Attention all BOO! Headliners journeying to San Francisco to party on October 30 and 31: Get ready for a fun-filled weekend both inside the Bill Graham Civic Auditorium and in the beautiful City by the Bay, where so many people willingly leave their hearts and sing about it.
If you’re looking to make an entire weekend out of your Halloween reveling, a wealth of food, art and culture that practically caters to the electronic music enthusiast is here for the finding. Beats and bass run through our blood. At 49 square miles, San Francisco is a relatively small major city, but it’s still a place where a little bit of friendly guidance definitely helps a lot. That’s where we come in. These carefully curated tips will enhance your trip and keep you from falling into any tourist traps. If you still haven’t made your Halloween plans, BOO! Tickets are still available for purchase here.
Those who truly enjoy getting physical with their music should stop by the brick-and-mortar location of this discerning dispensary of dance vinyl that specializes in house, techno, disco and their seemingly infinite subspecies. There’s also an online shop, but it’s more fun to visit and chat with the knowledgeable owner and staff, catch a local or international DJ spinning in the store, and take something Balearic or cosmic home to play with forever. The subterranean shop was previously home to two other record stores over the course of the past two decades, imbuing the space with endless good vibes for beats.
593 Haight Street | (415) 379-0974
People are going to be totally dressed up at BOO!—but not in, like, fancy-shmancy evening wear or anything—it’s a Halloween affair! If you aren’t sure what to wear, a trip to the Haight’s quintessential costume spot should give you plenty of ideas. Whether you want a weird mask or a full-on furry costume, it’ll be your one-stop shop. If you’re on more of a budget, consider creating something with makeup; the website has video tutorials on how to make your face look mangled or dead, which will come in handy if you’re feeling extra creative.
735 Haight Street | (415) 621-1356
You’re probably the type of person who has the ability to hear music in everything, even in nature. So you’d definitely appreciate this incredible, wave-activated acoustic sculpture that somehow manages to remain below the radar of even most locals, despite it having the very friendly price of free. The Wave Organ was built in 1986 by Peter Richards and George Gonzalez, who were artists in residence for the Exploratorium, an interactive science museum. Bundle up, brace for wind, and head out to the Marina Green to discover what sorts of sounds these chilly waters can make when they run through the Wave Organ.
83 Marina Green Drive | (415) 397-5673
Food halls are all the rage in the city these days, and this unassuming one located near the Civic Center offers a good taste of some up-and-coming purveyors if you’re looking for a quick bite. Highlights in this casual space include vegan sandwicherie Kit Fox, salad fixin’s from Graze, and meaty goodness from the Whole Beast.
1028 Market Street | (415) 558-8293
Just a few blocks away from the Hall is a much bigger and more elaborate food hall called the Market, where it’s worth splurging on sashimi at the minimally named Sushi Bar or contemplating an international selection of hot food. Take a loop around the Market before you decide, so you can strategize. It’s also a great spot to find cool local food products to take home or give as gifts. Pro tip: Leave room for dessert!
1355 Market Street | (415) 767-5130
Head to the fifth floor of the newly renamed Hotel Zelos for Dirty Habit, a craft cocktail bar and restaurant that boasts one of downtown’s rare heated dining and drinking patios. The well-stocked bar features an original list of elaborate tipples like Cream of the Crop (Del Maguey vida mezcal, King’s ginger, pistachio, coconut milk, gentle smoke, ginger spice and coconut cream) and Loveable Trixster (Plantation Grand Reserve rum, rhubarb, black cardamom, molasses funk, smoked coconut and toasty vanilla). Chef David Bazirgan offers high-end bar bites, like lamb belly buns and chicken wings with sweet soy and chili vinaigrette, as well as hearty entrees such as a burger with Swiss and whiskey-kissed onions, and a pork chop with plum, potato and fennel.
12 Fourth Street | (415) 348-1555
Wandering through the endless beauty of Golden Gate Park should be on every visitor’s agenda, but if you’re into seeing cool creatures like rare octopi with unusual mating strategies, California Academy of Sciences (which is located inside GGP) should also be on your hit list. If you’re in town a day early, check out NightLife, the weekly party which takes place here every Thursday from 6–10pm with different themes and DJs each week—plus beer, wine and light bites.
55 Music Concourse Drive | (415) 379-8000
Gotta love an ice cream sandwich shop with a badass Wu-Tang Clan reference in the name. Yes, CREAM stands for Cookies Rule Everything Around Me. Cookies do dominate this shop, but you can also get ice cream tacos, cups and cones. Crazy concoctions are not only encouraged, they’re often rewarded with social media shout-outs when you post your best shots to Instagram. Translation: It’s now socially acceptable to make triple- and quadruple-stacked ice cream sandwiches, because it’s really for the enjoyment of the people, not your own personal satisfaction. Do it for the children.
3106 16th Street | (415) 400-4551
650 Gough Street | (415) 869-1900
This centrally located spot is great for a cup of coffee, a glass of wine, or bites from a rotating selection of pop-up food vendors. The best nights are Thursday and Friday, when you can score fresh gourmet pies from PizzaHacker, a dough savant that began on the streets of San Francisco before taking on this pop-up and eventually opening a parlor in Bernal Heights. Every facet shows great attention to detail, from the perfect leopard spotting on the pizza crust to the hand-crushed tomato sauce and creative local toppings.
359 Divisadero Street | (415) 621-4132