“I left my heart in San Francisco…”
That’s how it goes, right? Well, SF has another fan on board. Idan and I just returned home from a trip to the Golden State, and it was simply wonderful. I fell in love with the weather (60 degrees is my jam), the food, and the houses. We ate more food than I’ve ever eaten before, and walked more miles than I would have ever thought possible (although I was warned about both of these things). I recapped the whole trip for you below, so you can see what made this trip a great one!
We arrived around lunchtime, before our Airbnb was open. Luckily, there’s a place to check luggage at Pier 39, so we took advantage of that and walked around the area. I was warned that Fisherman’s Wharf is touristy, so I wanted to get that out of the way first and foremost. We enjoyed a delicious bowl of clam chowder at the Fog Harbor Fish House (thumbs up), and some ice cream at Ghiradelli Square. Ghiradelli honestly isn’t THAT AMAZING but worth a trip if you love chocolate. It’s just like the one on Michigan Ave, for you Chicagoans.
Checking into our Airbnb was completely painless. The owners left us a key to the place in a lockbox, and everything was set up when we got there! We stayed up on Telegraph Hill in North Beach, just steps away from Coit Tower. This is the exact unit we stayed in–highly recommend it!
If you haven’t heard, North Beach has the best Italian food. We went to this cute hole-in-the-wall called Baonecci Ristorante. Seriously, guys, this place was amazing. We completely cleaned our plates (and wine glasses…), and left wanting more (even though we were absolutely stuffed). We had a margherita pizza, bolognese, and a cold cuts platter (more appetizing than it sounds–promise). Day one of our trip was a delicious success!
Our second day in SF started with food, of course. We waited about 45 minutes to get into the famous Mama’s on Washington Square (about a 12 minute walk from our apartment). The wait was definitely worth it–the food was great! I ordered the Monte Cristo, which was deeeeeelicious. It wasn’t what I thought it would be, but I was pleasantly surprised.
The majority of our morning was taken up by touring Alcatraz! We used an official tour, which took us out there on a ferry. After climbing (more like walking, but very vertically, ha) to the top of the island, we were given an audio tour of the main prison.
It was so cool to see and hear about the prisoners, how their lives were inside, and the escape attempts that were made. Am I getting so old that I actually enjoy audio tours? Or was this one just really good? Who knows.
After taking the ferry back, we went straight to the Ferry Building. That place is the cutest thing. There were so many shops and restaurants to choose from! We started with ice cream at Humphry Slocombe (obviously) and ended lunch with grilled cheese and tomato soup at Cowgirl Creamery. Both were great choices, but there was so much food to try there that we’ll have to go again next time!
We stopped at Lombard Street, which was totally worth the Uber over there. It’s so cute and I just couldn’t get enough pictures. Exhibit A:
UGH CAN YOU EVEN?!
Dinner (because we didn’t have enough dairy that day…) was Tony’s Coal-Fired Pizza and Slice House in North Beach. The actual sit-down restaurant had a crazy wait, so we opted for the to-go restaurant next door. Same pizza, but faster. The place lives up to its reputation–we loved it!
Our third day took us to Napa and Sonoma. The drive out there was beautiful! I think if I lived in SF, I’d be visiting wine country every day…
The first winery we visited was Jacuzzi Family Vineyards. The sommelier who served us was sooo kind and friendly, and we loved chatting with him. He used to live in Chicago, so we talked about our love for the Windy City; I would have gotten homesick if I wasn’t in freaking SONOMA.
Also, pro tip: Jacuzzi gives you a complimentary wine tasting of up to 5 non-reserve wines. Hollaaaa!
The second vineyard we visited was less like a vineyard and more like a monarchy: Castello di Amorosa in Napa. I don’t have to tell you how stunning it was. See for yourself:
The general admission + tasting was $25/person, and was worth it. My personal favorite was their Pinot Grigio, but there’s no surprise there! You also get the option to walk around the castle. Pro tip: there’s a small door next to the admission stand where you can go upstairs and get a great view of the property! Credit goes to Idan for finding it.
The last winery we visited was Mumm in Napa. This was probably my favorite of the three, because there was a sit-down area to try wines (the others were bars you had to stand at), and they had an amazing photography gallery with photos from Ansel Adams.
After the long-ish drive back to SF, we went to North India Restaurant in the Financial District. They had authentic Indian food–something I hadn’t really tried before. I loved it, and we left feeling full and happy!
Our fourth day started with coffee and truffles from XOX Truffles, which is a cute hole-in-the-wall in North Beach. You get a free truffle with coffee… sign me up! We rented bikes for the day from Columbus Cyclery in North Beach, and I think this was my favorite activity of the trip. We rode allllll the way over to Land’s End, and allllll the way back up to cross the Golden Gate Bridge. The hills were relentless, but they paid off when we got to go downhill. The bridge ride was beautiful–crowded, but beautiful.
When we arrived in Sausalito, we had a bite to eat at Napa Valley Burger Company, which was pretty good if you’re looking for a yummy, simple burger option. We walked around the main drag a bit (it’s not huge), then took a ferry (~$11/person) back to San Francisco. We were exhausted, so we got Tony’s pizza to go… again. Sue me, I love pizza.
Our last full day was kind of a “check off whatever we haven’t done yet” day, so we kicked it off in Chinatown, where we indulged in some dim sum and chicken buns from Good Mong Kok Bakery.
This place was recommended to us quite a few times, and did not disappoint. We waited about 20 minutes or so in line, and only paid a little over $5 for both of us for lunch! Such a steal, although I would have paid double that (each) for the delicious food. It’s a to-go only place, so we found a little space on the street to stand and devour our goodies.
I quickly fell in love with the liveliness of Chinatown. It’s so culturally rich, and I loved being in the hustle and bustle of people going about their days. I could have spent a whole day in that neighborhood!
We also got to see the Fortune Cookie Factory, and I wrote personalized messages for people and had them placed in fortune cookies (only $1 each). It was SO cool to see!
From Chinatown, we continued on to the Cable Car Museum. Admission is free, and it’s truly fascinating to see the history of San Francisco’s cable cars and why they still exist. We also rode a car afterwards–such a cool experience!
Now who could take a trip to SF without visiting the painted ladies? They’re just as cute as they look on Instagram, I swear.
We continued our day at Golden Gate Park, where we took a very long walk before realizing that the park is over 3 miles long (should have checked before). We ended up taking an Uber over to the Japanese Tea Garden, where we took a breather and enjoyed the scenery.
The Tea Garden is such a peaceful place and I loved being there. We also got some green tea and edamame at their little cafe, which was also great!
From there, we headed over to The Mission District, where we went to La Taqueria, which boasts some really effing good burritos. Believe the hype. This was absolutely one of my favorite meals I had in SF–I’ll leave it at that.
After burrito heaven, we got some cones at Bi-Rite Creamery, which, of course, had a crazy long line. It was delish, though! I’d compare it to Jeni’s in the Midwest.
Overall, I really loved The Mission. We also stopped in this cute little grocery store called Bi-Rite Market (related to the ice cream), which had gourmet food. I’d compare it to a smaller version of AJ’s, for you Arizona people, and a miniature Plum Market, for you Midwest people.
Our last day (sniff sniff) in SF wasn’t actually in the city, for the most part. We stopped by Mr. Holme’s Bakehouse for some treats because it was on my list–we got there around 9am and waited about 35-40 minutes to get in the door. Everything was so delicious, but my favorite item was this toast with blackberries and powdered sugar on it… I wish I could remember what it’s called! While the food was great, the staff there wasn’t super friendly. So if you’re going there expecting all smiles (like I was), you might be a little disappointed.
Our last leg of the trip was spent in Berkeley, where Idan’s brother gave us a tour of the campus and took us up to a lookout area above the school. It was so cool to be able to see the entire campus and SF from that spot!
After Berkeley, we said our goodbyes (“I’m not crying! You’re crying!”) and went back to our respective cities. Long distance is tough (I wrote about it here), but trips like this make it so fun–I love meeting Idan in different cities and exploring them together!
Would I visit San Francisco again? Absolutely! There’s still so much that we didn’t do, and I can’t wait to travel there again. See you soon again, SF.