San Francisco: 10 Things to Do

4. The Trolley to the Castro

f line trolley san francisco Peter Worth / Alamy
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You won't find better entertainment value in the U.S. for $2. Hop on a historic trolley car on the Embarcadero (you're looking for the F line) and you can ride it all the way to the Castro. Seventeen trolley cars are in service, painted in the colors of the originals from the 1920s and '30s. Rest your weary dogs as you rattle past the Wharf, down the Embarcadero and onto Market Street, one of the city's main thoroughfares.

Hop off at First Street for lunch at Sam's Grill, a classic fish place; they have an authentic sourdough loaf on each table, and they don't serve farmed fish or endangered species.

Get back on the trolley, and take it to the Castro Street station, the end of the line. San Francisco's Castro neighborhood was initially settled by gay servicemen discharged here from the Armed Forces (for being gay) during World War II. Historically, the neighborhood has always been in flux: At the turn of last century, it was known as Little Scandinavia; then it became an Irish neighborhood, until the Gay Pride Movement of the 1960s made it safe for all the ex-servicemen to come out. Nowadays the neighborhood is overrun with fashionable, rich straight people.

Grab a delicious cookie or brownie at Hot Cookie, and view the snapshots of store patrons showing off their Hot Cookie underwear. (Note that neither the pictures nor the baked goods, which are anatomically correct, are for the homophobic.) And next-door is the famous Castro Theater, a pristine, 1920s movie palace that shows excellent art and repertoire films and has a real live Wurlitzer player some nights.

From the Castro, you can walk to the Haight — it's a little less than a mile — or take Muni bus 33.

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