MEGAN KEELY
singer-songwriter and landscape architect


san francisco
usa

Megan Keely, San Francisco
Photo: Bahara Emami

I’ve been singing all my life, but it wasn’t until I moved to San Francisco during the 2008 pits of The Great Recession that I began to perform my own songs in bars and on streetcorners. I had just completed my undergrad degree in Landscape Architecture and started a job working part time for a residential landscape architect based in North Beach. I spent many lunch breaks at City Lights Bookstore and The Beat Museum, eventually heading straight from work to the Hotel Utah Open Mic to try and get comfortable in my own skin as a songwriter. There’s no way I would have guessed then that 11+ years later I’d still be infatuated with this city, making my living designing residential gardens while working on my fifth album of original material. To say San Francisco shaped me would be an understatement. Even as it changes and evolves beyond recognition, I’m grateful every day I get to wake up here.

my preferred spot for a morning coffee

BREADBELLY
1408 Clement St.
San Francisco, CA 94118

For a special treat, Breadbelly. They serve Wrecking Ball coffee and delicious, Filipino-infused pastry creations. It is not cheap, but it’s worth the splurge every once in a while. Warning, they are closed on Tuesdays so do not set yourself up for disappointment by forgetting that detail in the midst of a Tuesday morning coffee craving. 

my favourite cultural institutions

CONSERVATORY OF FLOWERS
100 John F. Kennedy Dr.
San Francisco, CA 94118 

THE SAN FRANCISCO BOTANICAL GARDEN
1199 9th Ave.
San Francisco, CA 94122

EXPLORATORIUM
Pier 15, The Embarcadero
San Francisco, CA 94111

CALIFORNIA ACADEMY OF SCIENCE
55 Music Concourse Dr.
San Francisco, CA 94118

HARDLY STRICTLY BLUEGRASS FESTIVAL

here’s where I buy my books

GREEN APPLE BOOKS
506 Clement St.
San Francisco, CA 94118

Like most bookstores, Green Apple Books smells amazing. It’s also packed to the brim with used books, both old and recently released. I found a used copy of Michelle Obama’s memoir not long after its release and I was stoked.

additional local shops I support

CLEMENT ST. NURSERY
1921 Clement St.
San Francisco, CA 94121

Cute little spot for some plant-retail-therapy.

SPOKE EASY BICYCLE SHOP
1901 Clement St.
San Francisco, CA 94121

These guys are really nice and don’t make you feel intimmidated like lots of other bike shops do.

RICHMOND NEW MAY WAH SUPERMARKET
707 Clement St
San Francisco, CA 94118

I’m obsessed with yucca root, and this place has all kinds of special produce at ridiculously low prices. Find something you’ve never had before and try cooking it.

this is where I go for a simple dinner with friends

UDUPI PALACE
1007 Valencia St.
San Francisco, CA 94110

MIKI
3639 Balboa St.
San Francisco, CA 94121

here I dine when there’s something to celebrate

EIJI
317 Sanchez St.
San Francisco, CA 94114

If you order the fresh house-made tofu, they prepare it beatifully at your table and make you feel like a queen. It’s a tiny restaurant with warm wooden furnishings and an open view to the chef’s kitchen. Everyone speaks softly and it is a tranquil place to enjoy a special meal.  

my favourite pizza spot

BALOMPIÉ CAFE #3
3801 Mission St.
San Francisco, CA 94110

Can I say a pupusa spot instead? I love pupusas, and they’re almost like an inside-out pizza. Balompié Cafe #3 on Mission St. is my favorite, although the Balompié on 18th is great too. I don’t think there is a Balompié Cafe #2 and I might never know why. But pretty much every single pupuseria in San Francisco is incredible. 

my bar of choice

Grabbing a sixpack of Sufferfest GF Beer at the corner store and walking to Lands End to sip at sunset.

There is no better bar than that.

additional things not to be missed

LANDS END AND SUTRO CAVES
680 Point Lobos Ave.
San Francisco, CA 94121

Take in the view, hike around the remnants of a historic Sutro bathhouse, and breathe in the glorious fresh air.

BAZAAR CAFE
5927 California St.
San Francisco, CA 94121

Bazaar Cafe is such a special place to experience acoustic live music, sip tea or wine, eat soup, read a book, or talk with a stranger. Celebrate and support local musicianship by embracing this cafe and keeping it alive. They have a sweet little garden out back, too.  

THE CHAPEL
777 Valencia St
San Francisco, CA 94110

The Chapel is also a wonderful place to experience live music. Beautiful acoustics. Typically this place attracts people who like to listen attentively and appreciate the musicians on the stage.

the next person I’d like to read about on creative traveller

Devon Bunce, live scribe artist and illustrator in Melbourne

MEGAN KEELY, San Francisco

I grew up in a musical family in a hillside suburb on the San Francisco Peninsula. When I set my sights on Upstate New York to study Landscape Architecture, I only had a few real motivations in mind: to experience the east coast, learn as much as possible, and figure out a way to come back and build a life in the Bay Area.

Although my landscape career is the thing that has afforded me the ability to land here, it’s my music that has kept me rooted and broadened my horizons. Music is the thing I hope to still be doing when I’m very, very old. Through songwriting and performing, I’ve been able to play music in some breathtaking places and spaces, many of which were right here in the Bay Area. My goal is to continue making music with my wonderful community of family and friends while I’m still hanging on here in this rapidly changing city, however long that might be.

You can hear my music on my website, follow me on Instagram or find my music on Spotify, Apple Music etc. by searching Megan Keely.

More on my work as a landscape architect is right here.

Photo #2: Emily Sevin

added october 2019
© creative traveller