Best of 2010: The Day

Best of 2010: The Day



You've got free time? We've got a way to fill it. Jump on a trampoline, fish from a pier, head to Chinatown for a nooner, teach your dog a brand-new trick. Wait no longer: Daylight is burning.

For more must-do city activities, check out our Big To Do: 250 things to do in SF before you die.


Best Reasons to Skip the Gym

You could spend your days on the treadmill, jogging to nowhere. But if your routine has gotten a bit stale, there's a remedy. At Workshop SF, you can work your cans with, well, cans—sand-filled cans of PBR, that is—just one element of the heavy-metal aerobics class taught to the strains of Iron Maiden and AC/DC. Should you prefer to team up with your pet for a morning ass-kicking, sign up for Thank Dog Boot Camp at Wag Hotel in the Mission, and get you and Fido whipped into shape (fitness for you, manners for him). 1798 McAllister St., 415-874-9186,; 25 14th St., 415- 876-0700,

Best Bounce

Forget bouncy houses: The House of Air trampoline park, scheduled to open in August in a 20,000-square-foot former airplane hangar in the Presidio, puts the birthday party staple to shame. Imagine an entire warehouse filled with trampolines, with padded walls for protection. While House of Air will quickly become a destination for kids, the training ground area (geared toward serious athletes who want to try out tricks on dry land, with a harness and an instructor), dodgeball leagues and basketball hoops are clearly intended for the young at heart. 926 Mason St., 415-721-7962,

Best City Map

If you haven't heard the term “popos,” let us school you. Here in SF, that means Privately Owned Public Open Spaces, a network of spots—mostly downtown—that offer welcome, hidden respite from the concrete jungle. Some of the 68 that made the list produced by SPUR (San Francisco Planning and Urban Research Association) include a little-known rooftop oasis in Crocker Galleria and a sun terrace on the 15th floor of 343 Sansome. All are ranked by SPUR—poor, fair, good and excellent—so you know the best place to spend your lunch hour. If you work downtown, this list is indispensable. Find it here:


Best Retro Experience

To tell you about this photo booth is to invite disappointment—since it's a relic (built in the late '40s), it's frequently out of order, its maintenance a labor of love for the employees of Rayko Photo Center, where it's housed. But should you go on a day when it's operational you'll get to pose in the city's oldest booth, one that turns out black and white images so saturated they'll make you angry about the advent of digital machines. Consider it a history lesson that comes with the bonus of a memento. 428 Third St., 415-495-3773,

Best Window Dressings

Though the SF Arts Commission has supported public art for decades, its latest initiative, Art in Storefronts, is one of the most compelling to date. The program, which challenges local artists to transform abandoned and underused commercial storefronts with original art (talk about a brilliant idea), launched last fall in the Mission, Bayview and the Tenderloin. Some 20 original pieces were created (some of which, like the Ms. Teriosa fortune-telling booth on 24th Street, are still on display). Based on the overwhelming success, the program will expand into Chinatown this month with six new storefronts and 32 additional artists.

Best Block

The Avenues have always had a few things going for them—proximity to GG Park and the beach, cheaper rents, back and front yards. On the coolness scale, however, let's just say that Judah is no Valencia. But a spate of new openings over the last year have transformed a stretch of Judah between 45th and 46th from “sleepy” to “en fuego.” Now the cool kids congregate at Outerlands for grilled cheese sandwiches and wine (p. 58), stock up on Japanese socks at General Store (p. 74) and start the morning with the “build your own damn house” (coffee, coconut water and cinnamon toast) at Trouble Coffee. One block north, duck into openings at the gallery attached to Mollusk Surf Shop, where local artist David Wilson recently showed his work. The 18th Street corridor is getting a run for its money. Outerlands, 4001 Judah St., 415-661-6140,; General Store, 4035 Judah St., 415-682-0600,; Trouble Coffee, 4033 Judah St., 415-682-4732,; Mollusk Surf Shop, 4500 Irving St., 415-564-6300,

Best Way to Get it Done

Fetch, a personal concierge service that started in January, will do anything on your to-do list that's within the law and human decency. No task is too big or too small: They'll organize the closet or pick up the groceries, wait for Comcast at the house or smog check the car. Fellas, they'll even shop for your wife's birthday present. But you're embarrassed by your own laziness or lack of time-management skills, you say? Don't worry—Fetch keeps its clients and duties confidential. It all starts with a one-time complimentary consultation, or the purchase of a gift certificate for your overworked spouse, parent, sibling or friend.

Best Urban Renewal

OK, so it took three years. The important thing is that the eyesore of an empty lot at the corner of Hayes and Buchanan—featuring the on-ramp to nowhere—is finally being converted into the brand-spanking-new Hayes Valley Playground, complete with a clubhouse, play areas for kids, a stage and outdoor exercise equipment for adults. When the renovations are completed late this year, the clubhouse will also be tricked out with solar panels and a living roof planted with drought-tolerant specimens. All of which we think is worth the wait. 699 Hayes St.


Dog's Best Friends

Since BAD RAP's inception in 1999, co-founders Donna Reynolds and Tim Racer have advocated mightily on behalf of one of the most maligned dog breeds, the American pit bull terrier. Through tireless education, rescue and training (including weekly pit bull education classes and “canine good citizen” certification training), the duo is helping to restore these lovable animals—including rescues from Michael Vick's dog-fighting ring and others saved from overcrowded, unsympathetic shelters—to their previous Little Rascals-sidekick glory.

Fastest Road to Recovery

Sick in the city? You might be out of luck. San Francisco has some of the longest wait times to see a doctor in the entire country. But Zoc Doc, a 2-year-old start-up that just expanded to San Francisco at the beginning of the year, is aiming to change that. Go to the site, enter the type of doctor you're trying to see, and up comes a list of nearby practitioners with available appointments, along with pictures and reviews from patients. You can even enter your insurance information to confirm that the doc is in network, and book your appointment online.

Best Personal Training

SF teems with gyms, fitness classes and trainers of all types, from monster workout warehouses to elite tennis and swim clubs to bootcamps. The added benefit of training with Jakki Flaherty at Presidio Fitness, though, isn't merely Flaherty's formal education in kinesiology and sports nutrition, nor her time spent working with professional athletes, nor the fact that her personalized service includes a daily emailed analysis of your food intake. It's also a matter of physics: The small private fitness center in the Edenic setting behind the Letterman Center uses Keiser conditioning equipment, which gets its resistance from (instantly adjustable) air pressure instead of clunky weights, making for smoother and more efficient workouts. It's also one of only a few local gyms where you'll get access to a Power Plate, a vibrating exercise platform that improves circulation, balance and central-nervous- system functioning. Top it all off with Flaherty's firm but encouraging girl-next-doorness, and you've got a recipe for bikini body. 222 Halleck St., 415-563-1815,

Best Little Oasis

San Francisco roads and public rights-of-way occupy more space than all of its parks combined, but a new trend aims to dot the concrete jungle with patches of green. As a six-month experiment by Pavement to Parks Initiative, two parking spaces outside Mojo Bicycle Café in NoPa have been converted into a parklet. Adorned with café tables, three bike racks and landscape planters, it has everything you need to relax on a sunny day in the city. And it's gratis: Seating and bike parking are free and open to everyone, not just Mojo customers. The construction wasn't on our dollar, either. Riyad Ghannam of RG Architecture and Greg Upwall of Studio Upwall generously donated design services in an effort to unite community and slow down the pace of life in the frenetic urban environment we call home. Support the idea now, and soon we could be a city lined with parklets. 639 Divisadero St., 415-440-2338,

Best Catch-Your-Own Dinner Outing

For the jaded done-it-all San Franciscan, a fresh challenge: crab fishing. To get your feet wet, join one of the crabbing demonstrations at Fort Point pier, held every other Saturday throughout the summer (the next one is July 3). The free, two-hour hands-on class will teach you the ins and outs of legal crabbing (hint: throw back the Dungeness) and supply you with the necessary gear to try your hand at catching rock and red crabs for dinner. 415-556-1693,

Best Buzz

This city may be guilty of hive mentality: Suddenly, beekeeping is the essential San Francisco hobby. If you're considering keeping a queen of your own, the Mission shop Her Majesty's Secret Beekeeper has got you covered, with a lineup of classes geared toward both beginners and those with more experience. Learn how to install your bees, inspect a hive and “test the demeanor” of it. Once you're hooked, owner Cameo Wood can sell you all the gear to get going in your own backyard. 3520 20th St., 415-744-1465,

Best Lunch Break

You've survived Monday. You're limping through Tuesday. Need a midday recharge? Walk to Old St. Mary's Cathedral on the edge of Chinatown for a noontime concert. Every Tuesday the church—which, when it opened back in 1854, was the first cathedral and tallest building in California—gets going at 12:30 for an hour-long classical program featuring world-class musicians, and admission is only $5. Afterward, eat lunch in the serene adjacent park. 660 California St., 415-777-3211,

Best Chance of Getting Spirited Away

Zen out at the most unexpected of places. Every Tuesday at 6:15 p.m., author and Yoga Tree instructor Darren Main teaches a 75-minute-long, donation-based, gentle-flow yoga class on the labyrinth of Grace Cathedral. Expect a relaxed routine of deep breathing, Sun Salutations, Downward Dogs and more. Each week rotates live musicians—think harp, didgeridoo, tamboura and chanters—who perform as you pose. Finish with a meditation and marvel over the incredible acoustics. Pay-what-you-wish access to the ethereal—need we say more? 1100 California St., 415-749-6300,

Best Daytime Divertissement

A traveling party, day or night? Sign us up. TransportedSF will pick you and your friends up in a solar-powered biodiesel bus for an unforgettable excursion. In this case, the journey is part of the destination—the bus comes equipped with a DJ, a dance floor, couches and a movie screen, and you're welcome to bring your own alcohol. That's probably all you need for an after-dark party, but during the day you can interrupt your boogying with a stop for a picnic on Treasure Island, a trip to the vivarium in Berkeley or an afternoon of canoeing down Russian River. Visit the website to check out planned events, or book a private party.

 Check out our other 2010 Best of the City Picks >

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