San Francisco: Five best values for September

By Justine Sharrock
October 3, 2012
Courtesy <a href="" target="_blank">Hitchster/Flickr</a>

Shakespeare in the Park

Grab a blanket and a picnic and head down to the Presidio for the Annual Free Shakespeare in the Park. This year, director Kenneth Kelleher brings us Two Gentlemen of Verona, with many much-loved actors from past years. Make sure to come early to grab a good spot, since the plays tend to draw big crowds.

When? Saturday evenings at 7:30, and Sunday afternoons at 2:30 pm through September. Main Post Parade Ground Lawn (between Graham St & Keyes Ave)

SF Fringe theater festival

The annual SF Fringe theater festival, known for cutting-edge theater, presents 43 short plays over 12 days by both local and international performers. The festival has been described by SF Weekly as a "theatrical free-for-all." Check out one play, or join the cultish fans trying to cram in a dozen during the 2-week stretch.

When? September 8–19. Tickets are $12.99 and under, $10 at the door on a first-come, first-serve basis 30 minutes before the show. Cash only; limit 4 tickets per person. See 5 shows for $40 or 10 shows for $75.

Fort Point candlelight tours

Tickets to the ever-popular guided nighttime candlelight tours of historic Fort Point—with views of the underside of the Golden Gate Bridge—sell out quickly. September 1st is the first day that you can make a reservation for the tours starting in November, so if you're planning a winter trip, reserve now.

When? Saturday evenings, November through February (reservations accepted starting September 1st); 415/556-1693; Fort Point, at the end of Marine Drive on the Presidio of San Francisco.

J-Pop, Japantown's pop culture festival

Japan is arguable the apex of modern pop-culture, setting trends for everything from anime and horror films to teenage fashion. Lucky for us, the pop culture collective New People World are bringing their Japanese pop culture festival, J-Pop to San Francisco's Japantown this year. The day-long event will be packed with fashion shows, food, films, music, design and art.

When? Saturday, September 18 at 11am; Free. Japantown Peace Plaza, at Geary and Webster Streets.

SF MOMA's "Now Playing" party

SF MOMA invites musicians to turn the museum into a performance space during their "Now Playing" evening parties. This month brings the group MEN, starring JD Samson from Le Tigre. MEN will perform in the atrium alongside an installation by artist Celeste Dupuy. But that's not all: Blue Bottle coffee, along with local chefs and San Francisco's meat-themed magazine, Meatpaper, are teaming up to serve a tasting menu paired with wine and beer at the museum's rooftop sculpture garden.

When? Thursday, September 16; Free with museum admission ($6 Thursday evenings after 6 pm). 151 Third Street, 415/ 357-4000.

Keep reading

What did you do this summer vacation?

It's that time of year. Across America, kids are heading back to school. And you know what that means. Right about now, millions of students are being asked, "What did you do on your summer vacation?" This question can be great if it gives you the opportunity to brag about a great trip to some far-flung destination, but less so when the farthest you traveled was a family reunion at your grandmother's condo the next town over. So how did you fare in 2010? Was it a good summer? If Labor Day weekend is any indication of how you traveled this season, many of you have reason to hold your heads high! As the economy continues to rebound, AAA released a report in late August estimating that numbers for the holiday weekend would be up across the board. According to the report, 34.4 million Americans traveled at least 50 miles from home, representing a 10% increase over the same weekend in 2009. Though over 90% of these travelers reached their destination by car, the airline industry was also predicted to see an increase of almost 5% over last summer. This summer, I managed a quick trip to Kennett Square, Pennsylvania, one of America's Coolest Small Towns, where I met the friendliest people, indulged in the tastiest Mexican ice cream at La Michoacana, and sampled crunchy mushroom chips at the Mushroom Cap. Granted, I didn't get too far away from home, but the relaxing small town experience was a welcome retreat. So class, what did you do this summer vacation?


London: The five best values for September

The Thames Festival London's biggest end of the summer party takes place on the 11th and 12th along the banks of the River Thames between Westminster and Tower Bridge. There are free concerts from the likes of fusion band Saravah Soul, a nighttime carnival, circuses, firework displays, markets and all manner of street performers. Free Heritage Open Days Between September 9th and 12th throughout England, historic buildings which are normally closed to the public throw open their doors to visitors. The city of London has also organized Open House London, with an additional list of open sites the following weekend (September 18-19). All in all, hundreds of wonderful buildings and tourists sights are open&mdash;for free&mdash;including the Bodleian Library in Oxford, great Masonic Temple in Covent Garden (where there is a huge painting of George Washington in full Masonic regalia), The Royal Society buildings in Westminster (where Newton and Priestley were members), and tourist attractions like the London Eye. Free The Great River Race The biggest annual race on the Thames takes place at 12:15 pm on September 25th, when river craft&mdash;everything from adapted bath tubs and Polynesian war canoes to svelte competition kayaks&mdash;gather in Ham in West London to race 21 miles to the Docklands in the East. It's far less exclusive than the more famous Oxford-vs-Cambridge boat race, but far more colorful&mdash;and if you can get hold of a boat you can even enter the race, instead of just watching it. Free The Clarence House Garden Party Between September 8th and 19th, Prince Charles throws an 11-day shindig in the gardens of his London Palace. It's to raise money for his favorite charities. Tickets are a snip at US$23&mdash;which includes privileged access to the royal lawns and flower beds, as well as a full program of entertainment. This year this includes music by Jools Holland, comedy by local stars Marcus Brigstocke and Hugh Dennis, and a fashion show by Vivienne Westwood. London Fashion Weekend A coterie of London and the world's top designers gather at Somerset House in the city center between September 23-26 to parade their latest wares on the catwalk and offer the hoi polloi the chance to buy their gowns and garb for 70% of the retail price. Designers who will be showing this year include John Galliano, Chloe, Mawi, Herve Leger, Vivienne Westwood, Beatrix Ong and Pyrus. Get tickets (from US$20) and more information here.


Paris: 5 free September events—plus 2 under $15

Jazz &agrave; la Villette (through September 12) The city's premier jazz festival takes place every fall in and around the Parc de la Villete (19th arrondissement). The 2010 lineup includes Afro-Cuban stars Chucho Vald&eacute;s and Archie Shepp, proto-rap pioneer Gil Scott-Heron, and some high-energy Klezmer from David Krakauer and SoCalled. Ticket prices begin at &euro;12 (about $15), and the full program of events can be found here. Journ&eacute;es Europ&eacute;ennes du Patrimoine/Heritage Days (September 18-19) During one weekend every year, hundreds of Paris museums and monuments open up for free and host special events for the public. Crowds flock to peek behind the curtain at the presidential palace (Palais de l'Elys&eacute;e) and hundreds of other monuments. The official website, which includes events in cities across France, is hard to navigate, but you'll find a program of events organized by arrondissement here. Festival America (September 23-26) This annual literary festival celebrates authors from all over the Americas and features some very special readings. Many are just outside of the city in Vincennes (near the classical music festival listed below), but you'll find one of the best around the corner from the Eiffel Tower: Richard Russo at the American Library on September 23. The full program of events is here. Portes ouvertes des ateliers de M&eacute;nilmontant (September 24-27) The east side of Paris has the city's highest concentration of working artists, and the last weekend of September promises to open the doors to their studios. This annual event provides a good excuse to ramble through the M&eacute;nilmontant neighborhood near the P&egrave;re Lachaise cemetery. Stop by the organizers' office at 43 rue des Panoyaux (20th arrondissement) to pick up a map of participating studios, or visit the website for more information. The Paris Techno Parade (September 25) While techno music isn't every traveler's cup of tea, watching this annual parade is a fun way to witness what French youth culture looks like today. Traffic will be blocked for hours on this Saturday afternoon while thousands of young people dance in the streets. To catch a glimpse, line up along the parade route somewhere between its starting point at Denfert-Rochereau around noon and its final destination at Bastille at 8 p.m. Bonus: two August events that are continue through September: Festival Silhouette (August 28-September 5) This festival picks up where the Cin&eacute;ma au Clair de Lune leaves off, screening free outdoor films in the Parc des Buttes Chaumont (19th arrondissement). The format for this one is short films, which are screened each night at 10 p.m. following free concerts that begin around 7:30 p.m. Festival Classique au Vert (August 7-September 26) Free classical music concerts take place every Saturday and Sunday afternoon in the beautiful Parc Floral. This flowering garden inside the Bois de Vincennes (12th arrondissement) is a great place to picnic with friends before and during the performance. Entry to the Parc Floral is &euro;5 (about $6.50), but the concerts are free.


San Francisco: The city's historic streetcars

While the cable cars are much celebrated, the F-Line Market Street Railway is another historic transit option that shouldn't be missed. (Thanks, reader Jaime Raba for reminding us about them!) The F-Line runs from Fisherman's Wharf, along the Embarcadero, and up Market to the Castro. The brightly colored vintage streetcars were imported by the city from places around the world, from Australia to England, Philadelphia to St. Louis. On any given day, as many as 20 different trolleys are on the street. Perhaps the most notable is the 1934 open air roofless "boat tram," strung with lights that came from the seaside resort town of Blackpool, England. Kids (and kids at heart!) will especially get a kick out of riding the train and hearing the old-fashioned bell ring at each stop. History buffs should stop by the SF Railway Museum south of the Ferry Building for exhibits and more information. Check out the website for a background guide to the origin of the different trolleys. The F-Line runs every 5-20 minutes from approx. 6:00 AM until 11:20 PM. As a part of Muni, transfers work throughout. $2 for adults, $.75 for youth and seniors, and free for kids under 5. Museum, 77 Steuart Street, (415) 974-1948, Free, Open Tuesday&ndash;Sunday 10:00am&ndash;6:00pm