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The Frisky Guidebook: The City By The Bay

“I Left My Heart in San Francisco” is a pretty schmaltzy old song, but once you visit the romantic City by the Bay you’ll get why so many people end up do falling completely in love with the place. Beyond the incredible scenery (at the top of every hill, you can catch a glimpse of the sparkling Pacific and the Golden Gate Bridge), this city is all about food, food, food. (And wine!) And what’s not to love about that? Just remember to bring a sweater—while you may heart SF, it can be very chilly back to you, especially during summer. After the jump, The Frisky picks for the loveliest places to visit while you’re there.

OFFBEAT DATES

San Francisco

Ferry Plaza Market
Ferry Building, Market Street and Embarcadero
FerryBuildingMarketplace.com

On weekends, you cannot miss the sweetest farmer’s market in the country. Ditch the veggie stands outside in favor of hanging at the Hog Island Oyster Company inside the Ferry Building, slurping the little love mollusks and drinking wheat beers while looking at Alcatraz.

San Francisco

Legion of Honor Lincoln Park
34th St and Clement
(415) 750-3600, FamSF.org

Out of all the museums in town, the Legion of Honor is by far the most fabulous. It’s old beaux-arts building in Lincoln Park, overlooking the Golden Gate Bridge. It houses 4,000 works of European art, but the views are almost more spectacular than what’s inside.

San Francisco

Sutro Baths
1090 Point Lobos Ave
Hike through the ruins of the Sutro Baths down at Ocean beach. They were once the largest saltwater swimming pools, and the old photographs of the bathers are amazing. Stop for Hot Toddys at the Cliff house—it gets seriously cold and foggy down by the water. But it’s so romantic watching the seals swim around at Seal Rock.

SEXIEST HOTELS

San Francisco

The Clift
495 Geary St.
(415) 775-4700, CliftHotel.com

Expect typical Ian Schrager details like cool mod furniture and super expensive drinks, but if it’s sexy and glam you’re after, you can’t go wrong. The scene is very L.A., but much much friendlier.

San Francisco

The Phoenix
601 Eddy St.
(415) 776-1380, JDVHotels.com

This old 60s motel (it has a pool!) got a hipster facelift years ago, and is now the hotel of choice for up and coming rock stars. So if men in tight pants with floppy hair is your thang, stay here and drink all night at their lounge and wait to see who comes in.

San Francisco

Hotel Vitale
8 Mission St.
(415) 278-3700, HotelVitale.com

This brand new Embarcadero joint boasts insane views of the bay, and locals (read: young businessmen) flock to the bar and restaurant after work for the water views. And, their spa has outdoor rooftop soaking tubs. Um, sweet.

SINGLES SCENES

San Francisco

Medjool
2522 Mission St
(415) 550-9055, MedjoolSF.com

The Mission District is the warmest SF neighborhood, so check out the sky terrace at this Middle Eastern-themed bar. (It’s the only ‘sky terrace’ in town, if you can believe that.) Cute singles pack the roof for the specialty cocktail happy hour nightly.

San Francisco

The Ambassador
673 Geary St
(415) 563-8192, Ambassador415.com

This upscale joint in a downscale nabe won Citysearch’s Best Singles Scene in 2007 for good reason—the décor is swanky and very male-friendly (leather banquettes, black wallpaper) and the liquor is good and hard. Bonus—the crowd is decidedly snob free. A friend described them as “hupsters.” (Yuppie hipsters.)

Dalva
3121 16th St.
(415) 252-7740

The Mission district is honestly your best bet for trolling for booze and boys on any given night. (Or babes, whatever your fancy.) Dalva is an old-school, dimly lit beer bar that’s good for dates or flirting with new people. The crowd is a bit older than the skater boys who hang at Kilowatt across the street—which is a good thing. Those kids are always broke.

ROMANTIC DINNER A DEUX

San Francisco

Bistro Aix
3340 Steiner St.
(415) 202-0100, BistroAix.com

This tiny Marina district restaurant features an amazing French-Californian menu and has great heated patio dining. Best of all? It’s totally affordable—entrees are all under $20.

San Francisco

Baraka
288 Connecticut St.
(415) 255-0370, SFBaraka.com

Small California-Mediterranean plates like pistachio covered goat cheese with onion jam and honey are perfect for sharing on a romantic date. (Or with your best girls.)

San Francisco

Suppenkuche
601 Hayes St.
(415) 252-9289, Suppenkuche.com

Ok, so this dark and hipter-y German restaurant has communal tables, but after a few steins of Pilsner and schnitzel, you’ll fall in love with your neighbors and all the other fun people around you. Do you really need peace and quiet with your boo?

SEXY SHOPPING

Good Vibrations
603 Valencia St.
(415) 522-5460, GoodVibes.com

The largest female-friendly sex toy shop began in San Francisco! Hooray! Stop by and pick up some literature, lube, or lickable condoms. (Okay, sure, and some new vibrators).

Big Al’s Adult Books
556 Broadway
(415) 391-8510

Locals call this place Big Gay Al’s after the South Park character, but the sex shop in the heart of North Beach has plenty of everything for your naughty needs. Blow up dolls? Check. Peep shows in the back? Yep. Penis straws? Of course, even though we don’t know why one needs penis straws.

San Francisco

Alla Prima Fine Lingerie
539 Hayes St.
(415) 864-8180, AllaPrimaLingerie.com

The prettiest, flirtiest, sometimes the dirtiest lingerie can be found in this sexy little shop in the adorable Noe Valley neighborhood. Sure, SF is for outdoorsy types, but we know what goes on under those hoodies—silk bra and panty sets.

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