By Wilma Wei
Over the Thanksgiving break, my friend and I traveled to San Francisco to explore both new and old places. In the city, we visited both tourist-packed places and unique attractions that were not as well known.
We first visited Fisherman’s Wharf, an iconic stop to make in San Francisco along the coast. As we walked around the street and looked at the holiday lights, we had clam chowder and sourdough bread for lunch at Boudin. We made sure to visit Pier 39, making sure to spend a large amount of time in it’s quirky shops, and of course, watching the sea lions on the marina docks, and grabbing a bag of Trish’s warm, golden-brown mini sugar-coated donuts. After grabbing a very necessary mid-day dessert at Ghirardelli Square, we were on our way to our next destination.
Our next stop was Paxton Gate on Valencia Street. Almost blending in with the rest of the shops around it, Paxton Gate’s exterior design says nothing about the interior. As we stepped into the seemingly normal store, I soon realized this was more than your average store. Filled with oddities and rarities, the store had everything ranging from taxidermied mice and giraffes, to crystals and different minerals that glistened and sparkled in cases and drawers. In addition to their extensive collection of porcupine quills, various different skulls, bones, and skeletons, walking all the way to the back of the store turned the shelves of taxidermied animals into lush, green plants. Like a greenhouse, Paxton Gate sells a wide variety of cacti, succulents, air plants, and gardening tools.
In addition to Paxton Gate, Valencia Street was also filled with plenty of other unique stores, thrift stores, and quaint coffee shops. Some notable shops and restaurants to visit are Dandelion Chocolate, a chocolatier shop, 826 Valencia Pirate Supply Store (self explanatory name), and a favorite place to visit is Dog Eared Books, a homey and cozy bookstore where used books are resold at really cheap prices.
To finish off the day, we grabbed dinner on Valencia Street at Souvla, a Greek restaurant that serves amazing gyros and headed home to Los Gatos after a long day.