When there is a long weekend, especially a holiday weekend offered, there is no way I am turning it down for a chance to travel. So with Chandler’s 30th and holiday weekend combined it was a no brainer to pick a destination. SAN FRANCISCO!
My first impression of San Fran was that it was an old city, slightly gritty, confused as to why it’s not the windy city, but as I experienced all the city had to offer, I fell in love with the massive amount of culture this one city has to offer.
San Francisco Day 1: Union Square, The Mission, Dolores Park, & The Chapel
Arriving in San Francisco around 5pm gave us our first glimpse of the city’s rush hour. Luckily there is reliable transportation to bypass this. BART (Bay Area Rapid Transit). Fairly simple to use, fast, and inexpensive we arrived in Union Square from SFO to the Hilton Union Square. Their towers offer incredible views of the city during the day, but especially at night.
San Francisco is decorated with so many unique neighborhoods that will suit just about anyone’s taste for a place to stay. Union Square was the ideal location for us right in the city and in the middle of everything we planned to do on our perfect long weekend. Union Square holds a large collection of department stores, upscale boutiques, grand hotels, basically a district of shopping. Dream come true for shoppers….yes I came home with a special piece from the giant marble buildings.
Around this time we were eager to eat, and The Mission is known for taquerias. In fact, they have their own Mission Burrito. I have always thought a burrito is a burrito until I tried this Mission Burrito. Come hungry as Taqueria La Cumbre will be sure to vanish your hunger.
Taqueria La Cumbre: 515 Valencia St, San Francisco, CA 941100
The Mission offers hipster streets full of wall art to admire and was ideal for walking off our giant dinner. Make sure to walk towards Dolores Park as this is a major landmark for the area and offers incredible views of the city skyline.
Dolores Park: Dolores St & 19th St, San Francisco, CA 94114
Before heading back to the city we continued our walk down Valencia which is lined with restaurants and bars. Here we grabbed a drink at The Chapel which also houses a music venue in the shape of, you guessed it, a chapel. Highly recommend checking this place out for their local brews as well as Traditions back in Union Square for cocktails.
The Chapel: 777 Valencia St, San Francisco, CA 94110
Traditions: 441 Jones St, San Francisco, CA 94102
San Francisco Day 2: Fisherman’s Wharf, Pier 39, Alcatraz, Haight Ashbury, and Giants Game
I woke up on Friday ready to conquer all the sightseeing of San Fran. In order to do this successfully you must stop by Mr. Holmes Bakehouse to check out the selection of danishes, doughnuts, and sweet and yummy breakfast treats they have. Be prepared for the long line, but it is worth it.
Mr. Holmes Bakehouse: 1042 Larkin St, San Francisco, CA 94109
So how did we get around? Insider tip: To get around majority of the city we chose to do the Hop On Hop Off. This is a great line that takes you to all the major landmarks with commentary, and was ideal for our short trip. I have used this exact line in numerous countries internationally and highly recommend.
We were picked up right in Union Square and headed to Fisherman’s Wharf/Pier 39. Great views of the bay, Coit Tower, and Alcatraz, but you have to check out the large amount of sea lions soaking up all the attention from visitors. They plop themselves on the docks and sing their own tune for everyone to hear.
After walking along the boardwalk of shops and numerous sea food stands we easily walked to Pier 33 to catch the ferry out to Alcatraz. If this is a stop for you make sure to book a reservation months in advance.
Back on the main land we ‘hopped back on’ and made our way over to Haight Ashbury. We could not have picked a better summer to visit this neighborhood which was celebrating its 50th Summer of Love. Golden Gate Park houses the summer festival to celebrate this era. Haight Ashbury is home of vintage shops, hippie lifestyle, and record shops making it any dead heads safe haven aka Chandler. A trip to Haight Ashbury is not made complete without a visit to the Grateful Dead house. This is a beautiful Victorian home in the Haight Ashbury neighborhood and was the birthplace for the lifestyle this neighborhood housed back in the 60’s.
Amoeba Music: 1855 Haight St, San Francisco, CA 94117
Recycled Records: 1377 Haight St, San Francisco, CA 94117
Wasteland: 1660 Haight St, San Francisco, CA 94117
For Friday happy hour we stopped by the Biergarten that offers honey comb mugs of bier and German eats. German beer is a favorite of mine from my study abroad days and this garden did not disappoint.Biergarten: 424 Octavia St, San Francisco, CA 94102
After applying more layers of clothing (San Francisco is chilly, but at night for a girl from Georgia this felt like a true winter evening) we headed to a Giant’s game which just so happened to be playing our home team. The Giants have a beautiful home stadium that opens up to the sun setting on the water with sailboats and the occasional kayaker hoping to catch a homerun. 21st Amendment Brewery is in walking distance from the stadium, and you will find the San Fran care free vibe here.
AT&T Park: 24 Willie Mays Plaza, San Francisco, CA 94107
21st Amendment Brewery: 563 2nd St, San Francisco, CA 94107
San Francisco Day 3: Union Square, Golden Gate Bridge, Sausalito, Golden Gate Park, Painted Ladies, Nob Hill, San Francisco Sound
Saturday in San Francisco has a nice sound to it! Walking each morning by the towering buildings of Barney’s, Saks, and Tiffany’s is something I could get used to.
Hoping on the HOHO we traveled through Chinatown, the Financial District, Little Italy, North Beach, back through Fisherman’s Wharf until we hit the Golden Gate Bridge. What a wonder! Again we could not have picked a better time to visit the Golden Gate Bridge since it was celebrating its 80th birthday this exact day. This massive reddish orange landmark is the route into the golden city, but also transports you out to a one of my favorite (and warmer) spots from this trip… Sausalito.I could write about this place forever, but I will save that for another time. This little water front village offers shopping, sea food, bicycling, houseboats, and neighborhoods on the side of hills that resemble small coastal Italian citites.
When traveling over the bridge, make sure to stop at the north and south vista points to snap a picture of the Golden Gate Bridge, or from Baker Beach! Keep in mind San Francisco is notoriously foggy, but we lucked out with the sun beaming a spotlight.
Following the route we made our way to Golden Gate Park which you could spend a good amount of your day in. Next up, we found a spot on the hilly park of Alamo Square to take in a picturesque view of the Painted Ladies, and the city in the background.
Painted Ladies: Steiner St, San Francisco, CA 94117
San Francisco Sound created a scene for rock music in the 60’s and paved way for artists we hear today. If you have the chance check out who’s in town, and catch a show at one of the music venues. Modest Mouse was in town this night, and we were able to visit the Masonic located at the top of a large steep hill found in Nob Hill. When I tell you it looked like cars were tipping over the side of a cliff I am not exaggerating, and I am so thankful we were in a car to make it over this mountain hill.
Masonic: 1111 California St, San Francisco, CA 94108
Napa Valley Day 4: Bring on the Food & Wine
While traveling, I always make time to travel to a nearby city, and San Francisco just so happens to be neighbors with Wine Country. I really do not believe I understood the full capacity of the words ‘Wine Country’ until I saw the endless vineyards that stretched on forever and ever. It is a lot like looking out to the ocean and never seeing the stopping point.
We left from Union Square and took the Bay Bridge out to Napa. The day was filled with visits to 3 vineyards: Jamieson Ranch Vineyards, Andretti Winery, and Madonna Estates where we indulged in wine tastings, beautiful views, and taking home our own little bit of Napa in a wine bottle. Napa Valley paints gorgeous views of these vineyards that are placed in the Valley surrounded by the mountains in the distance.
For lunch we stopped in the small town of Yountsville. Yountsville is located right in the middle of Napa Valley, and is home to the best restaurants. We selected Bottega for some delicious Italian food which is set in a historic winery estate. Hands down the best ravioli I have ever had (I am even comparing this to the ravioli dishes I have eaten throughout Italy)! The entire town is walkable so this is definitely a place I would stay for a trip of endless wine.
Bottega: V Marketplace, 6525 Washington St, Younsville, CA 94599
Back in San Fran, trying to fit in everything before our red eye, we headed back to Fisherman’s Wharf where we were able to grab some oysters before our first experience with In-N- Out Burger. Definitely a west coast experience that offers complete indulgence in an old fashioned burger joint.
In-N-Out Burger: 333 Jefferson St, San Francisco, CA 94133
For avid readers I would recommend perusing City Lights Bookstore’s collection of literature. Back at the hotel we headed to the 46th floor for a 360 degree view of San Francisco, and the setting sun for a magnificent farewell of the city.