Tommy Wallach, author of the New York Times bestseller We All Looked Up, has some strong feelings for San Francisco. His new novel, Thanks for the Trouble, is set there and is very much a love letter to the city. As protagonist Parker Santé shows the enigmatic Zelda Toth some of its most beloved landmarks, along with some hidden gems, over the course of a weekend, you get a very clear sense of the city’s unique charm and spirit.
If you find yourself in San Francisco, check out some of the very real locations Zelda and Parker visit.
COFFFEEEE! 8:00 AM
San Francisco is one of the great coffee cities of the United States, boasting (and roasting) such famed coffee shops as Blue Bottle, Four Barrel, and Ritual Coffee Roasters. But we recommend you get a cup at the Palace Hotel, where Parker and Zelda first meet. Yes, a single cup will set you back a chunk of change, but you won’t get this kind of ambiance at a Dunkin’ Donuts.
GET YOUR SHOP ON 10:00 AM
Begin your shopping experience in Union Square, which is home to all the brands you’ve heard of…and a bunch more you haven’t. Once you’ve had your fill, move on to the Embarcadero, which has a mix of mainstream stores and out-there treats and is close to the Ferry Plaza Farmers Market and all of its deliciousness. If you still have some energy, hit Haight Street, which mixes modern cool with a hippie vibe. Parker, not one for much shopping, takes Zelda to the mall. That’s also a choice.
GRAB A SLICE 1:00 PM
In the midst of all that shopping, you’re going to need some sustenance. There are many awesome places for pizza in San Francisco, classic spots like Arinell and Pauline’s, which have proudly served their delicious pies for more than two decades, and newer joints like the Pizza Shop (bring your dollars as they’re cash only). Or, be like Parker and Zelda and get your pizza at the mall. (Actually, you probably shouldn’t.)
HIT THE BEACH 6:00 PM
After a long day exploring, you’re going to want to sit down, relax, and dig your toes in the sand on one of the city’s beautiful beaches, where you’ll discover stunning views of the city and/or the setting sun. Popular spots include Ocean Beach and Aquatic Park. Zelda and Parker embrace a “clothing optional” mentality—San Francisco has beaches for folks like that, too.
THINK DEEPLY 10:00 AM
Yesterday, you fed your closet. Today, you feed your mind and soul. The Legion of Honor is arguably the city’s most beautiful museum, both inside and out. Spend some time within its walls contemplating Rodin’s The Thinker or viewing the current exhibition of Pierre Bonnard’s works. Make sure to bring a friend so that you can debate the meaning of the works, their place in history, or, as Parker and Zelda do, the elusiveness of immortality.
KEEP IT CLEAN 1:00 PM
Before we get to your soul, let’s take care of your belly…and laundry! For lunch, head to the BrainWash Café, a favorite of the locals. Here’s the hook: BrainWash is both a diner…and Laundromat! While you wash the sand out of the clothes you wore to the beach yesterday, dine on the restaurant’s affordable and delicious cuisine—according to Parker, the breakfast burritos are a must.
FIND YOUR PEACE 3:00 PM
Golden Gate Park has more than 1,000 acres of gardens, playgrounds, trails, cultural venues, and more. But the real star of the show is the Japanese Tea Garden, located in the middle of the park. Parker and Zelda walk the arched bridges and serene paths as they get to know each other—there’s nothing like the sound of bamboo swaying in the wind and the sight of koi silently swimming to facilitate open-hearted dialogue.
YOU DESERVE A TREAT 6:00 PM
Yes, it’s almost time for dinner, but doesn’t ice cream sound good right now? Parker has special feelings for the frozen treats at Smitten Ice Cream, which has the creamiest ice cream around—ice cream so good, it just might be worth living for.
CROSS THAT BRIDGE You choose the time
Everyone has bridges to cross. You have yours. Parker and Zelda have theirs. Yes, those bridges are metaphorical. But no trip to San Francisco would be complete without a literal crossing of the Golden Gate Bridge, which connects the northern tip of the San Francisco Peninsula to Marin County. Opened in 1937, the bridge has been the sight of many first kisses and romantic walks. It has played a key role in numerous TV shows, films, and books, as it does in Thanks for the Trouble. Read the book to find out what it is.