My favorite city in the world — besides Houston, of course — is San Francisco. I love its character, its weather and how many fun things you can do there — from riding a historic cable car to eating your weight in chocolate. Here’s my guide to how to spend a day in San Fran.
While I spent the most perfect day in SF two+ years ago, I had a new mission this time around: Eat everything and take tons of pix. It was, again, a quick trip with some rain involved, but I’ll take it over nothing! Here’s where you gotta get the shot here in San Fran!
On a Cable Car
Literally no San Franciscan uses these old cable cars (there are a few other different modes of transportation the residents use, and use it they do!!). In fact, there are only three, tiny routes the cable cars take, and for $7 you can grab a ride. Head down to Fisherman’s Wharf and take the car up Hyde.
Or, for an even better photo opp, find an out-of-order one on a rainy day and befriend the drivers hanging out in it to have a full-on photoshoot. No? Just me and fellow blogger Madison Payne??
Golden Gate Bridge
Lucky for us, on our last morning in San Fran, we got gorgeous, uncommonly clear weather and we could see the entire bridge, fog free. We headed north on 101 to cross the bridge. The plan was to go to the popular Kirby Cove, but it’s a bit of a hike and we were running late. Instead, we stopped at the first two vista points on the first two exits. The first one was a bit too close to the bridge for a good shot, but was great of the city. The second one was PERFECT. It was just the next exit, and then we looped around to the other side and parked at the second little side stop (had to turn around, was a bit scary). But so so worth it.
My first visit, we stopped on the San Fran side of the bridge at the Golden Gate Welcome Center and walked across. That’s a pretty cool experience too, if you have time.
Shortly after my first visit to Lombard Street, I learned that the historic tourism attraction is not the crookedest street in America. It’s not even the crookedest in San Francisco — Vermont Street between 20th and 22nd is steeper and, in fact, crookeder.
However, Lombard Street is way prettier and worth a trip for the experience. You can find street parking all around, or walk! But you gotta do both the top and the bottom views. From the top, on a clear day, you can see far through San Fran, including Coit Tower. Then, from the bottom, you can see the iconic curves of the street and the beautiful, and equally iconic, hydrangeas.
You might be asking, “why tf did these city developers make these crooked streets? The elevation. Both streets are so steep that a car going straight down is pretty dangerous. So, adding the curves slows cars down for their own safety.
Ghirardelli Square is so touristy I just gotta roll my eyes at it. However, it’s touristy for GREAT reasons.
Reason 1: Chocolate.
Reason 2: It’s a cute building with cute shops!
Reason 3-10: Chocolate, chocolate everywhere.
We had the seasonal hot chocolate, which was just as decadent as you’d imagine and a great hand warmer on a cold and rainy day. But, since we were definitely doing it for the Insta, we got three of the world-famous sundaes! We had a raspberry sorbet one with fudge (honestly, this was my favorite) and the World Famous Hot Fudge Sundae, as well as the seasonal peppermint one. What I’ve learned about myself: I’m a big fan of hot fudge, ice cream or not! Well, maybe not all hot fudge. Maybe just the Ghirardelli hot fudge — BRB drooling about it right now.
The Painted Ladies
Whatever happened to predictability? It’s alive and well at the Painted Ladies in Alamo Square Park. As a ’90s baby who grew up with the Tanners on Full House, I love love love this view! It’s a mix of the old and the new with the skyline peeking out above the colorful houses.
The park is a big hill, so you get a great view! There are tennis courts and a cute little coffee shop too, if you wanna make a day of it or bring a picnic. Parallel parking all along the park.
Dog petting count there: 2 in like 20 or so mins. (P good odds)
Mr. Holmes Bakery
Dang, San Fran knows how to make a good pastry. And a pretty one at that! Mr. Holmes Bakery is a tiny little shop — you might miss it walking by — but is pretty Instagram famous for its “I got baked in San Francisco” sign. The sign was unfortunately broken when we visited, but the “Holmes Sweet Holmes” floor and the pretty box full of prettier pastries was a great photo opp in itself.
ALSO: Let’s talk about the cruffin. Think savory croissant covered in cinnamon sugar and filled with sweet icing. It’s honestly the best thing I ate in San Francisco and I am determined to find somewhere that will replicate.
The Ferry Building
I wanted to make it to The Ferry Building for happy hour before dark, but gosh darnit winter! Sun set at 5 or so! ACK!
The view, however, was nonetheless stunning, but the pix weren’t great. Still took one with my friend gracious enough to be my San Fran guide.
The Ferry Building is a port slash office building slash shopping center slash restaurant hub ALL ROLLED INTO ONE! Think Chelsea Market in New York. There are cute markets and shops and different restaurants. We opted for Hog Island Oyster Co. SF oysters and drinks are just like SF itself: Small and expensive. They were yum, but I think I’ll stick to gulf oysters from Texas!