When visiting a new city, it's ideal to have at least a week to explore and get your fix. On my recent trip to San Francisco, I had a few short days. It forced me to put together a schedule and cram in as much as possible. I still have a to-do list longer than a second quick trip can provide but I enjoyed what I did get to see. It's even inspired me to put together a quick guide to San Francisco for the newbie.
Can't Miss Sights
- The Golden Gate Bridge: This beauty is almost 80 years old! Unbelievable right? It's the iconic bridge in the Full House opening credits and made a few cameos in Charmed as well. Get great shots of the bridge at Krissy Field.
- The Painted Ladies: These gorgeous girls are a favorite selfie spot. Famous from the Full House opening credits, anyone not from Northern California must get their photo with them. There's nothing spectacular about that street or the park but the fact that you are in the same spot they filmed the Full House credits is amazing enough.
- Cable Cars: Ride one of the many cable cars in the last manually operated cable car system. The city is known for them and they're hard to miss. Just follow the cables above the streets!
- Alcatraz Island: I am bummed I couldn't make it to the island. It's a big time commitment though and with a few short days, I chose Napa Valley instead. I would recommend the night tour. That sounds like a creepy, awesome time if you like ghost stories.
Where To Stay
- Hotel Phoenix is a rad place to stay in San Francisco. With a rocking history (literally) and vibrant design, this hotel is unique and affordable. A Joie de Vivre hotel, enjoy a heated pool year-round, FREE wi-fi, plenty of space to lounge around poolside or just outside your suite and Chambers Eat + Drink when you're feeling hungry. Check out my full review.
- The Buchanan in Japantown is a beautiful, recently renovated Kimpton Hotel. Chic and sophisticated, you will have a truly relaxing experience in a phenomenal location. The staff is friendly and can provide you with as many recommendations as you'd like regardless of what you're looking for. They also host a happy hour for guests each night in the lobby. Check out my full review.
What to Eat
- You must grab a cup of coffee at one of the locally-owned cafes or coffee shops. San Francisco has a reputation for fantastic craft coffee so it would be a mistake not to try a cup. Jane on Larkin is a fantastic option and they have a delicious quiche as well.
- Eat locally. There are a million places to eat local organic fare. There was a farm-to-table restaurant practically around every corner. The Grove on Fillmore Street was one of my personal favorites. ROAM Artisan Burgers is another great spot. Their burgers are out of this world and they have a huge craft beer menu.
- Step out of your comfort zone. Brenda's French Soul Food was a spontaneous moment for me. It sounded good and I couldn't resist the call of French-style cuisine. I recently saw them featured on the Cooking Channel's Unique Eats for their beignets. How cool is that?
San Francisco is an adventure that I was honestly not prepared for. Fresh off a city that I'm comfortable in (Dallas/Fort Worth), it was a challenge accommodating to the culture of San Francisco. I don't say that lightly either. I adjusted much easier to Paris which was also the first time I ever traveled alone. However, it is an experience I wouldn't trade for anything. I learned a lot during my time there both as a person and as a traveler. I hope to return again for more than just a few days, even if it's just to get a night tour of Alcatraz in.