Today our journey takes us to LA MISSION, the warm and sunny valley south of downtown, east of the Castro and Noe Valley, and west of Potrero Hill. Protected from wind and fog by Twin Peaks and its own low elevation, the Mission is your best bet for a warm and sunny San Franciscan experience.
Presently, the Mission represents a liminal space: one of abundance, conflict, and gentrification, where high-end boutiques and fancy bars elbow themselves between aromatic botanicas and beloved taquerias. Walk lightly here: there are treasures down every alleyway…
Journey with me today to the Valencia Street corridor. We begin, in true San Franciscan fashion, with a late 11am start at the vibrant 24th and Mission BART station, walking west on 24th past the lovely Mission Branch library – the oldest library in the city! Then, we will cross the street and turn north onto Valencia…
Break your fast and support the community at Arizmendi.
According to their website, “Our pizzas feature fresh vegetables, flavorful cheeses, infused oils and a variety of herbs on an organic, thin crust made from our signature sourdough. One distinct variety of pizza is offered each day.” Many of Arizmendi’s offerings are vegan and gluten-free. Plus, they’ve got a little fridge of salads, yoghurts, and hummus if bread just isn’t your thing.
Immerse yourself in real-life magic at the Scarlet Sage Herb Company on 23rd and Valencia.
Run your fingers through bowls of crystals and inspect the hand-written signs proclaiming the properties of each before selecting one or two to slip into your pocket. Pick yourself out a nice portable cauldron, or a fairy wand. On certain days you can even snag yourself a Tarot reading in the reading alcove above the entrance.
Spend blissful hours here with a wicker basket on your arm, and leave with magic dripping from your hair and shining forth from your eyes! Then, with your pockets full of crystals and aromatic herbs, stroll up Valencia and gaze in the windows of the many intriguing shops.
Sate your booklust at Dog-Eared Books and Borderlands Books & Café.
Be sure to take a peek in Dog-Eared Books’ FREE bin out on the sidewalk! Inside, they boast a wide variety of used and new books of every possible genre. Borderlands, by contrast, specializes in sci-fi and fantasy. Get yourself a pot of tea at their adjacent café and settle in for a good read.
Stock up on pirate supplies.
The pirate store helps to fund this ambitious and heroic project, and happens to be a work of art in its own right. Peek into the drawers that line the wall and discover bizarre and delightful treasures – beard extensions, flutes, tattoo removers, or an ever-handy bottle of Emergency Treasure Burial Sand.
Be sure to follow the rules posted outside the fish tank viewing room! No marriage proposals allowed. Arrr.
Bones! Shells! Curios of natural science!
Score a coyote baculum, a porcupine quill, and a fossil or two. Exclaim over the unique jewelry and the lovely glass beakers. Snatch a moment of quiet reflection in the tiny back garden. Overall, indulge your inner natural scientist-slash-explorer heroine-self.
Soak up the art: it’s good for you!
Slowly gape your way down this colorful hallway of art. Don’t be shy about taking pictures and posing with the art – the murals here and across the city shift and change and get painted over. Today’s mural may be covered up by tomorrow’s artists. Be sure to investigate the surrounding area for more street art: keep a weather eye open for colors and shapes that please the eye. Walk this alley for as long as your heart desires.
Now, darlingheart, you have two options, and they depend upon the weather.
Vendors stroll amongst the blankets and bikes, calling out their wares. Beware the cookies and brownies! You may get much, much more than you bargained for. But fear not: there is usually one girl at least hawking “pot-free cookies and brownies” from her large wicker basket.
Bonus points for ordering one of their signature tea services: choose from Russian, English, Japanese, Paleolithic, Indian, and Moorish. Enjoy a plate piled with insanely good food and paired with a matching tea. Here, amongst warmth and steaming cuppas, you’ll find the perfect end to a heroic day.
Paige [Paige Z’s Tarot and Tea] is a professional witch living in San Francisco with her one-eyed cat, Squeaky Z. When she’s not slinging tarot cards or sipping tea, you can find her blissfully buried in a book.