BART: San Francisco

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If midterms are getting you down and you're looking to escape to the city while still managing to escape the fog, consider taking a trip to the Mission.

Located in the heart of San Francisco, and largely insulated from fog, the Mission is generally at least relatively warm and sunny, and conveniently served by two BART stations, 16th Street Mission and 24th Street Mission. A round trip will run you about $7.50 and will bring you to great views, quirky shopping and delicious burritos.

The Mission

For $3.75 from the Downtown Berkeley BART, you can get to the 16th Street Mission station. A few blocks away is the Roxie Theater (3117 16th St.), the oldest continually operating theater in San Francisco, which shows independent, documentary and foreign films.

If it's a nice day, you'd do well to stop by Dolores Park (Dolores Street and 18th Street) to enjoy views of the San Francisco skyline. As you walk around the Mission, you'll also notice murals, many of them the work of Precita Eyes Mural Arts Association, which also offers tours and has a visitor center (2981 24th Street). In addition, check out the Clarion Alley Mural Project (off of Mission Street between 17th and 18th).

There are several neighborhood bookstores worth a visit, including Borderlands Books (866 Valencia St.), Modern Times Books (888 Valencia St.), Adobe Book Shop (3166 16th St.) and Dog-Eared Books (900 Valencia St.).

In terms of food, the Mission has no shortage of Mexican restaurants, the decor of which tends to fall somewhere on the scale of Spartan to hole-in-the-wall. Do not be fooled. Many before you have scoured the area for the perfect Mission burrito, and I would venture to guess that they have not been disappointed.

Feel free to embark on a quest of your own, but I can recommend El Farolito (2779 Mission St.) and Taqueria La Cumbre (515 Valencia St.) as decent starting points. If you're looking for something more unconventional, the vegetarian BBQ chicken sandwich at Rhea's Deli (800 Valencia St.) will not let you down.

There's also plenty more to be explored in the Mission that cannot possibly be contained herein, including swanky coffee shops, dive bars, pawn shops, thrift stores and boutiques (which sell things that look like great thrift store finds but cost more). Do yourself a favor and investigate them first-hand.

-Valerie Woolard

Huntington Park

Cheap, relaxing, and beautiful - Huntington Park really is a triple threat. Take time out of your party-crazed spring break to enjoy one of the more peaceful parts of San Francisco.

Take a San Francisco-bound BART train to the Powell Street Station and prepare yourself for a bit of a walk - but trust me, its worth climbing hills for. After you get off BART walk up Powell Street, past Union Square to California Street and take a left. Once you hit Taylor Street, you've arrived.

Huntington Park, directly across from The Huntington Hotel, is small and beautiful: perfect for a spring afternoon or a late night stroll with that special someone.

Surrounded by taller buildings, you really get a sense of enclosure. The architecture almost forces your gaze up towards the sky, but that's a good thing.

On a sunny day you can lounge on one of the many benches that circle the modest fountain at the center of the park. Or, if you're more of a grass-sitter, then you can spread yourself out on one of the symmetrical lawns that encase the benches.

Take time to watch the clouds pass overhead or pull out your favorite book - this is going to be a relaxing experience.

But if you're not into relaxation, perhaps you can indulge your inner child on the swing set located on the north side of the park.

Whatever your fancy, this is the perfect location to unwind from the stress of spring break bingers. And for the price of a BART ticket, which costs a meager $7.30 round-trip, this is one of the more affordable staycations you could ever hope for.

-Andrew Davis

Haight-Ashbury

A place whose name conjures acid flashbacks and a sense of rebellion, Haight-Ashbury is one of my favorite places in California. Where hipsters descend to stand languidly on street corners and the homeless sell pot on the streets, it's this mix of the old and the new, the illegal and the arcane, that makes it such a tempting destination. Aside from the thrilling sights speckled along Haight Street's ascending corridor, you'll find plenty of places to satisfy one's hunger and thirst.

Perched far west on Upper Haight, close to Amoeba Music and the resonant smell of marijuana, is Kan Zaman. Easily accessible by taking the Civic Center BART stop and then the 33 MUNI Bus, the quick and cheap journey is worth what you will find - one of the best Middle Eastern restaurants in San Francisco, and a must-try for vegetarians and hookah lovers. The Happy Hour is fantastic: $2 domestic and foreign beers, $3.50 cocktails and shots, Monday through Friday 5 to 8 p.m. Rather than enjoying your Happy Hour drinks in a stuffy lounge bar or having to tackle a seat amidst drunken undergraduates at Beat the Clock, the ambiance at Kan Zaman is authentic, cultured and timeless.

The food is delicious - fresh hummus, babaganoush and warm bread for the avid palate as well as sumptuous cocktails to wash it all down. It's a place to seek traditional Middle Eastern cuisine, to enjoy the classics you know and love. Moreover, the food and drinks are perfect for the student budget (about $15 per person), leading to the best part: the hookah. Strewn loosely over Kan Zaman's couches and throw pillows, a few drinks in and shrouded by opiatic hookah smoke, I ponderously debated politics, art, and the meaning of life with friends. I felt transferred to another reality, to another time, when life was enjoyed as a luxury in itself. A night at Kan Zaman is a meaningful escape, and if spent with good company, promises to be one of your favorite memories this spring break.

-Summer Dunsmore

Tags: SAN FRANCISCO, BART, THE MISSION, HAIGHT-ASHBURY, HUNTINGTON PARK






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