Local Attractions

Tourist Attractions

  • Ferry Building - Right across the street from the conference hotel, San Francisco’s ferry building is a ferry terminal, a shopping/food destination, and on the weekend an epic outdoor farmers and crafts market. A great place to grab lunch between sessions! (http://www.ferrybuildingmarketplace.com/)
  • Fisherman’s Wharf - A classic San Francisco attraction, go for the fun seaside attractions, stay for the sea lions. (http://visitfishermanswharf.com/)
  • Golden Gate Bridge - Iconic Golden Gate Bridge connects San Francisco to Marin County. It’s scenic to visit from the SF side, and you can walk or bike onto or across it, even going so far as Sausalito for lunch. Bikes are available for rent all over San Francisco. (http://goldengatebridge.org/visitors/)
  • Coit Tower - Located in Telegraph Hill, walking distance from the conference hotel, the 1922 Art Deco tower and its art make an easy and beautiful outing from the conference. (http://sfrecpark.org/destination/telegraph-hill-pioneer-park/coit-tower/)
  • Alcatraz - You need to take a ferry to Alcatraz, which is a bit pricy, but in our opinion quite worthwhile if you have the time and interest; it is a visually and emotionally captivating excursion. Ferries are available at Pier 33. (http://www.nps.gov/alca/index.htm)
  • Cable cars - Hang off the side of one of San Francisco’s iconic cable cars. You can catch them from a variety of stations along Market Street in downtown San Francisco, or ride along the Embarcadero (where the hotel is located) in a vintage car. (http://www.sfcablecar.com/)
  • Chinatown - The largest Chinatown outside of Asia and the oldest in North America is best explored on foot. Eat some delicious Chinese food and explore the many stores (http://www.sanfranciscochinatown.com)
  • Ghirardelli Square - Originally a chocolate factory, this square now hosts a variety of waterfront stores and restaurants and, of course, some delicious chocolate and ice cream! (http://www.ghirardellisq.com).
  • Japanese Tea Garden - Don’t miss the oldest public Japanese Garden in the U.S., which is also where the fortune cookie was introduced to Americans. Enjoy the serene atmosphere while you sip some tea in their tea house (http://japaneseteagardensf.com)


  • Aziza/Mourad - Chef Mourad Lahlou’s restaurants serve creative Moroccan food in traditional ambience. Mourad is newly-opened and more pricey but with beautiful surroundings (http://mouradsf.com)
  • Burma Superstar - Never had Burmese food? You need to try this. Locations in San Francisco and Oakland. (http://www.burmasuperstar.com/)
  • Chez Panisse - Alice Waters’ famed Berkeley eatery is worth a trek (the BART train is a good way to get there). Reservations are hard to come by, but plan in advance either for the upstairs casual bistro, or the much fancier (and pricier) pre fixe downstairs dining room. (http://www.chezpanisse.com)
  • Dosa on Valencia - South Indian fare with a California take. Get reservations in advance. Locations on Valencia St and Fillmore St. (http://dosasf.com)
  • Flour + Water - SFs top pizza and fancy Italian. Tough to get into. Go early and be prepared to wait, but it’s worth it. (http://www.flourandwater.com/)
  • Nopalito - Traditional Mexican food with local and organic ingredients. (http://www.nopalitosf.com)
  • Slanted Door - Chef Charles Phan’s nationally-acclaimed Vietnamese restaurant in the Ferry building has great views of the Bay and delicious food. (http://www.slanteddoor.com)
  • Yank Sing - Amazing and authentic dim sum in the Rincon Center, close to the conference hotel. Crowded. Worth it. (http://www.yanksing.com/)

Nature & Exercise

  • Golden Gate Park - Golden Gate Park has tons to do whether you’re up for a quick visit or a longer stay. Lots of trails for hiking and biking, botanical gardens, the California Academy of Sciences, and the De Young museum, just to name a few (there is even a herd of bison that live in the park!). To get there grab the N-Judah Muni train from Embarcadero, right across from the conference hotel. (http://sfrecpark.org/parks-open-spaces/golden-gate-park-guide/)
  • East Bay Parks - The hills above Berkeley and Oakland are a continuous string of parks. Hike for miles and witness stunning views of the bay starting in Tilden park which is accessible and wonderful above Berkeley. (http://www.ebparks.org/parks/tilden.htm)
  • Bay Trail: Enjoy walking or riding along this ~340 mile trail along the Bay. (http://baytrail.org)
  • The Presidio - If you’re seeking nature, head here to enjoy majestic woods and stunning views of the Golden Gate Bridge and the Bay. (http://www.nps.gov/prsf/index.htm)


  • De Young - In Golden Gate Park, museum with a view. (http://deyoung.famsf.org/)
  • SF MOMA - The SF Museum of Modern Art is closed for a major renovation, but they have mobile exhibits at sites all over the Bay Area. (http://www.sfmoma.org/)
  • Asian Art Museum - One of the largest collections of Asian art in the world (http://www.asianart.org)
  • California Academy of Sciences - Part zoo, part natural history museum, part planetarium, part aquarium, there’s an awful lot to see here! Go early if you go on the weekend. (http://www.calacademy.org/)
  • Museum of the African Diaspora: Explore the history, art, and culture of the African Diaspora (http://www.moadsf.org)
  • Oakland Museum of California: Learn about the science, history and art of the Golden State (http://museumca.org)
  • Lawrence Hall of Science: Offers science exhibits and an interactive planetarium (http://www.lawrencehallofscience.org)
  • Chabot Space & Science Center: The planetarium and telescopes are fun for kids and adults alike (http://www.chabotspace.org/index.htm)
  • Tech Museum of Innovation (Peninsula) - Enjoy a variety of tech exhibits from social robots to virtual worlds in downton San Jose (https://www.thetech.org)
  • Computer History Museum (Peninsula) - For computer history buffs, this is worth a trip to Mountain View to experience the world’s largest collection of computing artifacts (http://www.computerhistory.org)
  • And, of course, just down the street from the hotel is the famous Exploratorium science museum, where the conference banquet will be held on Tuesday evening!

Kids & Family

  • San Francisco Zoo
  • Oakland Zoo
  • Exploratorium

Bigger Adventures

  • Wine Country - Visit Napa, Sonoma, or Russian River for some scenic country and amazing wine. You’ll need to rent a car or catch a tour bus from San Francisco
  • Half Moon Bay - Head South along the peninsula to the quaint beach town where, among other things, you can get great fish tacos.
  • Santa Cruz - Further south (1.5-2 hours from SF) there’s tons to do in Santa Cruz, including the iconic beach boardwalk.
  • Muir Wood and Mt. Tam - Muir Woods is perhaps the most famous of the Redwood forests. Think awe inspiring trees and ferny undergrowth. Again you’ll need to either catch a tour or have access to a car to get there, but it’s typically an hour or less to get there. Bring a good jacket.
  • Sausalito - Just over the Golden Gate Bridge, Sausalito is lovely on a sunny day, and a great place for window shopping and a bite in a lovely Bay setting.
  • Monterey and Carmel-by-the-Sea - Even further south than Santa Cruz are Monterey and Carmel. Perhaps the most accessible attraction is Monterey Bay Aquarium, which is 100% worth a visit if you make it down there.
  • Mount Diablo (East Bay): This 3,849 ft mountain provides spectacular views of the Bay area. You can drive to the summit or if you have time for an adventure, there are hiking trails to the top!