It’s been about 3 months since I moved to San Francisco. I spent the first month largely between the office and my (lonely) corporate apartment, but I’ve since explored a little and discovered a few awesome spots around the city.
Dan came out to spend three weeks with me between Thanksgiving and Christmas, his sister visited for a weekend and we rented a car. The car made a huge difference in our ability to explore.
Here’s a quick round up of my favorite San Francisco recs after the first three months of living here.
See and Do around SF
Land’s End – You can find free public parking at Lands’s End lookout. After you park make sure to check out the Sutro baths and then hike to Mile Rock Beach and the Land’s End labyrinth.
Cable car – You can ride one of the iconic San Francisco cable cars for $7 one way (have cash to pay when you hop on). The touristy route starts at Powell and Market, but there’s also a less crowded line that runs on California street from Van Ness to Market and vice versa.
Chinatown and North Beach (Little Italy) – These are fun neighborhoods to walk around. There’s plenty to see and lots of food to try. Walk from Chinatown to the Vallejo garden stairways (look for Vallejo and Taylor) for stunning views overlooking downtown, then continue on to Lombard street. This is a really steep walk!
Bike the Golden Gate Bridge – You can rent bikes right by Fisherman’s Wharf, but for a shorter ride to the bridge start at Sports Basement in the Presidio. It’s all (steep) downhill after you cross the bridge. Follow signs to Sausalito and eat lunch at Bar Bocce. Afterwards, hop on the ferry back to SF. You can return the bikes at the ferry building.
Painted Ladies at Alamo Square – Currently the park is under construction, but the view is still iconic.
Picnic at Dolores Park – If the weather is good grab some snack from around the Mission (try Tartine or Bi-Rite) and sit out on the hill for a picnic.
1: Views from Land’s End labyrinth, 2: Chinatown at Christmas, 3: Corner of Columbus and Broadway heading from Chinatown to North Beach, 4: The painted ladies, 5: Overlooking the Sutro baths to the Pacific ocean, 6: View from the Vallejo garden stairways.
Mini Roadtrips from SF
Lagunitas Brewery – This brewery is dog friendly and serves delicious nachos. You can grab a seat inside, but the outdoor patio is much more fun. Check their calendar because they often host live music. While you’re in the area stop by downtown Petaluma. It’s pretty adorable.
Hog Island Oyster Co. – From Lagunitas we drove out to Marshall (on the Tomales Bay) for oysters. The drive winds through hills, farmlands and cow fields so you’ll be tempted to stop all along the way.
Marin Headlands – Just across the bridge, drive into the Marin Headlands for up close pics of the Golden Gate Bridge. Hike down to Kirby Cove, stop at Hawks Hill for more views and visit Point Bonita lighthouse. Here’s where you can find a secret path, away from the other tourists.
Muir Woods – If you have time, drive further north to explore the Muir Woods. This one’s still on my list.
7: Hog Island views, 8: Overlooking the Golden Gate bridge from Battery Spencer.
Eating around SF
Apart from many a takeout lunch, I haven’t had much time to eat my way around the city yet. Here are my favorite spots (and a few other recs that I’ve received) so far.
Dinosaurs – For delicious Vietnamese sandwiches and Thai iced tea (vegetarian options)
Souvla – For Mediterranean food and spitfire meats
Trestle – For a Michelin-approved meal (you’ll need a reservation); do yourself a favor and order the pasta course
Rose’s Cafe – For Italian food and a good brunch
Nopalito – For tapas and paletas
Mission Burritos – For nationally acclaimed burritos; and while we’re at it, eat anywhere really in the Mission
CREAM or The Baked Bear – For insane custom ice cream sandwiches
9: Double ice cream sandwich from The Baked Bear.
Here’s a list of my coworkers favorite spots to eat lunch downtown.
Oh and coffee culture is big in San Francisco.
If you’re heading to San Francisco and want some more personal recs, leave a comment or drop me a line. If you’re a local yocal… tell me where else I should be exploring!