San Francisco might not be as flower-in-your-hair as it once was, but it definitely still has quirks and charms in abundance. Take the boba tea cafe slash dance club that's opening soon in the Inner Richmond. Would you find that anywhere else? Didn't think so. So with that as our jumping-off point, here are some of our favorite off-the-beaten-path events, bars and restaurants that will remind you why you love this city.


Hamilton via Website

Golden Gate Kennel Club Dog Show

They say San Francisco has more dogs than kids, and nowhere is that more apparent than at the dog show. At the West Coast’s premier benched dog show at Cow Palace you can let yourself be overloaded with cuteness. Scheduled to attend: Australian shepherds, Irish wolfhounds, Golden Retrievers, toy fox terriers and every breed in between. Here, everyone is a winner.

Where: Cow Palace, 2600 Geneva Dr., Daly City
When: Jan. 28 & 29, 8 a.m.-5 p.m.
More info:



In case you’ve been living under a rock, our friends at SHN are playing host to Hamilton. Have the golden ticket? Lucky you. (Don’t rub it in.) If you’re like the rest of us, you’re obsessively checking the site for available seats because ALEXANDER HAMILTON. You might try the secondary market, but then, it could cost you an arm, a leg and possibly your house. There’s not much more to say. In the meantime, grab the mixtape.

Where: 1192 Market St., Mid Market
When: Mar. 10-Aug. 5
More info:



Following the highs of Hamilton are the lows of John. The play, written by Pulitzer winner Annie Baker, tells the story of a young couple staying at an old bed-and-breakfast in Gettysburg who experience a ghost story unlike any other. One part humor, one part reflective and one part tense, this play will have you immersed in deep thought (or conversation) as you leave the theater, asking questions about life, death and the meaning of it all.

Where: A.C.T. Strand Theater, 1127 Market St., Mid Market
When: Feb. 22-Apr. 23
More info:


4th Street Coin Op Game Room via Website

4th Street Coin Op Game Room

This isn’t just your run-of-the-mill bar slash arcade slash food spot. 4th Street Coin-Op Game Room is wrapping up its soft opening now — and fingers crossed, the upstairs Tron-themed bar will be ready for prime time. Because we. Are. There. Expect a great hangout spot in China Basin for all the aforementioned reasons, plus bonus points for the arcade-themed restrooms. 

Where: 508 4th St., SOMA
When: Daily, 4 p.m.-2 a.m.
More info: 628-444-3277;​


Boba Labs + Sunday Bird

New Yorkers, rejoice. No, we aren’t getting another Halal Guys. Instead we’re getting Deuki Hong, who has dominated the Korean food scene for a while. He’s headed out west, first teaming up with the Boba Guys' new establishment next to Wise Sons in Fillmore. Boba and Korean fried chicken? Dreams really do come true. His Sunday Bird pop-up will be the first one taking over the kitchen in the back of the aptly named Boba Labs. Look for it to open in a few months.

Where: 1522 Fillmore St., Fillmore
More info:


Woods Outbound

Woods Beer, the funky-fresh beer company that seems to do everything right, is opening yet another store in the coming month(s). This time the Outer Sunset gets to say thank you to a cozy new neighborhood spot bookended by Trouble Coffee and Outerlands. In perfect San Francisco style, the 750-square-foot bar will do a lot with a little, with a bar running the length of the space and a machine that lets you take freshly tapped canned beer on the go. Taps are slated to open in January, the back patio in spring.

Where: 4045 Judah St., Outer Sunset
More info:


Pacific Orchid and Garden Exposition via Facebook

Noir City

Darkened streets, mysterious capers and unabashed glamour: It's hard not to love noir. Established in 2003, this festival honors the cinematic genre. Among the 24 films that will be screened, you can see Marilyn Monroe in The Asphalt Jungle, Alec Guinness in The Ladykillers and Dustin Hoffman in Straight Time. The Castro Theatre is a gem of a venue, one that will show you they don't make 'em quite like they used to. 

Where: 429 Castro St., Castro
When: Jan. 20-29
More info: 415-621-6350;


Pacific Orchid and Garden Exposition

Part of San Francisco’s charm is that any space bigger than, say, 2x2 can be considered a park. There is so much green space in this dense city that it never ceases to boggle the mind. Sometimes, however, we San Franciscans like to step things up a notch. And next month, the Pacific Orchid and Garden Expo has us covered. It's the largest orchid show in the entire United States, conveniently located inside Golden Gate Park next to the Botanical Gardens. Your senses will come alive. And thanks to tips from the plant doctors on hand, so will your blooms. Go ahead, stick a flower in your hair.

Where: Hall of Flowers, 1199 9th Ave., Inner Sunset
When: Feb. 24-26. Fri. & Sat., 9 a.m.-6 p.m.; Sun., 10 a.m.-5 p.m.
More info:

By Mike Weiss

San Francisco-based marketer Mike Weiss has an undying love for sports, film photography and anything with gin. He's a firm believer that the West Coast is the best coast. Find him on Twitter @mikeini.