City Guide

Four hours in San Francisco

31 Aug 2015 by Clement Huang

1. ASIAN ART MUSEUM

Kick-start your day with a visit to the Asian Art Museum, a four-minute walk from the Civic Centre BART (Bay Area Rapid Transit) station. The museum is home to one of the best collections of Asian art in the world, with more than 12,000 pieces from over 40 countries. Current exhibits include First Look: Collecting Contemporary at the Asian (September 4 – October 11); and Woven Luxuries: Indian, Persian and Turkish Velvets from the Indictor Collection (until November 1). Ticket prices for adults are US$15. Open Tuesdays to Sundays, 10am-5pm, closes 9pm on Thursday; asianart.org


2. MARKET STREET & UNION SQUARE

From the Asian Art Museum, turn left and walk through the leafy United Nations Plaza before joining up with Market Street. Continue down this bustling thoroughfare before turning left again onto Powell Street. This is the heart of downtown San Francisco, with several popular attractions such as the iconic Powell–Mason and Powell–Hyde cable car lines and Yerba Buena Gardens. The area is also a shoppers’ paradise, with famous department stores including Bloomingdale’s and Macy’s. unionsquareshop.com

 

3. M.Y. CHINA          

For a bite to eat, head back to Market Street and pop inside the upscale Westfield San Francisco Centre shopping mall where you will find M.Y. China restaurant on level 4. Celebrity chef Martin Yan, best known for his TV show Yan Can Cook, offers up a quirky interpretation of modern Chinese food. One highlight is the open kitchen where customers are treated to views of M.Y. China’s chefs in action. The handmade dim sum selection (starting at US$6), Peking roast duck (US$20/38), wok stir-fried lamb (US$21), and Dungeness crab (market price) are highly recommended. Open daily from 11am-9pm, closes at 9.30pm on Friday and Saturday; Westfield San Francisco Centre, 4/F 845 Market St; tastemychina.com

 

4. CHINATOWN 

After an oriental feast it’s fitting that the next stop be the oldest Chinatown in North America. Hail a cab for the seven-minute journey to Grant Avenue (US$12), or log on to Uber for a cheaper fare (US$5). The ethnic enclave boasts the single largest Chinese community outside of Asia and is a popular tourist destination. Visitors can browse a multitude of herbal apothecaries, souvenir shops, Chinese restaurants and temples. The colourful district is great to visit all year, but truly lights up during Chinese New Year (February) with lion dances, parades and fairs. sanfranciscochinatown.com

 

5. PIER 39

From Chinatown, hop in a cab once more for a 10-minute ride to Pier 39, situated at the edge of the Fisherman’s Wharf district. The popular waterfront complex is home to over 90 shops and independent boutiques, seafood restaurants, street performances, and cruise services to nearby islands. While a visit to Alcatraz may be out of reach for day travellers (tours and transport to the island require booking in advance), do grab a drink at Neptune’s Waterfront Grill & Bar. Located at the tip of Pier 39, this venue provides customers with excellent views of the infamous prison, as well as San Francisco Bay and the Golden Gate Bridge.
Open daily from 11am-10pm; Pier 39 Building K, Level 2; pier39.com

 

6. GOLDEN GATE BRIDGE

How better to end your four-hour journey than to take a tour of one of San Francisco’s most internationally recognised symbols. A 20-minute ride from Pier 39, the Golden Gate Bridge stands 227m high and 2.7km long. Consider hiring a bicycle from one of the many rental shops in order to enjoy the jaw dropping views. Sports Basement, located at 610 Old Mason Street, offers good quality bikes from US$24 for three hours. Open daily, Monday to Friday from 9am-9pm, and Saturday and Sunday from 8am-8pm; goldengatebridge.org

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