THE CASTRO

Sunday Mail - Travel/Escape - - GOLDEN GATEWAY -

and mar­garita-fu­elled lit­er­ary death matches. No mat­ter how foggy it gets in Golden Gate Park, San Fran­cisco’s mys­te­ri­ous mi­cro­cli­mates keep most af­ter­noons sunny in the Mis­sion. Join sun-wor­ship in progress year-round in Dolores Park (do­lores­park­works.org), line up be­hind vel­vet ropes for Bi-Rite ice cream (birite­cream­ery.com), glimpse what’s grow­ing in Dear­born Com­mu­nity Gar­den and the graf­fiti on Clar­ion Al­ley, and call it an early happy hour/late lunch at Mis­sion Cheese (mis­sioncheese.net). be­tween the Haight and the Ma­rina. But Ja­pan­town is more than kawaii (cute). This pi­o­neer­ing com­mu­nity chal­lenged World War II Ja­panese Amer­i­can in­tern­ment or­ders to es­tab­lish key US civil rights prece­dents. Ja­pan­town continues to in­no­vate, pre­mier­ing in­ter­na­tional films, launch­ing jazz leg­ends and set­ting style trends. Tra­di­tional Ja­panese baths are still here (kabuk­isprings.com) but so are Ja­panese anime and SFpsychedelic ninja shoes. Within a few years of mov­ing into this quaint Vic­to­rian neigh­bour­hood in the 1970s, the Castro’s out-and-proud com­mu­nity elected Har­vey Milk as the na­tion’s first gay of­fi­cial. When AIDS hit, the Castro wiped its tears and got to work, ad­vo­cat­ing in­ter­ven­tions that saved lives world­wide. To­day the lit­tle neigh­bour­hood un­der the gi­ant rain­bow flag is a global sym­bol of free­dom. plan to sleep. So­cial me­dia pi­o­neers and Mac­World con­fer­ences might co­ex­ist along­side his­toric clubs and drag venues South of Mar­ket St (SoMa), but ev­ery­one gets down and dirty on the dance floor here af­ter 10pm. up­per reaches of Nob Hill and Rus­sian Hill, where hill­top gar­dens, lit­er­ary land­marks and divine views await dis­cov­ery up flower-lined stair­way walks. If the climb and the sights don’t leave you com­pletely weak at the knees, try stag­ger­ing back downhill af­ter a cou­ple of Nob Hill cock­tails. Now you know why San Fran­cisco in­vented ca­ble cars. Other great

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