The Best San Francisco Summer, Planned by the Clift Royal Sonesta’s Hotel Concierge

The Best San Francisco Summer, Planned by the Clift Royal Sonesta’s Hotel Concierge

Not sure how to fill your summer vacation to San Francisco? We’ve got the dish on the best activities, restaurants and events in S.F., brought to you by experts in hospitality and Bay Area happenings. Welcome to Concierge Corner, our series where we ask hotel concierges how to get the most out of a visit to the Bay Area. 

For this month’s Concierge Corner, we spoke with Steve Edmondson, a concierge at the Clift Royal Sonesta San Francisco. He recommended the best ways to prepare for your summer trip to “the city” (as locals call it). If you’re looking for outdoor adventures, an under-the-radar spot for dinner or the best views in S.F., then read on! 

Headshot of concierge Steve Edmondson against backdrop of Clift Royal Sonesta Hotel lobby
Steve Edmondson and the Clift Royal Sonesta lobby.

A bit about Steve: Steve Edmondson grew up in San Diego and graduated with a B.S. in business management from Cal State San Marcos. After his first solo vacation to the Bay, he was captivated by the city’s diversity and charm. Two months later, he decided to move here. That was 25 years ago. He has been a member of the Northern California Concierge Association for the past 20 years and can’t imagine living anywhere else. 

What’s July like in San Francisco?

I’ll skip the Mark Twain quote about San Francisco’s weather, but let’s just say, bring layers. In July, San Francisco’s weather is typically cool and mild, with average highs from 62–68°F (16–20°C) and lows around 54–57°F (12–14°C). The cold ocean water in our stretch of the Pacific creates a marine layer, leading to morning and evening fog. While many are caught off guard, others find it a nice relief from much of the rest of the U.S., which has been experiencing hotter-than-usual summers. This can’t be overemphasized: dress in layers.

A heavy layer of fog covers San Francisco's Golden Gate Bridge and the city skyline
Sunny San Francisco. Photo by Vijayalakshmi Nidugondi.

What are your favorite summer activities in the city?

One of my favorite summer activities in the city is renting bikes at Fisherman’s Wharf and riding eight scenic miles into Sausalito via the Golden Gate Bridge. The ride is mostly flat or downhill, making it enjoyable. Along the way, you’ll encounter several scenic stopping points like Vista Point and the Marin Headlands before reaching Sausalito. Once there, explore art galleries and unique shops, and enjoy lunch at any of the charming restaurants Sausalito has to offer, such as Scoma’s for seafood, Poggio for Italian or Sushi Ran for amazing sushi. Load your bike onto the ferry back to the city and enjoy a close-up view of the Golden Gate Bridge as well as Alcatraz. I promise you, you’ll never forget the experience.

My other favorite way to see the city is on foot. I love the Fillmore District and Pacific Heights for window shopping, classic San Francisco architecture and people watching. Start at Fillmore and California Street, grab a juice or chai at one of the cafes and check out the unique shops. Head north on Fillmore into the upscale Pacific Heights neighborhood for stunning homes (and mansions!) and landscapes. Walk down the Lyon Street Steps, then backtrack to the Union Street shops where you can enjoy a great cup of coffee at Wrecking Ball or a nice outdoor lunch at Wildseed, one of the top plant-based restaurants in the city.

Raw tuna dish from Sushi Ran in Sausalito, California
Photo courtesy of Sushi Ran.

Any new or under-the-radar spots that can't be missed?

Let’s start with new… The Dawn Club, a hot new jazz club downtown off Market Street, opened by the prominent bar group Future Bars. This sexy speakeasy is everything a bar should be, with fantastic jazz nightly and a cool San Francisco vibe. Recently named one of the top 50 bars in the U.S. by Esquire magazine, it’s a great way to end an evening. They are not only known for their great jazz but also their wide arrangement of whiskey. Reservations are recommended.

If there were an award for the most under-the-radar spot, it would have to go to Amarena, one of my all-time favorite Italian restaurants. Hidden on a corner in Russian Hill, the food is fantastic. From the pasta to risotto to lamb chops, the food always impresses me. It is for sure one of the best-kept secrets in San Francisco, with both indoor and outdoor dining. It’s perfect for a date, a business meeting or a family meal.

Jazz band stands on a stage in front of lounge seating at San Francisco bar the Dawn Club.

Best views in the city?

On a clear day, the top spot for views in San Francisco is Twin Peaks, offering a panoramic city view from 922 feet, the second-highest point in the city. I recommend that you drive your own car or arrange for a private tour to include this destination. If you opt for an Uber or taxi, make sure you communicate with your driver that you wish for them to wait for you because getting a taxi or Uber back will be next to impossible. Another favorite spot is Baker Beach, which provides stunning sea-level views of the Golden Gate Bridge. Additionally, the Marriott Marquis’ bar, The View, offers spectacular views. Arrive early to secure a window seat as reservations are not accepted.

An orange sunset above the ocean at Baker Beach in San Francisco, California
Baker Beach. Photo by Joseph Sintum.

Best sporting events to attend in San Francisco?

If you’re a baseball fan, there is no better stadium in all of MLB than Oracle Park. With fantastic views of the bay and the Bay Bridge, it’s a premier venue. The San Francisco Giants play a total of nine home games in July 2024:

Toronto Blue Jays: July 9–11

Minnesota Twins: July 12–14

Oakland Athletics: July 30–31

Additionally, don’t miss the San Francisco Marathon on July 27–28, which includes a full

marathon, two half-marathons, a 10K and a 5K.

Entrance to Oracle Park Baseball stadium with palm trees, home of the Giants in San Francisco, California
Photo by Edgar Arroyo.

Best activities for families with children?

Taking the Big Bus hop-on hop-off tour is an excellent way for families to explore San Francisco at their own pace. This tour covers many of the city’s highlights, making it an efficient and enjoyable experience for all ages. Key stops include:

The Painted Ladies: Iconic Victorian houses that your kids may recognize as the “Full House” houses.

Haight-Ashbury: Famous for its role in the 1960s hippie movement.

Golden Gate Park: Home to attractions such as the Japanese Tea Garden, the de Young Museum and the California Academy of Sciences.

Golden Gate Bridge: A chance to walk the bridge and enjoy spectacular views.

People sit on the top deck of open-air tour bus, and the Golden Gate Bridge is seen in front of them

Fisherman’s Wharf: A lively area with shops, restaurants and entertainment.

North Beach: Known for its Italian heritage and vibrant atmosphere.

Chinatown: Explore the rich culture and delicious cuisine.

Pier 39: If you have small children, make sure to stop by and check out the hundreds of seals that spend their days sunbathing.

Ferry Building: Enjoy local food vendors and stunning waterfront views.

Buses arrive every 15 to 20 minutes, allowing families to hop off, explore and hop back on as they please. For ease of purchasing your tickets, simply see your hotel concierge. This flexibility makes the Big Bus tour a fabulous option for families wanting to see the best of San Francisco.

Kate Combs contributed to this article. 

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