SAN FRANCISCO -- One stroll down a hallway at the San Francisco International Airport provided a perfect preview for what life was going to be like in the City by the Bay this weekend.The airport was packed. The terminals. The restaurants. Baggage claim. The taxi line. There were, simply, people everywhere. The same goes for the highways, and the downtown streets, and the hotel lobbies, all of which were teeming with people scurrying off in a dozen different directions, even close to midnight. What the heck is going on? Actually, the more appropriate question would be: what the heck isn't going on? Answer: very little. No, there wasn't some weird government-issued ban eliminating all fun activities in San Francisco the other 51 weeks of the year. It just kind of felt like there was.
San Francisco, with its year-round gorgeous weather, outdoorsy residents and picturesque scenery, is an exciting, bustling city every day of the year. But the list of activities on the docket this week was longer than a cruise director's, and it didn't matter if your preference was sports or music or just good food. Odds are there was something highly entertaining to capture your attention regardless of how you prefer to spend your free time.It was estimated that over 1 million people would attend one or more events this week in San Francisco. Consider the smorgasbord to choose from: The sports scene in the City by the Bay, of course, is hopping. The 49ers hosted (and demolished) the Bills earlier on Sunday, a couple of hours before the Giants, winners of the National League West, hosted the Reds in Game 2 of the National League Division Series. Niners quarterback Alex Smith managed to show at both venues, as a ceremonial first-pitch thrower on Saturday before resuming his day job the following afternoon. The words "World Series" are posted everywhere in the Fisherman's Wharf area, but that isn't the city's way of foreshadowing what they hope may be coming down the pike at AT&T Park later this month. No, in this case, "World Series" was used to describe the America's Cup, the oldest and most celebrated sailing race, dating back to the mid-1800s. The America's Cup organizers had to make some concessions, logistically, in order to also accommodate the schedule of another extremely popular event that takes place in San Francisco this time every year: Fleet Week. That made for some interesting arranging on "Super Sunday." What do you get when you cram a boat race and an air show into one afternoon? Thousands of people walking briskly along Fisherman's Wharf trying 1) to get to the America's Cup race in time while 2) not barreling into anyone as they looked skyward to watch the fighter jets twist and turn and do a bunch of other things we don't normally see from your garden-variety aircraft. The U.S. Navy's Blue Angels are unparalleled when it comes to main attractions, so it was no surprise that they had complete reign over the mid to late-afternoon time slots. Meanwhile, back on dry land, San Francisco spent the last three days turning itself into the festival and parade capital of the universe. Organizers of the Hardly Strictly Bluegrass Festival in Golden Gate Park estimated upwards of 750,000 patrons over a three-day period that was to include appearances by Emmylou Harris, Elvis Costello, Dwight Yoakam and Vince Gill -- just to name a few of the 80-plus bands expected to show. On its website, the Castro Street Fair states very plainly that the event is "always the first Sunday in October." A perfect unofficial rallying cry, given what's going on here this weekend. The Fair, located in the heart of San Francisco's Castro District, is a community celebration that was founded by politician Harvey Milk in 1974 and every year celebrates the diversity of the neighborhood. Buena Suerte! Over in the Little Italy area in North Beach, generations of Italians celebrated one of its most famous descendants, Christopher Columbus, in the 144th Annual Italian Heritage Parade. A San Francisco institution since it was established in 1868, the parade included handcrafted floats, wine and food tastings and performances by traditional Italian musicians with special appearances by Bay Area and Italian-American celebrities. Still not enough? Those willing to take a drive had a choice between the Biebs and the Material Girl, both of whom were performing in not-so-far-away places. Justin Bieber put on his show at the Oracle Arena in Oakland, while Madonna's 2012 World Tour landed her at the HP Pavilion in San Jose Saturday and Sunday.