Artist Mark Bode

In Clarion Alley, artist Mark Bode fills in detail on his latest work, a tribute to French artist Moebius. (Angela Frucci / May 5, 2012)

The fantastical murals of San Francisco's Mission District are an intriguing dialogue between artists and their city that you can easily experience on foot. On any given day in Clarion Alley, tourists from all over the world mingle with field-tripping students (and the homeless). Start at the Mission Street end of Clarion Alley, then exit at Valencia Street and head south (turn left). Check out the murals all the way to 20th Street. Typically, walk one or two blocks (east or west) to view. Murals include "Vamos Gigantes" (19th Street between San Carlos and Lexington streets), "MaestraPeace" (18th between Linda and Lapidge streets) and "Mission Pool" (Linda Street at 19th Street). Or take one of four mural tours offered by Precita Eyes ([415] 285-2287; no tour more than $15), a mural arts organization in the Mission.

The bed. Welcome to the time machine. The Inn (943 S. Van Ness Ave.; [415] 641-0188; doubles from $175) is an 1872 Victorian with a twist: a sheltered garden where you can soak in a rustic, old-style hot tub in the middle of San Francisco. In spring, jasmine intoxicates. Its grand parlors overflow with antiques and warmth. My friends enjoyed eating the buffet-style breakfast and stepping out into the heart of the Mission.

The meal. Mosey over to the Bi-Rite Market (3639 18th St.; [415] 241-9760) for a salami sandwich. The $7.99 beauty, an assortment of salami, is built on a rustic baguette, slathered with house-made romesco sauce and plumped with provolone. For dinner, walk one block up to Pizzeria Delfina (3611 18th St.; [415] 437-6800; $10.75-$17) to partake of perfectly charred Napoletana pizza. I became one with the arancini ($7 for seven), made with saffron risotto.

The find. Stopping at Paxton Gate (824 Valencia St.; [415] 824-1872) is a bit like stopping for afternoon tea at the Addams family mansion. Anomalies of taxidermy await you, such as a unicorn head ($4,000) and acrobatic mice. After that, the vintage-inspired gift cards of ammonites and birds felt safe, so we all bought some.


Photos: Models on the catwalk of Miami Swim Week

The lesson learned. Weather changes continually in San Francisco.

The tab. Excluding transportation, about $525, including $175 a night at the Inn and about $73 for pizza and multiple plates of arancini.