Though it is called the City By The Bay by much of the country, San Francisco could also be called “mecca”—at least by skateboarders on the West Coast. Its images have made big splashes in skate magazines and videos since the early ’90s, and the city’s home to several legendary skate spots. True, Los Angeles and Southern California will always have it beat for dry concrete and year-round weather, but San Francisco is a spot every skater should visit at least once.
Professional skateboarder Omar Salazar lives an hour-and-a-half’s drive northeast in Sacramento, but he still spends a lot of his time in skateboarding’s mecca. Throughout his early skate career, San Francisco became a second home for him, with sponsor Deluxe Distribution’s Spitfire Wheels offices located in the city. Salazar also picked San Francisco as the place to debut his signature shoe from Nike a few years back. And he even helped design the course on Harrison Street for last weekend’s Dew Tour Toyota City Championships that you can watch right here.
We recently caught up with Salazar for a quick rundown on his surrogate Nor-Cal home. In addition to giving us a breakdown of the city’s most famous skate spots, he also dished on a few of his favorite places to dine and even play tourist. “My tips for enjoying San Francisco are to feed your parking meters, eat well, have fun, and support all the skateboarders,” he says.
Where to skate
While San Francisco may be home to many legendary skate spots, some of these spots have been ruined in recent years with metal skate stoppers that are bolted into the concrete. But Salazar still enjoys visiting many of these old skater haunts. “My three favorite skate spots in San Francisco are Pier Seven, EMB [Embarcadero Center], and the hills and streets,” he says. “Pier Seven because it was one of the first places I visited in San Francisco due to all the historical skateboarding that has gone down [there]. And also because it was the first time I’d ever seen Mark Gonzales in person.”
Salazar loves Embarcadero, which was the center of San Francisco skateboarding in the 1990s, because “it was the meeting spot for skaters all over the world to meet and skate.”
In terms of the city’s hills and streets, Salazar loves to use them to mimic his favorite skate legends, such as “Micky Rayes and Tommy Guerrero,” he says.
Where to eat and drink
When it comes time to grab a bite in the city, Salazar is a big fan of brunch. “One of my favorite places to eat in San Francisco is Red Café,” he says. Located in the Mission District at 2894 Mission Street between 24th and 25th, Red Cafe serves brunch until 4 p.m. daily.
If you’re simply looking for a good place to grab a drink, however, Salazar points to Pop’s Bar. Known for its annual Fourth of July tricycle races, Pop’s Bar is in the Mission District located at 2800 24th Street between York and Bryant streets.
Sights worth a visit
Even seasoned visitors to San Francisco have places they’re willing to check out time and time again. For Salazar these are the usual favorites with a couple skateboard-related locations thrown in. “I still check out the Golden Gate Bridge, the Golden Gate Park, the Rock [Alcatraz], Deluxe Distribution, and Thrasher,” he says. For those looking to see the sights but avoid the crowds, Salazar recommends venturing through Fort Miley and Golden Gate Park.
Places to sleep
There are no shortages of places to stay in San Francisco with everything from boutique hotels to high-end brands to cheap motels in the city outskirts. For Salazar there’s only one place to stay: the W Hotel in the heart of the SoMa (South of Market Street) neighborhood. He does, however, recommend a short trip to Bodega Bay just north of the city. The beautiful area is a favorite weekend getaway for many NorCal residents and Salazar says the River’s End is a great place to relax there. “That’s my favorite!” he says.
For some amazing footage of Salazar and his fellow Levi’s Skateboarding teammates rolling the streets of San Francisco, check out the video below.
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