Your crib sheet to entertaining not-as-cool-as-you visitors

Published On 07/26/2013 Published On 07/26/2013
The SF Palace of Fine Arts
Kevin Cole

If you just got a call from someone telling you they "can't wait to see 'Frisco" (*shudder*) and that they've only packed shorts and t-shirts because "it's near LA, right?", you may want to hit the ol' save-er-rooni button down at the bottom of the page so you can show your "San Fran" (*dry heave*) visitors a good time with these dandy step-by-step guides for out-of-towners like: THE GUEST: YOUR SISTER AND HER THREE-YEAR-OLD KID Her days of taking shots of Apple Pucker with her sorority sisters (and you!) have sadly been replaced by a toddler and a harried expression on her face that tells you she just wants to keep the little one happy and possibly knock back a glass or two of "mommies-only juice". Here're five ways to make her visit not suck suck less. Subpar Miniature Golf, 1151 Park St; Alameda; 510.521.4653 Though you may have to help the little tyke with the golf club, this spot has putt-putt holes designed by local artists to represent all the major monuments in the greater Bay Area, meaning you can do a cheating tour of everything from the Golden Gate to Lombard St without having to actually go to any of them.

Lowell Robinson

Exploratorium, Pier 15; The Embarcadero; 415.563.7337
The Explo's new digs on the Embarcadero now have everything an eager toddler could want to look at, play with, and get his/her hands all over, plus there's a bar where you can grab a drink/meal while the kid's on brain-overload.

The Carousel at Yerba Buena Gardens, 745 Mission St; SOMA; 415.820.3550
Take the little guy/gal on a ride around the merry-go-round before he's too old to realize how boring old-fashioned entertainment really is.

The California Academy of Sciences, 55 Music Concourse Dr; Inner Richmond; 415.379.8000
Despite the fact that you've probably only been to their adults-only (in a boozy way, not sexy way) Nightlife events, this place is super rad with a planetarium (WALL-E!!!), aquariums (Dory!!!), and an Earthquake Simulation Room (probably inappropriate for a toddler!!!). It's entertaining enough that you could probably handle things alone here while your sister takes a break and indulges in her totally-useful-in-real-life Art History Major at the de Young.

Straw, 203 Octavia Blvd; Hayes Valley; 415.431.3663
If you want to feed the kid, what better place than a carnival-themed restaurant where everything seems garnered to a little kid's tastes (potato chip nachos, mini corn dogs, Jenga French toast). Bonus: you and your sis can grab a cotton candy or Fun Dip cocktail, all while sitting in a tilt-a-whirl booth. Seriously.

Gramma and Grandpa are finally coming to town (after you've assured them all the damn hippies are [mostly] gone), and these two Greatest Generationers deserve the Greatest Time. Here, the five stops to give it to them:

Conservatory of Flowers in Golden Gate Park, 100 John F. Kennedy Dr; Inner Richmond; 415.831.2090
Avoid the homeless-shanty-town parts of GG Park and instead opt for the gardens and Conservatory of Flowers, which'll have your g'ma so delighted, she won't even notice your g'pa appreciatively checking out the girls in Lulus jogging by.

Legion of Honor, 34th Ave & Clement St; The Richmond; 415.750.3600
Trick your g'pa into coming with the vaguely militaristic-sounding name before Shyamalan-ing him with the fact that it's actually a classic art museum your grandma'll find lovely, even if those Impressionists are a little modern for her tastes. 

House of Prime Rib, 1906 Van Ness Ave; Nob Hill; 415.885.4605
Old-school San Francisco at its finest, this spot has everything your parents' parents could want, an extremely classy restaurant where you'd feel out of place without a tie and sport coat. Also: meeeeeaaaaattttt!!!

Bobak Ha'Eri

Top of the Mark, 999 California St; Nob Hill; 415.616.6916
Because you're pretty sure their generation invented it, take them for a Happy Hour at this super-high-up spot with amazing views of the entire Bay (or fog layer, depending), where you can grab stiff drinks, hear some stories about the Korean War, and re-learn that your sweet little grandma could drink you under the table if she wanted.

Palace of Fine Arts, 3301 Lyon St; The Presidio; 415.563.6504
Just take a (slow) walk around this historic building before going in for whatever cool event you bought tickets for (the Broadway exposition over Russell Brand?) right before your grandpa makes the most of your spent money by falling asleep.

After one too many times waking up pantsless in an area he's not quite familiar with, Ol' Kimball is on the sober-only fun path, and since he's your brother-in-frat-arms, it's your duty to get into as much mischief that doesn't actually involve mischief, like, say, five still-fun-with-no-booze spots:

House of Air, 926 Mason St; The Presidio; 415.345.9675
Take him and a group of buddies to this trampoline spot for some serious fun with dodgeball, the giant trampoline stadium, and a brutal reminder that your Bro Nameth's sobriety has left him in much better shape than you.

Giants Game at AT&T Park, 24 Willie Mays Plaza; SOMA; 415.972.2000
Arguably the best sports team we have has arguably one of the best stadiums around with some of the most gourmet/delicious food that you will ever get from concession stands, plus you should really spring the extra dollars for Club Level, because it's basically the difference between the Capitol and District 12... you know, from The Hunger Games... oh, well, it's this movie where... nm.

Mission Chinese Food, 2234 Mission St; The Mission; 415.863.2800
Just because he no longer has a taste for the suds doesn't mean he doesn't have a taste for grub, so go to this quintessentially SF spot for an absolutely amazing/famous grown-up version of the delivery you used to get from the spot around the corner.

Mission Bowling Club, 3176 17th St; The Mission; 415.863.2695
Relive that glorious semester of Bowling PE that you two took together at this awesome Mish spot. Get the Mission Burger, which you're required to try before you die, and then sneak in a beer or two while your buddy's bowling a frame.

S&R Lounge, 55 5th St; SOMA; 415.321.6000
Even though ostensibly the downstairs is more of a cocktail bar, you can grab some food from the same team behind some of the best restaurants in the 7x7 before heading upstairs to take part in a myriad of great games like giant Jenga, soccer ball Plinko, and Wii U.

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1. Subpar Miniature Golf 1511 Park St., Alameda, CA 94501

Subpar's got ping pong, pool, an arcade, and a cantina for food/drink, but their main attraction is an indoor 18-hole course that includes obstacles made to resemble landmarks from around the Bay Area. The golf may be mini, but it'll make you feel maxi. Allied: A real hole in one? Going to the AMF Bowling Center at 300 Park St and picking up some Smith & Forge, the hard cider that's built strong -- built from Apples and built to Refresh. .

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2. Exploratorium Pier 15, San Francisco, CA 94111 (Embarcadero)

Ditch your loving family and embrace your inner man-child at Exploratorium's brand new complex at Pier 15. Their main restaurant's got a full bar (for the adult in the child in you), and they've got another restaurant that's dishing out goods like chickpea-battered fish fingers. Hit up exhibits on "Human Phenomena" (including a Pac-Man game that explores teamwork -- "See, Dad?? Spending hours on a one-player game can build social skills!") and "Tinkering".

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3. Yerba Buena Gardens 745 Mission St, San Francisco, CA 94103 (Soma)

Location at 4th and Mission, Yerba Buena's a public park that features the Martin Luther King Jr. Reflecting Pool, a waterfall, and an old-school carousel, among other attractions.

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4. California Academy of Sciences 55 Music Concourse Dr, San Francisco, CA 94118 (Inner Richmond)

Housing nearly 40,000 live animals, the California Academy of Sciences is the only place on Earth with an aquarium, a natural history museum, a planetarium, and a four-story rainforest in the same building.

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5. Straw 203 Octavia Blvd, San Francisco, CA 94102 (Hayes Valley)

Straw is an over-the-top-playful, carny-themed eatery imagined by a quartet of former Outside Lands concession-eers, with a festive 30-seat interior anchored by a booth built from an actual Tilt-a-Whirl car, plus framed Coney Island photography, light fixtures made of Exeter Mason jars, and a bathroom full of funhouse mirrors, also what Kirstie Alley calls normal mirrors in an effort to avoid a shame spiral.

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6. Conservatory of Flowers 100 John F. Kennedy Dr, San Francisco, CA 94118 (Inner Richmond)

Started in the 1860s, the Conservatory of Flowers is now housed primarily in a massive greenhouse in Golden Gate Park and is one of the most popular landmarks in San Francisco.

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7. Legion of Honor Museum 34th Ave & Clement St, San Francisco, CA 94121 (The Richmond)

In a setting overlooking the Pacific and the Golden Gate Bridge, the Legion of Honor palace/museum contains over 4,000yrs of art and artifacts.

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8. Top of the Mark 999 California St, San Francisco, CA 94108 (Nob Hill)

Located at the top of the Intercontinental Mark Hopkins Hotel, this spot offers crazy views of the city skyline, the ocean, and the Golden Gate Bridge, while also slinging delicious light eats and cocktails (including their famous 100 Martinis menu!).

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9. Palace of Fine Arts 3301 Lyon St, San Francisco, CA 94123 (The Presidio)

Originally constructed for the 1915 Panama-Pacific Exposition, this beautiful behemoth hosts art exhibits, weddings, and other live events.

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10. House of Air 926 Mason St, San Francisco , CA 94129 (The Presidio)

House of Air is an indoor trampoline park located inside a converted air hangar in Crissy Field. Seriously. The hallmark of the jump center is The Matrix, which includes a basketball court-size structure made of 42 conjoining trampolines and a separate trampoline bowl modeled after skateparks. The 8,000sqft space includes also includes a trampoline dodgeball court. Sounds like the perfect rainy day activity.

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11. AT&T Park 24 Willie Mays Plz, San Francisco, CA 94107 (Soma)

This pitcher-friendly park offers 8 luxury suites and 6,700 club seats, including 1,500 at field-level behind home plate. Keeping things old school, the park has enormous right-field score boards manually operated by just three guys. Make your own blast to the past and attend the SF Giants home opener, Tuesday April 8th vs. the Arizona Diamondbacks.

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12. Mission Chinese Food 2234 Mission St, San Francisco, CA 94110 (The Mission)

Though Danny Bowien's since expanded with two NYC locations, the original SF Mission Chinese, which he opened inside a rundown Chinese restaurant in 2000, started it all. The creative Mission eatery takes an interesting spin on classic Chinese dishes. You’ll find the usual suspects like Mongolian long beans, ma po tofu, and sesame chicken, but the real showstoppers are his fun spins on classics. Kung pao pastrami, thrice-cooked bacon and rice cakes, and kung pao burritos are far from forgettable.

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13. Mission Bowling Club 3176 17th St, San Francisco, CA 94110 (The Mission)

Equipped with six lanes from an old Fort Bragg alley, MBC's ready to make your bowling experience feel all the more fancy with tufted leather booths where you can get down on fare that you'd be hard pressed to find in most bowling alleys, from gumbo-spiced red bean hushpuppies and harissa sauced lamb meatballs to Korean baby back ribs and English pea toast. And because bowling requires drinking, you'll also find a solid craft beer selection available in both pitchers and flights.

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14. S&R Lounge 55 5th St, San Francisco, CA 94103 (Soma)

With a kickass cocktail list and food designed by Park Tavern/Marlowe chef Jennifer Puccio, S&R's a SOMA loungy bar in Hotel Zetta with an entire "Playroom" dedicated to childhood games made adult-size, like an enormous Plinko board that uses soccer balls (!).