The city on the bay. ❤ This place means so much to me – for so many different reasons. It’s only fitting that it’s the first travel guide I’m posting on the blog. If you haven’t visited this gorgeous city – it’s a must see to add to your travel list. I’m sharing here a weekend guide for a quick getaway, although there is so much to see and do – you could easily spend longer.
My first stop upon arriving is usually the Golden Gate Bridge. I love driving, walking or biking across and checking out the views from Vista Point. I’d say plan on spending about a half an hour here – taking some great photos, seeing the city from across the bay, watching sail boats and reading the informational plaques along the rock wall. There’s a large parking area and restrooms at the look out also – makes for a great stop after your flight and before checking into your hotel too! This is also a great stop if your headed into Sausalito from the city as well. As your headed back into the city – Baker Beach and Marshall Beach are close and great photo locations too. Grab a quick bite to go and stop at Crissy Field for some great views of the Golden Gate, sailboat and kite watching. Also in this area are the Palace of Fine Arts and the Presido Officers Club – I’d definitely recommend checking out both if you’ve got a couple of hours to enjoy them. Next make your way towards Ocean Beach.
Ocean Beach is a great spot to relax, enjoy the views and that crisp ocean breeze. It does get chilly – don’t forget to bring a jacket. Grab a late lunch or early dinner at the iconic Cliff House – I love the Fish N Chips. Ask for a seat by the window to sit right over the ocean and if your lucky even spot a whale or two.
Lands End Lookout and Labyrinth are also close by, as well as the Sutro Baths and Legion of Honor Museum. If you wander a little farther inland from Ocean Beach grab a quick coffee and pastry at Java Beach Cafe, wander through the pretty neighborhoods and spend the rest of your afternoon at the Golden Gate Park which houses some of the most beautiful gardens and is home to the San Francisco Botanical Garden. This is definitely one of my top favorite places to wander with a coffee and enjoy all of it’s gorgeousness.
Start your morning at Toast Eatery – there’s a few in the city, we usually stop in the one on Polk Street. Great coffee and breakfast. Anyone is sure to find something they like here with a good variety of pancakes, french toast, omelets and breakfast sandwiches. From Toast it’s about a 15 minute walk to Lombard Street. It’s famous for it’s eight hair pin turns down one block and a touristy must see in the city. I like taking a coffee to go and wandering up or down the block looking at the pretty houses and landscaping.
From here wander down to the Painted Ladies or Haight and Ashbury – stopping in the Hayes Valley area to wander the gorgeous shops on Hayes Street. Depending on how much you like or want to walk – I’d recommend grabbing a cab or an Uber and heading to China Town from here.
China Town is such a fun way to experience different culture in San Francisco. With plenty of shops, restaurants and people watching – it’s just fun. You can spend as little or as much time as you want here. There is so much to see! Ending your second day in San Francisco includes a few stops that make me LOVE this city so much. Wander from China Town to Nob Hill – it’s about a fifteen minute walk. Visit Grace Cathedral – this is in my top five favorite places in the city. Grace was opened in 1934 and features the most beautiful Gothic revival architecture. This past December while spending the weekend we were fortunate enough to visit during the time the World Tree of Hope was lit inside the building. It’s a Christmas tree covered in thousands of inscribed origami cranes with wishes for our worlds future from all over the world. Some of these messages had me in tears – it was such an amazing thing to see.
From here – the ultimate MUST eat for myself in San Francisco is Columbini Italian Bistro. It’s just off of Nob Hill – an easy walk from the cathedral and has the most amazing, authentic Italian food. It’s very small – so I’d recommend making a reservation. Enjoy the bread, the wine and pasta. Plan on the true Italian experience – a slow, relaxing dinner. I take every single person I visit this gorgeous city with to Columbini. It’s a must eat. We usually make our way back to our hotel wandering through Union Square. It’s especially magic around Christmas-time when the tree is lit and there’s ice skating. But it’s a great stop year round for all types of shopping.
It goes without saying that one of our favorite reasons to visit SF is because we are huge 49er’s and Giants fans. If your into this type of thing – grab tickets for a game. Levi’s Stadium is a short drive from the city and AT&T Park is an easy taxi ride from just about anyplace and sits right on the bay. Usually we spend half a day or more attending one of these events.
Another option for a half day activity is visiting Alcatraz. My favorite part aside from the history is wandering the gorgeous grounds and enjoying the views from all sides of the island. Alcratraz sells out quickly! I’d recommend booking your tickets in advance, you can purchase them here.
Ending your day – before wandering home, take a cable car to Fisherman’s Wharf. With plenty of shopping and dining choices – it’s the ultimate tourist spot. I love watching the sea lions from Pier 39. From here my final stop is Ghiradelli Square – because who doesn’t need a hot fudge sundae in their life?
A few other places, eats and hotels worth mentioning:
Hotels – my favorite place to stay in the city, especially if you want to splurge a little is the Fairmont. It’s a great location right across the street from the Grace Cathedral on top of Nob Hill with ALL the luxuries you can imagine. A couple more budget friendly – but still nice (I have hotel standards, I promise these are clean!) are the Marriott Marquis and the Parc 55 Hilton.
I hope this gives you some great suggestions and ideas when visiting my favorite city. Anytime I’m doing trip research I love checking out Trip Advisor for reviews – but to be honest we find most of our favorite things to see and do are when we end up stumbling upon it. I’d absolutely love if my readers would share any extra favorites in the city for us all.
Here’s to happy and safe wandering. Xoxo.