Get lost in the park
Yeah, the Japanese Tea Gardens and restored De Young Museum are fabulous, but if you really want to enjoy this park and you have the knees for it, run through the park, which is what I did when I lived on 9th Avenue and in that area for many years. Something about the scent of those ferns filling the lungs on a misty San Francisco morning enlivens as nothing else can.
I find it very peaceful to run - or walk - in the morning in the park, especially off-tourist-season, when you're apt to find many stretches of greenery to yourself. Start at the entrance at 9th avenue, cross the street (on Saturdays watch out for the rollerbladers) and then wend your way on a path cleared through the trees.
When I think of it, I think of Cindy Lauper singing "Girls Just Want to Have Fun" because that's what I played on my Walkman back then (predated iPods!) I can't pick a fondest memory of San Francisco. That would be like asking a woman with 10 kids which is her favorite. But here are a few:
** Seeing a young Ellen DeGeneres perform standup in the San Francisco Standup Comedy Competition ialong Columbus Ave. n the 80s, and just knowing she was going somewhere;
** Having a romantic dinner at Otafuku in Japantown;
** Sailboating under the Golden Gate Bridge when I was 10 and nearly getting thrown off the bow (really, it was a good memory, albeit horrifying);
** wacking the moles at Pier 39;
** kissing from a bench in the Presidio, overlooking the Bay towards the Golden Gate Bridge;
** eating dinner with my mom and brother at a now defunct Mexican restaurant in the Mission District;
** laughing my xa** off with my acting friends from ACT along Geary;
** composing poetry from a cafe on Clement;
** puffing up from the encouragement of professors in the writing departments at State;
** running the Bay to Breakers with my friend Cindy in 1986;
** finding my last cat, Wendell, with my brother after brunch in the Sunset District - my brother pointing out that Wendell seemed sad when I walked away from his cage, so I went back to buy him (from the SPCA);
** odd, but one of the world's greatest dentists (Dr. Stricker) and his rumbling office along the Judah line in the Outer Sunset -- he was always so friendly and sweet, making my myriad dental problems less overwhelming!
** writing a short story from my little bedroom on 48th Ave. underneath Debbie's and Mark's house;
** stuffing my face with pizza with a man I loved out in the inner Sunset;
** my annual birthday parties with friends;
** working at San Francisco ballet, watching the dancers from the office above their pirouettes