Recently, I was walking down the street, and I passed two guys sitting at an outside table at a cafe. I overheard one say to the other, "Yeah, Tahoe is basically the Hamptons of San Francisco. The city clears out and everyone goes there."
Now, since the Hamptons isn't a winter destination, I assume he meant that Tahoe in the summer is the Hamptons of San Francisco. Still, this is news to me, so I'm wondering, is he right?
No. He isn't.
I can only guess he was trying to convince a guy to go in on a timeshare or something, because that's ridiculous, and I know that because have you been to San Francisco lately? It never fully clears out. It's always packed. The streets are always full of traffic, and there's no such thing as a summer exodus to a cooler climate since summer in San Francisco is freezing.
Now, there are exceptions to this. Since I never have to leave town to celebrate Thanksgiving or Christmas with my family, I can attest that Thanksgiving Day, and Christmas Eve and Christmas Day are the only times when you can get across town in 15 minutes, and parking, even on Nob Hill after 7 p.m., is plentiful. It's seriously an absolute delight.
At one time, the city also got noticeably mellower during Burning Man, but for the past five years I haven't noticed a marked decrease in people; even without those Burners, you're still going to have to wait for a table at Puerto Alegre and probably never get a nice spot in the backyard of Zeitgeist (the one place I definitely noticed was refreshingly empty during Burning Man days of yore).
Now, this isn't to say people don't go to Tahoe during the summer. On occasion I've even gone up just for the day, which isn't that bad if you get an early start. But summer jaunts to Tahoe are not the same kind of mass vacationing one might witness during the summer in New York. Plus, Tahoe is not a see-and-be-seen kind of place full of giant mansions that are quaintly referred to as summer cottages.
Perhaps this guy's proclamation was just a transplant's attempt to understand his new city by making comparisons that make sense to him, whether they're actually true or not. I imagine it can be hard trying to figure out your new home if you aren't trying to find equivalents, hence some people's insistence on things like how Oakland is San Francisco's version of Brooklyn. (I think that equation falls apart for one big reason: You can get back to Manhattan from Brooklyn on the subway after midnight.)
Since San Francisco's version of summer is basically a couple of weeks in the spring and in the autumn, I've been trying to think if there really is any place a large number of San Franciscans migrate to for those short periods, to see and be seen, bask in the sun, and annoy the locals who call the area home for the rest of the year. Keeping those factors in mind, the answer really is quite obvious.
Dolores Park is the Hamptons of San Francisco.
Rain Jokinen was born and raised in San Francisco and, miraculously, still calls the city home. Her future plans include becoming a millionaire, buying a condo complex, and then tearing it down to replace it with a dive bar. You can ask this native San Franciscan your questions here.In these Troubled San Francisco Times, there is a lot of talk about who was here when, and what that does (or doesn't) mean. In an effort to both assist newcomers and take long-time residents down memory lane, we present to you Ask a San Francisco Native, a column penned by SF native and longtime SFist contributor Rain Jokinen, which is inspired by a similar one on our sister site Gothamist, and is intended to put to rest all those questions only a native of this city can answer. Send yours here!