Tony Bennet sang, “I left my heart in San Francisco,” it’s easy to understand why. San Francisco, with its iconic Golden Gate bridge, adorable cable cars, ocean breeze, and warm sunny climate, Is hard not to fall in love with. However, there are many layers to this vibrant city. We sped past some lovely neighbourhoods in our Uber, wishing I could have stopped and had more time to explore.
Views, views, breathtaking views, SanFrancisco is not shy when it comes to the camera. We were fortunate to have sunshine in our forecast, not too hot, with a bit of breeze coming off the ocean. There are many similarities between SanFrancisco (our big sister?)and my hometown, Vancouver, making me feel right at home.
Where to stay? With so many great options, it’s hard to decide on a property to book. Honestly, it took a little research and having a budget in mind. We wanted a central location, so Union Square was an obvious choice for us. Villa Florence is only a half-block away and convenient as it is easy on the wallet. Also, worthing considering is the SanFrancisco Proper Hotel, designed by Kelly Wearstler, you know it’s going to be a unique experience. Take the elevator to Charmaine’s, the hotel’s rooftop bar, with its spectacular views, overstuffed lounges and a hip crowd to keep you entertained all evening.
I’ve visited SanFrancisco several times in the past, but this time with my guy, adding something new and exciting to the experience. That said, I did wonder if we were compatible travellers? Lol, perhaps it was his suggestion of renting segways? Full disclosure, I was super nervous when he signed me up for an advanced 2-hour Segway & Scooter Tours. Yes, there was panic on my face. I’ve never tried or considered it, but it was a lot of fun. I gotta say, it’s a great way to discover the city, we travelled in a group with a guide, exploring many interesting sites, including the famous crooked “Lombard” street, twice! We covered a lot of territories that you usually wouldn’t be able to on foot. So this guy of mine might be on to something?
After touring on our segways, we stumbled into The Buena Vista, famous for creating the ever-popular “Irish coffee” who knew? An assembly line of glasses lined up on the bar, and a perfect pour of Irish whiskey, coffee and a large dollop of whipped cream made for a yummy end to our afternoon.
A trip to San Francisco is never complete without visiting Fisherman’s Wharf. Brace yourselves. This is one of the busiest tourist attractions, filled with souvenir shops, restaurants, seafood stalls, and a colony of sea lions. Nearby and worth checking out is Ghirardelli Square, a landmark filled with pubs, a cheese school, boutiques, and a Ghiradelli store. Make sure you get your free chocolate sample. See’s Chocolates is Down the road; with so many tempting choices, it was difficult to decide which was my new favourite. Thankfully, there were more chocolate samples to taste.
Alcatraz, I know what you’re thinking. We all watched Clint Eastwood dig his way out. I promise you. It’s nothing like the movie. But, if you’ve never been, it’s worth considering. It’s an easy ferry ride across the bay; you can explore at your own pace or take a tour once you land. Alcatraz is filled with history and crazy stories of its infamous inmates. It’s scary to imagine what it must have been like in the day.
Hungry? SanFrancisco’s food scene is second to none; where does one begin? We discovered Octavia, booked initially at Frances (the sister restaurant). Unfortunately, there was a reservation mix-up. The restaurant realizing their mistake, sent us in a cab to Octavia, where a lovely hostess and champagne greeted us. The entire dining experience was perfection. Did I mention both of these restaurants are Michelin stars? We had no idea. Hands down a memorable evening, and the handsome guy sitting across the table from me had nothing to do with it;)
There are so many diverse neighbourhoods, a few favourites were China town and North Beach, I loved the small cafés and eclectic restaurants, i.e. not your Cheese Cake Factory, and yes, we ate there too. BTW it has a great rooftop patio but otherwise a miss. Another great meal and a true classic is the Zuni Cafe . We shared the Ceasar Salad, roast chicken with bread salad aka stuffing with gravy (to die for); the chicken takes 45 minutes, so come prepared, relax and order a bottle of wine.
It was a great couple of days, I loved SanFrancisco, but the guy has my heart.