Guide to San Francisco - Yes we did leave our hearts in SF
San Francisco has that air of a small town, even though it’s actually quite big. It’s so relaxed and laid back, and the different neighborhoods are so charming. And good food is guaranteed here!
Fisherman’s Wharf is a must for everyone visiting San Francisco. A very touristy thing to do but that we enjoyed tremendously was renting bikes at the Wharf, bike over the bridge, go to Sausalito and take the ferry back. We loved it!
The ride to the bridge is gorgeous, we rode along the beach and Crissy Field (check out the cute cafe there called Warming Hut) and biking over the bridge is of course unforgettable (and easy, there are separate bike lanes so you avoid the cars). The downhill ride to Sausalito is beautiful and Sausalito itself super quaint. We had a huge breakfast with Huevos Rancheros at Bridgeway Café.
We did this already the first day of our trip and it was great, we couldn't sleep so we got up really early, went to Fisherman's Wharf (so much better when it's early and there’s no people anywhere), found a bike place and thought we'd go for it, did our bike route and were back at lunch time!
Ferry Building: You have to go there! It's a market with great food-related shops and there are some restaurants too, and it's so lovely! You MUST have ice cream at Humphry Slocombe, they have unforgettable ice creams, they've been voted among the 20 top ice cream places in the world. When we were there they had flavors like Cantaloupe Cayenne Sorbet, Harvey Milk & Honey Graham, Salt & Pepper Ice cream, McEvoy Olive Oil, Candied Ginger, Bourbon & Cornflakes...
We had lunch at Hog Island Oyster Co which we really enjoyed, with beautiful views over the sea.
North Beach/Telegraph Hill is lovely, particularly on Green Street with Grant Street. Around there you'll find there are some really cute shops that you can spend hours in...!. Paper and gift shops, an amazing shop with old maps, cute jewelry… One of these gorgeous shops is called Lola of North Beach and has all sorts of notebooks and wonderful hand creams in little beautiful flowery packages, post cards… Just really pretty things.
Chinatown: Obviously a visit in Chinatown is a must. We didn't eat there, but apparently there are some fantastic food to be found there.
Hayes Valley: This neighborhood is adorable! There are some really cool shops there, bars where you can have some local wines... And it's close to the Painted Ladies (the buildings from Full House!).
Haight-Ashbury is also within walking distance (although it's a little bit of a hike). Haight-Ashbury is interesting from a historical perspective, but we didn’t spend too much time there.
A must visit is The Perish Trust shop in NoPa. It's so charming and you just want to have EVERYTHING. It feels like a log cabin in there, and smells delicious.
Mission: Paxton Gate is also a must visit, the place is magical! It’s packed with beautiful things for the home (there are two of them, one is a kids shop, I’m not referring to that one though).
Dandelion Chocolate can’t be missed, oh my goodness... You can see the employees making the chocolate, and you just have to try their cookies or brownies or frozen hot chocolate. Mission is overall an area to spend hours and hours in, especially Valencia Street.
Dogpatch is a pretty small neighborhood, but if you have time go there! It's so hip and trendy. Especially for brunch it's interesting, in particular the Just For You Café. It has that diner feel to it, and the food is delicious. In Dogpatch you can find a famous ice cream place too, I found it in the top 20 ice creams in the world list..! Mr and Mrs Miscellaneous it's called.
Cheesecake Factory. It’s a very touristy thing to do, but who can resist a place with 30 different types of cheesecake..? Not me. Close by we had a massive big breakfast at Homeskillet on Market Street, it was very nice.
For you travelling foodies out there: Michelin makes a list called Bib Gourmande for certain cities every year with cheap eats, i.e. places with no Michelin stars but where you can have a really nice lunch or dinner for very little money and really good quality. Here is the 2016 Michelin Bib Gourmande list for San Francisco. I usually check out the places and their websites beforehand and pick out a few that I think are interesting and look good pricewise.
Other places worth checking out:
Tartine bakery – amazing looking cakes
Bi-Rite Creamery – excellent ice-cream shop
Heath Ceramics – beautiful ceramics for the home
Sightglass coffee – They have a gorgeous café in the SoMa
City Lights Bookstore – epic independent bookstore
Belljar – Adorable shop with clothes and beautiful things for the home by independent designers. They also sell online.
Some additional links:
The Timeout guide to the 49 best things to do in San Francisco
Ten things NOT to do in San Francisco
San Francisco shopping guide
Spotted SF – an insider’s guide to the city
Design Sponge has amazing city guides with so many great tips, here is the SF design guide.