Wednesday, August 22, 2018

A Guide to San Francisco

The Little Magpie Travel Guide to San Francisco: What to do, where to eat, where to stay So, San Francisco! I've been once before many moons ago (two years ago actually, but it seems a lot longer) and really, really loved it, so when some discount flights popped up at the beginning of the year myself and my wee Meggy decided to be young, free, spontaneous Susans and go for it! We visited in June for five days which was the perfect month to go weather-wise and also enough time to see San Francisco in my opinion BUT it is a belter of a flight - around 11/12 hours from UK - so, if you can, then I'd turn it into a bigger roadtrip and do Yosemite/Big Sur/Los Angeles etc in the same trip if possible so that you can make the most of it!
The Little Magpie Travel Guide to San Francisco: What to do, where to eat, where to stay The Little Magpie Travel Guide to San Francisco: What to do, where to eat, where to stay The Little Magpie Travel Guide to San Francisco: What to do, where to eat, where to stay The Little Magpie Travel Guide to San Francisco: What to do, where to eat, where to stay The Little Magpie Travel Guide to San Francisco: What to do, where to eat, where to stay The Little Magpie Travel Guide to San Francisco: What to do, where to eat, where to stay The Little Magpie Travel Guide to San Francisco: What to do, where to eat, where to stay
We stayed at The Clift Royal Sonesta hotel which was great - it's really really well located, right beside Union Square, AKA shopping heaven, and Chinatown. There's also a new music venue - August Hall - opened up in the area so it's worth keeping an eye on that for upcoming gigs if you're staying there. The rooms are basic but cosy and have everything you need for a city break; comfy bed, nice big windows to let in lots of light and a really well sized wardrobe. The hotel was renovated by interior designer Philippe Starck and is filled with incredible pieces including that ha-uuuuge chair you see above as well as furniture by Salvadore Dali. Just off of the lobby is a quiet sitting area where you can grab a cup of coffee of tea after a day of wandering. One of the hotel's main attractions, however, is the art-deco inspired Redwood Room. 'Why is it called that?', I hear you ask. Well, it's called that because the entire bar was made from one single redwood tree. One tree. Apparently it's quite the haunt on the weekends so one to keep in mind for a wee drink and some music on a Friday or Saturday night.

The Little Magpie Travel Guide to San Francisco: What to do, where to eat, where to stay Photo 02-06-2018, 13 27 35 The Little Magpie Travel Guide to San Francisco: What to do, where to eat, where to stay The Little Magpie Travel Guide to San Francisco: What to do, where to eat, where to stay The Little Magpie Travel Guide to San Francisco: What to do, where to eat, where to stay
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WHERE TO EAT 

First of all, how much of a wee honey is Megan? Those black and white photos are my faves. So, San Francisco is known for its amazing food but our luck, alas, was mixed. We had some incredible food, we had some bad food. So... what I'll focus on is the bad food. Kidding, I'll focus on the good of course and tell you which ones our bellies had a jolly good time at! Brunch-wise I'd recommend Brenda's French Soul Food for a big, dirty breakfast - make sure to try some of their famous beignets while you're at it. Sweet Maple for another big supersize breakfast (home to the famous Millionaire bacon. Personally I wasn't a huge fan but a lorra lorra people absolutely love it) and, my personal favourite, Zazie's. It's been around since 1992 and is massively popular, so be prepared to wait a little bit, but is so, so worth it. Their huevos rancheros was one of my favourite things we ate the whole trip. They also do 'bring your dog to dinner' nights every Monday so if that's not reason enough to go then I don't know what is. For coffee I would recommend the incredible Home for a huge selection of speciality hot drinks including... a birthday cake latte. A BIRTHDAY CAKE LATTE, that's right. That's that rainbow drink you see in the second photo from the top there and is so very beautiful. They also did a really good gluten free butter muffin (there wasn't much else in the way of gluten free, sadly) but it was a delicious one. Also fantastic was Farm Table, where we spent our last morning, which does specialty lattes and a great salad and has some seats out in the street in the sun! If you're lucky with the weather, another one with a nice big seating area and good coffee is Rituals Coffee Roasters. 

 Some other amazing food stops we had that could work for either lunch or dinner are Veganburg (home to a very good selection of vegan burgers and some rather tasty garlic fries which, again, can be made gluten free), Tony's pizza (one of my favourite food stops we had. It's in Little Italy, has a huge selection of different bases, a great atmosphere and does a delicious gluten free pizza. However, be prepared to wait for an hour or more for a table, so don't go when you're already starving), B-Rite Creamery for amazing ice cream (again be ready to queue, but also be ready to eat some amazing ice cream. Alas it's not one for us gluten free'ers but Megan loved hers) and across the street is B-Rrite Market which is kind of like a hipster-y wholefoods and has an amazing selection of healthy snacks and food and fresh salads. The Cheesecake Factory is, of course, great for cheesecake, but because it's right on the Macy's rooftop it's a great spot to sit in the sun with a drink and take in the view across Union Square. Another few that were on our list that we didn't make it to but were recommended were Mac Daddy and Mission Chinese. If you're after a bar then PLEASE check out Alchemist - it's really low, atmospheric lighting and they project little Tim Burton-esque animations onto the red brick walls as you sip on your cocktail. I'ts very, very cool.

The Little Magpie Travel Guide to San Francisco: What to do, where to eat, where to stay The Little Magpie Travel Guide to San Francisco: What to do, where to eat, where to stay The Little Magpie Travel Guide to San Francisco: What to do, where to eat, where to stay The Little Magpie Travel Guide to San Francisco: What to do, where to eat, where to stay The Little Magpie Travel Guide to San Francisco: What to do, where to eat, where to stay
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 Ah what to do! This is where we come into our own. We did a LOT. I'm talking 22000 steps a day a lot. I'll break it down into areas to make it a little easier:

  •  Mission District. Lotttttts of cool stuff going on around here! Make sure to check out the murals on Clarion Alley and grab some Mexican food at one of the old school taquerias. A trip to Dog Eared Books comes in high on my list and is one of my favourite book stores I've ever been to. It's big but cosy at the same time and wouldn't look out of place as the backdrop for a meet cute in an Indie film. As you explore, expect to find ice cream parlours, cool bars, tattoo parlours and boutique shops a-plenty. Valencia street is where it's at - it's a huge big long street with lots going on. My particular favourites there were Reformation (of course), Therapy for some of the best greetings cards I've seen and some great gifts and The Voyager Shop. And, of course, Dolores Park for a picnic on a sunny day!
  •  Moving on to Haight Ashbury, the birthplace of America's counter-culture, which has such a colourful and historic feel to it. You'll find vintage clothing shops (Haight Ashbury Vintage and Relic Vintage in particular are great), outdoor cafes, record stores along with Jimi Hendrix, Janis Joplin and The Greatful Dead's houses. There's also Amoeba Music here, based in an old bowling alley, which has one of the biggest CD collections in the world. The houses around this area are uhmazing and an entire afternoon could be spent wandering around and picking which one you'd like to live in most. Don't miss the street festival every second Sunday in June if you're there around then! 
 Some other things I'd recommend aaaare:

  • A trip to see the famous Painted Ladies, which like gorgeous little doll's houses
  • Hayes Street for some cool wee shops and good coffee shops 
  • Of course, The Golden Gate Bridge. We went there relatively early to take some snaps and admired it from afar but another option is to rent a bike and cycle the 1.7 miles across to spent a wee day in Sausolito! Make sure to wrap up though, even if it's sunny, because that bridge is windy as 'eck. 
  • We also did a hop on hop off tour with Big Bus Tours (and the lovely Peter as our guide) which ended up being one of my favourite things we did! I'd schedule it for near the beginning of your trip as it's a great way to get to grips with where everything is and to find out some of the history of San Francisco. Make sure stay on it when it goes over the bridge for a very fun and very, very windy experience... I don't think me and Megan have ever laughed so hard (the saliva actually got sucked right out of my mouth which you didn't need to know but I feel is my duty to warn you). 
  • If you're near 1240 Steiner Street then make sure to look up because that, my friends, is Mrs Doubtfire's house. I can't say I'd have recognised it myself (if there had been a goat in the garden then maybe) but it's nice to see if you're in the area nonetheless. 
  • Lombard street, also known as The Hairpin Street, is a Street made up of a whopping 8 hairpin bends. You can get the Powell cable car from union square straight to it if you so fancy a wee look at it and then you can tick both a cable car and world's bendiest street off your list in one.
  • Ferry Building Marketplace was another favourite spot of mine - it's a huge big building filled to the brim with stalls each selling different foods, sweet treats, coffees, wines, meats and gifts so make sure to go when you're hungry. A special mention has to be made for Mariposa Bakery where every single thing is gluten free. Heaven! Whether you're gluten free or not, you absolutely have to try one of their truffle brownies, I think I managed to scoff mine in record time. There are seats outside so you can sit and enjoy your tasty purchases with a view of the water!
  • I'm sure you'll all know of the famous Pier 39; it's tack heaven and feels like Blackpool on its summer holiday but there's a huuuuge colony of sea lions hanging out there - up to 1700 at one point - that make the trip all the worthwhile. 
  • Chinatown, the oldest in North America, is absolutely worth a wander through. 
  • The last 'to do' thing is perhaps the most obvious... Alcatraz. We didn't do it this time round but I made the jaunt across last time and absolutely loved it. It's so, so interesting and well worth the trip! 
And that brings my guide to an end. I've had a few wee technological problems with my blog the past couple of weeks but it's all god now (I hope) so my Italy blog posts will be back up next week and I've also got some new outfits to share with you too. Ooh, also, you can also have a little read of the wonderful wee Meggy's blog post here and watch her San Francisco vlog here! They're v v good.

Amy 

7 comments:

The Style Rawr said...

Omgosh, this is pretty extensive and I am loving it! Definitely coming back to this post once I book a trip. I REALLY want to visit the West Coast of the US and of course San Fran is at the top of my list! Your photos are sooo incredible and you're both babein' here. I also love the outfits you wore, you cutie patootie.

Side note: I'd definitely like to see some more US travel-related posts, especially since you're kickin' it in NYC nowadays. Even just little posts on cool coffee spots (or more importantly, cake spots/general lifestyle. I always enjoy reading your blog content!

T xo

Lisa Autumn said...

Oh I always wanted to visit SF.. looks amazing!

x Lisa | lisaautumn.com

Rachel Sneddon said...

Love this! Really want to visit sometime. Do you mine me asking what camera you use? I'm desperately in the market for a new one but want to make sure I choose the right one!

Anika May said...

Great guide! SF is the top city in California I want to visit, there's so much to see!

Anika | anikamay.co.uk

AVY said...

That city fits you.

/Avy

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