After some crazy twists and turns on the Pacific Coast Highway, we made our way up to San Francisco! Our friend Byard lives across the bay in Berkeley, so our first stop was his neighborhood to check in for the night. We drove across crazy long bridges (the bay is so wide across, that they have one bridge to get you to from SF to Treasure Island, and another to get you the rest of the way into Oakland/Berkeley). We settled into a super cute, wouldn’t-know-it-was-there-unless-you-looked bed and breakfast called the Rose Garden Inn. They had a couple of charming mis-matched guest houses on their property that were connected by a well-maintained garden with a gazebo, outdoor seating, and a few colorful murals. There was a funky tree with yellow hanging flowers, one I’ve never seen before. Anyone know what kind of tree this is?
It was a really charming place in the middle of a more urban, student neighborhood.
We (of course) joined the San Francisco November Project tribe for a Friday morning hill workout. We have this wicked steep hill here in Boston that we run every Friday, but San Francisco sets a new standard for steep hills. This particular workout we really enjoyed, not really for the hills and stairs combo—those cocktails every night weren’t helping our running game, amiright?—but for the awesome mosaic stairs and the incredible view at the top. After the workout, our new NP friends took us to brunch at Zazie, a French bistro in Cole Valley. This was the start of our San Fran food tour, and we really enjoyed both the uniqueness and the freshness. Our entire eating experience in SF was incredible, I think because the food is so fresh (those year round farms really help—California, take me to you!) and because it’s so varied and eclectic. There are people from all over in SF, so the food transcends any particular style or culture. You get your pick of any type of food you can imagine, which is great for us food-lovers. We don’t have photos of brunch, but know that my eggs en Fonte (mascarpone polenta cakes, spicy tomato sauce, portobellos, spinach, and 2 over easy eggs in a cast iron skillet, served w/ home fries) looked amazing and tasted even better! Our new friends toasted us with Champagne mimosas to celebrate our honeymoon – so sweet of them, and what a great way to start the day!
After a quick shower and nap, we felt recharged and headed back into SF for a day of being tourists. San Francisco attractions are great. We started by checking out Fisherman’s Wharf. A huge tourist attraction, it’s basically a bunch of chain restaurants and shops, and it’s full of people. Not particularly our cup of tea, so we took a few photos of the seals that hang out on the docks nearby, saw Alcatraz, and kept rolling. We checked out the trolley—L. Smith raced it and won (he’s fast, but it’s also pretty slow…). Check out our Lombard Street shot—(apply Minnesota accent) that hill is steep enough to ski down, dontchaknow.
L. Smith took lots of photos of all the unique architectural styles. We also checked out Land’s End, which is exactly what it sounds like. The views are amazing. Our last tourist stop was the iconic Golden Gate Bridge. I was way too scared of the height to get very far across the bridge (good thing we didn’t rent bikes to ride across, I wouldn’t have made it!), but it’s pretty from afar! They have a whole set-up near the bridge where you can find out the length of Golden Gate Bridge, how tall, how long, and the engineering feat it took to make it a reality, so be sure to check that out if you’re into history and engineering. 😉
For dinner, we met up with Byard and Lily in The Mission and tried out some Vietnamese food at Mau. Mau’s got super fresh and unique food. After good food and good conversation, we headed for the best ice cream I’ve ever had. Byard raved about BiRite Creamery, and it was EVERYTHING, and more. The place was tiny, so the line was out the door and down the street. The line was so long that they had to split it, and continue it across the street. Two lines for one place. So worth it though. If you’re looking for the best places for ice cream, you’ve found one. The ice cream was the creamiest I’ve ever tasted in my LIFE. Trust me: quit your job, fly to California, go to BiRite Creamery, done. To top it off, they had really great, non-standard flavors, which I love. Plain ol’ vanilla and chocolate just don’t do it for me. Give me balsamic strawberry, brown sugar, or honey lavender any day.
The next day was Saturday, so we headed out for coffee and brunch. Byard is the marketing director for Blue Bottle Coffee Co, so he took us to check out one of his cafes in Oakland, which is a converted former truck showroom. The high ceilings, open space, and minimal decor all combine to make it a cool space. They have a espresso machine repair shop—how cool is that?! Not to mention, their coffee is mighty good coffee. No fluff, just pure good coffee. Check it out next time you’re in SF/Oakland, NYC, or LA!
For brunch we headed to Aunt Mary’s, also in Oakland. Their tagline says, “we love good food, spicy food, particular food from the south and south-west regions, with a creative twist” and we found that to be true as gravity. They serve Southern food with a twist, like grit waffles and omelets topped with fried oysters. L. Smith got something that was gone in about two minutes, so it was probably delicious.
After some blogging time back at the Blue Bottle Coffee Co., we headed across the bay to Marin County for some outdoor adventures. Just before we left on our trip, we met and chatted with two Boston-area bloggers, The Trendy Trainer and Pumps & Iron, who suggested we visited Muir Woods from some trail running. As we drove the steep inclines to get to the woods, we marveled that people chose to live on such steep and windy roads, but I guess the incredible views must have something to do with it! As we ran into the woods, we met some people coming back out, who told us the bar was closed. We had no idea what they were talking about, but turns out there’s a secret bar in the woods called the Tourist Club. It looked like a sweet spot to drink some beers, overlooking the woods and the views. Be on the lookout for it if you’re ever in Muir Woods. It’s off the Dipsea/Sun Trail. We thoroughly enjoyed the trail run through the redwoods, and as the sun started to set, we called it a night and headed out of San Francisco to start our travels back East.
My overall impression of San Francisco is that it’s quite quirky; the hills are super steep and don’t bother driving because you’ll be stopping at every corner for a street light or stop sign, the weather is a bit too cold and foggy for my California dreams, but the food is outstanding. The easy access to nature via Marin County is a great bonus. Overall, a great place to visit, especially if you have friends there to show you the local spots. Thanks to everyone who made it a great trip for us!