San Francisco – Everyday Insider! (TM) Trip 18

Continuing with a list of Everyday Insider! (TM) events or venues which tourists to San Francisco can use to enjoy California life with the locals.

Here we are at Trip 18, and this site gets us about half-way along San Francisco’s famed 49 Mile Drive.

This time, I’ll share Sigmund Stern Grove which is a natural, forested amphitheater ringing with the sounds of musical entertainment. For more than 7 decades, it has been free, for all music lovers, on summer Sundays!

George Greene originally homesteaded the Grove – then only a tract of sand dunes and marshes – in the 1840’s. The Greene family planted the first Australian eucalyptus trees in the Grove and built the Trocadero Inn, a popular recreation spot until its closure in 1916.

In 1931, Stern Grove was purchased by Rosalie M. Stern and then given as a gift to the City of San Francisco, in memory of her husband Sigmund, who had been a prominent civic leader at the time.

Marveling at the Grove’s natural acoustics, Mrs. Stern decided the site would be preserved as a park, and especially that the public could enjoy admission-free music, dance, and theater performances there in summer. In fact the family of Isaac Stern, the famed concert violinist, (no relation), came regularly to these concerts as Isaac grew up in the neighborhood.

On June 4, 1932, Stern Grove was dedicated, and 2 weeks later, the San Francisco Symphony played the first concert in the Grove following the permanent mandate that all concerts were to be free to the public and designed for everyone’s enjoyment.

In the 2010 season, the SF Symphony played a concert, as did the San Francisco Opera and the SF Ballet will perform a few weeks from now. Others draw concert caliber artists from all over the world – both for the regular concerts and for the KidStage versions.

This arrangement serves to:

___ Provide paid performance opportunities for chosen professional artists and performers

___ Serve diverse audiences – by age and ethnicity – during a season of varied genres and artists

___ Enhance San Francisco’s renown as a cultural center, globally and locally.

The descendants of the Stern family still chair the Festival and oversee the non-profit foundation. Quite possibly that is the real reason for the Festival’s success.

Today Stern Grove’s natural amphitheater is surrounded by giant eucalyptus, redwood and fir trees. It is one of Northern California’s favorite concert sites, with an intimate atmosphere and connectedness to Nature that none of the modern options can fulfill.

Family and friends gather to relax and picnic on the lawns in front of the stages. If desired, they can enter an online lottery to snag one of the picnic tables located behind the lawn seated audience, once during the season. The tables seat 6 people.

This concert series is really a community effort now, for in order to pay the artists, provide the upkeep of the grounds and still maintain an admission-free policy, the funds must be raised each year from community donors – individuals, small business, foundations and corporations. This is true community spirit. They need to raise about 2 million dollars, annually.

There are also KidsDays concerts which must be registered for online. Many of these concerts fill up quickly and then registration closes. For any SF visit in summer, if you are coming with children, check here early!

There is NO public parking at Stern Grove. Street parking nearby is extremely limited, so you are encouraged to take public transport.

SF Muni Buses:
Muni Metro: Take lines K, L or S to West Portal Station, transfer to M Ocean View Bus or K Ingleside Bus, exit at the first stop at 19th Avenue and Sloat Boulevard.

For the return trip, take the M Ocean View Bus or K Ingleside Bus from the northeast corner of 19th Avenue and Sloat Boulevard to West Portal Station.

Muni Bus: lines 23-Monterey and 28-19th Avenue stop right at 19th Avenue and Sloat Boulevard.

Bay Area Rapid Transit (B.A.R.T.):
This system serves Oakland and the East Bay to bring visitors to San Francisco. It arrives downtown, so then you need to follow these directions.

Take BART to the Civic Center and transfer to Muni Metro K, L or S. Then, transfer to M Ocean View or K Ingleside bus at West Portal Station OR to Glen Park and transfer to MUNI bus 23 OR to Daly City and transfer to MUNI bus 28

You can confirm that these instructions are still current by reviewing the trip at Sf BART route information or call 511.

You need to be a proficient rider to use this option. The nearby streets are busy and are not suitable for children on bikes! Stern Grove Festival provides complimentary bike valet service for Festival patrons during every Sunday concert.

The bike valet station is located at the top of the main entrance to the park, at 19th Avenue and Sloat Boulevard. The bike service will open at 10:00 a.m. and close one hour after the concert ends. Bikes will not be allowed in the Concert Meadow or in the Esplanade area of Stern Grove.

Stern Grove – transportation information updates and driving or biking route choices.

For handicapped patrons who have their official State of California tags to hang in the window of their transport vehicle, there are a limited number of handicapped permit parking spaces available along Sloat Boulevard (just past the main entrance to Stern Grove).

There is also a Shuttle service for seniors and handicapped patrons available from the main entrance at 19th and Sloat down into the Esplanade, which is next to the concert meadow area. The Shuttle runs from 10:30 until the concert begins, and ends one hour after the concert is over.

There is also a designated drop-off area located at 19th Avenue and Sloat Boulevard, near the main entrance to Stern Grove, for those who have to park further afield than their seniors, handicapped or young children can manage to walk in from.

Come be part of a real San Francisco experience.

San Francisco Archive

©2010 mystic at Travel Vacation Review

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