burningmanlede.jpgPop quiz, hotshot: what’s the best time of year to be in San Francisco?

Bay to Breakers? Halloween? The two days every summer when it’s actually warm?

All good guesses, but the best time to be a San Franciscan is the magical week in late summer when a large portion of the city’s population piles into their hybrids and treks out to a desolate stretch of the Nevada desert to take psychedelic drugs and network with the guy in the glowing lobster suit to get an interview as a firmware engineer at Google.

While Burning Man is a magical time to be on the Playa, it’s an even more magical time to be in San Francisco. From now until the man goes up in flames on September 6th, a whole litany of places, usually so crowded that no one ever goes there, will be virtual ghost towns.

This is where you, the poor, unfortunate soul who couldn’t convince your boss that building a three-story wrought iron sculpture of a cow that shoots flames from its teats is a legitimate business trip, stand to reap the benefits. Burning Man is the one week a year when you can do all of the hipster stuff you always wanted to do, but never did, because all of those places were too full of hipsters. Until next Monday, San Francisco is more of your oyster than ever before because the protective shell is running around the desert, naked, tripping on ecstasy.

Here are some suggestions:

Go to Bourbon and Branch. The Tenderloin’s premiere faux-speakeasy, has a cool, noir atmosphere and a top-shelf drink menu. There are few joys in life greater than paying $12 for a cocktail and, after taking a sip, realizing that it may have actually been worth it–an experience that Bourbon and Branch delivers with some regularity. The bar’s only problem is that it’s perennially so packed full of dudes with scruffy facial hair and porkpie hats that it can take over 15 minutes to even order a drink, on top of the ten it takes the bartender to actually make it. With all the Tom Waits impersonators gone, you can easily make a beeline for the bar.

Organize a kickball game on a sunny day in Dolores Park. Even though half of the fun of spending a sun-soaked afternoon in the park is watching the throngs of humanity who flock to the Mission hotspot every time the temperature breaks 72, it’s often impossible to get enough space to comfortably spread out into the sea of brightly colored plaid and islands of Pabst Blue Ribbon. With an empty park, you’ll have more than enough room to play kickball, frisbee golf or even cornhole to your heart’s content. Heck, you might get away with bringing a portable stereo and blasting Dave Matthews Band without someone threatening to beat you senseless with a fixed gear bike.

Go to brunch at Lime or Zazie or any of those other great bunch places that are always so packed with hungover d-bags wearing aviator sunglasses that it’s impossible to get a table when you’re being a hungover d-bag wearing aviator sunglasses.

Feel free to hit on that cute, hip-looking member of the opposite (or same) sex you meet at a bar. If all goes according to plan, and the two of you end up having a slumber party, the odds you’ll wake up the next morning and be invited to his or her photography gallery opening is infinitely lower than it will be for every other week of the year.

Bootie, on the other hand, will still be awful.

Any other suggestions for cool things to do in the city during Burning Man?

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  • Haze Valet

    This is going to be awesome. This is going to be snarky hipster dream land. You have hereby invited the population of San Francisco most deserving of snarky comments into the snarkster’s den. Yes… line up Nob Hillians, Marinianians, North Beachers, Russian Hillians, South Beachians… come to the Mission and Castro and see the light… come to Dolores in your polo shirts, with your bud light limes, your bros and Hai Mais… come and bathe in the snark. We are waiting…

    P.S. Thank god the hippies are out of town.

    P.S.S and yes… Bootie will still suck… I dont think East Bay Bridge Trolls know what Burning Man is?

  • cv

    Great! With all the Marinianians in the Mission and the Castro during Burning Man, the Marina will be *awesome* this week. See you at Perry’s!

  • Aaron Sankin

    Didn’t even think of that. I’ll be taking on all comers at beer pong in the back room of Bar None. It, as they say, is on.

  • Olivier Madnomad

    If you were ever curious about the actual history of Burning Man, check out Dust & Illusions: http://dustandullusions.com

    The document doesn’t show you why you should spend $1,000 at least to go there, but rather look at how Burning Man evolved from a small and intimate gathering to a multi-million dollar business, and how politics might have replaced philosophies.