My Guide to San Francisco

Last week I went on a four day long vacation in San Francisco with my cousin. It wasn't nearly long enough but in those four (technically 3) days, we filled them with seeing the sights, lots and lots of food and pretending we were locals. I had never been there before and it definitely exceeded my expectations. (Did I mention the food?) But it surprised me too. I knew SF was supposed to have a lot of hills but every time we, and by we I mean Uber, drove us anywhere I keep thinking that I didn't think I could drive here. I loved that the whole city was filled with local shops (I only saw 2 Starbucks, in comparison to NYC which has them on practically every corner) and everything was organic and environment friendly. There's so much to see and do and I would love to go back again.

Here are my highlights from the trip (not including Napa or Sausalito since they aren't in SF) and the places I really think you all should see!

Philz Coffee
After getting off the plane and settling into the place we were staying at, we needed coffee ASAP. A friend of mine told me that we had to go here to try the Mint Mojito iced coffee and that we'd thank him later for it. And.. I thanked him profusely. I drink a lot of coffee and this was probably the best coffee I had ever had. We went back again the next day and I bought coffee beans to bring home.    

The Golden Gate Bridge 
This is one of those sights that I didn't realize how excited I was to see until I got there. I mean, it's quintessential SF and picturesque. I immediately wanted to walk across it but my cousin didn't think we were appropriately dressed for a walk across the bridge. So many people were walking or biking though. If I went back to SF, it would on my list to see again and next time, I'm walking across.   

Ferry Building Marketplace
The Ferry Building Marketplace is a lot like Chelsea Market, only better. It's a lot more airy and light and it is just like food overload! We walked in and we wanted to try just about everything. We initially wanted to go to Hog Island Oyster but we had oysters the night before so we decided to get lunch somewhere else (the oysters and clam chowder there is supposed to be amazing). We went Cowgirl Creamery which had the best grilled cheese sandwiches EVER. I got candy and Turkish delights from MietteHumphry Slocombe Ice Cream and more. My stomach is growling just thinking about all the delicious food.

Bi-rite Creamery
I think this is considered one of the best ice cream places in SF. Or so I'm guessing from the ridiculously long lines I'd see every time we passed it. Luckily for us, our apartment was only 1 block away so we walked there during one of the colder nights and didn't have to wait for our ice cream. But after trying it.. it would've been worth the wait. I got salted caramel and cookies and cream (two of my faves) and I ate the whole thing.

I did not expect this to be one of my favorite sights to see, but it was! We took a short boat ride to the island, which was beautiful! There were flowers and gardens and ducks with their little ducklings roaming around. And then you step into the actual prison and it's a whole other atmosphere. Cold and creepy but still interesting to see. And we didn't know this when we booked our tickets but it was also the last day of an art exhibit by Ai WeiWei, an activist. A lot of his work (which included ceramic flowers in toilets, legos portraits of other famous activists and paper dragons) focused on making your voice heard. How a prison couldn't stop that. We visited in the morning because we wanted to avoid the crowds but we heard the night tour includes special programs and exhibits and is of course, a lot creepier. It was a really fun experience.

The Painted Ladies 
I grew up during the 90s which meant I was a huge fan of TGIF nights and watched Full House religiously. So there was no way that I was going to miss out on the opportunity to see the houses featured in the opening credits. Just seeing this made me want to start singing, "Everywhere you look, everywhere you turn. There's a heart, a hand to hold on to." It was fun seeing something that was a part of my childhood.  

Tartine Bakery 
If I can eat almost a whole baguette by myself, I think that's pretty sure sign of awesome baked goods. We stopped by here twice. The first time we had to wait in line (there's almost always lines during the weekend) and then came here again for breakfast before our flight home. We tried the croissants, morning buns and baguettes. Such delicious pastries! I seriously wanted to bring home morning buns with me.   

Bar Crudo
We showed up for our dinner reservation a little early so the hostess encouraged us to check out the happy hour going on and they had ONE DOZEN OYSTERS FOR $2! We couldn't believe our eyes. Usually it's $2 for just one oyster, much less one dozen. That alone made this restaurant a favorite. But aside from that, the food and ambiance was great. We had a lot of raw fish which I wasn't expecting to like and clam chowder. If you're a fan of seafood, this is the place to go.

Lombard St. 
I'll be honest. I had never even heard of Lombard Street until my coworkers told me to check it out. It's this street in SF that starts at the top of a hill and zig-zags down. It's a bit hard to see from my picture but it was also impossible to take a good shot because I think every tourist and their mother was there. It's actually a really unique view and I enjoyed walking down to see the curve of the road and all the houses (who I felt bad for because it's crawling with tourists). It's considered a must-see in SF so I'm glad I made the time to check it out.

Anybody else been to San Fran? Does my list make you want to hop on a plane and visit? I hope it does! Or if you've been there before, I'd love to hear about your favorite spots!


with love,