Tips for SFO and WWDC

San Francisco is easily one of my top 5 favorite cities.

I wanted to provide some tips specific to San Francisco for WWDC attendees who are comping from all over the globe..

What to Expect at WWDC

There’s a lot of people. You will need patience and hand sanitizer to survive the week.

Every year that I’ve gone the food has gotten a little bit worse. At this point I don’t usually eat at WWDC but instead head over to Westfield Center and eat in their foodcourt. I am expecting to do the same this year. You’re on your own for dinner.

Plan out your sessions Monday night with friends. Even if they are not attending in person. You won’t see all the sessions that interest you. You’ll have to split up and share. There’s just too much going on.

The Keynote is a spectacle. It’s a wonderful live performance starring Apple. Appreciate it for that. Marvel in its wonder a little.

Things to Bring

First, you are going to want to bring a reusable shopping bag or two. San Francisco doesn’t do plastic bags anymore and the paper replacements aren’t up to the task of hauling bottled water.

Make sure you pack a sweater and long pants. It gets cold once the sun goes down. In the past apple has given attendees a jacket as conference swag. I think this is partially motivated by people continually showing up without warm enough clothes.

You’re going to be standing up and walking a bunch. Especially for the Keynote. Wear your most comfortable shoes.

Things to Get When You Arrive

After you pick up your welcome package, you should swing by a CVS to get water and snacks. If you can afford it there’s more of an organic market on the bottom floor of Westfield Center by the food court. They have fresh food and fruit.

Make sure you get water. Put it in the reusable bag you remembered to bring. ;)

If you’ve forgotten anything the area around Union Square has just about everything. Some places will even have discounts for people from out of the State or Country. For example, if you’re Canadian you can bring your passport up to the vistor center at Macy’s and get a card that saves you enough to cover the tax on items that are not on sale.

Sadly the Apple Store won’t have such discounts, but it is always well stocked if you forget a cable or charger.

The Keynote

If you line up for the keynote you’ll want to grab a cup of coffee or tea for the line. Probably some fruit and a bottle of water as well.

The lineup starts super early. If you’re serious about it you want to be in line at 6AM. It’s probably going to go a bit better this year in Bill Graham Civic Auditorium, but don’t expect to get a good seat if you line up at 8AM. And expect a seat in overflow if you line up at 9AM.

Sight Seeing

Here are a couple tips if you plan to do the tourist thing and see things other than WWDC sessions:

  • If you can manage it, the night tour of Alcatraz is amazing.
  • The Cable Cars are a San Francisco standard, but they are transit. Don’t wait in the huge lineup – find a stop and buy a pass or carry cash for the faire.
  • Fishermans Wharf can be fun, but it really is a tourist trap. If you skip something, skip this. The Old Ghirardelli Chocolate Factory is at the end of the other Cable Car line and a better bet.
  • Golden Gate Park is worth the trip. I loved the de Young Museum.
  • I’ve walked the Presdio. It’s beautiful and very interesting but a long walk.
  • A lot of people enjoy renting bicycles and making the trip across the Golden Gate Bridge. It’s not my thing but you should do it if that’s your thing.

A Little Advice

I’ve been to several WWDCs and I’ve attended several of the evening meetings and gatherings that happen around it. I personally favour smaller group events than the parties that will be going on in clubs and bars. With the exception of Apple’s Bash (which is usually a concert with food), most other after-hours gatherings have the feel of a college frat party.

WWDC really is winning a lottery of sorts. Don’t waste a couple days hung over.

If you do want to attend after hours events look for ones that are about building a community as opposed sponsored by (and therefore intended to benefit) some corporation or company.

Be safe, have fun, and take care of each other.

– MM


Mark Madsen

When I started writing Apps and APIs, phones had buttons!


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