Serious fans will be spoiled for choice, from the Herbie Hancock Quartet to saxophonists such as Ornette Coleman and Joe Lovano. But this being San Francisco, the festival also stretches the definition of jazz. Caetano Veloso has wooed audiences with Brazilian rhythms, Sara Tavares played Carpe Verde–influenced beats that are more Putumayo than Miles Davis.
If you can't make it to the Bay Area during the fall, the festival's parent organization, SFJazz, puts on other events, like the Spring Season concert series. And the all-star SFJazz Collective tours nationally and can be heard on CD. Love might be a summertime thing. But jazz? That happens all year long.
After the 1989 Loma Prieta earthquake damaged Golden Gate Park's De Young Museum, renowned architects Jacques Herzog and Pierre de Meuron were charged with redesigning it. Their handiwork, a striking copper-clad structure, was unveiled two years ago to great acclaim.
Tucked off a busy street in Japantown, Kabuki Springs & Spa offers spa treatments and acupuncture—but the real draw is its communal Japanese-style bath. A tranquil space stocked with sea salts, cucumber face cloths, and tea, it features a hot pool, a dry sauna, a steam room, and a cold plunge that's kept at an "invigorating" 55 degrees.
Where to Eat
For a decadent afternoon break, Lovejoy's Tea Room (Lovejoytearoom.com) puts on a Queen's Tea that might make dinner seem redundant (though if a crumpet, sandwiches, and Devon cream fall to satisfy your appetite, the tearoom also serves shepherd's pie and other traditional English comfort foods).
From the twice-weekly farmers' market outside to the smorgasbord of cookware and fresh, local food within (Cowgirl Creamery and Hog Island Oyster Company are among dozens of vendors) the Ferry Building Marketplace is a foodie's paradise. For those who don't fill up on free samples, dinner at a Ferry Building restaurant like Mijita (featuring regional Mexican dishes) or the Slanted Door (modern Vietnamese, with a serious wine list) is a great way to end a day spent wandering the city (FerryBuildingMarketplace.com).
Where to Stay
The historic Stanyan Park Hotel provides a small-scale Victorian alternative to the city's larger hotels.
Rooms from $139; StanyanPark.com
The grand Intercontinental Mark Hopkins Hotel is perched atop Nob Hill, the highest point in hilly downtown San Francisco. The Top of the Mark, the hotel's penthouse bar, serves up 100 different martinis and panoramic views of the city and the Golden Gate.
Rooms from $259; 415-392-3434