The Ultimate Guide to San Francisco.
San Francisco is where Ryan asked me to marry him (almost one year ago exactly—eek!), so obviously my love for this magical city is biased. This summer, when we went back 8 months later for my best friend’s wedding (otherwise known as the 6th Brooks daughter), it was like reliving the best weekend of my life. We ate brunch at Plow, took a Ferry ride under the Golden Gate Bridge and around Alcatraz, and topped it all of with the Candice’s wedding. Despite my bias for the city by the bay, San Francisco really is the place for everyone. The sun shines, but it’s still chilly enough for a light jacket year round, plus the clouds make for a picture perfect Golden Gate Bridge just about everyday.
Plow: It is open from 7-2 Monday through Friday and 8-2 on Saturday and Sunday for the perfect farm-to-table brunch. They do not accept reservations and the venue is small, so be sure to get there as soon as it opens to avoid too long of a wait. But if you do have to wait, it’s definitely worth it. For all you gluten-free foodies out there, they have the most delicious almond flour pancakes I’ve ever eaten. We recommend getting the plow.
Tacolicious: I’m a big lover of all things Mexican, but this place blew my mind. They have every taco you can imagine, and you should probably get the table-made guacamole, because guacamole. (Hint: You can buy the salsas at William’s Sonoma when you get home.)
Gracias Madre: This restaurant is a vegetarian Mexican-food lover’s paradise. All the food is organic, locally sourced, and plant-based, and we promise, you won’t even miss the meat.
Boudin Bakery & Café: This restaurant is located in the middle of Fisherman’s Wharf. Despite being a popular tourist spot, I think everyone should eat here at least once during a visit to San Francisco. The bakery is known for its sourdough bread made on site, which comes in all shapes and sizes—including alligators, sea turtles, and teddy bears. They have sourdough everything—bread bowls, sandwiches, waffles, pizza, and tacos. Try to sit on the second level so you can spend your meal overlooking the Wharf.
Avatar: If you can make your way across the bay and over to Sausalito—and you should—make sure to eat at Avatar. It’s Indian food with a Cajun and Mexican flare. Not only is the owner an incredibly gracious host, but you can choose an item from the menu, or he will ask you what kind of protein (fish, beef, or chicken) and what level of spice you want and then create your own unique plate, which we promise will be absolutely delicious.
To curb your sweet tooth:
Bob’s Donut & Pastry Shop: Whether you’re a lover of apple fritters, maple bars, chocolate sprinkles, or want to eat a donut the size of your head (literally), Bob’s has a treat for everyone. Plus, it’s open 24/7 to satisfy those late night cravings. Or when jet lag wakes you up at the crack of dawn, and you need a donut to make it through the day.
Mr. Holmes Bakehouse: Get baked (as the slogan goes) at Mr. Holmes Bakehouse. As a lover of all things chocolate chip cookie dough, I suggest the Chocolate Chip Cruffin. Be advised: the flavors vary daily. But can you really ever go wrong with the love child of a croissant and a muffin sprinkled with sugar and topped with a delicious cream?
Tartine Bakery: Be prepared for a long line early in the morning, but the Morning Bun is totally worth it, especially if you love pastries. And who doesn’t love a good pastry?
Bi-Rite Creamery: It will make all your ice cream dreams come true.
B. Patisserie: Not only is the entire place filled with delicious treats, but it also arguably has the world’s best hot chocolate. This is one of those times you’ll be grateful for San Francisco’s chilly weather.
Must Do Tourist Attractions:
Take a walking tour over to Pier 39: See the sea lions bark at each other, and if you’re lucky, you might catch a few fighting for the prime tanning spot. Or that’s their mating call. But, who knows?
Hop on a Ferry for a Bay cruise: You’ll get an awesome view of the city, ride under the Golden Gate Bridge, a history lesson while circling Alcatraz, and maybe even see a few dolphins jumping alongside the boat.
Go to Alamo Square Park and take a picture in front of The Painted Ladies and reminisce on Full House, or start prepping for the new Netflix Fuller House series.
Visit the Ferry Building: From mushrooms to baked goods and hot dogs to Pressed Juicery, grab some delicious snacks from this farmer’s market style marketplace.
Take a romantic stroll through the Palace of Fine Arts.
Bike, walk, or drive across the Golden Gate Bridge. Whichever way you choose to cross, you won’t be disappointed by the majesty of this architectural masterpiece.
Off the Beaten Path Adventures
Walk to the top of the Mosaic Stairs: And be sure to take pictures on your way up.
Take a hike (or drive) to the top of Twin Peaks: Do this right at sunrise and watch the sun come up over the city.
Grab a cardboard box and slide down the Seward Street Slides: These cement slides are hidden in a little neighborhood in the Castro district. It’s incredibly entertaining for both adults and children, but be sure to have cardboard or chances are your pants are going to get dirty.
Wave Organ: Walk along the Marina Harbor and past the St. Francis Yacht Club to see this acoustic landmark. It was created with pipes at varying lengths and as the waves hit against the rocks, the pipes create an “organ” making its own magical oceanic tune.
Be sure to look into other walking tours, Segway tours, and Yellow Car tours to see the most of the city without having to worry about renting a car or riding public transportation. Both the Segway tour and Yellow Car tour are highly entertaining and I promise will result in constant laughter, but if you do the yellow car tour, be sure to go before rush hour, since the amount you pay is based on time not distance.
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