01 Jul SAN FRANCISCO 4-DAY TRIP
Boy has it been awhile since I’ve done one of these, half a year to be exact! Life’s been crazy and honestly to put together a blogpost was something last of my priorities. BUT, here’s a post that I was excited to put together because I finally got to go somewhere new… a summary of our recent trip to San Francisco!
This trip was an absolute treat. What a beautiful city and I’m so lucky to have been able to explore this city for the first time with my boyfriend. We had 4 days, 4 nights, and 1 travel day. It was just enough to see everything we wanted to see, eat and do in San Francisco.
Our goal was to stick with all hole in the wall or local businesses this entire trip, and it was a success! We didn’t hit up any chains so that we could really try everything from coffee to dinner. Plus, everything had at least a 4/5 rating on Google/Yelp… so you can consider this our curated version of SF?!
After landing into San Francisco, we had checked into Hotel Zeppelin. A very hip, modern hotel. The room was on the smaller side than we’d like, but still comfortable. The lower floor has a lounge and game area- foosball, pool, basketball. The walls, are quite thin, you can hear conversations from next door … or maybe our neighbours were just loud talkers… moving on, let’s get to lunch!
First stop: Muracci’s Japanese Curry & Grill
A hole in a wall, busy, small space in Union Square with delicious Japanese curry. It was exactly what we needed after getting off a flight. All the curries and lunch sets were roughly $12-13 USD (~$16 CAD).
Next off we walked to Pier 1, grabbed a cup of Blue Bottle Coffee then began our walk all the way to Pier 39 (believe it was roughly a half hour walk– a beautiful scenic walk along the water!). From there we took an uber from Pier 39 to Palace of Fine Arts.
Second stop: Palace of Fine Arts
This place was absolutely stunning. It was so beautiful with all the greenery and sculptures. We thoroughly enjoyed a peaceful walk around this. This is definitely a must-see.
From here we took an uber to the Golden Gate Bridge Welcome Centre.
Third stop: Golden Gate Bridge
So this is definitely the beginning of our 20,000 step day. It was pretty windy by the water and especially on the bridge. After taking some photos around the area, we decided to walk the entire bridge… yes, the whole way. Took about 45 minutes to an hour to take into account the time that you stop along the way to check out the stunning coastal view of San Francisco. Be sure to wear a windbreaker/light jacket!
Fourth stop: Sausalito
After crossing the Golden Gate Bridge, we took an uber to Sausalito. What a quaint little town. It was rather cold so we had to get a hot chocolate– a tourist even came up and said “see we’re not the only crazy ones having to get a hot chocolate in the summer”. We got there late afternoon where most of the businesses were closed so we just enjoyed people watching and sitting by the water until our ferry came which took us from Sausalito back to Pier 1.
The first day was definitely was jam-packed but because most of the attractions were around the same area, we thought to just hit it all up in one go. Honestly the first day was my ultimate favourite. We disconnected from the reality completely, tried to walk everywhere as much as possible, and it was the first day we got to just spend time with each other and soak in what SF has to offer.
First stop: the Coffee Movement
The Coffee Movement has a 5/5 rating on Google, and you can be rest assured it’s well earned. I’m not a huge coffee drinker, but this was the first coffee I had in SF and you’ll see below that I had to go again… well boyfriend and I had to. The simplicity of the space allows the focus of the coffee. The beans sourced are excellent and the barista made the experience even better. Couldn’t have asked for a better way to kickstart a Friday morning.
Second stop: Lombard Street
Coffee in hand, where to next? Lombard Street. We completely underestimated the hill to get to Lombard Street. By the time we go to the tourist-filled street, we told each other we’re going to uber next. It’s just so beautiful with the greenery and florals. Plus the view from up top of Lombard Street reminds you of how the view is worth the steep hills 😉
Third stop: Coit Tower
A steep hill and a zig zag road later, we took an uber to Coit Tower. For $9 USD (~$11 CAD) you can take the elevator to the top of the tower for a breathtaking view of SF. It’s a very short attraction but I can only imagine how beautiful it would be during sunset! We were looking at all the places we had been for the past day and seeing the distance of how much we’ve walked and seen.
Fourth stop: Boudin Bakery / Fisherman’s Wharf
Perfect morning, check. Onto lunch. We took an uber from Coit Tower to the Fisherman’s Wharf to check out Boudin Bakery. It’s a carb dream. We got the classic clam chowder in a bread bowl plus half a sandwich. Definitely on the pricier end once you add the bread bowl, but super filling. Would definitely come back for more of their other bread.
If you’re looking for seafood, I’d go past Fisherman’s Wharf for same great quality with lower prices as it’s such a tourist destination.
Fifth stop: Alcatraz Island
Of course a trip to San Francisco meant a trip to Alcatraz. We had to book this 3 weeks in advance, so if you want an evening tour, you’ll need to book months in advance! By the time I booked the tickets, there were no evening tickets available. During our boarding there was a sign of when the next available tour was. We were there on June 21 and the next available one was July 10.
A short cruise (~25min) to Alcatraz and you can go on the audio tour of the prison. There are other parts of Alcatraz that you’ll get to check out as well but the prison cells were definitely interesting. You’ll get to hear the stories and how life was in the prison from people who were prisoners or workers back in the day.
Sixth stop: The Italian Homemade Company
A hole in a wall bustling place. You know you’re at the right spot when there’s a constant crowd and there’s lots of deliveries going out. All the pasta is house made and tasted oh so fresh. It’s a kind of place that has waves of people but it’s worth the short wait.
Seventh stop: Moongate Lounge
What a coincidence our friends were also in SF the same days! We hit up Moongate Lounge (above Mr. Jiu’s). They had just released their summer drink menu and we had an amazing time– great company and great drinks to cap the night. I’m not one to go out to pubs, but tell me you’re bringing me to a lounge like Moongate and I’m there.
First stop: Scullery Coffee
Another cute little coffee shop right in around Union Square. It has maybe 5 high chairs. Perfect for the people on the go. I just love how simple the businesses in SF do things. Keeping it simple, focus on the basics, and excel at what they do.
Second stop: The Bandit
Next door to Scullery, we got our breakfast sandwiches (see how the nights of planning paid off?!). Similar to Scullery, a few high chairs and that’s all. But they had lots of delivery going on when we were there. I had the Fancy which had scrambled eggs, gruyere cheese, chives, spinach, crimini mushrooms, and grilled tomatoes. Boyfriend had the Bandit– medium egg, butcher’s cut bacon, Muenster cheese, avocado and arugula. We had a side of crispy taters and this was definitely a ‘treat yourself’ kind of breakfast. Each sandwich was roughly $7 USD (~$9 CAD).
Third stop: Mission area/Everlane
We didn’t enjoy the Mission area as much as we hoped, although we did check out the graffiti alley which was probably the highlight of the area. We also had to check out Everlane, to save the duties of having orders shipped to Canada. It was everything you’d hope an Everlane store to be. You can tell some tourists were kind of confused as to how to get help in the store because a lot of the employees just stood by the iPads, where they can request for inventory to be brought over. Either way, I wished there was cheaper duties or Everlane to open Canadian stores. I wear the day glove almost daily and got my sister convinced to get a pair too.
First stop: Sweet Maple
Would find any excuse to get brunch food. We went to Sweet Maple, right by Japantown. There was a line but given the larger parties up front, we weren’t standing in line for long before we got a seat outside. Got some classic brunch food and it was just what we needed.
Second stop: the Coffee Movement (again.)
Post brunch -> need more coffee. So, off to Coffee Movement again. Even though as visitors, the barista still remembered our names! There were other regular customers there and boy did we wish we could be a regular too.
Third stop: Chinatown area
We toured around Chinatown after getting our coffee, and checked out the fortune cookie factory. We got one massive one to share (on the flight the next day) then headed to the Golden Gate Bakery for their well-known egg tarts. It was a bit of a line for the egg tarts but it was so good. Even after a 20 minute walk back to the hotel, the tarts were still freshly hot!
Fourth stop: Lands’ End
After what felt like a second breakfast, we took an uber to Lands’ End. It’s a short hike to get here (wear proper footwear) but it’s worth it. There are so many view points around Lands’ End. We were just soaking up the moment of being together by the coast, as cheesy as that sounds. But the view is just so relaxing and worth every step to get here.
Fifth stop: Boba Guys/Union Square
A must visit for me was Boba Guys. Their drink options were just my kind. Give me matcha and horchata any morning and I’d love you. There’s always lines but they aren’t so bad waiting time wise. I love the fact that these bubble tea shops that we had been to in SF allows for changing the milk to a non-dairy option for the lactose intolerants. There’s a few locations and seems like the Union Square one has a bit of a line all the time — would suggest checking another location if you aren’t keen on waiting in line.
Union Square has all the big retailers — Saks, Macy’s, Bloomingdales, you name it. There was one particular retailer we had to pop in, Jin’s. There’s 6 locations in the states but what’s great about Jin’s is that all the eyewear is great quality, at an amazing price around $100-150, with options to add blue light coating, and prescription lens for under 30 minutes. Pop in, choose your frame and give them your prescription (if you dont, there’s eye exams available), go walk around union square, and your glasses are ready!
Sixth stop: The House
It’s been an extended date weekend but Sunday night was our last night and wanted to cap things off. Boyfriend had made reservations to The House. I loved it. Everything was flavoured to perfection. 1 appetizer and 2 entrees were just perfect for the two of us. It was such a full restaurant and there were no tables available for walk ins. It’s definitely a restaurant for a nice night out.
Seventh stop: The View @ Marriott
To cap the Sunday evening we had gone to The View at Marriott Marquis. Definitely come here at sunset, as it can get foggy and then dark. The sunset will give you the best view out of these massive windows. What. A. View. We really enjoyed the time here- it’s just so relaxing and open, you can’t complain. It was the best way to end a date night.
Day Five/Travel Day:
Brunch before taking off: Lapisara Eatery
We had walked past Lapisara the other morning and noticed the long lines outside the restaurant so given it was a Monday morning, we decided to hit it up. It’s an American/Thai fusion restaurant. Their brunch is more heavily on the American influences while their dinner is more Thai. Either way, I’d take thai iced tea any time of day. The brunch was delicious — perfect portions, and the bread was perfect enough that it wasn’t hard to cut through with a knife, you know what I mean? It was a perfect Monday morning I’d say.
Quick stop before the airport: Mr. Holmes Bakehouse
There was no possible way to leave SF without some delicious pastries. Their donuts are delicious — I would treat myself often if I lived in SF.
Overall, the trip was an absolute blast… best birthday gift ever? It was also our first trip together, and we survived each other (lol). We tried out so many different places, saw all the key attractions, and spent quality time with each other.
It’s a walkable city. We walked a total of 80,000 steps within the 4 days. I’d say we walked to balance out the delicious food we ate 😉 I would uber if you’re travelling from one side of the city to the other but other than that, a 20 minute walk is worth it. You get to see so much within that time!
The prices of everything wasn’t too bad, but it’s the exchange rate that definitely is the turn off. Plus, the hotels in the city have a daily amenity fee so when we checked out it was another $140 USD outside of your charge per night. Other than that, a lot of things were fairly priced. We didn’t do a whole lot of shopping other than Everlane and Jin’s. I would even argue some things were better quality than what I can normally get for a lower price on a day to day basis.
What to avoid: We were told to avoid Tenderloin due to the number of homeless people but to be honest, they’re almost everywhere downtown. You can encounter numerous of them in Union Square and I would definitely suggest uber-ing back to the hotel after a late night around Union Square/Tenderloin.
San Francisco had been on my bucket list for a long time and I’m so happy that I got to check out this city. Here’s to more adventures…