I spent probably less than a total of 24 hours in San Francisco, but I can hands-down tell you it's one of my favorite cities that I have ever visited. I loved it so much, I would move there in a heartbeat if my family/friends/entire life wasn't based solely on the East Coast. You can watch a very 'homemade' video of my trip, here!
The first day I was there, I was all by myself. I really didn't do any research as to where I should go, so I just found myself wandering the entire city! My parents are huge fans of San Francisco and have been many times before, so it was nice to be able to text them and get recommendations. I rented a car and I think that made all the difference. I definitely recommend renting a car when visiting a new city that is driver-friendly. I did it in LA, too, and I feel like I am able to see so much and cover so much more ground rather than just taking Ubers/etc.
Just a warning, this post is super photo and text heavy (aka it took me forever to create), so be sure to keep scrolling! I'm also including a scroll-through widget of everything I packed, so if you've seen anything you are wondering about in past instagrams, it is all in the widget above!
My first stop was to Alamo Square Park, known for the views of the famous 'Painted Ladies' Victorian houses. I am a huge Full House fan, so you know that this is the view in the intro to the show! The houses are situated right across the street from the park on Steiner Street. The area is adorable and the houses are quintessential SF. I definitely recommend checking this out. I was there on a Thursday morning around 10am and it was peaceful and quiet. Although I do have to say, I would not want to live in a Painted Lady home. They're gorgeous, but there were tons of tourists snapping photos right outside of the homes (me being one of them, haha!)!
Next up, I headed to the 'Pacific Heights' and 'Cow Hollow' areas of SF. I parked in a random spot, in the Pacific Heights neighborhood and then wandered around. The weather was absolute perfection-- sunny and 75! As I was wandering, I took in all of the gorgeous architecture and landscaping. I made my way into Wrecking Ball Coffee on Union Street. It was such a cute little coffee shop with even cuter wallpaper. In fact, the few blocks in that area were picturesque and seemed to be bustling with young people! There was the cutest cafe on the corner called Roses-- next time I am there, I will definitely pop in for lunch. It sounded fantastic and had a French cafe vibe.
My favorite areas overall were Nob Hill, Pacific Heights, Cow Hollow, Presidio Heights, and Marina District (in that order). Each neighborhood is pretty small, so if you are planning a trip, you could easily cover all of these neighborhoods within a day! The neatest thing, I thought, was that you could really tell when you would switch neighborhoods. Everything had the same overall aesthetic, but there were little touches and quirks that made each area very unique (a lot like switching neighborhoods in Manhattan!).
Next, I headed towards the Marina District. I actually ended up in Fisherman's Wharf/Ghiardelli Square. It was a cute, but super touristy area (the tourist level was like Times Square in Manhattan). I wanted to grab In N Out before I headed to Napa and this was on the way! This is when the 'parking garage incident' happened (read here). After grabbing food, I headed towards the Golden Gate Bridge. My GPS had wanted me to go over the Bay Bridget to get to Vacaville, where we were staying, but the tourist in me totally wanted to drive across the Golden Gate Bridge! It was a gorgeous and really cool experience. I would want to bike across next time!
After I had finished our trip in Napa, I headed back to SF with Courtney! She lived in San Francisco for about a year so I was really thankful to have her as a tour guide. She took me EVERYWHERE! Seriously, my feet were useless by the time the day ended (those hills are no joke)! We first checked in to her hotel (the Fairmont in Nob Hill). It was stunning and definitely has an old-school classic hotel vibe. I was catching a red-eye that night, so I didn't need to stay over, but I think I'd definitely go back to the Fairmont (or Scarlet Huntington) to stay--both were incredibly beautiful. Also, Nob Hill was my favorite area out of everywhere. This is also where Courtney had lived-- she even showed me her old apartment! I loved this area because it had a very urban/city vibe but also residential, too!
Right across the street from the Fairmont was Huntington Park (you can see the Scarlet Huntington in the photo directly above) which was as cute as can be. At either end of the park, you could see a beautiful, huge cathedral and then at the other end was a large old-school building, which I later found out is a club called the Pacific-Union Club and the Cathedral is called Grace Cathedral.
From Nob Hill, we walked down Mason Street a few (hilly) blocks and stopped at Gallery Cafe for a coffee. This cafe was so charming and felt like 'home'. Then we headed down through Chinatown (amazing!!), into the Financial Distrcit (where the iconic TransAmerica building is!) and all the way to the Embarcadero right on the water. We walked throughout the Ferry Building, which reminded me a lot of Chelsea Market (in Manhattan). A gorgeous, historic building was jam packed with vendors and restaurants of all kinds! We stopped at Miette for a cupcake. Courtney had told me they're a West Coast bakery known for their baked goods, so I got a carrot cake cupcake and it was fabulous. Afterward, we walked down Market Street and ended up at Westfield. This was like a huge shopping center mall type area but in the basement, there was an amazing food hall. I had really wanted to go to Sushiritto, but it was closed, so I ended up getting a Poke bowl from the emporium and it was fabulous.
After Westfield, we walked to Union Square. I wish I had time to pop into the giant Neiman Marcus (and have lunch).. so next time that will be a must! Courtney showed me her favorite little street, Maiden Lane, and I can totally see why. If you do an image search, it is the cutest narrow street blocked off from cars. As we were walking down the street, a man was singing opera music and it felt like we were transported to Europe!
Lastly, I headed towards the airport, but not before being a #totaltourist and driving down Lombard Street! There were a lot of things I didn't have the time to do while there: go hiking through Muir woods, ride a bike along the Golden Gate bridge, lunch at Neiman Marcus rotunda, see the skyline from Twin Peaks, eat at any of the delicious restaurants, explore Golden Gate Park, visit Sausalito, etc. You now what that means? I'll just have to make a trip back, ASAP... because really, Tony Bennet was so right. I left my heart in San Francisco! See my other posts from this trip: