Calling all craft cider makers! We’re gearing up for the annual CiderCon® at the end of January and we’re especially excited for it this year because it’s right in our backyard in Oakland, CA. Haven’t registered for CiderCon yet? Grab your ticket and join us! It’s THE cider event of the year to network, learn from others, try amazing ciders, and even get free one-on-one marketing tips and support to grow your craft cider business. The Crafty Cask will be hosting free 20-minute marketing help sessions all day at CiderCon on Thursday, pre-register for you spot now so you don’t have to waste any time waiting and miss out on any of the other great CiderCon programming.
If that weren’t enough, it’s also the same week as Bay Area Cider Week when we’ll be hosting two epic craft cider events in San Francisco.
Join our Bay Area Cider Week Events:
The first one is a Farm to Table Sustainable Cider Dinner (act fast, only 6 tickets left!) with Ethic Ciders and Frog Hollow Farms in the beautiful Ferry Building. The second one is a Meet the Makers event in the gorgeous Palace Hotel featuring 8 different cider makers pouring their ciders alongside delicious paired bites. You can check out all Bay Area Cider Week events here and get tickets before they sell out.
If you’re already on-board and headed to CiderCon yourself, great! Keep reading below for our insider tips we wrote for the US Association of Cider Makers to help CiderCon attendees explore San Francisco while they’re in town…see you soon!
Explore San Francisco: Just 15 Minutes Away from CiderCon 2020
Heading to CiderCon® 2020–the world’s premiere industry event for the cider community – in Oakland in January? Wondering if there’s an easy way to pop over to San Francisco and explore the city and cider scene while in town? We’ve got you covered with our local insider guide to San Francisco.
Before we wax poetic about our beautiful city by the bay, we’d be remiss in not encouraging you to hang out and explore Oakland while there for CiderCon. It’s often compared to Brooklyn in its locally proud vibe, food, drink, and arts scene, which is sometimes over-shadowed by the neighboring big city. But there’s a ton to explore in Oakland. While you’re in the Bay Area though, popping out San Francisco is a breeze from the CiderCon hotel in Oakland. The city is only 7×7 square miles which makes it extremely easy to walk around and explore or use any of our easy public transit systems or ride share services to get around.
Getting To, From, and Around San Francisco
Speaking of, how should you get around? First – repeat after me. Do NOT rent a car. I repeat, do NOT rent a car! It’s simply not worth the hassle of traffic and parking costs and frustrations. Luckily the CiderCon hotel is incredibly convenient for exploring both Oakland and San Francisco. It’s located just steps away from our local public transit system, BART, which means you can walk out the door, jump on a train and be in San Francisco in less than 15 minutes. You can take any train on the San Francisco side of the platform since all trains going in that direction make all of the San Francisco stops. When you return though, only get on the Richmond or Antioch trains for the stop (12th Street) near your CiderCon hotel. Keep in mind that trains stop running around midnight.
Luckily when there’s no traffic on the bridge Uber and Lyft are both pretty affordable options.You can also use BART to get to and from both San Francisco and Oakland airports. Easy breezy!
When it comes to taking BART simply purchase a Clipper Card at any station and use it to tag in and tag out of each station. You can reload more cash on it whenever you need to and there are fare rates listed right on the vending machines. It’s also important to know which stop to get off at and pay attention so you don’t miss it. Of course, it depends on what you’re looking to explore, but here’s a brief run-down of the stops in the order you’ll hit them coming from Oakland:
This is the first stop and a great place to get off since it drops you right at the famous San Francisco Ferry Building and just a short walk from downtown.
This gets you a bit deeper into downtown, otherwise known as the Financial District where there are some stellar restaurants.
If shopping is your jam, this is where you want to go. It lets you right off in Union Square, which is touristy but packed full of shops, restaurants, bars and theaters. You can also ride our famed cable cars starting here, but I’d advise getting on a later stop to avoid the massive line of tourists.
This is the stop to get off at if you want to check out UpCider…San Francisco’s largest cider selection and dedicated cider bar. City Hall and some theaters and museums are nearby as well.
16th Street & 24th Street Stops
These are the two stops that bring you right into the Mission neighborhood, which has amazing restaurants and bars mixed in with smaller, local shops. If you want to try some of SF’s famous Mexican food, this is the stop for you!
Once you’re in the San Francisco you can continue using BART to get around, grab taxis, ubers or lyfts, or use your same clipper card to use our bus and metro rail, both confusingly referred to as MUNI. Busses are entirely above ground, whereas the light rail uses some of the underground BART tracks and tunnels as well. I’d recommend just sticking to BART and MUNI busses. Each bus ride is $2.50 and it’s good for two hours…so when you tag your Clipper Card again within that 2-hour period you’ll be letting the driver know you have “paid” without being charged.
You can also use cash on all busses, but no change is given, so make sure you have one-dollar bills. Pro-tip when it’s time to get off the bus? Once the bus is at a stop and the light above the door is green you have to step down into the stairwell or put the palm of your hand against the door to make the doors open. It’s confusing to a lot of people that they don’t automatically open and it can cause you to miss your stop.
All right, now that we have the logistics out of the way and you know how to get around, let’s jump into some of our top picks to explore San Francisco while you’re in town.
The San Francisco Cider Scene
Let’s start with the one thing we know you’re all interested in if you’re headed to CiderCon…cider! While we don’t have any cider makers in the city with tasting rooms open to the public just yet, here are several spots to get your hands on some great cider:
UpCider – this is San Francisco’s first cider bar with the widest selection of local, national, and imported ciders in the city. And great food to go alongside everything you try. Make sure to tell owners, Ozzie & Omer that you’re here for CiderCon! While many bars in San Francisco have at least a few ciders on their list, UpCider is really your best bet. Monk’s Kettle also almost always has 6 or more available and you can buy bottles to go there as well.
If buying cider to go is more what you’re looking to do, Healthy Spirits and Fig & Thistle (their market location, not their wine bar) are great bottle shops that typically have a good selection of cider.
Lastly, don’t forget about all of the amazing Bay Area Cider Week events happening the whole week you’re in town for CiderCon. There are a few great ones happening in San Francisco that will give you access to a ton of cider makers from all over the country pouring their entire line-ups.
San Francisco Food Scene
I’m sure you’ve heard, but San Francisco has an epic food scene! You can find pretty much any cuisine, any style, any ambiance, and any price point – although admittedly we are an expensive city compared to where you may be visiting from! So, make sure to check pricing if you have a budget you’re trying to stick to. It’s also important to note that restaurants, especially higher-end ones, book up fast in San Francisco, so if you have your heart set on a certain spot make your reservation now. While impossible to list all of our top picks here are a few great ones in neighborhoods that are easy to get to from Oakland to get you started.
There are some great restaurants a quick walk away from the first BART stop in San Francisco, coming from CiderCon:
If you’re looking to keep it low-key in this neighborhood, simply wandering around the Ferry Building will get you a variety of great eats including local cheese, oysters, burgers, farm fresh food, and more. Our legendary Farmer’s Market takes place here on Tuesdays, Thursdays, & Saturdays. You can also take a ferry across the bay between Oakland and San Francisco here. And, how convenient, it drops you in Oakland at Jack London Square, right near the Crooked City Cider Tap House, which is just a 15 minute walk from the CiderCon hotel.
If you have a big group from all of that CiderCon fun, nearby Perry’s is a good local spot that keeps it simple, but tasty.
For a higher-end experience in the Ferry Building head to The Slanted Door for great Vietnamese cuisine with beautiful views of the Bay Bridge, particularly when they’re twinkling at night. They also have a great whiskey bar, Hard Water, just a walk away.
For a more casual spot that serves great local seafood take a stroll up the Embarcadero to Pier 23 Café Restaurant & Bar. It’s a casual spot that serves great local seafood and is a perfect pick if the weather is nice enough to sit outside. Or if you’re heading up to Pier 39 to check out the touristy side of San Francisco…those sea lions are awfully cute!
Coqueta is a lively Spanish spot nearby with great gin & tonics and food from celebrity chef Michael Chiarrelo.
If you’re craving a unique and classically San Francisco experience head on over to Yank Sing for brunch or lunch to be treated to rolling cart, after rolling cart of delicious dim sum. Great for big groups as well.
Lastly, along the Embarcadero is La Mar, one of our long-time favorites for amazing pisco sours, ceviche, and additional authentic Peruvian treats.
Further into the financial district and the surrounding neighborhoods there are a plethora of great spots to choose from:
One of our longstanding favorites is Kokkari for amazing Greek food in a warm, welcoming setting.
Classic American fare with a twist from celebrity chef, Tyler Florence, can be found at Wayfare Tavern. Or, pop around the corner to Tadich Grill, the oldest continuously restaurant in California, for a big steaming bowl of San Francisco’s famous Cioppino Stew in an old-school setting.
If you have a group and want to splurge, Mourad is a wonderful Michelin star experience for family-style Moroccan alongside to-die-for cocktails. Next door, Trou Normand, also has amazing cheese and charcuterie plates in a beautiful space.
Ramen abounds in San Francisco, so if you’re looking to try some of our top spots and don’t mind waiting in line head to Mensho Tokyo or Ippudo. If a wait isn’t your thing but you don’t want to stray too far for delish ramen, Katana-Ya is a good locals pick for a touristy area.
If you love Spanish food and drink and culture, a dinner at Bellota is a must. The food is incredible and they offer almost any iconic Spanish drink you can think of…from dry sherry, Asturian cider, Basque vermouth, sangria, gin tonics, all the way to what they’re striving to eventually make the largest collection of Spanish brandies in the U.S.
Lastly for our San Francisco food tour we’re heading over to The Mission!
While almost any of the million taco shops have good food, the tried and true favorite on everyone’s list is La Taqueria. Specifically for their award winning mission style burrito, but everything is great here. Our go-to favorite though is Taqueria El Buen Sabor, especially if you use the pro-tip and get a ½ carnitas, ½ chili verde super burrito. You’re welcome.
On our almost monthly craving rotation is Mission Chinese Food. Incredible Szechuan food in a super casual, almost dive-y setting that somehow makes the food taste even better. The sign outside says Lung Shan Restaurant – but you’re in the right place! There’s often a wait but there are lots of great bars within walking distance to kill the time.
For one of our favorite burgers in the city and our favorite local beer head on over to the Fort Point Valencia Beer Hall. Craving pizza instead? Little Star has the city’s most loved deep dish and their thin crust is fantastic as well. Flour + Water Pizzeria and Pizzeria Delfina are two other nearby favorites for pizza and Italian food.
If you’re looking to lighten things up a bit while still having incredible food, check out Michelin star rated Al’s Place. They highlight the seasonal produce of Northern California and tend to view meat more as a side than the main dish, but don’t let that scare you away. Their food is so good you won’t even notice.
Things To Do In San Francisco
Ok, so you’ve had lots of cider, your belly is full, now you need something to do! There is no shortage of activities in San Francisco, but here are a few that visitors and locals alike really enjoy to help you make the most of your limited time in between all of those great CiderCon events:
See The Whole City
San Francisco has a ton of great free waking-tours that explore different parts of town with a local guide. While very touristy, when you’re limited on time these Hop On, Hop Off Bus Tours that whip you around the whole city with guided commentary can be great. Perfect for first time visitors or to get your bearings before deciding what to do with the rest of your time in San Francisco. If you’re feeling a bit more independent and adventurous you can also drive yourself around in these guided, low-riding Go Cars.
We have great museums in San Francisco with the San Francisco Modern Art Museum being our top pick. Although the Exploratorium, Academy of Sciences, Cable Car Museum, and Musée Mécanique are really unique and fun as well. If you can get a ticket, the Museum of Ice Cream is a temporary museum that everyone is crazy about as well.
Craft Alcohol Tours
Interested in checking out a few craft beer, wine, spirits, or cider spots while in town for CiderCon? You can request to set up a private tour with a craft alcohol expert guide and personalized for your interests for up to 6 people. Half-day and full-day options are available with the ability to tour outside of the city (Napa, Sonoma, etc…) on full-day tours.
San Francisco is a big city but we have some breathtaking natural spaces to explore. So put on some comfy shoes and head on over to Land’s End, Crissy Field, Golden Gate Park, or Twin Peaks for a leisurely stroll or a more strenuous hike depending on which paths you choose. And while the cars driving by make it feel a little less relaxing, walking the iconic Golden Gate Bridge is an amazing experience even the locals enjoy.
From shows to clubs to game rooms and more, San Francisco has a vibrant nightlife. Just keep in mind this is not “the city that never sleeps” so things start and end a bit earlier than in other big cities and food options after 11pm start to get limited. Get last minute and often more affordable tickets to some of the best shows in town at TodayTix. For a rundown of some of the hottest clubs in town read here. We’d also add Mr. Tipples and Black Cat to the list for the jazz lovers looking to have fun but keep it a bit more low-key.
For social game rooms check out Spin and Golden Gate Tap Room for endless hours of entertainment and drinks. If dueling pianos is more your thing the spot locals and tourists alike love is beneath Johnny Foley’s in Union Square. Lastly, for a high-class evening with incredible views bring your dancing shoes to Top of the Mark, City View, or The Starlight Room.
We Can’t Wait To See You At CiderCon!
Oh, it pains us to only share those top picks. There are SO many great restaurants, bars, and things to do in this San Francisco, but at least you now have a good jumping off point for your time in the Bay Area for CiderCon. If you’re looking for something specific don’t hesitate to trust restaurant reviews written by EaterSF or you can email the author directly, who will be at CiderCon, for personalized recommendations and input if you’re having a hard time figuring something out on your own. Don’t forget to make your restaurant reservations early for those that take them if you want to make sure to get a table.
And keep an eye on all of those great Bay Area Cider Week events to grab tickets before they sell out for easy, cider-focused fun. I hope to see you at our Sustainable Cider Dinner or our fan favorite Meet The Makers event at the Palace hotel. Happy exploring, and welcome to San Francisco! If you’ll be here for CiderCon or Bay Area Cider Week make sure to leave us a note below so we can try to meet up!