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My Itinerary 430

One of the country's finest public waterfront areas was born in the 1989 San Francisco earthquake. The big temblor shook up the whole city - and took down the unsightly Embarcadero Freeway off-ramp, which once towered over much of the waterfront area. In a single stroke that no civic planner would have been bold enough to take, San Francisco had a chance to re-invent its relationship to the bayfront. A thoughtful master plan has gradually transformed the area over the past three decades into a place that everyone seems to like.

Starting from Fourth and Townsend near the CalTrain station, these are some of the highlights:

AT&T ParkIt's the home of the San Francisco Giants and one of the country's nicest baseballs stadiums, chosen as the 2008 Sports Facility of the Year by Sports Business Journal. When the Giants aren't playing, you can tour the facility - and when they are, you can watch through the fence for free (for a little while).

The San Francsisco Bay Bridge: That other bridge across town gets most of the attention, but in most places this graceful, suspension bridge would be a major attraction. It's especially pretty in the late evening. Just below it near Folsom and Embarcadero, you'll find Rincon Park, which is a nice place to sit and watch the boats go by. Also nearby are two restaurants and the big, bow-and-arrow sculpture named Cupid's Span.

San Francisco Ferry Building Marketplace: In its heyday, this building at Market Street and Embarcadero was the hub of San Francisco Bay transportation, the busiest spot on the waterfront. Nowadays, it's filled with specialty gourmet shops and local restaurants that attract a lively crowd. 

Herb Caen Way...: The sidewalk along the Embarcadero is named in honor of long-time San Francisco journalist Herb Caen, whose columns expressed all the joys and pains of living in the place he called Baghdad by the Bay. And those three dots refer to his habit of ending sentences with ellipses (three dots). Along it, and you'll see historic plaques, quotes from Caen's columns and pylons recalling events and people from the city's colorful past. 

Teatro Zinzanni: It's a unique combination of entertainment and dining that's been popular for over a decade. In early 2012, it closed to prepare a new home and it should re-open later in the year.

Keep walking and you'll end up at Pier 39 and Fisherman's Wharf. If you get tired. you can always hop on one of the historic streetcars that run along the waterfront.

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