Wednesday, 26 June 2019

What To Eat, Drink & Do in San Francisco

What To Eat, Drink & Do in San Francisco ItsHollieAnn.com
What To Eat, Drink & Do in San Francisco ItsHollieAnn.com
Before every trip, I find myself researching and planning all of the restaurants, bars and attractions that I want to check out. San Francisco was a little different. We had just 48 hours to explore the city so I didn't want to make list upon list only to feel disappointed if we didn't manage to achieve everything - Instead, we decided to go with the flow. I've compiled this guide not only from our highlights but also recommendations from friends who've frequented the city. San Fran is a huge and so we didn't expect to be able to fully explore in just two days but we made the most of the time we had. 


FOR THE FOODIES

Pescatore, Fishermans Wharf For brunch. Pescatore happened to be right next to our hotel and after catching a glimpse of the decor as we strolled by on Sunday evening, I couldn't not book a table for brunch the next day. I opted for the Crab Cake Benedict with a side of Sourdough. 

Pier Market, Pier 39 For seafood. We stumbled upon Pier Market completely by chance and though we hadn't read reviews, the line for a table said it all. Straight away I booked for lunch the following day. We sampled a seafood platter and it didn't disappoint. Its easy to see why their clam chowder is award-winning - It was so delicious, I could have happily gone back for more. 

Food Trucks, Fishermans Wharf For favourites. A stroll along the waterfront will take you past a whole host of food trucks. Whether you're looking for corn dogs, churros, burritos or cotton candy, they're worth a stop for a snack if you're too busy to stop and sit down. 

Mr Holmes Bakehouse, Larkin Street For baked goods. You've only got to look online to see why you need to visit Mr Holmes'. Their sweet treats are an absolute dream and stopping by is an absolute must if you're in the area. 

Mamas, Washington Square For breakfast. We didn't get to eat at Mamas after I mistakenly thought it was open on Mondays but some friends of ours who visited the city not long ago said it's an absolute MUST. The lines can get pretty long so it's best to go early but word on the street is, it's absolutely worth the wait. 

Franciscan, Fishermans Wharf For seafood. We had a toss up whether to eat here or Pier Market. Though the menu looked to die for, Pier Market won us over but Franciscan came in a close second and was also recommended by our friends and our hotel. 


WHAT TO DRINK

Coffee Everyone drinks coffee in San Francisco and it's easy to see why. There are so many independent coffee shops dotted around that it's hard to resist checking them out. 

Wine I couldn't wait to sample the wine in California while we were in town and we did just that at the Wines of California wine bar on Pier 39 - Do a tasting and find your favourite. I found that other bars and restaurants also had a very extensive wine list - It can be a little overwhelming so if you're stuck, ask what they'd recommend. 

Beer I never realised how many craft and micro-breweries were around San Fran but Wipeour Bar and Grill had lots on offer and were happy to recommend ones they loved. Beer 39 also offers tastings and, as suggested by it's name, is located on Pier 39.


THINGS WORTH DOING

Golden Gate Bridge I massively underestimated the sheer size of the Golden Gate Bridge, so much so that when we got out of our car, my jaw dropped. It's absolutely stunning to see and the areas surrounding are absolutely worth the visit. I spent a lot of time researching the best places to see and photograph the bridge. Marshall's Beach was my number one but the tide was in rendering it completely inaccessible. In the end we opted to stay around the Golden Gate Overlook area and follow the trails up around the woods and down, under the bride, towards the information center. Crissy Field is a great spot to see the bridge from below and it's well worth taking a walk around the Presidio if you're over there to learn a little about the history of the area. Not to forget, you can also bike or walk the bridge too. For most of our trip, the bridge was completely under fog so it's worth taking a look at the weather before heading across from the city since it's about a 15 minute car journey. We were fortunate that our last afternoon brought clear skies so we took that opportunity to head over. Regardless, I think it's absolutely worth the visit. 

Lombard Street Though Lombard Street is absolutely iconic, I didn't expect the crowds of people at the intersections above and below or the line of cars waiting to drive down it. It was crazy but really cool to see. We took an Uber to the street below and walked up towards it but in hindsight, we should have got dropped above and walked down - Those hills are no joke. It's understandably a very busy spot but great to pop by. The Hyde Powell cable car runs on the street above and so you can snap a photo of it disappearing over the hill with Alcatraz in the background. 

Alcatraz An absolute must. Not only is it so interesting and informative but it's also a great day out and a change from strolling around the city. There's so much to see and learn and the self guided audio tour is perfect if, like me, you like to wander at your own pace. Once on Alcatraz, you can spend as much time as you'd like there and get any ferry back you wish - Because of this, we opted for an early tour with the hopes of it being a little less crowded. This was absolutely the case and so I'd well recommend it. Tickets need to be booked in advance as the chances of getting one on the day are very slim - We visited on Sunday and the next available tour was Wednesday, we booked our tickets about 6 weeks in advance. 

Pier 39 I love being by the water and so Pier 39 was the perfect place for us to spend lots of our time. It's filled with restaurants, shops and entertainment for children and is such a nice place to explore. If you head right to the end, you can catch a glimpse of Alcatraz and the Golden Gate Bride. If you head to the left, either up or through a passage, you can see the iconic sea lions lounging on the piers - You'll smell them before you see them. 

Cable Cars After seeing the Hyde Powell cable car whilst visiting Lombard Street, we decided to brave it and ride one. What we didn't realise is that everyone else visiting San Fran did too. I'd heard that the queues can be very long and very slow so if you want to ride, leave enough time and try to get a spot on the outside so you can see your surroundings as you go. 

Union Square Depending what you like to do, Union Square might be on your list. From what I'd read, it was more of a place to shop rather than a place to see and so we gave it a miss. If you opt to ride the cable cars however, there is one that goes to Union Square so you could always do the two in one. You might have already opted for a hotel closeby - We opted to stay in Fishermans Wharf as we knew it was better for us. 

Painted Ladies The Painted Ladies were high on my wishlist before our visit though after checking a map when we were near the Golden Gate Bride, they were actually pretty far away. I took a look at what was nearby and it seemed to be a spot people liked to take photos or relax on the park opposite. Because time wasn't really on our side, we decided to give them a miss. If you've got time to relax and stroll around I would absolutely say to go but if not, I don't think you'll be too sad to miss them off. 

Chinatown I regret wholeheartedly not leaving enough time to explore Chinatown but it felt like our days were so jam packed, we couldn't have fitted it in. There are so many places to eat including a fortune cookie factory and it's the oldest Chinatown in North America. It's 100% at the top of my list if we ever go back so make sure to but it on yours. 


THINGS YOU SHOULD KNOW

Weather Weather in San Francisco changes quickly no matter when you visit. The locals all joke about the need to dress in layers and it's absolutely true. It goes from dull and drizzly to beautiful sunshine in minutes which means it ranges from chilly to warm quite a lot. Dress in layers and take an umbrella. 

Fog A fog so popular it has it's own name and Twitter account. I read that fog was only a major issue from June to September but a lot of our friends told us to prepare for it anytime. We did find it was heavier in the mornings and evenings and though it tried to break during the day we only had one afternoon completely clear. 

Getting from the airport It takes time. Of course, depending whether you fly into San Francisco, San Jose or Oakland will determine exactly how long it takes but at certain types of day, any of these can be over half an our away. We flew into San Francisco and left the airport around 5.30pm. We reached Fishermans Wharf around 6.15pm and an Uber was around $40 which I expected. It may be quicker and cheaper to use BART but remember to look at where the stations are in proximity to where you're going. Shuttle buses are also an option but I found these to be more expensive, oddly.

Where to stay There are so many different and diverse neighborhoods within San Francisco so take the time to research and find the one that works for you. The city, though big, is very easy to get around so I wouldn't worry about staying close to the attractions you want to visit, more about the culture you'd like to experience. 

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There you have it, a short but sweet list of food, drink, tips and fun in San Francisco. If you have anything to add, be sure to leave it in the comments for everyone else to see!

What To Eat, Drink & Do in San Francisco ItsHollieAnn
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