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The crisp weather in San Francisco make it the perfect choice for a midwinter getaway. Photo: Shutterstock
The crisp weather in San Francisco make it the perfect choice for a midwinter getaway. Photo: Shutterstock

Places

San Francisco in winter

San Francisco has a lot to offer on a crisp winter's day. Theater, museums and even the beach! And not to forget, Alcatraz.

The Bay Area embodies an entrepreneurial spirit that has existed since the days of the Gold Rush, attracting dreamers and narrative-changers to go west and forge their own paths. Its freethinking heritage, vibrant music, arts, creative and tech communities, blend of Eastern and Western culture, and temperate, crisp weather make it the perfect choice for a midwinter getaway. 

Photo: Shutterstock

The Castro Theatre

At Market and 17th Street, the ornate, landmarked Castro Theatre and its iconic neon sign are emblematic of the neighborhood. Today it operates as a repertory cinema, with classic and independent films, regular events, and film-festival programming.

The Castro Theatre

429 Castro Street, San Francisco

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Pier 24 Photography

One of the best-kept secrets in San Francisco, this private photography collection is located in a remodeled former maritime warehouse just off the Embarcadero and directly under the Bay Bridge. Free but by appointment only, visitors are buzzed in via an anonymous black door. Inside, the collection of modern and contemporary work includes luminaries such as Diane Arbus, Rineke Dijkstra, and Lee Friedlander, as well as regular temporary exhibitions.

Pier 24 Photography

24 Pier, San Francisco

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Legion of Honor

Tucked away in the northwest corner of the city, in the ocean-adjacent Lincoln Park, this classic art museum contains works of ancient and European art that stretch across a span of 4,000 years. Its Beaux Arts building overlooks the Golden Gate Bridge, and after taking in the art, it’s a short stroll through the park down to the sea.

Legion of Honor

100 34th Ave, San Francisco

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Ocean Beach

San Francisco may not be as synonymous with surfing as Southern California, but winter is prime time for big waves, and Ocean Beach is one of the best places to take them on (or watch real surfers do it).The big wave “window” runs from January through March, and when the ideal day is predicted, a 48-hour call is issued for surfers to fly in from all over the globe to Mavericks at nearby Pillar Point, one of the international surf community’s most exciting (and risky) competitions. Surfing is hungry business, and the area has a large corresponding supply of eateries, ranging from surfer hangout the Pizza Place on Noriega, beloved new-American spot Outerlands and the Devil’s Teeth Baking Company.

Ocean Beach

Great Hwy San Francisco, CA 94121

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Alcatraz

The legendary island penitentiary and former Civil War military fort also contains the West Coast’s oldest operating lighthouse, and it is well worth a visit for its fascinating journey into history. Tours leave via ferry from Pier 33, near Fisherman’s Wharf.

Alcatraz

Alcatraz, San Francisco

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Blue Bottle Coffee

Craft coffee roasting is huge in the Bay Area, and Oakland is home to one of its early pioneers, Blue Bottle Coffee, which distributes nationally from its base, lab, pastry kitchen, and café in a former industrial zone. Every Sunday, it hosts free public coffee tastings at 11:30am and 3pm (as well as a “how to brew” series at 1pm). Preregister for tickets at the company’s site below.

Blue Bottle Coffee

300 Webster St, Oakland

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Fox Theater

The stunning art deco Fox Theatre music venue lies at the heart of Oakland’s nightlife, hosting international and local acts alike. February and March will see performances by Godspeed You! Black Emperor and José González.

Fox Theater

807 Telegraph Ave, Oakland

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de Young Museum

Want a 360-degree view of the city? Housed in a Herzog & de Meuron building with a dramatic copper façade, the de Young has, in addition to one of the country’s finest collections of contemporary art, a viewing tower designed by cutting-edge New York architecture practice Diller Scofidio + Renfro (also responsible for Manhattan’s High Line park).

de Young Museum

50 Hagiwara Tea Garden Dr, San Francisco

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The California Academy of Sciences

Just across the street from the de Young, this many-faceted institution combines an aquarium, natural history museum, and planetarium. Great for families during the day, it targets grownups on Thursday nights with a DJ, bars, food, and a revolving series of events based around themes from science and popular culture.

The California Academy of Sciences

55 Music Concourse Dr, San Francisco

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Last edited: August 2, 2017

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