Must Do, See and Eat in San Francisco || Travel Guide
Matthew surprised me with a trip to San Francisco for our wedding anniversary and we loved every second of it! I wanted to create a list of things we enjoyed doing, seeing and - most importantly - eating!! It's such a diverse city and rich with culture so be sure to add it to your bucket list!! All locations mentioned will be linked to google maps. You're welcome. ;)
Before we jump into it here's a few tips! We stayed in a darling AirBNB in Oakland, but if we could change one thing about our trip it'd be to stay in the city so we didn't have to cross the bridge every day. It took a lot of time from our day and we just didn't feel as safe as we would have liked to. There were some amazing restaurants we got to try in Oakland though, so not too mad about it! We didn't rent a car and just took an Uber or Lyft if we were tired of walking, which I would recommend because parking is crazy! Plus, they have those cameras that take pictures of the plates and mail you traffic violation tickets. No thanks! They have great scooters you can rent for $1 with an app on your phone to ride around the city and we had so much FUN doing that! Make sure to check the weather before packing to make sure your prepared! It turned out to be a LOT colder than we expected and I was so glad I brought my heavy coat with me! Okay, now that we've covered some of the basics, let's jump into the fun stuff!!
MUST DO + See:
We loved walking around Fisherman's Wharf! There's street performers everywhere that are entertaining and a fun way to pass free time. They also have a vintage arcade called, Musée Mécanique that is CRAZY! There's lots of seafood and amazing restaurants to try as well!! This was Matthew's favorite spot of the trip. Watching the street performers do their thing.
Just down a ways from the wharf is Ghirardelli Square. You HAVE to go check it out and try some of Ghirardelli's famous ice cream creations and sample their yummy chocolate! I had the BEST rocky road ice cream in a waffle cone! I never got any pictures of the things we ate because I was too excited to eat them to think to take a picture. Hahaha! Story of my life. There are other fancy restaurants and shops, too! We saw a few street vendors at the park there and you can board the cable car to take you downtown!
Have you really been to SF if you didn't see and walk across the Golden Gate Bridge? I mean, come on!! It's even more majestic in person! I couldn't believe how massive the bridge really is!! I have a fear of heights and bridges can sometimes give me anxiety because of that, but I felt very safe the entire time! Watching the maintenance workers walking on the outside of the bridge? Not good for my anxiety. Haha!
Another great view of the Golden Gate Bridge is from Baker Beach. WARNING: You are very likely to see nude men laying, roaming, and splashing around on this beach. Go early in the morning to avoid them if you can! Because it really is a beautiful beach and view of the bridge!
This is probably the most touristy part of SF, but it's adorable none the less! Total beach carnival feels. The funnest shops, eateries, attractions and most delicious fresh fruit stand where Matthew purchased the best mango of his life. It was nearly the size of his head!!! No joke. There are also seals that come chill on the docks. They stink and they're loud, but it's still quite the spectical! Ha!
One more time: Have you really been to SF if you didn't ride the Cable Car? We almost skipped this one and I'm SO GLAD we didn't! It's the LAST cable car of it's kind still running, in the entire world! The cables that move the cars actually run underneath the streets. It's nuts!! You can hop on it in multiple locations, but we decided to ride it from Market + Powell to Pier 39 where we had our anniversary dinner date that night!
Okay. We totally felt like we stepped into China when we got here. Try to enter through the Dragon Gate and get a picture in front of it! There are tons of shops and places to eat here. We bought some Chinese fruit cake that was...interesting. Haha!! But I love trying new things and experiencing cultures this way! Especially through their unique foods!They only accept cash there, so make sure you bring some if you want to buy trinkets and yummy food! I'll share the restaurant we tried and loved further down on this post!
This was HANDS DOWN my favorite part of the trip. We took a cruise ship over to the island, and as soon as we set foot on it I was completely blown away with it's beauty! The natural aging of the buildings told a story and the landscape was absolutely breathtaking!! I seriously took hundreds of photos. This isn't even all of them. We did the audio tour of the actual prison, and it was crazy to think about all of the prisoners who once lived there. I don't want to spoil any of the tour, but I'm telling you, you have to check it out!!
This area felt like we walked into little Mexico! Matthew and I love some good authentic Mexican food and it was everywhere! Our favorite that we tried is listed below. There's Mission Delores Park that has a stunning view of the city and a fun playground for kiddos. We also stopped to see the oldest church in SF that was built in the late 1700's, but later found out we took a picture by the big newer one next door and missed the old one completely. Haha!! If I learned one thing over and over again on this trip, it's that I have no sense of direction in unfamiliar places.
Am I the only one who thought Full House was filmed in one the painted ladies??? I was a little bummed to find out that wasn't the case and that it was over a mile away. Still, these houses are beautiful and we took a nap on the grass of the park across the street. Walking the streets of SF is tiring man! The architecture and character of the homes there was amazing. You really have to walk the streets to really take it all in!
Again, no photos of the food because I was starving at every stop! Haha! The burritos at this place literally made me cry tears of joy. I hadn't eaten in 6 hours and this food gave me LIFE. We didn't speak to each other until our food was gone. I wish we had the time to go back and have some tacos, but it didn't end up happening. DEFINITELY try it!
The BEST food we ate while on our trip. Our neighborhood friends ended up being there at the same time (go check out Tauri's blog post for her trip experience) and they suggested we meet up for dinner here. BOY am I glad that they did!! Fancy, tasty food in a super fun atmosphere. I savored every. single. bite. Seriously, still dreaming about it.
We stopped in little Italy for some legit Italian pizza. I love a good authentic margarita pizza and this one met all of my expectations! They offer some cool speciality drinks at the bar there as well. We tried a non-alcoholic mango flavored ginger beer and it was SHARP. Pretty sure I asked Matthew multiple times if there was alcohol in it because the ginger was so strong! Hahaha!
This is where Matthew and I had dinner to celebrate our anniversary. Matthew had a filet mignon with crab on top and I had their famous clam chowder in a bread bowl. It was all to die for!! Then we had a free dessert to share. Heavenly! The view of the bay and the company were the best part though. Best 7 years, growing older and experiencing life with this guy!!!!
The day we went to the square to get some ice cream it was cold, and the line was LOOOOONG, but it was well worth the wait!! It did not let us down. If you're lucky, you can watch them make the waffle cones while you wait for your order and they'll even let you try one. I think I owe that to Matthew's charm. It's definitely one of the many perks of being married to him.
Okay, so this isn't in SF. It's a darling brunch place in Oakland, and it was BY FAR the best breakfast we had while on our trip. Probably even made the top 5 overall. Seriously yummy, and original breakfast food. They also had pies that looked incredible, but I was so full from our meal we didn't get a chance to try some!
Ice cream, again. What can we say? We like to indulge ourselves while on vacation. Somehow the wait was extremely long here as well on an even COLDER day! It really convinced us that it was as good as people say it is. I loved the location near Mission District with this cutest little ice cream cone outside the shop!
This is another Oakland eatery. Our host highly recommended trying this place out because a friend of hers who is a Michelin star chef opened it! She suggested trying the chicken fat rice, and once again it did not disappoint. That was another night I was starving and it REALLY hit the spot!
This was the super delish Chinese restaurant we picked to eat at in Chinatown! It's the tiniest little place, but has lots of charm! The staff was super accommodating and the food was awesome! I just wish we ordered more eggrolls.
And that's a wrap! Those are some of the highlights from our trip and we 10/10 recommend them! If you end up going to SF and visiting the spots in our guide we'd love to hear what you thought! Have you been to SF and love something we missed on the list? Add it to the comments so future readers can see your recommendations, too!
Shout out to Kristin Welker for all of the amazing recommendations she sent to us out of the goodness of her own heart! Love you, girl!