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  • Explore San Francisco During AAO 2023


    If you've ever seen the classic movies “Vertigo” or “Escape from Alcatraz,” you will recognize San Francisco’s most famous venues. From cable car rides to a jaunt across the Golden Gate Bridge, the city offers a banquet for the senses.

    But San Francisco isn’t just one city. It’s a fusion of neighborhoods, cuisines and activities that change with the decades. Even if you’ve been here once, it’s likely there are new restaurants and activities to try during AAO 2023. To help you out, the Academy’s young ophthalmologists draw back the curtain on the things they love to do in their city by the bay.

    Andrea-Naranjo-Lopez-MD-smallAndrea Naranjo Lozano, MD
    PGY-4 at Stanford University

    First-timers: There are some classics that shouldn’t be missed if this is the first time you are visiting San Francisco and the Bay Area. Visit the Palace of Fine Arts and go back in time while strolling in the most picturesque area of San Francisco. Alcatraz is an exceptional experience, starting off with a beautiful ferry ride to the island. Then immerse yourself in the one-of-a-kind Alcatraz prison cellhouse. Other classic tourist attractions include tours of Golden Gate Park, Twin Peaks (with a 360-degree view of the city), Coit Tower, Japanese Tea Garden, Lombard Street and Dolores Park

    Family-friendly: My all-time favorite is the Bay Area Discovery Museum in Sausalito, where kids can run free to unleash their creativity and energy while having the Golden Gate Bridge in the background.

    Discover Breathtaking Views

    A hidden gem of the Golden Gate Bridge: Although most tourists flock to the bridge itself, there's a secret spot across the bridge in Marin County that offers jaw-dropping views like no other: Hawk Hill. Whether you drive, cycle, or hike to the top, the epic view will leave you breathless. A piece of advice: bring a jacket, as it can get very windy up there!

    Mount Tamalpais: Prepare to float in the clouds. The heart of Marin County is only 20 minutes north of the Golden Gate Bridge, where you will encounter a beautiful redwood forest with view to the Marin County hills, San Francisco Bay and city, the East Bay, and far off Mount Diablo in Contra Costa County. 

    Tantalize Your Taste Buds

    La Taqueria: If you're on a budget but craving authentic San Francisco flavors, don't miss out on La Taqueria, a classic spot on Mission Street serves up the city's famous burritos. 

    Cotogna: If you’re in the mood for an upscale dining experience, prepare yourself for a culinary delight at Cotogna, where the best Italian food awaits. 

    Copra: Recommended for an incredible Indian feast and fantastic vibes.

    Pier 39: A classic for first-timers, full of restaurants and small shops with a lively environment but can get very crowded. If you decide to go, make sure to see the sea lions at the end of the deck and stop by Boudin Bakery for classic clam chowder in a delicious, fresh bread bowl.

    Ferry Building at nightFerry Building: Make sure to step inside this gorgeous building to find all types of cuisines and souvenirs. 

    Sip Your Way to Happiness

    Coffee: Whether you're in need of a caffeine fix or a place to unwind and people-watch while buried in books, Pinhole Coffee and the iconic Philz Coffee have got you covered. Philz Coffee’s mint mojito is a must! 

    Drinks: The Beehive is guaranteed cocktail perfection with an animated crowd. If you prefer to be outdoors, don’t miss Happy hour at El Techo for an amusing atmosphere at a cool rooftop. 

    Escape to Paradise With Day Trips

    Napa Valley: If you’re a wine enthusiast, Napa Valley is your paradise destination. My personal favorites include HALL St. Helena (just north of the city of Napa) for Cabernet Sauvignon and Schramsberg Vineyards in Calistoga for sparkling wines. 

    Half Moon Bay: Energetic beach-town vibe with delicious cuisine and beautiful beaches. Half Moon Bay Golf Links offers a stunning golf course frequently compared to Pebble Beach! For a top-notch weekend brunch visit the Ritz-Carlton and don’t miss the best clam chowder and lobster roll at Sam’s Chowder House

    Silicon Valley and Stanford University: The Mecca of technology and innovation. Apple Park in Cupertino and Googleplex are one of the favorites to visit. Don’t miss the stunning Stanford University campus and make sure to stop by the Rodin Sculpture Garden and the Cantor Arts Center. Highly recommend walking all around campus and stopping by Memorial Church and Hoover for a memorable picture. 

    Meron-Haile-MD-smallMeron K. Haile, MD
    Member, YO Committee
    Comprehensive Ophthalmologist
    The Permanente Medical Group

    So much to see and eat ... so little time!


    Moya: casual Ethiopian just under a mile from the convention center. Have fun eating with your hands! Whether you’re a carnivore or vegan, there’s something delicious on the menu for you.

    Spruce: something more formal and a bit “far out” in Laurel Heights but has great ambiance and the food is top notch. One of my favorite occasion spots.

    If you want to combine your entertainment with a long eclectic list of food options, definitely check out Spark Social in the Mission Bay neighborhood and nearby Stagecoach Greens for mini-golf (Remember to book a tee time).

    Hayes Valley (start at Hayes and Laguna streets) also has a great strip of boutiques and restaurants that could keep you occupied for hours (visit Salt & Straw for ice cream, a Mano for Italian food).

    Other Honorable Mentions: La Mediterranee in Noe Valley, Little Star Pizza (multiple locations), Nopalito, Gracias Madre (vegan Mexican food).

    Cafes and Pastry

    B Patisserie is a cute cafe known best for its Kouign-amann multilayered pastry but also has a black sesame latte that is to die for!

    Some of my other favorites: Tartine Manufactory, Neighbor Bakehouse, Thorough Bread and Pastry, Four Barrel Coffee

    Places That Combine Views and Food

    The Ferry Building has been mentioned before but deserves to be mentioned again because you can cover so much ground in one location. Stop by Humphrey Slocombe for ice cream, Hog Island Oyster Co. for the fresh seafood and Blue Bottle for amazing coffee.

    And if all that doesn’t fill your plate:

    Check out a Golden State Warriors basketball game at the Chase Center.

    Land’s End is the hike most folks would recommend, and I can’t say I disagree, it’s beautiful.

    Tiffany-A.-Chen-MD-smallTiffany A. Chen, MD
    Assistant Professor, Pediatric Ophthalmology
    UC San Francisco

    Stephanie-P.-Chen-MD-smallStephanie P. Chen, MD
    Altos Eye Physicians
    Assistant Professor of Clinical Ophthalmology
    UC San Francisco
    Cataract, Cornea and External Disease

    Welcome to San Francisco, our quirky but beautiful home! We offer great food, Michelin-starred restaurants galore, but you will need advanced reservations. Some tips to remember:

    Our city is a center for both wine and coffee connoisseurs — check them out! If all else fails, FourSquare recommendations are typically pretty good.

    Bring layers of clothing. San Francisco microclimates are a real thing; once the sun sets, it gets COLD!

    Now for the good stuff.


    Restoration Hardware Dogpatch: Grab a glass of wine on the first floor at the bar and then drink it and hang out on the rooftop

    Local Edition: An underground cocktail bar with live music

    Novela: Library cocktail bar

    Dawn Club: Jazz club and bar

    Etcetera: Wine bar and tapas

    Ungrafted: wine bar and restaurant

    The Interval at Fort Mason: This is a cool, hip coffee shop by day, bar by night with a decidedly intellectual flair. Also has a killer ginger lemon honey tea for those non-alcohol inclined.

    Fave Michelin Star Restaurants

    Birdsong (New American)

    Lazy Bear (New American)

    Omakase: Japanese cuisine where the restaurant decides what you eat

    Kusakabe (Japanese)


    Neighbor Bakehouse: Mouth-watering morning pastries and sourdough breads. Lots of coffee shops sell their pastries too.

    Tartine/Tartine Manufactory: Described by Bon Appetit magazine as “America’s most influential bakery,” they bring breadmaking to a new level.

    Breadbelly: First-class baked goods inspired by Asian traditions. Try the sweet pastries as well as savory sandwiches. Order online.

    Cinderella Bakery and Cafe: Russian café with savory and sweet baked goods.

    Coffee Shops

    Blue Bottle Coffee (multiple locations)

    Sightglass Coffee: Shops on Divisadero Street, in the Mission District and South of Market (SoMa)

    Four Barrel Coffee

    Saint Frank Coffee

    Philz Coffee (multiple locations): The mint mojito is classic.

    Verve Coffee Roasters: Our personal fav — get the avocado toast with poached egg for a hearty snack!


    Z&Y: Chinese, in Chinatown

    China Live: Chinese food in a modern setting

    Daeho: Korean dishes. The kalbijjim (braised short ribs) is a must but also all of the soups are amazing.

    Sushi Hon: Excellent affordable omakase

    Udon Miguzo: Located in Japantown, it also has lots of sushi and ramen options.

    Kitchen Story and Sweet Maple: Go there for brunch and get the millionaires bacon!

    Roka Akor: Offers Japanese fusion dishes. We recommend the yuzu-miso marinated cod and kurobuta pork belly.


    a Mano

    Barzotto: Featuring hand-rolled pasta

    Flour + Water: $$$ pasta and pizza

    Long Bridge: Thin crust sourdough pizza

    You Choose

    La Taquería, Taquería Cancun (multiple locations go to the 3211 Mission St. for burritos and other Mexican fare)

    Lolinda: Our fave restaurant in the city, an Argentinian steak house

    Foreign Cinema: Very cool outdoor patio ambiance and screenings

    Chez Maman: Homey French food with two locations in Hayes Valley and Potrero Hill

    Cassava: California cuisine with an affordable prix fixe menu

    Piccino: Laid back fare with pizza and pasta with produce grown from a local farm

    Souvla (multiple locations): Delicious Greek “fast food” for a quick meal

    Lavash: Persian (Get the lamb ribs and pomegranate chicken!)

    Greens: Delicious vegetarian with gorgeous Bay views

    Food trucks and miniature golf: Spark Social Mission Bay


    Salt & Straw: Best ice cream!

    U Dessert Story: Assorted delicious Asian desserts. Think various matcha, shaved ice and brick toasts.

    Boba Guys: Multiple locations across the Bay Area

    Dandelion Chocolate: Our fave chocolate store. Tours and classes available.


    Legion of Honor and de Young Museums

    San Francisco Museum of Modern Art (SFMOMA)

    830_palace-fine-artsPalace of Fine Arts

    California Academy of Science (great for kids and natural history buffs)


    Hayes Valley and Mission districts for cute shops and lots of food options. In the Mission, stick to Valencia Street.

    Union Square for a classic San Francisco shopping experience. But stay east of Taylor Street.

    Parks and Sightseeing

    Golden Gate Park: Best for taking a nice walk. Visit the Botanical Gardens, Shakespeare Garden, Japanese Tea Garden,

    Dolores Park

    Trails and Gorgeous Views

    Ocean Avenue and beach, Lands End: Breathe in the fresh air of the Pacific with windswept views of the Golden Gate Bridge.

    Fort Mason Center is good for a stroll, but also for theater, arts and crafts and galleries

    Crissy Field: A favorite spot for a brisk morning stroll or jog

    China Beach: See the other side of the bay and get a unique view of Golden Gate Bridge.

    Twin Peaks

    Ferry Building has lots of specialty cheese, coffee and candy. Stroll down the Embarcadero shoreline and take a ferry ride.

    Day Trips

    Before or after your stay, check out Napa and Sonoma for wine tasting. Some wineries are within an hour’s drive of the city.

    Cross the Golden Gate Bridge and head to cute and friendly Sausalito and Tiburon.

    Climb Hawk Hill and explore the Marin Headlands for gorgeous views of Golden Gate Bridge and the city skyline.