After spending just a few days in San Francisco, we are already planning our next trip. Thought it may to tough to get there from Italy. I wouldn’t get against it!! Of all the cities that I’ve visited, SF is the city that I’ve visited the most without living there because I have family that lives in the Bay Area. I’ve always spent most of my time in the Berkeley area, so it was great to get to explore the City more than we ever have. Four days wasn’t enough to get to do everything that we had our list. Josh was there for just over a week, so he got to see more of the city. But it was also his first trip to San Francisco. We wanted to share what some of our favorite places that we visited during this trip!
Golden Gate Park
There is so much to see in Golden Gate Park. The park has a days worth of actives and walking trails. We have a whole post dedicated to things to do in the park.
Golden Gate Bridge
A few miles from Golden Gate Park is the Bridge, no trip to San Francisco is complete without seeing the Golden Gate. Theres a great little park next to the bridge that you is great for photo opts. There are some great shops close to the park as well. I don’t think that I need to convince anyone to go the the Bridge, just do it!
If you happen to be in the downtown area, Coit Tower is definitely worth the hike up Telegraph Hill. The tower was built in 1939, designed in a striped down art deco style, and is a must see! For $5 you can ride the elevator to the top and get the best views San Francisco has to offer. While you’re there, chat with the incredibly friendly and knowledgable staff and soak in some history.
The Financial District is the heart of San Francisco’s business, shopping, and fine arts. A comprehensive list of things to do could take up books, so we’ll stick to just a few of our favorites. For art lovers, definitely hit up SFMOMA. They have some great exhibits and enough floor space to walk around all day and stare at masterpieces. For food, try out a housemade sausage and grab a pint over at the Mikkeler Bar. But honestly, there’s so much good food here, just find something on Yelp that’s local with good reviews and try it out. For shopping, there’s a HUGE mall here, but if you venture just a few blocks from there, you’ll find tons of really cool digs, including one of Josh’s favorites Iron and Resin.
Next to the Financial District is the Ferry Building. There is a farmer’s market style of shops within the building, lots of artisan foods and drinks. You get a great view of the Bay Bridge from either side of the Ferry Building. We also dedicated a whole post of things to do around the Ferry Building.
You could spend an entire day in The Mission District and still not see everything. There are a ton of great eateries. We started our day off at Orphan Andy’s, a quint little dinner. From there it’s a short walk over to Dolores Park which we could have spent all afternoon enjoying the scene and San Francisco weather. There are many historic buildings in the area, having a family full of architects I can’t get enough old buildings. Ended the afternoon wanting around some shops such as Aardvark Book (any bookstore that has a ‘bookstore cat’ has our hearts) and some thrift shops. There is a large art community in the area as well as parades and festivals going on often.
For anyone that’s ever been to the Kowloon district in Hong Kong, SF Chinatown is like a miniature version of that. Every corner you turn, there are hundreds of sights, sounds, smells, and hole in the wall markets. But the best of Chinatown is the food (a recurring them in this post, if you haven’t noticed!) I highly recommend grabbing Dim Sum from one of the smaller places where you see a line of locals. For those of you who haven’t been lucky enough to eat dim sum before, go for an early lunch, drink the tea, and don’t be afraid to try EVERYTHING. Seriously, this stuff is good eats. Luckily, most dine in dim sum places will brings carts of food for you to try, so all you have to do is decide when you’ve had enough.
We’ll end this list with Japan Town, which is more or less the antithesis of Chinatown. Where Chinatown is loud, crowded, and sometimes a little messy, Japantown is neat, orderly, and probably the cleanest place you’ll find in SF. There are a couple of daiso (dollar stores where you can buy a little bit of everything,) Japanese style spas (think urban hot springs,) and soooooo many fantastic places to eat. Seriously, you can just walk into just about any of the little izakayas, noodle shops, or sushi bars and you will be wowed. For things to do, wander around the underground mall, sightsee at the Peace Pagoda, and do some karaoke (tons of places that offer both private rooms for groups or just a place for you to get your Bon Jovi on.)
These are just a few things to do in the city. There are so many things to do just a short drive away such as Napa Valley, Big Sur, Sonoma County, and the Redwood Forest. I want to also send much love out to all the firefighters in NorCal and hope they get those fires under control soon. The Gatlinburg fires hit close to home last year and I know how devastating these fires can be.