Film Set Cities: San Francisco
San Francisco is a truly unique city in more ways than one. Built on 43 hills, it is populated by a crazy mix of free thinkers, hippies and creative types who walk side by side with suited business people and A-listers hiding from the limelight. The ‘anything goes’ attitude and chilled lifestyle in which outlandish behaviour and dressing is not only approved of but encouraged, attracts a huge range of celebs, some of whom – including Robin Williams, Sean Penn and Nicholas Cage – have bought homes in the city. Much like the sea lions that occupy the city’s waters, San Francisco locals spend their days sunning themselves by the bay and their evenings feasting on seafood dinners. Ahlan! headed to the bay-side Californian city to walk the film sets and see what the fuss is about.
Ideal Celeb spotting
The best time of year for spotting famous people is awards season, as movie stars such as Kate Winslet and Ryan Reynolds will make the six-hour drive up the West Coast from LA to San Francisco for a break from T’Town craziness. Celebs tend to dress down and keep a low profile in San Francisco, so you’ve got to keep a sharp look out.
The best place to spy an A-lister is in the evening at one of the city’s many restaurants! Known celeb eateries include Spruce, Scala’s Bistro, Slanted Door, Boa Steakhouse, Cut, Red-O Pizzeria Mozza and Epic Roasthouse.
If sports stars are your weakness, head to Mas Sake, a Japanese restaurant which is a fave hang out of the San Francisco Giants players.
For a blast from the past, check out Empress of China, a swanky rooftop restaurant in China Town, that was a huge celeb hotspot in the Eighties and Nineties. The entrance wall is covered in photos of past patrons; the restaurant was particularly popular with action movie stars like Chuck Norris and Arnold Schwarzenegger!
After dinner, head to Redwood Room at the Clift Hotel for a glimpse of party girls like Gwen Stefani, Paris Hilton and Nicole Richie, or to Roe, a birthday party hot spot for celebs such as Stephanie Pratt from The Hills. Sam Ronson also frequently hits the decks there.
Baseball is huge in San Francisco. For a real American experience, go to AT&T Park and watch the San Francisco Giants play. The players are celebs in their own right and visiting A-listers are often spotted at their games too. Don’t forget to buy a big foam finger and, if you’re brave enough, try a corn dog. Keep you eyes peeled as balls are often hit into the crowd by over-enthusiastic batsmen. We learnt this the hard way!
If you’re lucky enough to visit during one of the city’s many annual festivals, you’re in for a treat, with parties for every occasion including a Canine Film Festival in October. Yes that’s right, a film festival all about T’Town dogs!
Where to Stay
The five-star W San Francisco is perfect if you want to holiday like a star. The luxe hotel has a modern cosmopolitan vibe and is set in a prime location in the heart of the SoMa district, right next to the Museum of Modern Art and the Yerba Buena Gardens where y
Walk the Film Set
San Francisco has often been used as a filming location for big Hollywood blockbusters. Here are some of our faves!
Movie: Going the Distance
Stars: Drew Barrymore and Justin Long
A couple try to make a long distance relationship work between New York City and San Francisco.
Movie: The Pursuit of Happyness
Stars: Will Smith, Jaden Smith and Thandie Newton
A father-son story that shows off the Smith boys’ acting chops and a less-glam side of San Francisco.
Movie: Rise of the Planet of the Apes
Stars: James Franco, Andy Serkis and Freida Pinto
A super-smart chimp leads an ape uprising, including an ambush on the Golden Gate Bridge!
Movie: The Five-Year Engagement
Stars: Jason Segel and Emily Blunt
A couple’s journey to marriage has the wedding scene filmed by SF’s iconic Painted Ladies.
Flight: Emirates is the only airline that offers direct flights from Dubai to San Francisco. Flight time is 16 hours and costs from Dhs7,000.
Currency: US dollars
Getting around: San Francisco is big on its public transport! Trams, cable cars and buses are the best ways to get around. Bicycles are also popular and you’ll even spot the odd Segway!
Hotel: W San Francisco, SoMa district, 001 415 777 5300, www.starwoodhotels.com.
Restaurants: Spruce, www.sprucesf.com; Slanted Door, www.slanteddoor.com; Scala’s Bistro, www.scalasbistro.com; Epic Roasthouse, www.epicroasthouse.com; Mas Sake, www.massake.com; Empress of China, www.empressofchinasf.com; Redwood Room, www.clifthotel.com; Roe, www.roe-sf.com.