The epicenter of all things trendy, beautiful, and delicious in San Francisco's hip Mission District, Valencia Street is more than just a thoroughfare: it's a melting pot. To the East of Valencia lies the old-school Mission neighborhood, where authentic taquerias are packed in several to a block and storefronts blast contemporary Mexican music. To the West, apartment rental prices soar, gourmet grocery stores thrive, and techies work on their tans in Dolores Park.
It's easy to know when you've reached the heart of San Francisco's Castro Street; it’s a place that boldly proclaims that you've arrived. Rainbow flags line the road and a giant art deco marquee that reads "Castro" announces the name of the theater it adorns and lets you know what neighborhood you’re in. Shops and businesses along the street entice customers with quirky names and humorous or provocative window displays. This part of town has a spirit of its own; one that is integral to the larger culture of San Francisco.
Officially a part of San Francisco, yet two and half miles away from the mainland, man-made Treasure Island retains an air of mystery, even in the eyes of many a San Francisco resident. But in the last few years, the island has begun to emerge from ambiguity and is distinguishing itself as a unique neighborhood with some of the most magical views San Francisco has to offer.
The Sacramento sun seeps into my skin, vanquishing any last trace of fog that might have followed me from San Francisco. It's a toasty 95 degrees on this Saturday afternoon, and I've made the trip for the express purpose of attending the famed Sacramento Antique Faire.
The TL. The Loin. The Trendy Loin. The Tender Nob. These are just a few of the names informally bestowed on the Tenderloin, one of San Francisco's oldest, and arguably most colorful, neighborhoods. Brimming with diverse histories -- the Tenderloin is listed on the National Register of Historic Places -- this stronghold of independently owned businesses in the city is also a mecca for myriad forms of art.