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5 Cities on $250 a Day

 

San Francisco

 

A love of the city's funkier side (and several smart choices) help H. Scott Jolley get the job done

8:00 A.M. My friends can't believe how often I jet off to San Francisco for the weekend. "It's so expensive!" they say. But I don't think it seems that outrageous, thanks to places like the $109-a-night industrial-chic Hotel Diva (440 Geary St.; 800/553-1900; www.hoteldiva.com).
Amount Left $141.00

10:30 A.M. At the Parisian florist Au Nom de la Rose (224 Kearny St.; 415/986-3834), I spy a dozen orange-and-red roses in a galvanized-metal pail for $21. A silly splurge, but they're perfect for brightening up my hotel room.
Amount Left $120.00

12:15 P.M. With a $9 one-day MUNI passport, I can ride the cable cars to my heart's content. But I skip the tourist-jammed streetcar in favor of the bus to the Ferry Building Marketplace. The 1898 Embarcadero landmark is filled with food stalls. At Far West Fungi, I'm tempted by a white Alba truffle—dare I blow my budget for a slice of paradise?A place to sleep tonight trumps gustatory bliss, and I pry myself away for lunch at Mijita—just $8.50 for a mahimahi taco and mango agua fresca.
Amount Left $102.50

1:30 P.M. San Francisco has always been a magnet for creative types, so I devote the rest of the day to art, both high and low. With no admission charge, the new Museum of Craft + Design (550 Sutter St.; 415/773-0303) is worth every penny I didn't pay. Sue Wheatley's bench of thick felt pads and leather straps looks as if Howard Finster made Shaker chairs.
Amount Left $102.50

3:00 P.M. Diego Rivera painted public murals all over San Francisco, but one of his best works—the Allegory of California—can be seen only on the first Wednesday of every month at the City Club (155 Sansome St.; 415/362-2480), a private Art Deco building. I've never seen the painting before, therefore I'm more than willing to spend the $5 suggested donation.
Amount Left $97.50

4:15 P.M. Remembering the Eckerd Drugs comic-book rack from my childhood, I expect my next stop, the Cartoon Art Museum (655 Mission St.; 415/227-8666; admission $6), to be a bit more lowbrow. Instead, I find intricately detailed storyboards from alt-world heroes Art Spiegelman and R. Crumb. Geek heaven.
Amount Left $91.50

5:30 P.M. The Mission's funky Artist-Xchange (3169 16th St.; 415/864-1490) is packed with jewelry, sculpture, and paintings by Bay Area artists. I pick up a small canvas depicting computer-drawn Japanese characters in a manga-meets-Barbie style. It's no Diego Rivera, but it's only $25.
Amount Left $66.50

8:00 P.M. I have more than enough left for dinner at Bocadillos (710 Montgomery St.; 415/982-2622), which serves small plates at excellent prices: $8 to $12 each. I feast on seared scallops with orange-sherry mole, 18-month-old Serrano ham, octopus with chile yuzu, and more—and walk out with money to spare.

Total Spent $245.00

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