This post is certainly long overdue! I mean, when you have over 1,000 pictures to sort and narrow down to a handful of favorites, how could it not be!?
This week I’ll be sharing a look into all three parts of our recent trip to Northern California. I’ll be talking all about how we spent a long weekend in San Francisco, what we did, what we ate and pretty pictures of what we saw.
Let’s just say that today’s post is a travel guide how to see the most of the city in just 3 days!
Let me preface this post by saying I am a hardcore travel researcher. Half the fun for me is planning a trip and daydreaming about it for months in advance.
So naturally I spent hours upon hours researching every little thing on TripAdvisor beforehand.
We hopped off the plane for a two-night stay in San Fran (ps: the locals hate it when it’s called San Fran!)
Our home away from home for the weekend was Hotel Triton, a boutique hotel in Downtown San Francisco, literally half a block away from China Town. And another block away from all of the shopping you could ever imagine.
With bold bright colors everywhere you looked, Hotel Triton is as unique as they come. Which is exactly what we wanted! Half the fun when traveling, we think, is staying at quirky one-of-a-kind locations.
The hotel is complete with bicycles for guests to borrow and roam the town, too!
My favorite thing about Hotel Triton was the rooms! From funky headboards, wallpaper printed with a novel, and a chalkboard to write whatever message you’d like, it became our own little oasis tucked away in the city.
But when you’re in a big city, you’re not going to spend all of your time in the hotel, are you?
After dropping off our bags, we walked on over to San Francisco’s China Town.
San Francisco is a weird one when it comes to knowing what to wear. I think I took my denim jacket off and then put it back on at least 10 times in a period of two hours.
When you’re standing in the shade it can be quite chilly, but sweltering hot in the sun! San Franciscans thank the bay breezes for that!
We walked up and down the streets, popping in and out of little shops and bakeries.
We loved stopping in the Golden Gate Fortune Cookie Factory! This was recommended in the guidebooks, and rightfully so!
It’s not every day you can see fortune cookies made right before your eyes! It’s pretty neat how they stuff the little fortunes in there.
But beware, it costs $1 to take a photo! (PS: photo comes with a free fortune cookie!)
We later ordered lunch from a menu that was completely in Chinese. Thank goodness for pictures!
And a happy snap because the Kerleys are sooo excited to be on vacation!!
We dressed up for a dinner date and Ubered on over to Pier 39.
Sidenote: Parts of San Francisco are definitely walkable, but if you want to experience everything (or at least the highlights) of what the city has to offer, you’re going to want to Uber, Lyft or use the bus systems.
Fisherman’s Wharf is nestled in Pier 39 in the northern tip of the city. The wharf is dotted with fishing boats galore, and views so magnificent your jaw may drop.
Plus, there’s a whole lot of SEALS!
These sea lions made their home here in 1990 after a recent earthquake. Visitors loved them so much that the city said, “We’ll keep you!”
A habitat (above) was built for them and they’ve stuck around ever since.
Right behind the sea lions home is the actual Pier 39. It’s extremely touristy. Like Hard Rock Cafe, Henna Tattoos & Cotton Candy touristy. Which can be fun if you’re into that! And probably great for kids!
We did a little bit of YELP searching and found a hidden gem nestled on top of Pier 39, tucked away from the hullabaloo: The Eagle Cafe.
The two of us set outside on the patio, overlooking the bay.
We sipped our drinks and munched on oysters with views of The Golden Gate Bridge and Alcatraz on the horizon.
The sunset from our spot was pretty unbelievable too!
Patrick and I woke up early and took an Uber up to The Marina Park. We had plans to meet our friend Joni for lunch nearby.
With some extra time to kill before lunch, exploring was a must.
Oh and in case you’re interested, these Minnetonka Sandals are my go-to traveling shoes! Just as comfortable as a pair of Chaco’s but a tad more stylish. 😉 My pair is from last year, but this year’s looks are just as cute!
We walked from Tha Marina Park down Fillmore Street.
Passsed beautiful blue houses.
And overflowing sweet-smelling flower shops.
Until we turned a corner and found ourselves at Rose’s Cafe.
Our friend Joni is lucky enough to live right in the heart of this beautiful and bustling city!
Patrick and I expressed our jealousy of her new hometown over the most delicious pizza I’ve probably ever eaten.
Mmm … I’m just imagining munching on that gruyere cheese prosciutto combo once more!
Once lunch was over, we said our goodbyes and were ready to tackle the next portion of our day.
And when I say tackle, we literally tackled it.
We biked across The Golden Gate Bridge!
A month later … is it possible to still be sore? Okay kidding, but they do NOT joke about those steep San Francisco hills! I might have had to walk my bike a time or two. 😉 I’m sure the boyfriend jeans didn’t help either. Hehe.
The scenery and the stunning vistas were worth any of the angst from the long trek across town and up to the bridge.
I mean, just look at that view!! We were so lucky to have such wonderful weather during our stay!
Not pictured, is the whipping winds engulfing us up on the bridge. If you’re not afraid of heights, this is a bucket-list experience that I highly recommend!
We wrapped up the end of our second day in San Francisco with dinner on the water at Hog Island Oyster Co. This bayside seafood spot had a wonderful view of the water, the bridges and was all lit up at night. Very romantic indeed!
(Also we failed to snap any photos of dinner. You’re just going to have to trust me on this one!) 😉
Anyone else notice a theme here? Oysters & bridge views for dinner? Hey, when in San Fran!
Our third day in San Francisco really happened about 6 days after our second one. We came back to The Golden City after visiting Big Sur and Sonoma, before we flew out of the SF airport back to Houston.
This go-round, we stayed at Hotel Del Sol in the Marina/Cow Hollow area. We absolutely LOVED this location! It was super convenient to a lot of the restaurants that were recommended to us, plus it was a budget friendly option for the last night of our trip.
Rooms here can be snagged for right around $150! And in such a pricey city, this is a kind of a huge deal! Rooms were nice, there were HAMMOCKS and a heated pool!
Just a few block away from Hotel del Sol the cutest little coffee shop, Wrecking Ball Coffee Roasters.
The baristas play super loud music while they expertly mix your tasty caffeinated treats. You’ll be picked up in no time as soon as you walk in!
After sleeping in to our leisure, we decided to play tourist!
A visit (and a hike) up to Lombard Street was first on our list!
Lombard Street is one of San Francisco’s oldest streets. This crooked street was designed with switchback curves in order to better suit the horses and carriages going uphill back in the day.
Flower beds create the curves and Victorian mansions line this tourist attraction.
Another tourist attraction that we just had to do … was to stop for a visit at Alamo Square Park!
Recognize this field anyone? And the houses behind it?
The Full House opening credits were filmed in this very park. These houses you see above are nicknamed The Painted Ladies and they are the most photographed thing in the city, appearing on more postcards than anything else!
Can you imagine what it would be like to live in one? With 100s of people stopping by every hour to just stare at your house? Creepy! No wonder all of the curtains were shut for the most part!
I had randomly met a few San Franciscans before our trip, and I’d asked each and every one of them, “What should we do when we visit SF!?”
Almost all of them said to visit the parks! Apparently in true San Francisco fashion, locals get together with friends and lounge their weekends away in the city parks.
We passed large group picnics, bookworms, birthday parties, wine-o-thons and almost any other type of mini-social gathering you could imagine in that park.
I know what I would be doing if I was a local, too!
We were catching the red eye flight that night, so to fill the last remaining hours of our vacation, we explored Haight Ashbury.
Haight Ashbury is America’s birthplace of counter culture. Think: the summer of love and the hippie movement.
It still holds onto these ideals today, with head shops, record shops, funky vintage shops & musicians playing in the streets.
We had so much fun browsing the vintage shops. One of them even had vintage dresses from the late 1800s! Its rare to see vintage clothing go that far back. I was very much intrigued!
Had to snap a photo in front of this colorful psychedelic wall before we left! When in Haight Ashbury after all. 🙂
If you’ve made it all the way to the bottom of this post, I salute you! It was quite the long one! And I can’t even tell you how many photos were not included.
I’ve broken things down for y’all more simply below, in case you’re planning a trip yourself! These places to stay and eat were discovered by us, and loved by us!
Where to Stay:
Hotel Del Sol
What to Eat:
Posh Bagel (get the lox bagel!)
What to Do:
Alamo Square Park
Bike the Golden Gate Bridge
Things we Didn’t Do … but would love to next time:
Ride the Cable Cars
Walt Disney Family Museum
I love talking travel, so if you’re planning a trip to San Francisco, shoot me an email (firstname.lastname@example.org) and we can chat in more detail! And as always, thanks for stopping by the blog today!