If any of you follow me on Instagram, you’ll have seen that I recently went on a big trip across the USA and Canada for work. My favourite stop on the way was San Francisco, and this trip was my first time in California. I will be back for sure. I thought I would put together a little San Francisco guide on all the things I did in the bay (I stayed on an extra few days to see the sights and I am so glad I did, it was such a brilliant city)
Where to stay:
I was staying in the historic and beautiful Westin St. Francis located on Powell and Geary Streets on Union Square. It was a brilliant central location, full of charm and charter. The rooms were big and I was up on on of the top floors of the tower so had a great view looking out onto the Golden Gate Bridge. Being my first time in San Francisco, you can imagine my awe when I walked in the room and that was what greeted me. Union Square is great, there are some brilliant shops and department shops all around and just a quick walk down to the waterfront. I was kindly informed that the St Francis is iconic for its role in the 1974 film The Conversation. Obviously, I didn’t see that in cinemas! The famous San Francisco cable cart runs outside the St Francis so it was perfect base.
What to visit/see:
The streets here will be packed, but with good reason. This iconic San Francisco neighbourhood is so worth a visit. Right along the water some of the best restaurants and attractions are here. Its where you get the boat to the Golden Gate and Alcatraz and get to see the San Fran Sea Lions.
It smells, the Sea Lions are noisy but it is a must see! Where else would you get to visit with about 40 sea lions basking in the sunshine?
The Golden Gate Bridge:
This one is kind of a given, the bridge was closed for people to cycle across when I was there due to high winds so I took a ferry underneath it instead. The bridge, contrary to it’s name is not golden but red and is as impressive as you think it will be. I took the Red and White two bridge cruise which costs about $40. The tour lats for about an hour and you can sit in the open air or underneath in the cabin of the boat.
After a night of drinking with my friend Alison who is basically a San Francisco insider, she suggested we hike up to Twin Peaks and get a great view of the city. Even with a heavy hangover and feeling like I needed to be sick every few steps, the view from the top was worth it. (and the heat and brisk hike has me feeling great after! The Mexican coke and eggs also worked a treat!) You can drive up here but walking through the neighbourhoods, and see all the cool pastel San Francisco houses was so worth it
Haight-Ashbury is a really cool area of San Francisco, named for the intersection of Haight and Ashbury streets (obviously!!). My friend Ally lives here so I was keen to come see where she lives. The neighbourhood is known for its history of, and being the source of, hippie counterculture, so imagine The Summer of Love (which was celebrating 50 years when I was there!) The houses are cool; the area is very cool, with lots of coffee shops, bars and little boutiques.
The San Francisco cable car is one of the iconic features of the city. There are three lines that bring you from downtown to the Wharf (these are the only ones I took) and a third that goes along California Street. They an individual cars with open sides, (you can sit facing out or stand holding on hanging over the side. I wasn’t that adventurous but I did stand at the back and watched all the views coming from the wharf up the hills of San Francisco!) The tickets are $7 each way, which seems pricey but for novelty it is worth it. You will queue at the terminal points, for quite a while at peak times but for the experience it is worth the wait.
Where to eat:
Now this obviously isn’t a definite guide, but I ate some good food in San Francisco. I quite cleverly didn’t take any photos of the food while I was there but you’ll just have to take my word on this one.
Boudin Bakery This bakery is so so so cool! I went to the Boudin at the Wharf and it has both the cafe and a museum dedicated to sour dough. The bakery is open so you can see the bakers in action making all kinds and shapes of bread. I got to have a sourdough teddy bear which is all kinds of fun. Now I couldn’t eat it all but worth it for the experience.
Scomas: If you like fish and seafood this is the place to visit. Old school, family run feel restaurant which sits on the pier and here you’re treated to views of actual fishermen taking fish from their boats. (a rare sight on the wharf)
Cheese Cake Factory: This American institution is one of my favourites. Not for their cheese cake only but for the food. I always order the Asian light tacos! If you are in San Fran, the Cheese Cake Factory is on the top floor of Macy’s and overlooks Union Square.
Nopalito: This is a cool Mexican place, which serves gorgeous traditional and tasty food! It’s simple, good food and so worth a visit.
Check out my instagram if you want to see a few other photos of the trip!
Thanks for reading, and if you are taking a trip to San Fran let me know! I will be back for sure!