Big Apple to Golden Gate

Amanda James, newest LCI intern and debuting blogger here . . .

As an arts-enthusiast and former Manhattanite recently relocated to San Francisco, I’ve discovered the diverse and vibrant arts culture unique to this city.

Since moving here in June, I’ve enjoyed opera and symphony performances, museums, nightlife, parks and cultural centers. My list of interesting events and places to explore in this city is ever growing. The first performance I attended by the San Francisco Opera featured internationally-renowned vocal talent Anna Netrebko who gave a passionate lead performance as Violetta in La Traviata. The breathtaking sets were the highlight of SF Opera’s Tosca and included a twinkling night sky full of stars and constellations, a Roman church and an elaborate castle balcony.

Last Saturday, the San Francisco Symphony performed Distant Worlds: Music from Final Fantasy. I had the surprise opportunity to see Nobuo Uematsu, the creator of the Final Fantasy scores and one of Japan’s most well-known composers, from a few feet away as he walked through the audience. The free SF Symphony performance in Dolores Park last Sunday attracted a large group of classical music fans and others who wanted to enjoy the beautiful weather and relax on a weekend afternoon.

NightLife at the California Academy of Sciences is more fun than most people can imagine having on a Thursday night. Limited to the 21+ crowd and only $10 admission, the event draws a diverse crowd ranging from classy and sophisticated to young and trendy. I was impressed to see crowds dressed to the nines and happy to meet friendly people interested in intellectual discussion. Dream-like techno music and blue lighting gives the wall-to-wall aquariums a surreal atmosphere.

Japantown is one of three nationally recognized Japanese communities in the US and SF’s best destination for authentic Japanese cuisine like sushi and ramen, imported goods and cultural events. The shopping centers are decorated for Japanese holidays with posters explaining the cultural significance of the events. I recommend trying mochi, a Japanese dessert made from pounded rice and filled with sweetened red beans. It is a delicious and chewy treat, though the unfamiliar texture may remind some of Play-Doh.

I’ve seen some unforgettable performances and been to many exciting places in SF. I recommend exploring your interests in any city with sites like www.meetup.com where you can find like-minded activity partners and learn about cool events wherever you are.

Check out SF’s Buzzworthy events from a newcomer’s perspective:

  • Ginza Bazaar (July 25–26 at The Buddhist Church of San Francisco): In celebration of the Japanese festival Obun, where deceased loved ones are remembered and appreciated, there will be a festival with Japanese home-cooked food, kendo (sword fighting) demonstrations, traditional dances and Japanese imported goods for sale.
  • The San Francisco Theater Festival (July 26 at Yerba Buena Gardens): 130 theater groups and solo acts will appear at the festival where highlights include performances by the cast of Wicked and excellent children’s programs. Admission is free.
  • Millennium Restaurant: Voted the best vegetarian restaurant in the world by VegNews Magazine, Millennium offers veggie haute cuisine in an upscale setting. Every Sunday closest to the full moon, Millennium offers its prixe fixe Aphrodisiac Dinners to get diners in the mood for romance. Make reservations in advance.

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  1. david Reply

    Amanda – so glad to see folks really taking advantage of all that San Francisco has to offer. It’s an amazingly diverse and culturally active community. Cheers, David