Up next in my travel series is my sweet friend, Alexa of afternoons & coffeespoons. You'll recognize her from my New York & Boston trips with Amber (who is guest post is coming). I'm pumped for you to read her about her trip and tips on traveling to San Francisco. Enjoy! (:
my 25th birthday took me to san francisco. i'd always wanted to take a weekend trip somewhere by myself and i was going to be in long beach for work anyway, so why not? that short flight up the california coastline—my face pressed against the window, humming the graduate soundtrack the whole way—is one of my best memories.
my favorite way to see any place is to walk it, and that's the thing i remember most of that san francisco weekend: the miles and miles i walked and all the quirky, interesting things i saw. because i was traveling alone, my time was entirely my own. it was truly a wandering weekend, and san francisco was a wonderful (albeit hilly!) city for that.
on a recommendation from a friend, i decided to stay in the embarcadero. i liked the idea of staying in a location central to the sights i wanted to see, and i knew i'd enjoy proximity to the ferry plaza farmers market (tuesdays and thursdays from 10:00 am - 2:00 pm / saturdays from 8:00 am - 2:00 pm).
at the market, i loved pourover coffee, the rows of orchids for sale, and yogurt from saint benoit. the ferry building itself is a food emporium (bread, produce, coffee, cheese) open all day. inside the ferry building, i enjoyed the cowgirl creamery cheese and browsing heath ceramics for pretty tableware made just across the bay in sausalito.
no meal stands out to me like breakfast at tartine. go first thing in the morning—lines form early and long, but the wait is worth it. order anything—order several things!—but if they are offering bread pudding, be sure to order that. nearly three years later, i'm still thinking about it. i also loved how neighborhoody the bakery felt—spending a saturday morning here gave me a local perspective.
things to see, places go to, treats to enjoy:
+ explore the mission. the mission is where the san francisco of my dreams really came alive—palm trees, funky murals, gorgeous architecture—and there are lots of fun vintage shops between 22nd and 14th streets. a quick yelp search beforehand will help you see which ones interest you.
+ if you get hungry for lunch in the mission, head west a few blocks to bi-rite market on guerrero an 18th, a cute grocery. pick something up and have a picnic in nearby delores park. you'll want to swing back by bi-rite creamery for ice cream before leaving the neighborhood.
+ explore the castro, an immensely culturally rich neighborhood. many historic protests, marches, and events have taken and continue to take place here.
+ explore north beach, a quaint neighborhood in the middle of the bustling city. use
saints peter and paul church as a starting point and wander from there. stop into tony's pizza for a tasty slice. there are also some fun shops around washington square.
+ stop into city lights, a lovely independent bookstore and symbol of the beat movement. i visited twice in two days.
+ visit ghiradelli square. although home to the famous ghiradelli chocolate company, it's not very touristy and you will have a great view of the bay.
+ walk along the rowhouses.
+ look for (maybe even ride!) a streetcar. i was so charmed by these.
+ walk through chinatown, paying attention to the pretty lanterns and architecture.
+ walk up to fort mason green for a great view of the bridge.
+ drive or walk down lombard street, famous for its steep turns.
+ explore the presidio, san fran's equivalent to new york's central park. walk towards the water to crissy field, and your heart just might burst at the sight of the bridge :)
+ i'm not into touristy areas, so i suggest skipping union square, the financial district, and fisherman's wharf.
my visit was short (just two and a half days), so i limited my wanderings to san francisco proper. at the tip top of my list for next time (and there will be a next time): rent a bike and ride across the golden gate into sausalito for the day. i can't wait.