San Francisco’s NFL team is the 49ers, named after the miners of the 1849 gold rush. Back then, the gold was in them thar hills, but today, it’s in the Valley. So it’s no surprise the City by the Bay has developed increasingly close ties to its peninsular brethren. When the Bay Area hosts the 50th Super Bowl in February, the celebration will span the entire region—from the city proper’s 49 square miles (OK, 46.9, but go Niners!) to the team’s new home in Santa Clara, an hour’s drive south. Completed in 2014, Levi’s Stadium is staffed by a group of techies who rove the stands to help guests use the Wi-Fi and a custom stadium app. (They’re called NiNerds, natch.)

cities_sf_paintingSee | Look but don’t touch at the Institute of Illegal Images, the world’s largest collection of acid blotter art. (Not that it would matter: The LSD on the paper is no longer active.) Contemplate the clouds at the de Young Museum through Three Gems, a subterranean art installation by James Turrell that offers views of the sky enhanced by LEDs. Use the Force to find the bronze Yoda fountain (he’s life-size) in the Presidio at the Letterman Digital Arts Center, headquarters of the movie studio Lucasfilm. Take a cool selfie, you will.

cities_sf_yodaDo | Sit in darkness at the Audium while 176 speakers in the walls, ceiling, and floor immerse you in a sound sculpture. Sniff your way through the Garden of Fragrance at Golden Gate Park’s Botanical Garden, designed in 1965 to allow the visually impaired to experience the flora through scent and touch. On Thursdays the hands-on Exploratorium museum stays open late for After Dark, when you can play with science and sip a cocktail or four.

cities_sf_audiumEat | Foodie and tech cultures collide at Lazy Bear, where chefs personally serve the14-course meal and tickets for seats at the communal tables are sold online only on select dates announced via Twitter. Snag a ticket to the Vegan IronChef competition and watch the chefs engage in a fierce (yet bloodless) battle for the championship. Sip some of the earliest cocktails ever invented next to a clock engineered to last 10,000 years at the Interval saloon at the Long Now Foundation, a nonprofit dedicated to long-term thinking.

Apoorva Mehta


Illustrations by Kristian Hammerstad; Skyline by Patrick Hruby

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