The Hot Tubs on Van Ness Avenue in Russian Hill (with a twin spa over in Berkeley) are a lovely spot to steal off to for a little unwinding. The well-appointed spa-like space does little more than offer up private rooms for a few friends – or romantic partners – to enjoy a hot tub soak, but that’s more than enough. Each room holds up to six people and contains a single tiled basin filled with exquisitely hot water, a sauna and a table for maximum relaxation. Don’t worry about the high turnover in each room, either – the water is filtered completely every six minutes. Prices are reasonable too, and include an extra half-hour of soak time if booking before 5 p.m. With cream-colored walls lining the common areas of this industrial space and friendly staff on hand, it’s no wonder a warming soak feels so good.
Someone walking up to Cole Hardware for the first time might think they've stumbled upon a modern art gallery instead of a hardware store. Their front window displays everything from Pollock-esque paintings in gilded frames to chandeliers built from Christmas ornaments to a fine-dining table setting re-created with only tools. In fact, all of the eye-catching installations are created using exclusively Cole Hardware merchandise.
But the displays are also a testament to how the shop has set itself apart in other ways?for nearly 100 years, Cole Hardware has been known for exceptional customer service. What started out as a one-man operation with the motto, "There are no strangers here, only friends we haven't met yet," has grown to a family of stores that also provides home repair services and commercial supplies. Their retail inventory is expansive and competitively priced thanks to backing from Ace Hardware, which has helped the company garner awards from SF Weekly and the San Francisco Bay Guardian.
Even before you climb inside, the GoCar is clearly a car with a personality. The petite, three-wheeled two-seater has a hood that slightly resembles an eager-to-please smiley face, and an open top that seems custom-made for letting the breeze ruffle your hair. Then the real fun begins: built with the company's own software and a compassion for the voiceless robots of America, a talking GPS system guides two-seater GoCars through the city streets of San Francisco, San Diego, Miami, Barcelona, Madrid, and Lisbon with cheerful, info-rich narration. Second only to having a knowledgeable local jog alongside your minivan, tours zip along at drivers' own pace and accommodate as many pit stops as time allows.
Family-owned and operated since the mid-1970s, Fregosi and Co. Paints is a local paint business and retailer of Benjamin Moore products. The blossoming company features four Bay Area locations, including this friendly South-of-Market showroom. Old-fashioned, knowledgeable customer service here comes straight from one of three generations of Fregosis and their staff, answering all paint-related questions with easy charm and industry know-how, but none of the pretension that can sometimes overwhelm folks at similar shops. These guys may provide the industrial-sized paint supplies and services to large-scale hotels and office buildings, but they are always happy to assist small contractors and DIY-ers with issues from color matching to tricky finishes. The showroom also supplies your peripheral paint needs, like tape, brushes and dropcloths.
Recently profiled by The Atlantic for its members' innovative inventions, TechShop’s supportive community of inventors, artists, technicians, and alchemists share their excitement about the next big idea in an environment limited only by their collective imagination. The 17,000-square-foot smorgasbord of inventive creativity beckons people of all skill levels to its DIY confines, where members can wield tools not found in most private workshops, slicing through steel with a plasma cutter or accessing 3-D design software to finally realize the goal of crawling inside the Internet. Hands-on classes jump-start creative juices, introducing students to vocational skills including welding, soldering, and woodworking. Neophyte inventors aged 12–17 are welcome but must be accompanied by a parent or guardian to ensure they don't break physics.