Let Susan Brown, creator of custom visitor experiences, tell you her favorite things to do in San Francisco.

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February 19, 2019

How I See San Francisco: Susan Brown

Susan Brown is so many things: a native San Franciscan, the daughter of the city's first African-American mayor, a photographer, a foodie, and a curator of custom tour experiences for visitors. We asked Susan to tell us what she loves about The City by the Bay and the things she believes every visitor should do in San Francisco.

What should every visitor to San Francisco do at least once?

Walk under the Golden Gate Bridge. Not only is the bridge amazing to walk across, but standing beneath it is something else. The power and the majestic feeling coming from it is something that can not be explained; it has to be experienced.

What is the one item still on your San Francisco bucket list?

I would love to go on one of the America's Cup boats when it’s in a race! I know nothing about sailing and I'm just an okay swimmer, but I love the water, I love boats, and seeing our city from the water is magical.

What is one part of San Francisco that you wish visitors knew about?

Here's a tip: to experience the cable car, take the California St. route instead of the Powell St. one. There are no lines and it goes up and down California St., giving you some dramatic views.

Where do you indulge your artistic side in San Francisco?

Pier 24 Photography. It's open to the public by appointment only but always free. Pier 24 is located directly under the Bay Bridge. It's a huge gallery that shows stunning contemporary photography. It's truly a unique location with a collection of wonderful photographs that can all be enjoyed for no cost.

What is your favorite annual event that happens in San Francisco?

Outside Lands is my favorite event. Growing up in the '60s in the Haight, music was everywhere. Spontaneity was the norm and people playing music was a daily occurrence. When I was in high school, I would walk with my boyfriend through Hippy Hill, where you would see tons of drummers all drumming together.

Where do you like to watch the sunset?

The beach is always a good place to see the sunset. Ocean Beach, right near the Cliff House, is the same as it was when I was in high school. I love that. I love that it’s a brisk, foggy walk that we take in the summer. I love that the Cliff House is there for us to warm up.

Where do you recommend visitors go for a day trip beyond the bridge?

Drive over the Golden Gate Bridge to Marin County and go to Tomales Bay. Make reservations at Hog Island Oyster Company or The Marshall Store to eat oysters, have clam chowder, and take in the view of the bay.

What is the best place for a nice cocktail?

The Big 4 in the Huntington Hotel will make you feel as if you fell back in time. The leather seats, the dark green interior, the service—everything about it is like a 1920’s or 1930’s place. It's elegant. It's beautiful. It's a classic place with classic cocktails and going there makes you feel classic.

Where and what would you choose for your last meal in San Francisco?

I would probably plan a progressive dinner party, having drinks, appetizers, dinner, and dessert all in different locations. I would begin the evening at Tosca, then I would move on to the Mission for appetizers at DOSA. Everything on the menu is great. I would have dinner at either Burma Love or Delfina, then I would go across town for dessert at either Korhri or Bix. They are both old school San Francisco. Then, of course, I'd have a night cap at Tosca, where I began the evening, because it's tradition!

Any other special advice for travelers coming to San Francisco?

San Francisco is a big little city. It has everything a world class city should, but in smaller portions. It has an abundance of amazing food and wine, and an abundance of creative, smart, innovative people and industries. Stay open to every experience while you are here, and do it all! That is what San Francisco is all about!

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