Stop Shivering, Start Sweating: Where to Get Warm in SF
Baby, it’s cold outside. Craving warmth like the rest of us? One of these spots might just do the trick of getting you back to snug and toasty.
Kiss dry, crisp air goodbye as you enter the steamy, humid warmth of the Tropics galleries. This is only one of four spots in the country that features a Highlands Tropics display full of gorgeous high-altitude orchids among its mosses, gnarled trees, and slinking vines. The Lowland Tropics gallery is a lush jungle with sultry rain cascading through a canopy of palms onto some of the oldest plants on the planet. $7 adults, $5 students, open Tuesday through Sunday, 10 a.m. – 4:30 p.m., closed Mondays. 100 JFK Drive in Golden Gate Park.
Nothing soothes chilled bones like a sauna, steam bath, and hot tub. Kabuki Springs & Spa has Japanese-style communal baths with separate days for women and men, plus one coed day. The bathing area includes a large 160-degree dry sauna, a 120-degree wet steam room, a cold plunge pool, and a soaking hot tub. It’s a chill space with no funny business (a la Hot Tubs). Feel free to use their well-stocked and complimentary sea salts, chilled face cloths, hot teas, and lemon and cucumber water. Silence is the norm and chatter will be silenced by a gong if need be. Be forewarned, the baths fill up quickly, so best to call ahead, or plan to put your name down on the waiting list, then have a bite and do some shopping. Archimedes Banya offers similar amenities without the 2-hour wait. Kabuki - $22 weekday, $25 weekend, women only Sun/Wed/Fri, men only Mon/Thurs/Sat, coed Tues (bathing suit required). Archimedes - $30 for up to 3 hrs.
Working with 2200-degree temperatures is sure to make your body heat rise. Public Glass offers a wide range of toasty classes involving glassblowing, flameworking, playing with fire, and fusing & slumping (huh?). If you need convincing, the codes for these classes are in the form of [HOT240] or [WARM105]. This public access glass studio and school is open to both new and experienced students. East Bay-bound students, check out The Crucible, which offers glassblowing and other sizzling classes (like welding and fire performance).
There, we said it. Look, a lot of us avoid the mall, but it’s definitely a muggy place (and beats window-shopping on Fillmore St. in sub 40-degree temps - a balmy day in Boston this time of year, mind you). Need a good reason to drag your self to the mall? See a movie and try Martin Yan’s new spot M.Y. China under the dome at the Westfield Mall. Eat a fiery, filling bowl of ramen at Suzu Noodle House and then get cozy with your buddies body heat in a photobooth at Pika Pika in Japantown.
Bikram yoga is a no-brainer choice for a guaranteed hot and sweaty workout. However, if you would rather not lose all of your water weight in one session (and prefer a solid sweat instead), hot yoga is a better option. Aha Yoga is my personal favorite. Competent teachers with good music give butt-kicking workouts while keeping it Zen in a glass-encased beautiful hardwood studio. You’ll definitely sweat but you’ll be able to breathe as well. Other hot yoga recommendations here. 1892 Union St @ Laguna.
Bars with Fireplaces
Winter makes boozing by the fire an attractive activity (as does summer fog). San Francisco has no shortage of cozy watering holes. In most freezing climates, drinking is often a hobby done to ward off the cold (22 years of Boston winter experience, right here). My favorite spot not on the list is Bacchus Kirk, which pairs a cozy hearth with a great jukebox and a pool table, Irish bartenders, and neighborhood patrons. 925 Bush St @ Taylor.