Location: San Francisco, California
As those of you who follow me on Instagram know, I spent the better portion of February on the West Coast. The trip started with a quick, two-day stint in San Francisco. My sister had been living there temporarily, and I was excited for her to show me what her new ‘local’ had become. We had a lot to squeeze in since we only had two days, but it was totally doable! While I’d love to go back, I really think that in those 48 hours, I got a great feel for the city. If you’ve only got a couple of days in San Francisco, here are the top five things I’d prioritize (that won’t leave you looking all touristy).
1. Take in the Golden Gate Bridge (from every angle)
I know I promised this list wouldn’t be touristy, but it’s the Golden Gate Bridge. My family loves walking the Brooklyn Bridge, so naturally my sister and I wanted to do the same with this one. We first parked at Baker Beach and took in the adorable off-leash pups playing in the sand with the bridge in the background. There is just something so energizing and relaxing about starting your day on the water, you know? Then we crossed to the other side, and hiked from Crissy Field to the foot of the bridge itself. Then of course, we walked the round-trip distance of the bridge and hiked back, stopping numerous times for photo opps. This activity in total takes about half a day.
If you don’t believe this experience will show you all angles of the San Francisco side of the bridge, look at this.
2. Experience the local food scene
One of my favorite things to do is try out different local coffee shops. I had looked up a bunch of San Francisco ones in advance, and gave Daniela gift cards to them as part of her Christmas present. She found a favorite in her neighborhood, Rèveille, and for the two days I was with her, it became a spot.Take a look at that breakfast!
Another favorite of hers that I equally enjoyed was Blue Barn. The menu consists of big salads and sandwiches, everything made so fresh and delicious. In fact, every meal we had in San Francisco was really good. You could tell the ingredients were locally sourced and carefully blended together. I highly recommend walking as much as possible that way you could eat and drink often!
3. Watch the sunset from Ocean Beach
You know what they say: sun rises in the east and sets in the west. You won’t even believe the colors the sky turns when the sun is setting over the Pacific Ocean. It is a truly breathtaking experience. We went to Ocean Beach just in time for the sun to start setting, and as an added bonus, we also got to watch people surf through the sunset. This doesn’t take too much of your time, but if you can make yourself free for it, I highly, highly suggest the experience.
4. Walk up an infamous hill (17th St)
It’s no secret San Francisco is famous – or infamous, depending on your mindset – for it’s hilly landscape. While I definitely think the city is one where a car is necessary, I can’t shake my New York ways and first attempt to walk everywhere I can. That being said, my sister warned me on our first trek for morning coffee. We walked down 17th Street – which, oh my gosh, down is equally as hard as up! – and then rewarded ourselves with breakfast and coffee at Rèveille. This reward doubled as fuel to get us back up the hill. Not saying I couldn’t do it, or I’d never do it again, but if I don’t have to…
But seriously, experience it. The hills seem picturesque and dreamy, but once you’re on them it’s a totally different experience. Also, driving them is kind of terrifying! Either way, spend some times on the hills of San Fran.
5. Spend time on/around Chestnut Street
Lots of the food we enjoyed – including Blue Barn – was actually on Chestnut Street. The blocks-long street is lined with cute, affordable shops, wine bars and small restaurants of different cuisines. But aside from that, Chestnut intersects with Fillmore Street – another massive hill if you have it in you – which is home to some really great shopping. If you make it up there, the cross streets are fun to walk around to see the beautiful homes.
Lastly in this same area, at the bottom of Fillmore, if you cross over Chestnut and continue straight, you’ll hit ocean. This ocean walk takes you right to the Marina, which if it’s nice out, can be a beautiful place for you to give your legs a rest and read.
And if you have extra time, check out Union Square, Twin Peaks and even Alcatraz!