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The Beacon Insider

Exclusive, curated content and experiences from our Team & Social Hosts.


best urban hiking in san francisco

Urban hiking is one of the fastest-growing trends in a modern-day tourist's exploration of a city, and San Francisco has some of the best in the world. Rather than exploring mountains and forests, you can find natural beauty right outside the Beacon Grand. In addition to our colorful city streets, we also have Golden Gate Park, the Presidio, and Twin Peaks. When you want to get a nearby break from the action of the city streets you can continue your walking journey into our wooded parks, vista lookouts, or sandy ocean beaches all without venturing outside of San Francisco. Golden Gate Park Golden Gate Park, which starts at Stanyan and ends at the Great Highway is 1,017 acres, covers approximately 50 city blocks, and is one of the largest parks in America. With numerous trails, museums, lakes, and gardens to explore. A great route through the heart of the action starts at the Botanical Gardens past the California Academy of Science and The De Young Museum. When in front of De Young, search the base of the trees to find a hidden little green door where Fairies live! As you continue deeper into the park you will pass the butterflies that flutter through the Chinese Pavilion on Strawberry Hill, continue down John F. Kennedy Drive to say hello to the buffalo that live in, and cheer on the remote boats that race on Spreckles Lake. Lands End Another great adventure and hiking destination is Lands End. Situated on a rocky bluff overlooking the Pacific Ocean, it has views that stretch forever up and down the coast. This includes sights of the Golden Gate Bridge, as well as the ruins of the Sutro Baths, a public saltwater swimming pool complex that was built in 1894 and burnt down in 1966. Continue your hike among dark cypress trees and grassy cliffs and be sure to check out the beautiful view from Pont Lobos. Palace of Fine Arts Lastly, enjoy a hike past the beautiful Palace of Fine Arts, originally built for the 1915 Panama Pacific World's Fair to show that San Francisco was alive and well after the 1906 earthquake. Completely rebuilt from 1964 to 1974, it is the only structure from the exposition that survives on site. This amazing piece of architecture is not to be missed. From the Palace, walk to Chrissy Field to take in views of the Bay and Golden Gate Bridge. An insider tip, try to time your urban hike around sunset. This is an epic spot to watch the sun drop into the bay. - Leif Sent Me BACK TO THE BEACON


best consignment shopping in san francisco

Are you looking for an inexpensive designer item while shopping during your trip to San Francisco? You Social Host Emma here, and I have a few consignment stores that are a must-hit. I love a good bargain and there is something so therapeutic about sifting through racks of consignment clothing for that perfect new piece. Crossroads Trading Company My all-time favorite place to buy, sell, trade, and cosign fashion is Crossroads Trading Company located in the Castro, Fillmore, and Inner Sunset. Each location features pieces unique to its neighborhood. For example, you'll find eclectic pieces in the Castro and workwear in the Fillmore. Another perk about Crossroads is that they focus on quality versus quantity. Sizes are sometimes limited, but I've found amazing designer pieces from Theory, and even my favorite red-bottomed Christian Louboutins. Community Thrift Store Community Thrift Store in the Mission is my go-to for clothes I need in a pinch or for a special occasion, such as Halloween. Don't assume anything negative about the store based on the super affordable prices. One of my favorite finds there is a blouse by Just Female, originally $99 that I scored for $7. If you search thoughtfully, you too can find these types of hidden gems. Buffalo Exchange Lastly, Buffalo Exchange with two locations, one in the Mission and one in Haight, is a must for all shoppers. Although they don't have as many designer pieces as Crossroads, they do have a larger selection of used clothing. One important note is that the shoe selection here is fabulous! Additionally, they celebrate Earth Day with a "$1 Sale" - yes, most pieces are reduced to one dollar. My friends and I will make a day out of shopping at the Mission location; I suggest reserving a table a Lolo for after shopping to show off all of your killer finds. And if you're donning a piece you discovered at one of these hidden gems, please be sure to find me in the lobby or The Post Room to show off your fabulous find. I'd love to share in your shopping joy! - Emma BACK TO THE BEACON


secret mosaic staircases

San Francisco, California, is one of the hilliest cities in the United States, some with up to 45-degree angle slants. As a result, the city has more than 600 public stairways, some of which have been decorated with beautiful tile mosaics. These hidden gems are mostly tucked away in residential neighborhoods, not near tourist landmarks, thus, if you're not a local you aren't likely to discover these destinations by chance. You might even say that the tiles have turned forgotten places into colorful art, and thus these gorgeous mosaic stairs are some of my favorite destinations to visit. 16th Avenue Tiled Steps My favorite mosaic stairs, the 16th Avenue Tiled Steps, are arguably the most famous in San Francisco. For those who are brave enough, climb to the top for sweeping views of the Sunset District and the Pacific Ocean. Designed to portray "from sea to stars", the staircase begins with an underwater scene filled with fish and other sea creatures. As you make your way up, you'll notice the scene begins to transform, featuring land and sky creatures. Lastly, the tiled stars shine through the navy blue background until the sun greets you at the top. Colette Crutcher and Aileen Barr are the masterminds behind the 163-step piece of art. Don't forget to look side to side and admire the gardens that line the staircase, filled with plants, shrubbery, and the occasional butterfly colony. Lincoln Park Steps My second favorite, the Lincoln Park Steps, are sprinkled with blue, yellow, orange, and green tiles brightening up California Street's dead end. The short 52-step staircase connects the aforementioned California Street to Lincoln Park Golf Course, one of the most scenic urban golf courses in the world. Additionally, you'll find the Legion of Honor and the Land's End Trail nearby. The Lincoln Park Steps were designed by Aileen Barr, who also helped design the two other staircases mentioned. The original concrete steps date back to the 1900s but were redesigned over 100 years later by Barr and her team. On sunny days, the mosaic tiles glisten as the eclectic colors shine brightly. The fan-like design within the tiles is welcoming to visitors and locals alike who seek a calm spot to relax with their furry friends or enjoy a beverage. Arelious Walker Stairway At 87-steps, the Arelious Walker Stairway is intended to bring two neighborhoods together, connecting India Basin to Hunters Point shipyard in the Hunters Point District of The City. Also designed by Colette Crutcher and Aileen Barr, the tiles consist of mandala-like patterns with vibrant and contrasting colors. These mosaic steps enhance the character and livelihood of the neighborhood and have become a popular gathering place for local residents. It also adds to the beauty of the surrounding horticulture and wildlife, including a quick view of the bay. - Emma Sent Me BACK TO THE BEACON