It’s a bit delayed, but we’ve been so busy sharing other things on the blog that we’ve neglected to post our San Francisco Recap as promised! So here is Falynn’s Recap and Amber’s Overview of our April 2015 trip to San Francisco.
Falynn’s San Francisco Recap
As mentioned in our previous post, Amber and I had already been to San Francisco; however, our husbands had never, so our trip was to be full of cliché touristy activities in order to give the boys a crash course on San Francisco. And that’s pretty much exactly what we did! Alcatraz, hilarious sea lions, Golden Gate Bridge, Fisherman’s Wharf, Union Square, Pier 39, the Painted Ladies, Lombard switch-back street, Cable Car, and so much food! Every stop was great!
Before heading to Napa, we had an evening to waste on the day we arrived in San Francisco; this was easily occupied by the excitement of finally seeing each other in almost a year and catching up. Amber and Mark arrived before Josh and I so they ventured out to do a San Francisco bus tour (by the sounds of it, it was an easy way to see the city) before we got there and then we all met up for some food (and drinks) before heading to the SF Giants baseball game that evening.
We had perfect weather for a baseball game, however, this particular game against Arizona Diamondbacks lasted 12 innings and by the end of it we were all dying to get to bed. Josh and I stayed at Union Square Plaza Hotel two blocks from Union Square; location was great but the room was so-so, it was good for the one night we stayed. Amber and Mark stayed at the swanky Villa de Florence hotel, which was also located within walking distance to Union Square.
The next morning we headed to Napa (click here to check out our Napa Recap) for 3 nights before returning back to San Francisco.
After 3 days in Napa, and one wild night for the boys, we headed back to San Francisco with two sleepy boys in the back seat of the rental. Before heading to the pier to catch our boat ride to Alcatraz, we checked into our lovely hotels. Josh and I stayed at Cow Hallow Motor Inn just off the adorable shopping area of Chestnut Street. I would highly recommend this hotel; big rooms, inexpensive, parking, and accessible area! Amber and Mark stayed at Hotel des Arts close to Chinatown (Amber’s review).
We ventured to Alcatraz for the afternoon’s self-guided tour, which I would highly recommend doing; you are able to go at your own pace throughout the site. After a couple hours there, we headed back to Pier 39 with the sole mission to eat crab, and that we did! We ate at Fog Harbor Fish House, which wasn’t the top place on our list to go, but by that time we were too hungry to look elsewhere. We got elbows deep in crab with our bibs on and wine in hand; great experience, crab is a must when visiting San Francisco!
Our last day together on our San Francisco adventure also happened to be Amber’s birthday! Obviously, a brunch celebration was in order; we ate at Mission Beach Café, and it was SO GOOD! Not only did we have a fantastic meal, but they gave us to-go cups for our giant birthday mimosas. After filling ourselves to the max, we started our tourist excursion up and down the hills of San Francisco checking out the Painted Ladies, coffee shops, and doing some shopping at Union Square.
After a day of walking, which was calculated to be around 12 km (7.5 miles), we ended up at Chestnut Street with sore feet and thirsty husbands. We had reservations at The Tipsy Pig to celebrate both Amber’s birthday and another great trip. Also, ending up at a pub was perfect closure to change up our beverage of choice from wine to beer.
For those of you who haven’t had the chance to go to San Francisco, I would highly recommend it! This remains one of my favorite cities in the U.S. and I cannot wait for my next trip back!
Amber’s San Francisco Overview
Where to stay?
- Villa de Florence. This hotel was at the top end of our budget, but for our first night in San Fran we thought we’d give it a go. Plus, we have an Expedia rewards account so the price was next to nothing with our points! The location was excellent. We were located in the heart of union Square and there was a trolley stop outside the door. Our room was gorgeous, clean and spacious (for San Fran). We ate breakfast in the hotel restaurant and we both left with happily full bellies.
- Hotel des Arts. For our return trip to San Francisco, we opted for a trendy, boutique hotel right by the Chinatown gate. This hotel was cute, clean, if not a bit small. I would one hundred percent recommend it for both the location and free breakfast.
What to do?
- Everyone should do a city tour on their first visit to San Francisco. Venture down to Fisherman’s Wharf and catch a double decker bus that will show you most every sight the city has to offer. I highly recommend a hop-on-hop-off tour as it will allow you to stop at all the places that interest you most. We toured with Big B Bus Tours and had a wonderful time. FYI going over the Golden Gate on the roof of a bus is a rush, but I strongly suggest a hair tie!
- Visit Alcatraz. Make sure you book a tour in advance as some are sold out months in advance.
- Walk (or drive) Lombard Street. Even the guys admitted, those 8 switchbacks are pretty neat to experience.
- Go see a baseball game. Even if you aren’t a fan of the sport, the stadium is amazing and located right on the water which makes for amazing views at night. Given the proximity to the water, dress warm. I recommend taking along a jacket and even a small blanket.
- There are SO many things to do in this city that I could be here all day. I suggest researching a bit before you go with regards to tours, and then getting caught up in the city while you are there. We will definitely be going back as we did not get to walk around Golden Gate Park (saw it by city bus tour) and Mark really wants to catch some live music.
Where to eat & drink?
- Where to eat: Mission Beach Café, Ramen Underground, The Tipsy Pig (anywhere on Chestnut Street really), Fog Harbor Fish House, La Boulange Cafe & Bakery (they put actual shaved hazelnuts into my hazelnut latte!)
- Where to drink: Having had more than our fill in Napa, we mostly just partook of ballpark brews, local coffee establishments, and brunch mimosas while in San Francisco. That being said, our final evening at The Tipsy Pig turned out to be very enjoyable and the entire Chestnut Street area seemed like a place the four of could get our drink on.
How to do it?
- To get to and from touristy areas (Fisherman’s Wharf, Union Square, etc.), I would highly recommend riding the cable cars at least once. If you are taking in a baseball game, the BART train all the way as there is a stop directly in front of AT&T Stadium. For all other adventures, or if you’re in a rush, Uber it. When we were in San Fran, they were introducing UberPool which allow you to split the ride with 2-3 other people for a $7 flat rate. Remember to always leave yourself a lot of time to get where you are going as the traffic is a wee bit insane. Also insider waiting to pick-up a rental car (if Napa bound) until the morning of your trip as parking rates can be as high as $80/night!
- Have Apple or Google maps at your disposal, reliable footwear and enjoy the city!
What would we have changed?
- I would have loved if we had one more day to explore the city and see Golden Gate Park. However, we plan on many return trips to Napa so this inevitably means more trips to San Francisco!
- Although we loved the Hotel des Arts, I would have preferred if we had stayed at the Cow Hollow Inn (or anywhere in the Chestnut Street area) for our return trip to San Fran. Falynn and I have decided that our ultimate recommendation is to stay in the Union Square area for 1-2 nights and then switch to the Chestnut Street area for the remainder of your trip. The city is so large and transportation can get pricey (or your feet will fall off). This will allow you to see all that the city has to offer, keep you close to your hotel, and save you a bit of money.
What to pack?
- Comfortable footwear! I would even go so far as to suggest an athletic running shoe if you plan to tour the city on foot. There are plenty of hills and the extra support would be a dream.
- Layers! The ocean breeze and humidity make for chilly nights. Bring along a denim jacket or wind breaker if you plan to be out all day.
- Sunscreen… Mark underestimated the sun’s power and got quite a bit more color than he bargained for on the rooftop bus tour.
If you have any inquires or want more information about our stay in San Francisco, send us a message!