite, head to Straits Restaurant (845 Market St., 4th floor) in the Westfield Centre for an exotic taste of Singaporean cuisine. The best way to try a bit of everything is to order a few of the small plate items on the menu, like the lamb or chicken Satay Sticks, Samosas, Spare Ribs or Grilled Beef in Grape Leaves.
Take a walk through the mall to let your food digest or catch a flick at the Century 9 theaters before heading to your hotel for a much-needed shower and nap.
7 p.m. Head to one of the city’s best-known culinary gems, Alioto’s (#8 Fisherman’s Wharf), for dinner. Alioto’s started as a fish stand in 1925 and takes pride in serving fresh, quality seafood in dishes such as their scallops roasted in Sicilian breading, tomatoes and garlic and Whole Dungeness cracked crab. The stunning views of the harbor and Golden Gate Bridge from Alioto’s third floor are breathtaking.
8 p.m. After getting all dressed up for dinner, why not try something a little different by going to the symphony. The San Francisco Symphony performs Beethoven’s Symphony No. 9 Sept. 13 at the beautiful Davies Symphony Hall (201 Van Ness Ave.). You’ll remember snippets from this piece from Stanley Kubrick’s A Clockwork Orange. Take a look at the symphony’s full calendar of events at sfsymphony.org, and right now they're offering students a 50 percent discount.
Or if dance is more your thing, Yerba Buena Center for the Arts (701 Mission St.) presents the world premiere of Erika Shuch Performance Project’s After All, Part I.
9 a.m. Spend some time exploring the Little Italy area of North Beach before brunch at Rose Pistola (532 Columbus Ave.). The Spring Vegetable Frittata and the Artichoke, Pancetta & Egg Pizza are hearty and delicious.
11 a.m. Spend the rest of your day at the Ferry Building Marketplace picking up gifts for people back home. You can grab some cheese at Cowgirl Creamery, bread from Acme, salumi from Boccalone and some chocolates from Recchiuti Confections. Then treat yourself to a scoop of Hazlenut Biscotti gelato at Ciao Bella. The Ferry Building also hosts a Farmers Market every Tuesday (10 a.m.-2 p.m.) and Saturday (8 a.m.-2 p.m.), so plan a trip there on your next weekend voyage to San Francisco.
For more information, visit www.sanfrancisco.travel.