The Ultimate Staycation

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It's summer in San Francisco, and tourist season is going strong. Long lines for cable cars, Fisherman's Wharf feels like a sardine can, and you may be waiting so long in Chinatown Dim Sum lunch turns into Kung Pao dinner. In summer, Lombard Street becomes the world's crookedest traffic jam, and Alcatraz may be the only prison in the world with crowds scrambling to get IN, not OUT. If all those vacation selfies posing with the Golden Gate Bridge were laid end-to-end, they'd probably be longer than the bridge itself.

But all those tourists look like they're having such a great time, I'm wondering why I'm sitting at home.

It's a strange fact that folks who live in tourist towns rarely take advantage of those same attractions people from all over the world come to see. I haven't visited Pier 39 in years, and I can't remember the last time I rode a cable car.

And it's not just San Franciscans. I have friends in London who haven't visited Big Ben in decades. I know Parisians who have never been on the Eiffel Tower, New Yorkers who haven't caught a Broadway show since "Hello Dolly," and Los Angelinos who wouldn't be caught dead in Disneyland. "For tourists," locals sniff dismissively.

But I've decided to stop being such a culture snob. There's a reason these attractions are listed in travel guides: they're fun.


So I'm taking a staycation, playing tourist in my own city, catching up on places I only see in postcards by the cash register, though they're just minutes away. And I'm having a great time, too, meeting people from all over the world, and sharing their amazement in this spectacular city we call home. Doing that tourist stuff we locals think we're too cool for has given me a new appreciation for San Francisco and how lucky all of us are to live here, a place many people only dream of visiting.

This summer, go do that cheesy tourist thing you said you'd never do, and have a blast. Your everyday life is the vacation of a lifetime for many people. Find out why everyone, tourist and local alike, leaves their heart in San Francisco.
With a Perspective, I'm Richard Swerdlow.

Richard Swerdlow is a teacher for the San Francisco Unified School District.