Vesuvio Cafe 255 Columbus Ave, San Francisco, CA 94133
On Columbus Avenue, at the end of Jack Kerouac Alley, across from City Lights Book Store is a treasure of a bar named the Vesuvio Cafe. Before the pandemic, San Francisco locals from other parts of town would generally not venture to such places as they were on the busy tourist path and you had to deal with nice folks from Kansas taking endless selfies in their shorts and newly purchased sweatshirts to fend off the summer fog and the unexpected chilly weather.
Tourism is still quite slow in San Francisco, but the City still has its charms. Vesuvio Cafe and the Jack Kerouac Alley help you slow down, read a poem or two and take in the laundry drying on the fire escape. It is good to be a tourist in your home town. I love this place.
When the shadow of the grasshopper
Falls across the trail of the field mouse
On green and slimly grass as the red sun rises
Above the Western horizon silhouetting
A gaunt and tautly muscled Indian warrior
Perched with bow and arrow cocked and aimed
Straight at you it’s time for another martini.
(poem on the wall at the Vesuvio Cafe)
Vesuvio Cafe hours: 11 AM ’till bar time
Jack Kerouac Alley is open all day and night
UPDATE: PARK CLOSURES
Municipal Pier at Aquatic Park is closed due to safety concerns.
Date Posted: 12/1/2022
Alert 1, Severity closure, Municipal Pier at Aquatic Park is closed due to safety concerns.
Municipal Pier is closed permanently. After a safety review with the U.S. Public Health Service, it was determined that the deterioration of Municipal Pier in Aquatic Park Cove is unsafe for public use.
Your San Francisco cheap thrill this week is the Fishing Pier at Aquatic Park. This is a public fishing pier at the end of Van Ness Street. In the winter people fish for crabs. At certain times of year large flounders have been caught. Surely strippers and salmon but I have not even attempted such sport. To me The Aquatic Park Pier is simply a really cool place for a short walk to take in views of the bay. Great views of the Golden Gate Bridge, Sauselito, Alcatraz and Angel Island. You also have a good view of the East Bay Hills. Then by the time you get to the end of the pier, when you look south, you are treated with stunning views of the city – Aquatic Park. Ghirardelli Square, Coit Tower, Nob Hill and North Beach.
The Aquatic Park Pier is almost a hundred years old and in quite the disrepair; it is basically crumbling into the bay. Just watch your step and avoid the yellow tape and you will be fine. The pier is a cool place to just chill and get away from world, maybe sing some Otis Redding.
Admission: Free Hours: Open dawn to dusk, year-round
Crane Cove Park will be a major new open space along the currently inaccessible former industrial shoreline. The park will be a part of the Blue Greenway, a necklace of waterfront public access connecting the City to the shore via pathways, parks and open spaces. https://sfport.com/crane-cove-park
I found Crane Cove Park in San Francisco on the day it opened purely by accident. It was a clear day and I was doing one of my bike rides around the city. Great job SF Port and all the people who made this happen! You can now update your website. (e.g., will beis)
On that old bike Lane I’ll ride it once again, just no longer will I ride with you.
I saw you pretending indifferent, from the warmth of your automobile.
This road has broken some strong ones, but it’s never gonna take my will.
The path beneath us is wicked, and best traveled on two wheels
Bike Lane – Lucas French
Where is Crane Cove Park in SF?
It is in the Mission Bay, south and not far from the new Warriors stadium along the bay. It is a stones-throw south of The Ramp and Mission Rock. It has a wading beach and a large open space that once was a shipyard. No swimming but I did see some paddle-boarders out there. Just an interesting space along the water.
The entire Mission Bay has been transformed in recent years from a district of warehouses and open spaces to a place with hospitals, UCSF and a stadium. For better or worse, many of the open spaces are now glass office buildings. However, Crane Cove Park is a welcome addition to all this development. During the summer months, May to September, Crane Cove will usually be fog-free and five degrees warmer than the rest of the city – a great respite from the fog for people living in The Sunset or further west.
COOL ACTIVITIES AT CRANE COVE PARK:
Easy short-distance, safe biking.
Views of Oakland, the bay, the Bay Bridge, old cranes
You have probably heard it a hundred times. “Way to cold to swim there in the Bay.” “How can you go in that water?” “It must be filthy!” “You’re a complete nut!!!!”
Actually, now is a great time to go to Aquatic Park and take a dip. Just think. You may be dead next year. We all may be dead next year. You only go around once as they say.
Cheap Thrills Strategy – The Plan
Wear a mask. Check out the cams online and the best bet is to go when it is sunny. North Beach in San Francisco tends to be sunnier than many other neighborhoods during the summer. Fog does push in at times, but Aquatic Park tends to be protected. There are lovely seats in the bleachers by the cove. Lot’s of space. Bring a picnic. Take in the views. Watch people as they stroll by. Alcatraz. Massive container ships from thousands of miles away coming in and out. Historic ships like the Balclutha docked close by. If you do not want to go for a swim you could make a gentleman’s bet with a friend and the person who loses has to swim out to one of the buoys. Pretty soon you will realize that the water is not too cold and the views incredible. Feel free to float on the salt water. In summer it can get up to 64 degrees Fahrenheit.
But I know you. “There is no way I am going in that water!.” You never know until you try.
McLaren Park just gets better. I brand new playground (McLaren Park Redwood Grove Playground) and bathrooms opened up along John F. Shelly Drive. Also, Shelly Drive is still closed from the parking lot down to Mansell Street and people use it as open space for walks and runs.
Some photos of McLaren Park (not to be confused with MacClaren, or McClaren Park) in San Francisco. A great place to hike, walk a dog, picnic, teach a kid how to ride a bike or just take in views of the Bay Area. With the COVID-19 shelter in place situation. McLaren Park is now being used a lot more than before. People on the weekends picnic and lie around on the mown lawns like they do at Dolores Park. Lots of kids getting to know nature. From McLaren Park there are great views of downtown San Francisco, Bernal Heights, Brisbane, Oakland, Twin Peaks, the Pacific Ocean. Mount Davidson, Mount Diablo. There is a three mile hike called the Philosopher’s Way Trail which makes it seem at times that you are not in a city but on a rural trail. John McLaren, who best loved undeveloped urban parks would be happy to see all the people out in nature.
Before McLaren Park became a park, a hundred years ago it was a horse farm with stables. Easy to imagine.
If you are in San Francisco, and there is no fog and just maybe that dynamic weather that happens during the winter when the storms start to roll in, head out to the Cliff House along The Great Highway and take in the spectacular view. If you time it right, the rays of sun will break through the clouds and you will be spellbound. It is better than going to the movies.
The 38 Geary bus, a bike ride through the wiggle and out through Golden Gate Park or even the N Judah train will all get you out to Ocean Beach in San Francisco. From the walkway at the Cliff House you can look south down the full length of Ocean Beach; one of my favorite places in San Francisco.
Close by is the Lands End Lookout Visitor Center and Lands End where you can muse over the the remains of the Sutro Baths. Another cheap thrill is to head south and walk along the promenade. If you want to get closer to the ocean it is best at a low tide and keep you eyes out if the swell is big. Alternately you can make your way to the Beach Chalet. The first floor is a small museum with elaborate murals painted by Lucien Adolphe Labaudt as a 1936 Works Progress Administration project. The murals depict people and scenes from San Francisco in the 1930s. What a bunch of characters!
At this point you may be hungry or thirsty and the Beach Chalet Restaurant on the second floor, while not cheap is very good. The wide selection of beer on tap is brewed in-house. From the dining room you can continue to enjoy the view of Ocean Beach.
Before you go, just check the weather and the tides. That is your cheap thrill of the week.
If you have never experienced San Francisco’s Carnaval it is probably time to put it on the calendar. The parade is always on Sunday Morning. Almost every country in Latin America has a float, a band, a few cars pulling something. Mexico, Peru, Colombia, Nicaragua, El Salvador, Guatemala, Brazil. We set up on 22nd Street facing East.
There are many neighborhoods in San Francisco that seem to have a paucity of parks. Parts of the Sunset. The Excelsior. Endless square blocks of houses, squeezed together like sardines. There may be huge beautiful parks like Golden Gate Park and McClaren Park, but there are not many little ones where you can just get out and escape the confines of your house to walk the dog our throw a ball around. People in each neighborhood really know about these little parks, but outsiders often require time to even find and explore them. One such park in the Sunset District is Grand View Park.
Grand View Park is simply a good-sized hill off of 19th Ave. It is surely used by the local dog walkers and morning exercisers. An interesting way to get there is to go east from 19th avenue on Moraga. When Moraga ends park. There is a most amazing stairway that leads up the hill. This stairway, a product of the Golden Gate Heights Neighborhood Association, has a beautiful mosaic running up its steps.
After climbing these steps, one winds ones way up more steps to the top. The views at the top are stupendous. One can see downtown, Alcatraz, the Golden Gate Bridge, the Marin Headlands and of course the immense Pacific Ocean. Below are some photos of Grand View Park where tourist buses rarely venture.