You've been to San Francisco. You know not to call it "Frisco," not to expect ample parking, not to forget your sweater. You know the Powell Street cable cars run through Union Square and where to find the Golden Gate Bridge. You know that most days, the Oakland Airport works as well as SFO, sometimes better. But for a small city (about 7 miles by 7 miles), San Francisco changes fast, especially the restaurants. If your itinerary is dominated by reassuring old favorites (Union Square, again! City Lights books, again!), you may be missing a lot. To remedy that, six of us fanned out across the 49 square miles in late fall and early winter, using public transportation — bus (www.sfmta.com) and BART (www.bart.gov) — and scoped out 49 listings of sweet spots in the city that are new, newly transformed or just underappreciated. (Of course, we ended up with more than 49.) We're also offering more than a dozen suggestions for hotels that won't break your personal bank. The lists of sights and accommodations aren't complete by any means, so we welcome your ideas and suggestions at email@example.com.
FOR THE RECORD:
Golden Gate Park
NightLife at the Academy, the California Academy of Sciences. These people put a buzz in biology. On NightLife Thursday nights, the museum goes adults-only, with thumping music, crazy lights, multiple bars and table tennis. (Who knew that Berlin-style table tennis was such a big thing in the city?) You'll likely find a DJ or live band in the building's central dining area, near an exhibition of California ground squirrels. Sometimes there are spiked snow cones. Tickets are usually $12 for nonmembers. The party goes 6 to 10 p.m. Then you'll need to find another. 55 Music Concourse Drive, Golden Gate Park; (415) 379-8000, http://www.calacademy.org.
— Christopher Reynolds
Fly-casting pools. Aside from the bison roaming nearby, these fly-casting practice ponds might be the most surprising and alluring park attraction in America. The casting pools draw world championships and expert anglers from the members-only lodge nearby. But the facility is also open to the public at no charge. Free lessons (and lunch) on the second Saturday of each month, starting at 9:30 a.m. In the heart of Golden Gate Park; http://www.ggacc.org.
— Chris Erskine
Conservatory of Flowers. The conservatory is a symphony of plant life. Through its 16,000 whitewashed panes of glass, the sun shines on hibiscus, bromeliads, ferns, taro plants, water lilies, lotus and more. Catch a tour with a docent at 11 a.m., 12:30 or 2:30 p.m. and learn, as I did, about such weird specimens as the Dracula orchid. "It was not named for Bela Lugosi," docent Judy Fayollat told my group. "The fellow who found it thought it looked like a little dragon." Dracula derives from draco, Latin for dragon, she said. That might give you a little chill, except there are places in the conservatory where it's 85 degrees and hotter — nice on a chilly day and remember, you're in San Francisco, so when isn't it? The only thing that breaks the harmonious atmosphere are the explosions at one end of the building. A special exhibit celebrating the city's Gold Rush years (through April 14) comes complete with recorded blasts, but its trolleys, trains and ships that move and hoot and "smoke" could keep younger folks engaged. It's included with admission: $7 for adults, $5 for kids 12-17, college students and seniors 65 and older, $2 for kids 5-11 and free for kids 4 and younger. Open 10 a.m.-4 p.m. Tuesdays-Sundays. 100 John F. Kennedy Drive; (415) 831-2090, http://www.conservatoryofflowers.org.
— Catharine Hamm
Hamon Tower, the De Young Museum. The museum's ninth-floor observation deck offers a vertigo-inducing 360-degree view of the western end of San Francisco, including the upper-most spires of the Golden Gate Bridge. Take several laps around the perimeter to scope out the sights through the floor-to-ceiling windows, stop at the book store and then head downstairs to visit the rest of the museum. 50 Hagiwara Tea Garden Drive, Golden Gate Park; (415) 750-3600, deyoung.famsf.org. Admission to the tower is free, but the De Young is $10 for adults, $6 for youths 13-17 and college students with ID.
— Anne Harnagel
Lands End. Start with views and history at the Lands End Lookout Visitor Center (opened in 2012) on the city's western edge. Then prowl the ruins of the Sutro Baths. Next, nip into the Cliff House for a pricey ocean-view meal or to nearby Louis' for a cup of red chowder. But you want to raise a sweat, so head northeast for about a mile on the much longer Coastal Trail, amid big trees and views of the Golden Gate Bridge and Marin Headlands. Then double back. Lands End Lookout, 680 Point Lobos Ave.; (415) 426-5240, http://www.parksconservancy.org/visit/park-sites/lands-end.html.
Tee Off Bar & Grill. Divey and delicious neighborhood joint with an inspired spin on pub grub, including its renowned mac 'n' cheese. Rotating menu includes kangaroo burgers and crab empanadas. All the way out in Outer Richmond, but a terrific pit stop for drinks and dinner after a day at Ocean Beach or a sunset hike along Lands End. Open 365 days a year, and among the friendliest, most-fetching places in town. Most entrees $10-$20. 3129 Clement St.; (415) 752-5439, http://www.teeoffbarandgrill.com.