After returning from Yosemite, we were ready to hit the town again.
South of Market, Financial District, North Beach, Fisherman’s Wharf
This was a bonus day in San Francisco, and also our favorite. We recovered from the hangovers, and I was starting to feel better from my cold. We eased into the day at Bread + Cocoa for a bagel sandwich and a cortado. It’s like a nice Panera with a more unique coffee options.
Next we kept the hot beverages going and had some tea at Somovar Tea Lounge at Yerba Buena Gardens in the South of Market District. This was one of my favorite spots because of the natural light, made possible by floor to ceiling glass on 3 sides of the lounge. This is where I wrote my postcards and sipped matcha. Mike got the pu’erh tea because he hears that’s what Tim Ferriss drinks. In this same district, I have to mention the Museum of Modern Art’s gift shop full of very well-curated books.
We headed toward Fisherman’s Wharf by way of the Financial and North Beach Districts. In the Financial District we found another Blue Bottle Coffee Shop and tons of food trucks. The rotisserie chicken food truck looked especially interesting and smelled amazing. We made our way to the Italian neighborhood (North Beach), where we stopped by Mara’s Italian Pastries and shared a chocolate cake-type pastry and more of a lemon curdy pastry. I was too busy eating to take down a good description (or a picture). There were so many great looking pastries! I wish we could have gone back here. We also visited City Lights, an independent book store with a diverse and thoughtful selection.
At Fisherman’s Wharf, we visited the Musee Mechanique, right on the water. This is the world’s largest privately owned collection of coin operated mechanical musical instruments and arcade machines. Admission is free, but bring cash or change because all machines are in working order! It’s a cheap, fun look at the creepy, creepy past. If you have Snapchat and a friend who hates clowns/haunted dolls, it’s a must-see! Check out this coin-operated Opium-Den. Whaaa?
We walked the Embarcadero a little, attempted to get an In-N-Out Burger (the only one in SF= way too crowded), and then headed back toward Nob Hill. We refused the urge to Uber and made our way up and up and up the hill!
We stopped at Lombard St. on the way up, but I really couldn’t get a good picture of it. Instead, here’s us after climbing quite a hill:
Once we got back to the hotel, we were in search for a good burger. At Pearl’s Deluxe Burgers on Post, the burgers are darn good, and you can choose fries, sweet potato fries, onion rings, or (the best) a combination of those. We had the “frings:” garlic fries with onion rings. They also make excellent milk shakes.
Golden Gate Bridge, Sausalito, Fisherman’s Wharf
Our last full day started with Han’s Coffee Shop on Sutter with a (Korean) bulgogi omelet. They also serve a more traditional breakfast and everything was more reasonably priced than seemingly everything else in SF. We then headed to Bay City Bikes to pick up our rentals in order to “bike the bridge!” The idea of this is to ride your bike over the Golden Gate Bridge and into Sausalito for lunch, finally returning to SF on the ferry. After confusing directions on how to get to Sausalito, Mike and I set out with our small, confusing maps attached to our bikes. We started out in Fisherman’s Wharf, then rode uphill for a while into the Presidio, along the bay. We rode by Chrissy Field, which was under construction, but we got some good pictures of the bridge near The Warming Hut. We didn’t go inside, but it was recommended to us for a good cup of coffee.
From here, we took a sharp left and headed uphill again on a narrow road with the occasional passing car. We were heading up to the Golden Gate bridge. The view kept getting better and better.
We finally made it to the bridge and pedaled on a crowded pedestrian walkway. It was great, but also a bit unnerving with pedestrians, cyclists (on fast road bikes), and loud cars zooming by. After we made it across and had more navigation issues, we rode downhill into Sausalito, thanks to a kind, blonde, toothy Californian who helped point us in the right direction. Sausalito is a quaint, quiet town– a total contrast to Fisherman’s Wharf and the bridge. It was nice, but we were pretty tired of those bikes and just wanted to catch the ferry back to SF.
Mike realized we would be pretty close to Ferry Building Marketplace, a bustling food hall and market. There was yet another Blue Bottle Coffee shop! I had the New Orleans cold brew with chicory and wasn’t sorry about it. We had lunch at the Imperial Tea Court and I had my first barbecue pork steamed bun. We also picked up some gifts for family and friends here, and some macarons for us. It was a long day, but we still managed to walk back to Nob Hill for the last time.
The next morning, we had another diner breakfast and headed out of town pretty early.
San Francisco is a wonderful place to visit with no shortage of things to see, do, and eat. The trip felt long by the end, but we never ran out of things to do. Here are some do’s and don’ts from our trip that can be applied to SF or any other travel:
Do your research. Even a loose plan is more helpful than figuring it out along the way. Have a list of restaurants, sites, and shops. Bonus points if you do the next item.
Do get familiar with a city map. Use Google Maps to get around town, but get familiar with the layout of the city to most efficiently find your way and know what is near what.
Do factor in free time. Our “bonus” day was not planned but was my favorite day of all. Have a starting point and let the day take you.
Do know what you like. For Mike, the “bike the bridge” wasn’t really up his alley. And the fancy, expensive dinner we had at the Majestic Yosemite Hotel wasn’t something we valued. Just because it sounds like something you should do, doesn’t mean you must do it.
Do ask the locals. No, not the hotel employees. We began asking employees at the restaurants and bars we really enjoyed. If you know they care about good food and drink, then you can trust their recommendations that much more. That’s how we ended up with our bulgogi omelet.
Don’t bring a purse, unless it’s light and portable. I usually carry a tote, which can get heavy on my shoulder. For this trip Mike and I brought small backpacks to carry around town and for our hike in Yosemite. It held my personal items, journal, Kindle, water bottle, and camera. We were comfortable the whole time.
Don’t plan everything out. This is just reemphasizing the tip to factor in free time. Another warning here is that planning each day without building in any rest can help you catch a cold and really slow you down. Don’t feel pressured to do everything. No FoMO!
Don’t buy cheap souvenirs for family and friends. Mike and I try to find useful or edible items to bring back home. I sent postcards and we bought coffee for our families. I admit I bought a Golden Gate Bridge magnet for a close friend, but magnets are kind of our thing.
Don’t book too much. Overbooking can take over your day and your vacation, putting you on a strict, stressful schedule (somebody else’s schedule). If we booked things back to back, we would have missed out on the best parts of our trip.
That was our trip! Changes to the blog are on the horizon. Stay tuned for an announcement next week!