A lot of family and friends (esp. the ones that moved away for college) ask me what the heck there is to do in San Francisco. I often reply… well, what is there not to do!? Haha.. we live in an area with so many activities, restaurants, hikes, beaches, culture, diversity, etc. that are well worth exploring. Although, I believe the best way to familiarize yourself with the city.. is to just drive through it and allow yourself to get lost, stopping at any place that sparks your interest…Here’s a list of some of my favorite San Francisco spots. Enjoy! =)
“Leaving San Francisco is like saying goodbye to an old sweetheart… You want to linger as long as possible…” Walter Cronkite
1. Billy Goat Hill- Located at 300 Beacon St.San Francisco, CA 94131, Billy Goat Hill is a great place to check out the beautiful SF view ! The swing is a great photo-op spot, as well. It makes you look like your flying over the city! Deff. a San Francisco must =)
2. 16th Ave. Tiled Steps Project- Found in the inner sunset, this colorful project began as a neighborhood effort of cheerful San Franciscans that wanted to create a fun mosaic running up the 163 steps located at 16th and Moraga. The steps make for a great work out and there’s a killer view at the top worth checking out.
3. Hollow SF- I love this quaint, little coffee shop. Apart from serving drinks and food from the cutest little storefront ever, the staff is always super friendly. Hollow is tiny, as you can see, but I’ve always been lucky enough to get a table (there are only about three in there). I wouldn’t recommend coming in if you’re in a rush ( servers deff. take their time with their brew concoctions !) but it’s well worth the wait. They also offer a variety of cute little goodies and trinkets for sale.. the coffee drink below is the “titanic II… Get it! (so delicious)!
4. NightLife at The CA Academy of Science- The CA Academy of Science is located within Golden Gate Park and offers an adult, 21+ night every Thursday for all you science enthusiasts. Every week, there is a different theme (Such as “Outdoor Adventure”, “March Madness” and “Fashion Week”) in which you can go and explore the various exhibits while being entertained by several cocktail bars set up throughout the museum and even a DJ in the main lobby (turing the place into a huge dance floor). Tickets can be bought online, on their website.
5. Watch a Sunset on Ocean Beach- Last semester, I was really fortunate enough to have a big break in between two classes, so I utilized that time and went to Ocean Beach… quite a lot lol (I feel like this beach never gets enough credit) . Sometimes to do homework, other times to go for a run. During a clear and sunny day, the sunsets are absolutely stunning there. If the weather is warm enough, you’ll catch dozens of surfers taking advantage of the weather as well as families, joggers and dog walkers all taking in the natural beauty of their surrounding.
6. Get some Ice Cream from Bi-Rite and Chill at Dolores Park(Located at 3692 18th Street) – Two words… HONEY LAVENDER. Bi-rite is the only spot I know that offers such an exotic flavor. All the ice cream is made by hand and the creamery offers an array of unique flavors, such as the one mentioned above. My other favorites are earl grey, orange cardamom, ginger and cookies and cream. Seasonal flavors are also sold. After grabbing your ice cream, there’s no better place to enjoy it than across the street at Dolores Park (also has a great view of SF- If you haven’t noticed, I’m kinda into views lol)
7. Grab Brunch at Zazie – Zazie is a french bistro in the heart of Cole Valley. Not only is the setup of the restaurant unique (there’s an outdoor patio in the back that will have you feeling like your in a cozy garden versus a huge metropolitan city), but the food is amazing! Zazie is known for their brunches, but dinner is supposedly super delicious as well. When I went, I had the gingerbread pancakes with lemon curd and bosc pears (my new favorite type of pancake, haha) and I 100% recommend them. Try to visit Zazie for brunch during the week, as there tends to be a lengthy wait to get a table on weekends.
7. Howards Cafe- Another SF favorite for brunch! I must admit, I’ve only tried the corn beef hash when I’ve been here, but I honestly wouldn’t order anything else, it’s that good! Such a delicious plate with a hearty portion. The service is phenomenal as well. Overall, it’s a great little, homey dinner with decent prices located in the inner sunset (1309 9th Ave San Francisco, CA 94122).
8. Hike Land’s End- Lands end is such a fun hike! Its deff. one of San Francisco’s hidden gems. The trail, itself, is very scenic, overlooking the ocean and giving visitors a great view of the Golden Gate bridge. In addition, the man made labyrinth is a nice spot to snap a few photos and just hang out. You can find the hike at El Camino del Mar & 48th Ave San Francisco, CA 94101.
9. Picnic at Baker Beach- My absolute favorite beach in San Francisco. I’m surprised more people in the East Bay don’t know about it or go to it more often! The beach is gorgeous with a majestic and up-close view of the Golden Gate. It’s both secluded and clean and also, not very busy. The area has some great hiking trails, as well, offering more scenic views of the bridge. The beach is very much, uniquely Californian. (Beware as there are sometimes nudists lol ).
10. Have Totchos and Enjoy Trivia Tuesdays or 25 cent Wing Wednesdays at Dr. Teeth and the Electric Mayhem – First off, the name of this establishment pretty much sold me. Dr. teeth is an awesome spot in the mission that hosts trivia nights on Tuesdays (and people actually get really into it! You have to get involved if you’re there) and serves 25 cent wings on Wednesdays that are delicioussss! Also, the mac and cheese and tacos are superb, but my absolute favorite snack is the totchos (tater tot nachos …. pretty sure they’re representative of what heaven tastes like). Try them! 😉
11. Belly Good Crepes- So I tried this place randomly with a good friend of mine (we were studying all day and needed a little pick me up), and I really enjoyed the crepes! Not only are they amazing, but they’re probably the cutest thing to ever enter my mouth lol. I got mine with green tea and coffee ice cream but the staff is super friendly and will let you sample whichever flavor you’d like. The shop is located inside a mall so it’s a bit tough to find at first, but if you ask around at the other shops, they’ll point you in the right direction. Belly Good Crepes is located at 1737 Post Street (between Webster and Buchanan).
12. Take a Walking Tour Through the Mission and Check out all the Cool Murals- The mission district is probably one of my favorite areas in San Francisco. I love the vibrant culture, good food and overwhelmingly strong sense of community and pride that is so difficult to find nowadays. My absolute favorite aspect of the Mission, though, is the street art and murals. Clarion Alley, Balmy Alley, and The San Francisco Women’s Building hold many of the murals photographed below and more. The best way to go about a street art tour, though, is to get lost in the neighborhood and explore. The Mission itself is a masterpiece with different artistic pieces jumping out at you in practically every corner, fence and building =).
13. Grab Tapas and Sangria At Cha Cha Cha’s (Haight)- Omg. I honestly love cha cha cha’s with all my heart! ❤ haha this is for sure one of my favorite restaurants in SF! And in the Bay, in general. Not only is the food AMAZEBALLS.. the sangria is absolutely delicious! There are two locations (in the Haight and in the Mission) .. I actually prefer the one in the Haight, even though it is smaller. I think the food and overall ambience is a bit better. My favorite dishes are the fried platanos, the fried potatoes, the sauteed garlic mushrooms, chicken paillard, fried calamari and the paella. I don’t think I’ve ever ordered something I didn’t like (clearly, from the generous list of plates I just mentioned haha).
14. Grab dessert at American Cupcake- This restaurant is another fun and cute spot! It’s best to go at night, when they turn on the colorful overhead lights (as pictured below). I’ve never actually eaten dinner here (their menu offers an eclectic variety of food.. anywhere where a traditional mac and cheese plate to red velvet fried chicken!) But, I have had their cupcakes, and they’re pretty good! My personal favorites are the cookies and cream and chocolate mint. In addition, they offer other fun desserts such as pink popcorn, snow cones, fried oreos, ice cream sundaes, root beer floats, etc.
15. Hike The Marin Headlands- Not quite in San Francisco, but right across the Golden Gate Bridge, you’ll find the Marin Headlands.I absolutely love this hike! The first time I went, this outing proved to be the perfect peaceful cure to a stressful week. The lighthouse is a must to visit.. In addition, the secluded beach (pictured below) is a great place to cuddle up with a good book and hot cup of tea and just relax and enjoy the ocean breeze. It’s a great work out that allows you to gaze over the beautiful , bright blue ocean water and take in the beauty of the bay.
16. Have Dinner and See an Old Film at Foreign Cinema- This cutesy joint offers a daily changing California/ Mediterranean inspired menu while screening foreign and independent films in their covered, outdoor courtyard. Located in the mission district, Foreign Cinema is a fun and unique alternative to your more traditional “dinner and movie date night”. Visit http://www.foreigncinema.com for more info.
17. Take a Stroll Through the Embarcadero Farmers Market- The Ferry Plaza famers market takes place along the embarcadero and offers a plethora of delicious and fresh food! It is open three days a week, Tuesday (10 am- 2 pm), Thursday (10 Am to 2 Pm) and Saturday (8 Am to 2 Pm), and is renowned as one of the best farmers markets to visit in the country. Some of San Francisco’s best known chefs, and most famous farmers, can be seen at the market, particularly on Saturdays. Visit http://www.ferrybuildingmarketplace.com/farmers_market.php for more info!
18. Visit Bourban and Branch- This bar is modeled after a 1920’s styled, “speak-easy” during the prohibition era when alcohol was outlawed in the United States. You’ll experience the ambiance of that time in an actual speakeasy that operated illegally at this location from 1921 to 1933. You must call ahead and make a reservation and the host will give you a password that you give the bouncer when knocking on the door to enter the bar (closest thing to a speakeasy in 2014, that’s for sure!) They also have house rules that are mandatory for all guests to follow. Call up to a week in advance to make a reservation, they fill up real quick!
19.Limon Rotisserie Peruvian Restaurant- I’ve been to about 3 or 4 other Peruvian places in the Bay Area, but Limon is still my absolute favorite! There are two locations, one on Valencia and one on South Van Ness in the mission ( I prefer the latter location). The rotisserie chicken is a must (and also what they’re known for). My other favorite plates are the ceviche mixto (incorporating all types of seafood), the yuca, the chicharon de pollo and the empanadas. For dessert, the Panna Cotto De Mango is superb! Deff. Check this place out if you find yourself in the mission.
20.Hit up Blue Bottle Coffee- I love san francisco and its abundant supply of cool/hipster coffee shops. This place is up there with top 5 brew spots. As a college student always fighting to make it to class on time, the price and frequent lines can be pretty inconvenient. However, the baristas are always incredibly nice and helpful and the coffee was delicious. They have a location in Oakland as well, for all you East-Bayers! Only the freshest coffee is served (no older than 48 hours out of the roaster), and they also use unique alternatives to brewing their coffee. (see pics below)
21. Have a Tea Party at LoveJoy’s Tea Room – Located in Noe Valley, Lovejoy’s is a dainty and adorable english tea room offering an eclectic variety of teas, pastries and lunch options (such as sandwiches,quiche, salads etc.) This is a great place to go with your girlfriends to enjoy tea, have lunch and catch up and just hang out! In addition, their vintage tea sets and petit fours are absolutely adorable.