The other day, I’ve accepted a challenge to help Hila (Hello!👋) entertain her two teenage boys while visiting San Francisco. Don’t worry, I totally have experience in this field since Kendel who is now 16-years old, has been coming up to visit the Bay Area since he was 6-years old and has also given me some pointers on what is enjoyable for his demographic. And just a few months ago, I gave my cousin/tita (it’s a Filipino thing) and her twin tweens a tour of SF where our goal was to get them excited about something!
It’s a tough audience but here’s to doing our very best please the post-millennials because just like Whitney said, “I believe our children are our future. Teach them well and let them lead the way. Show them all the beauty they possess insiiiiiide.”. It’s more or less this post’s anthem. And of course, I’ve added some food stops because just like me, teenagers are always hungry but at least they’re growing vertically.
Part I: Chinatown to Alcatraz
San Francisco’s Chinatown is the oldest and largest in North America and adjacent to North Beach. Start your walking tour at the Dragon’s Gate on Bush St. and Grant Ave. for photo-ops and a zen mindset. You’ll encounter a lot of souvenir shops, old Chinese ladies carrying pink bags of produce (move swiftly out of their way) and menu waving. You’ll encounter your first cable car at California St. which you must resist jumping on until later. Instead, get a free tour at the Golden Gate Fortune Cookie Factory, a San Francisco invention by the Japanese, not available or well-received in China.
- Eat dim sum on the sidewalk at Good Mong Kok Bakery and savor the shrimp har gow
- Do you like spicy food? Dine at Z & Y Restaurant for mouth-numbing Sichuan cuisine and try the Spicy Fish with Flaming Chili Oil, Chicken with Explosive Chili Pepper and Pancake with beef (think Chinese burrito)!
Work your way north to Colombus Ave. and Broadway where you’ll hit the triangular intersection and the art installation, Language of the Birds and a great photo-op of the Transamerica Pyramid building. North Beach, also known as Little Italy is the home of beatniks, boobies and pizza! I mean booze, like Fernet. Oh, wait this is supposed to be for teenagers! Forget what I said kids and try on some hats at Goorin Bros. where you will learn the art of millinery at the family history museum upstairs or adorn your new chapeau with feathers, etc. Just down the street, Francis Ford Coppola wrote the majority of The Godfather at Caffe Trieste where you should get a shot of espresso at the first espresso roaster and cafe on the west coast. Now you’re ready to zig-zag around Green, Grant and Union Streets!
Are (you and) the kids too hyper?
- Head east and hike up to Coit Tower and don’t take the bus.
- If they’re still amped, walk up Lombard Street and cruise down the crookedest street San Franciscans relegated to tourists.
- If they’ve still got energy, you might need a dart tranquilizer or better yet, a slice of Sicilian-style pizza at Golden Boy, you’re welcome.
When I asked Kendel which places he would recommend, he actually said this about Musée Mécanique, “I died at the old arcade.”. This “old arcade” is filled with antique arcades that will definitely entertain you, from whimsical stories and musicals of the past to the seedy world of drugs, addiction, and old-school pornography. But it’s totally kid-friendly and Jon and I still think this is fun if you have never been and we’ll all appreciate the lack of control, graphics, surround sound and over the top animation. Or maybe they’ll hate it for those exact same reasons!
- Skip Pier 39 unless you want to lose your sh!t.
- Eat at In-N-Out and (re)discover what a hamburger is all about.
The long crazy line for the cable car originating at Union Square ends up here and the line is usually a bit shorter, so you should get on here! If your kids are driving you crazy or you want to turn this into a fun cable car ride, head to the Buena Vista first and reward yourself with an Irish Coffee. Fun Fact: Bailey’s isn’t the only Irish thing in their Irish Coffee, sometimes they use leprechaun soylent.
If you’re even remotely interested in going to Alcatraz, you better get your tickets before you plan your trip dates because they sell out fast! Also, dress in layers depending on the time of day you’re going, it can get blistering hot to ice cold and vice-versa. Actually, that’s all of San Francisco.
- Book the Alcatraz Night Tour and see the skyline light up.
- Eat at the Ferry Building to gorge on Acme’s Sourdough Bread, Cowgirl Creamery’s Artisan Cheese, DELICA‘s salmon roll or bento and finish it off with a scoop of Humphry Slocombe‘s infamous ice cream, Secret Breakfast (bourbon ice cream with cornflakes).
Hope you enjoy exploring San Francisco and if I can make this list better, comment below! Don’t forget to read Part II: Civic Center to Ocean Beach and Part III: Financial District to Golden Gate Bridge.