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Trip Ideas

Your Super Bowl Guide to SF

Super Bowl 50 may technically be in Santa Clara, but SF is where the party is at. We scoured the city in search of the best pre-game pick-me-ups for every type of fan, from the hard-core sports junkie to the willfully oblivious tag-along. Game on.

See recent posts by April Ellis

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Photo by Super Bowl 50 Host Committee


For the mega-fan

While you’re in SF, you may as well embrace the football frenzy. Hit Super Bowl City, a free NFL-sponsored hub that will host more than 35 live musical performances (headliner: Alicia Keys), CBS sports broadcasts and the Fan Energy Zone, an interactive game area with 40-foot video installations and virtual reality football games. You also won't want to miss the NFL Experience at the Moscone Center, where you can get autographs from players as well as a selfie with the Vince Lombardi trophy.

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Photo by Charlie Villyard


For the football foodie

Broncos or Panthers? Wherever your loyalties lie, cheering on your team is guaranteed to work up an appetite — and Basque-inspired Aatxe is certain to satisfy. Here, chef Ryan Pollnow whips up mouthwatering dishes like smoked quail egg and mushroom pintxos, pork belly montaditos and seared octopus tapas, washed down with sherry-tinged cocktails.

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For the person who doesn’t give a sh-t about sports

So your friends roped you into going to SF, but you'd rather see the sights than the stadium. Explore with the Detour app (imagine NPR's This American Life meets audio walking guide). You can check out the wharf while listening to stories from native fisherman Mike Mitchell or learn about the 1950s Beat Generation with poet Jack Kerouac. It's also GPS location-aware, so your local narrator can point things out as you go. Plus there's a group sync option so your friends can come along too.

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For the halftime bailer

If the game’s a wash, beeline to this Little Gem, which is one of Hayes Valley's newest and hottest lunch spots from Eric Lilavois (Thomas Keller Group) and chef Dave Cruz of Ad Hoc. Sidle up to the counter and order off the gluten-, dairy-, and sugar-free menu. We love the pulled pork wrap with pickled carrots, cucumber and fennel mustard... on non-flatbread. Only in California.

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Photo by Julian Michelucci


For the running back-in-training

Who needs a to run a first down when you’ve got San Fran’s steep streets? Avoid the crowds on popular roads like Lombard, and instead take a hike on one of the city’s 400 hidden stairways across its 42 hills. Start easy at the leafy Macondray Lane (off Leavenworth St between Union and Green), before climbing the garden-dotted Pemberton Steps to Tank Hill, the lesser-known stepsister of Twin Peaks. For the best views, trek up the Filbert Street Steps to Coit Tower or take the 290-step Lyon Street stairway past manicured lawns and palatial mansions to Presidio, where you can overlook Alcatraz Island and the Golden Gate Bridge.

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For the bench boozer

Let’s be real. It’s not Super Bowl without alcohol. Enter Whitechapel, a new gin-loving joint fashioned to look like an abandoned London Underground station and distillery. It'll be hard to pick from the never-ending list of classic cocktails and creative concoctions — our fav is the Classy Lassy: aviation gin, orange flower water, peychaud's bitters, egg white, tonic and lime. Then soak it up with Bangladesh-inspired pub fare like mussels vindaloo with hot curry, coriander chutney and naan. Down to splurge? Order the Haunch & Flagon, a 36 oz. dry-aged tomahawk rib-eye with Yorkshire pudding and tankards of ale for two.

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For the touchdown dancer

Take me to church has a whole new meaning thanks to this Catholic cathedral come roller disco. Newbies can strap on skates and go for a spin, or if you're feeling up to the challenge, join the costumed Holy Rollers group for twirls, spins and tricks. JS tip: Four nights a week are themed open skate nights. Check out the gay-frequented Rainbow Tuesdays, old-school funk Wednesdays and date night Thursdays. Bonus: There's a Super Bowl night as well.

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For the hard-partier

Bed down at the upbeat new Hotel Zephyr, with its skyline views, waterfront wharf location and funky nautical design — porthole windows, roped buoy light fixtures, "SOS" comforters and San Francisco map murals. When you're not busy watching The Game, there are plenty of other diversions: an outdoor terrace and firepit, magnetic dartboards, backgammon and more. Book the Superbowl Hangover Helper package, which includes two Uber rides (up to $50 each), a free room upgrade and two "Never Too Hungover" vitamin drinks.



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