While summer doesn’t exactly sizzle weather wise in San Francisco — the fog is part of the city’s charm — the season’s lineup of events, top restaurants and outstanding hotels sure does. Here are our top recommendations for what to do, where to eat and where to stay that will warm your summer spirit and set your San Francisco agenda ablaze.
What To Do: Feinstein’s At The Nikko (June 12 to September 7)
The all-new 140-seat cabaret-style theater at the Nikko Hotel welcomes a wide range of crooners this summer singing beloved Old Standards and tunes from The Great American Songbook. Some of the velvety voices that will woo you include Grammy Award-winner Steve Tyrell (June 26 to 29); pop-soul superwoman Nicole Henry (July 12 and 13); Tony Award-winner Faith Prince (July 18 to 20); and Broadway’s original “Annie,” Andrea McArdle (August 23 and 24).
Where to Eat: Wayfare Tavern
Solid renditions of American favorites can be found at celebrity-chef Tyler Florence’s Financial District bistro. Expect expertly prepared comfort foods to line the menu such as the burger with Brie, roasted onion and smoked bacon on brioche; baked mac and cheese; and deviled eggs, among other tasty chart toppers.
Where to Stay: Hotel Nikko San Francisco
Stay right at the modern Hotel Nikko located downtown, just a few blocks from the city’s popular Union Square. Take advantage of the “Stay & Park Package.” Along with accommodations in one of the spacious rooms (with lavish marble bathrooms, iPod docking stations and more), it includes free in-room Internet access and complimentary valet parking for one vehicle, which is worth it because of hefty parking prices (whether it be on the street or in garages).
What To Do: Louis Vuitton Cup (July 4 to August 30)
This prestigious race brings sailing teams from around the globe to battle it out on the bay for a chance to race in the America’s Cup, coming in September. Four out of six Louis Vuitton Cup winners have gone on to win the America’s Cup, making this an extremely important event. And past winners include Emirates Team New Zealand in 2007 and Alinghi from Switzerland in 2003 (who went on to win the America’s Cup that same year and defended it in 2007). Along the waterfront is where the action happens, or at the America’s Cup Pavilion, a temporary venue at America’s Cup Park, located at Piers 27/29, where a summer-long concert series with artists such as Weezer (July 25); Sublime (August 4); Train (August 11) and more will take the stage. Plus, it is where race day events including the opening and closing ceremonies, competitor interviews, yachting races televised on flat-screen TVs, sponsor booths and food and drink vendors will be.
Where To Eat: Waterbar
Waterbar, across the street from Hotel Vitale, features panoramic vistas of the Bay, Bay Bridge, as well as the city skyline. Inside floor-to-ceiling circular aquariums teem with marine life from the Pacific Ocean. Unsurprisingly, the seafood selection such as the pan roasted sturgeon with corn purée, ham, grilled squash and roasted potatoes or the grilled king salmon with summer squash, arugula and red-wine roasted grapes is the top choice at a place called Waterbar. And there’s also a huge raw bar if oysters whet your appetite.
Where to Stay: Hotel Vitale
Located on the revitalized Embarcadero waterfront, Hotel Vitale is an ideal base for on the Bay action and walking distance to the America’s Cup Pavilion. The “Reset Your Sails” Package nods to the revitalizing benefits of the sea, including a one-night stay in a superior water view room and a “Smooth Sailing” treatment for two (back and shoulder rub, signature bathing ritual and 50-minute massage) at the penthouse Spa Vitale.
What To Do: Outside Lands Music & Arts Festival (August 9 to 11)
Dubbed as the world’s only gourmet music festival, this ultimate eat, drink and be merry fest is a real San Francisco treat. The festival unfolds in gorgeous Golden Gate Park and brings more than 200 food and drink vendors who serve the best of Northern California while dozens of bands and performers play on various stages. This year’s lineup includes: Paul McCartney, Willie Nelson, Red Hot Chili Peppers, Kaskade, Nine Inch Nails, Daryl Hall and John Oates, as well as local performers, and artists Guy Overfelt and Jeben Berg will display their installations in the woods, while there will be live painting from Dabs Myla, Chez and Apex, Tim Diet and more. This green-conscious event, which serves as an educational forum for the community by implementing and promoting urban gardening farmers markets and refillable water stations at the event, directly benefits the San Francisco Recreation & Park Department with a special annual donation.
Where to eat: Outerlands
Not far from the park, in the Outer Sunset neighborhood, this nonchalant haunt on Judah Street looks more like a surfer’s dwelling than fabulous food outpost. But don’t let that stop you. The phenomenal menu of fresh bread and farm-to-table inspired soups (celery root and Yukon potato, for instance), sandwiches (grilled cheese brushed with olive oil and seared on a cast-iron skillet), and meat (sumac spiced pork tenderloin) and fish (local king salmon) dishes, makes visiting worthwhile.
Where to Stay: Taj Campton Place
Make this ideally situated Forbes Travel Guide Four-Star hotel your food lover’s retreat while exploring the city’s best restaurants, including the hotel’s own Campton Place, a Forbes Travel Guide Four-Star restaurant, which serves a successful fusion of modern Mediterranean and Californian cuisine and a superb brunch (try the crab cake benedict with poached eggs and hollandaise or tiger prawn frittata). This summer, book the “Love by the Bay” package and receive two nights or more in a deluxe king room at the best available rate, you’ll get daily breakfast for two, two complimentary glasses of sparkling wine in Campton Place Bistro & Bar, and a gift of luxe Molton Brown bath and body products. Or book a luxury suite for two nights at the best available rate and get 50 percent off the second night (through September 7).
Photos Courtesy of Josh Withers, Gilles Martin Raget, Hotel Nikko San Francisco, Taj Campton Place