San Francisco is one of the most interesting and romantic cities in the country and during the summer months you can almost always count on blue skies and mild weather. A visit to the beach for skinny dipping, a beautiful Japanese Tea Garden, searching for second hand treasures on Haight Street and an independent film at the historic Red Vic all add up to one perfect day for lovers looking to explore this city by the bay.

Pack a picnic brunch- sandwiches, fresh fruit and a local Napa wine- and head out to Baker Beach. Not only is the north part of the beach considered clothing optional, it also offers; clean sand, gorgeous weathered stone outcroppings, and it sits right on the end of the Golden Gate Bridge, giving you a view unsurpassed by any beach in the city. Eat and relax, then go in for a dip au naturale, or take this rare opportunity to sunbathe without the unsightly tan line.

When you’ve had your fill of the beach, head to the 19th Avenue entrance of Golden Gate Park. Follow the signs, to the romantic Japanese Tea Garden; walk the grounds, taking in the immaculately manicured landscape. Be sure to stop in the gazebo in the center for tea and cookies. The tea garden is the birthplace of the fortune cookie, and the ones you eat here will be better than any you’ve ever had before.

Next, stroll through the park towards world famous Haight Street for some serious shopping. A map can be helpful, otherwise just listen for the sound of drumming because this route will take you past “Hippie Hill,” a local landmark where there’s always an impromptu drum circle. Once out of the park, you will find lots of cute little boutiques, but instead focus on the many wonderful thrift stores that also line the street. Villains and Wasteland both feature reasonably priced secondhand clothing as well as local designer and new items. The dedicated bargain hunter won’t want to miss the giant Goodwill, where a search through the racks will never go unrewarded.

Next stop is Haight Street’s Citrus Club. This hip, inexpensive restaurant and bar serves inventive, Asian-style noodle soups in huge bowls and while there is often a line for a table, it’s worth the wait. The broths are all lightly seasoned and highlight the crisp, fresh vegetables. The food here is cooked without oil, opting to use citrus juices instead; leaving you with a hearty, healthy, and delicious meal. The restaurant is also famous for their Saketini, a unique, sake-based mixed drinks.

After such a long day, what could be a better way to wind down than a glass of vino and some chocolate to nibble on while watching a great movie? Haight Street’s intimate Red Vic features various independent films, many by local filmmakers. The cabaret style theatre offers an extensive selection of wine and beer as well as snacks.

Now that’s the end to a perfect day on the bay

What & Where:
Baker Beach (25th Avenue and El Camino Del Mar; 415-556-0560)
Japanese Tea Garden (Tea Garden Drive, Golden Gate Park; 415-752-1171)
Villains (1672 Haight Street; 415-626-5939)
Wasteland (1660 Haight Street; 415-863-3150)
Goodwill (1700 Haight Street; 415-387-1192)
Citrus Club (1790 Haight Street; 415-387-6366)
Red Vic
(1727 Haight St; 415-668-3994)

For more information about travel in San Francisco, including Frommer’s San Francisco Travel Guides ….