SFO Terminal 2. This bright space, formerly the airport's international terminal, was redone and reopened in 2011. Its 14 gates serve American and Virgin American flights, including many from LAX. Arriving, you find a yoga area, day spa, Peet's, Pinkberry, sushi, an organic café, a properly sized bookshop, a kids' playspace and even snazzy bathrooms (with those eco-chic Dyson air-blowers). Using an easy AirTrain and BART route, you can get from the terminal to Powell Street (near Union Square) in 35 minutes. Be warned, however, that fog is your foe at SFO. Airport statistics for the year ended Oct. 31 show just 70.8% of SFO departures were on time. Across the bay at Oakland International Airport (also about 35 minutes from Powell Street via BART and a shuttle bus), 80.1% of flights departed on time. 780 S. Airport Blvd.; (650) 821-8211, http://www.flysfo.com.
Musee Mechanique. Pinball wizards and arcade addicts will find their noisy Eden here, a private collection of 300 vintage arcade games, from turn-of-the-20th century hand-cranked music boxes to modern video arcade games. All of the games are in original working order: Pop in some coins and you can listen to larger-than-life Laffing Sal hoot at passersby or play skee ball, pinball or Whack-a-Mole. Pier 45, Fisherman's Wharf at the foot of Taylor Street. (415) 346-2000, http://museemecaniquesf.com. Free.
Little Baobab. By day, a Senegalese bistro. If you're unfamiliar with that cuisine, think deep-fried pastries with feta or beef, or prawns sautéed in red curry. Check out the happy-hour dinner specials, which include appetizer, entree, dessert and a drink for $25. By night, a major metamorphosis takes place. After 10, they move out the tables, and it becomes one of the coolest dance clubs in the Mission. 3388 19th St.; (415) 643-3558, http://www.bissapbaobab.com.
Mission Pie. Is it a bakery? A coffee shop? A hangout for aging hippies. Yes. There is something about Mission Pie that defies labels. But how San Francisco is this bright, friendly corner joint? In addition to quiches and salads, it offers sweet and savory pies that change with the season. Mission Pie prides itself on using products from local farms, orchards and creameries. For breakfast, try the bacon and egg galette. 2901 Mission St.; (415) 282-1500, http://www.missionpie.com.
Wo Hing General Store. No, it's not really a general store. Charles Phan, the chef behind the popular Slanted Door in the Ferry Terminal, opened this place in October 2011, and the foodies on Yelp have been arguing about it ever since. The menu offers variations on Chinese street food; entrees $11-$20. Fancy cocktails are a big draw. Though it stands in the middle of the semi-gritty, bohemian Mission District, the restaurant is sleek and orderly, with table tops that look like recycled bowling lanes. 584 Valencia St.; (415) 552-2510, http://www.wohinggeneralstore.com.
Trolley to the Castro. See the sights on your own terms by taking a historic streetcar from the Embarcadero (the F line) down bustling Market Street to the end of the line at the Castro Street Station. The brightly painted streamlined beauties were mostly built in the 1940s in Milan, Italy. The Castro, which is known as the city's "gay village" (it was one of the country's first gay neighborhoods and is still among the largest), comes alive at night when its many restaurants and bars overflow with locals. For low-cost, filling diner food at a neighborhood institution, slide into a counter seat at Orphan Andy's. $2. http://www.sfmta.com.
—Jessica GeltCopyright © 2014, The Baltimore Sun