Free Things To Do In San Francisco.
Three Free – A weekly round up of three free & unique things to do in different cities around the world.
We’re starting a new thing here at Beers and Beans. Every week or so we will be highlighting three free things to do in different cities around the world. When we’re traveling we’ll be updating this category even more. It’s going to be a great resource for budget travelers all around the world and we’re aiming for some unique ideas that don’t typically pop up in online searches. This week we’re starting off with Randy’s favorite city and the place he misses living on an almost daily basis – San Francisco.
City Lights Bookstore
This is a must for any literary lovers, especially those interested in the beat literature. If you’ve ever wondered what it was like to hang out with such greats as Jack Kerouac, Allen Ginsberg & Neal Cassady – City Lights is where you’ll want to hunker down for at least a few hours. This was their big hang out, a place they got inspiration from, gave readings, got published & bought books. On top of being an amazing bookstore it’s also home to a publishing company – City Lights Publishing. In fact, it was this underground publishing company that first published Allen Ginsberg’s “Howl”. This independent bookstore has been around since the 1950’s and has a huge following. In fact it has played such a unique role in the history of San Francisco it is now an official landmark in the city. It’s a great stop for anyone who wants to relax for a few hours and escape the San Fran craziness.
Located in the heart of North Beach, you can’t miss it as you walk down Columbus Avenue. They have continual free readings and they even have their own podcast. If you happen to have a few bucks you can stop by the saloon next door, Vesuvio’s. It’s old, unique & awesome. Having a drink (or 3) there is a great way to continue your bask in beat literature. Being separated from City Lights by only a small alley (aptly named Jack Kerouac Alley), this is the local bar they all frequented. These two spots go hand in hand and quite frequently the alley takes on at life of it’s own with impromptu readings and jam sessions. It’s really an awesome section of the city that shouldn’t be missed. You can learn more about City Lights by visiting their website: City Lights Books. You can learn more about Vesuvio’s by visiting their site: Vesuvio’s.
Dolores Park is located in the Castro and is an excellent way to take in the views of downtown San Francisco. Being in the heart of the Castro it’s a pretty exciting park and it’s a great place to people watch while relaxing and maybe munching down on a burrito from one of the awesome taco shops that surround the park. Groups of all kinds gather here on a consistent basis. The last time I was there I ran into a large hula hoop group. It was awesome! Literally dozens of people overtook the park with their hula hoops and boom boxes.
Armed with only my trusty burrito I was so bummed I couldn’t participate! This park has also been the site for many political rallies and festivals of all kinds. If you’re visiting San Francisco at the end of June for the annual Gay Pride Parade this would be an excellent place to hang out.
It is also the starting point for the annual Dyke March and the Trans March and it’s the home of the annual Hunky Jesus contest. If you’re looking to chill outside at a beautiful park for a couple hours and don’t want to end up bored – this is the park you want to do it at. You will see cool things and meet awesome people.
People Watch at the Bay To Breakers Race
Bay to Breakers is a 12k run that spans the city. Why would it be fun to watch people run a race? Well because it isn’t just any old race, it’s a San Francisco race. What does that mean? Well in two words – it’s awesome! Of course some people take the race seriously and run it to win, however most people (read 98%) run/walk it just for fun. In fact I think half the people who run it aren’t actual paid participants. Especially the naked ones that have nothing to pin their numbers on!
There are costumes galore, drinks are flowing continuously (which I’ve been told is still currently legal) and most fun of all – nakedness abounds everywhere! Mainly it comes in the form of unfit, middle aged men stark naked, except for running shoes and a visor. It’s hysterical, goofy and a lot of fun. You will see groups of all kinds running the race and with all the ridiculousness surrounding you, by just hanging out on the street you simply won’t be able avoid joining in on the fun in some way. I’m quite bummed because I thought Bay to Breakers was this weekend and planned my post accordingly however it looks like it was a couple weeks ago. In any case, unleash your inhibitions and make your plans now for next year because it is the 100th annual race and it is sure to be absolute mayhem!
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