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What To Do In San Francisco If You're Not Going to Burning Man
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What To Do In San Francisco If You're Not Going to Burning Man

Picture of Jules Calnero
Updated: 9 February 2017
While all your friends might be off enjoying Burning Man, other San Franciscans will be enjoying the sheer wonder of a city with a conspicuous fraction of their city’s demographic gone for an entire week. Maybe you can’t afford a ticket or maybe you’re just not interested. Maybe you have no appreciation for naked bike riding. Whatever the reason, San Francisco is about to become a verifiable playground with no lines and no crowds.
san fran wilson hui
San Francisco | © Wilson Hui /Flickr

The best week of summer in San Francisco is always up for debate. Is it Union Street Festival? Is it Outside Lands? Is it whichever is the sunniest? In reality, the best is one of the final weekends of the entire summer: the one where almost everyone leaves. Soon, your Burning Man friends will be gleefully wrapping their bikes with tinsel, making their yearly sand-goggle bulk orders and designing their bustier/tutu combos for a week on The Playa. They couldn’t be happier. And neither can the folks who stay behind in San Francisco, enjoying the sheer wonder of a much emptier but just as incredible city.

Zazie+ Finnegan's Wake © Tom Francis/Flickr
Zazie+ Finnegan’s Wake | © Tom Francis/Flickr

Have a Perfect Brunch

Any bruncher worth half his or her salt knows that Zazie is the gold standard for tasty weekend fare in San Francisco. To pretty much everyone’s dismay, there is always a Thursday-night-before-Star-Wars-opens-level line outside the Cole Valley establishment. While fairly family-oriented and residential, Cole Valley gets tumbleweed-quiet during BM week. Head over early anyway, write your name down on the list, and sneak over to Finnegan’s Wake next door. Get a bloody and go play a round of ping-pong in the backyard.

Una Pizza Napoletana © City Foodsters/Flickr
Una Pizza Napoletana | © City Foodsters/Flickr

Grab a Slice at SF’s Best Pizza Spot

While the movie Inside Out takes a swipe at San Francisco’s frequently terrible pizza, there is still one place universally praised for its fresh, delicious fare: Una Pizza Napoletana. The pizzeria’s hours are listed as ‘5pm-out of dough’, implying you have to literally get it while it’s hot in order to get it at all. Remove the drama from the pizza-eating process by going the week where no one will be around. It will be just you and SF’s best ‘za- a dream combination.

Yo-Yo Ma at the Greek© Jun Seita/Flickr
Yo-Yo Ma at the Greek | © Jun Seita/Flickr
Dolores Park © smi23le/Flickr
Dolores Park | © smi23le/Flickr

See Hall & Oates at the Greek

When these two legends take the stage in Berkeley on August 29th, most of the city’s Burners will have loaded into their giant RVs to make it to the first day of Burning Man on August 30th. That means you won’t have to fight for seating on BART on the way over to Berkeley. This show isn’t sold out yet, but it probably will be soon. Snag a pair of tix and grab a drink at Jupiter before moseying up to one of the Bay Area’s best venues to see your (and your mom’s) favorite songs.

Dolores Park © smi23le/Flickr
Dolores Park | © smi23le/Flickr

Hang Out At Dolores Park

Oh, the irony of recommending a locale that will be tumbleweeds-rolling-through empty during The Burn. Isn’t San Francisco’s park-hang culture all about seeing and being seen, one might protest? Absolutely not. Take the opportunity to have a full-scale kickball game or throw a frisbee around without hitting anyone’s French bulldaog or open coconut-and-rum container. It’s the one weekend where Dolores Park is just a park. And it’s awesome. Get sandwiches at Ike’s (there won’t be any line there, either) and enjoy the city like it was made for just you and your crew.

Go to Ikea

Every Ikea shopper feels like a lab rat caught in an insane albeit tastefully-palletted maze. While this doesn’t sound truly fun, getting your shopping done while avoiding most of the other people who would be there the same weekend does. Treat yo’self to a nice, neutral sofa, some cute ice trays and a few Swedish meatballs.