Well what do we have here then, well I'll tell you what, it's finally time for my guide to San Francisco, hurrah!
You have NO idea how long travel guides take to create, unless of course you make them yourself, so HUGE apologies for the delay on this, but alas, we're here and these guides are some of my all time fave pieces to work on so I'm very excited to share this one with you.
San Francisco is one of the most incredible cities I've ever had the pleasure of visiting, there is SO much to see and do and with some absolutely delicious places to eat and fun places to drink, so please be warned(!) this guide's a big one so please go and grab your beverage of choice and perhaps a snack or two (deffo two) and lets get cracking!
So first up, I headed to San Francisco on the very last day of May for 6 days in the fabulous Californian city. Some things to note, it's one almighty flight, 11 hours from the UK to be precise so if you can go for longer than I would highly reccomend doing so. 6 days was just the right amount of time to see everything San Francisco has to offer other than Alcatraz, I really regret not finding the time to head there. I'd also really like to explore Sausalisto, San Fran's neighbouring city just across the Golden Gate Bridge. However, we managed to jam pack pretty much everything that we wanted to do (aside from those two previously mentioned) plus a couple of things more, WINNER!
In my opinion San Francisco, is a perfectly sized city being just the right size to walk from end to end, if you really wanted to. The majority of things to see are within walking distance of one another and I feel that, as with most cities you really do grasp a better feel for the place when you travel by foot, which we did often. However there are super fast Uber's (much better than what we have over here) and of course the iconic San Francisco trams/cable cars.
Many people warned us to take warmer clothing as despite being in California, it can get rather chilly due to the city being so close to water, however, we struck gold with the weather as it was absolutely SCORCHING for our entire trip. Highs of 32 degrees which naturally I didn't pack for so instead did a heck load of shopping, but more on that later.
I keep referring to "we" so, if you didn't know I explored San Francisco with my bestie Amy from The Little Magpie, someone I'm sure you're all super familiar with (and if not WHY THE HECK NOT!?) shes ace! San Francisco was the perfect place for a girlie trip away, we booked it way in advance but extremely spontaneously when Amy received an email with an INSANE deal on flights. She only had to text to ask if I was keen before I replied with a very prompt and very definite "HELL YES"
If you've been reading my blog for a while you'll know that San Francisco has been high on my bucket list for many years so to be able to finally get there and with my best friend, well it was one of the best trips of my life and a trip I will never ever forget.
First up lets chat accommodation; We stayed at The Clift Royal Sonesta Hotel which is situated super conveniently in San Francisco's Financial District which is super close to Union Square, one of the cities most iconic regions and essentially extremely close to ALL THE SHOPS! The location was fantastic, just a stones throw away from your fave high street stores and all your luxury faves too.
As well as being in a fantastic location the hotel was lovely too; renovated by interior designer Philippe Starck the hotel housed some of the most weird and wonderful furniture I've ever seen and as an interiors lover, this was right up my street.
The rooms were bright and airy and ours came with the most awesome view! Head to the roof for even better views across the city, I mean, just look at it!
The bar area, named The Redwood Room was unlike anything I've ever seen... The word "boujie" certainly springs to mind and was absolutely bustling with both locals and tourists at the weekend.
I would really recommend this hotel for a comfortable stay in a really fantastic location so if you fancy some more details, check the website out here.
So as I mentioned earlier we ate in some really awesome places, most of which were recommended by you guys over on Instagram, so thank you SO much for that! However, this wasn't without some epic fails, which I'll also let you in on, but alas exploring a new city wouldn't be the same if it wasn't with SOME bad restaurant choices now would it.
Above is Vegan Burg an absolutely DELICIOUSLY INSANE fast food joint specialising in, you guessed it vegan burgers! I didn't realise a vegan burger could be quite so delicious and with quite so many options but I well and truly eat my hat as I was SO seriously impressed.
Every last mouthful was sensational and I still dream about having another bite on the reg.
This is a really great, easy breezy joint to check out as it's super fast and isn't overly pricey. It's also based in Haight Ashbury (more on that coming up) so is just the ticket in-between exploring the area.
Brenda's French Soul Food
This was where we spent our first brunch in the city and wound up getting ourselves in a little bit of trouble en route.
BFSF (photo above and left in collage) will come up highly recommended and rightly so, it was utterly delicious with the cosiest of vibes and the friendliest of staff, however, you have to go through a pretty rough part of town to get to it. We came across a variety of scary characters all of which stared, spoke, spat and down right spooked us on our short 13 minute walk from our hotel to the restaurant. I wouldn't let that put you off, but I would suggest getting a cab as you certainly want to avoid walking around Tenderloin!
As Amy is gluten free, it was really important for us that there were amazing options available for her to eat. Zazie's came highly reccomended on Trip Advisor and also by you lot too so we hot footed over to Haight Ashbury to see what all the fuss was about.
We visited for Sunday Brunch and my goodness was this place busy. The queue was out of the door and we had a hefty 40 minute wait time. However, after having a little nosey around the neighbourhood they seated us and we delved into an absolutely delicious Mexican style breakfast. It was honestly DELICIOUS and I would highly suggest getting involved with the Zazie love-in during your trip.
It's almost impossible to research places to eat in San Francisco without people suggesting Boudin Bakery.
Boudin's is located at Pier 39, a time warp of a place right by the riverfront (duh!) another place that comes highly recommended in any guide to San Fran- however I wouldn't say it's all that. It seemed a bit gimmicky, a bit tacky and just a little bit run down, which I'm told is the charm of it...
Anyhoo, Boudin's however is known for it's Clam Chowder, a speciality dish of a bread bowl filled with creamy and oh so delicious clam chowder, it was honestly heavenly and just what I needed after an afternoon of exploring.
Absolutely NOT GF friendly, but still worth a visit anyway as all the bread is baked in house and it's quite the sight to see.
Sweet Maple, yet another sweet ass recomendation from you lot and aka The Home of The Millionaires Bacon which is essentially the thickest, most sweetest and delicious bacon you will ever have the pleasure of tasting.
For me this was my best brunch of the trip, shortly followed by Zazie, every mouth full of my dish was sheer perfection and totally what you want when you're in the mood for a big ole American breakfast!
If it's delicious coffee on the go you're after then head on over to Blue Bottle Coffee, there are a few around town but I checked out the one in Hayes Valley (an awesome place for shops) and also the Ferry Building branch, but more on that place later. We had drinks in the most awesome bar Alchemist Bar & Lounge which was super vibey with great music and great decor, try the unfashionable cocktail if you like gin, it's delish!
After drinks we headed to 25 Lusk and we were SERIOUSLY let down. It was our biggest meal splurge of the trip and it was really disappointing. Think an over the top set menu with each dish lacking flavour(!!!) and every dish being inadequately small until you get to the main which is OTT HUGE! The staff weren't great either and it was just a total waste of an evening when there are SO many great eateries to explore in San Francisco, just thought I'd mention so you can avoid on your trip.
Another joint that we weren't overly impressed with, and this time somewhere that EVERYBODY raves about was La Taqueria in the Mission District. It claims to be the best family run Mexican in town yet for us, it just wasn't all that flavoursome. It was lacking in most departments for us both but especially the spice department, I want my "hot" sauce to be HOT okay!? It's a super busy yet tiny restaurant and the vibe is extremely electric so perhaps see for yourself as it has the most rave reviews but just didn't quite do it for us.
Now for something totally worth the hype is Home, a gorgeous little coffee shop in (what appears to be) the middle of nowhere (correct me if I'm wrong), but in a really lovely neighbourhood all the same.
Home was suggested just a couple of times by some of you on Instagram for their "V instagrammable" drinks and ohhhhh how they did not disappoint.
Birthday cake, Nutella and Red Velvet lattes (to name but a few), Lavender infused Cappucinos and the most delicious avocado on toast this girl has ever had.
I simply had to try the Birthday cake latte to decipher if it was as good as it looks and I can confidently say that it is in fact better than it looks. It's not quite as sweet as the rainbow colours suggest which for me, is always a winner.
This place is beyond gorgeous and a great place to take five after a long morning of exploring,.
If it's delicious ice cream on your agenda then Bi-Rite Creamery in the Mission District and handily super close to Delores Park is your guy.
Truly scrumptious ice cream is the name interesting yet wholesome flavours is the game, this place was branded "The Best Ice Cream I have Ever Had" by yours truly.
Grab a cone (they don't do ANY GF unfortunately) and go and sit and watch the world go by on Delores Park for a gorgeous way to spend a sunny afternoon.
And finally, my last foodie recommendation comes from Tony's Pizza a famous pizza joint in the heart of San Francisco. Offering every single style of pizza base, topping, cheese and sauce that you can think of there really is something for everyone no matter what your dietary requirement.
It gets SUPER busy but you can opt to eat at the bar like we did which was really fun as we got to chat to the awesome bar staff too. There's a real American feel to this pizza joint and I would urge everyone to check it out for a fun and relaxed night out.
Haight Ashbury was one of the places that I was absolutley desperate to visit. It's a district within San Francisco that is known for it's history of being the origin of the hippy movement, something I am utterly fascinated by.
I was super excited to head there and we ended up visiting a couple of times during the trip as there's just so much to see and do.
I've listed some foodie joints that you can find in Haight Ashbury above however this place is awesome for all things shopping. Home to streets of independent stores including some of the best thrift shops I've ever seen, this is the place to head if you want something totally unique. Some fave stores were Buffalo Exchange where I bagged those slip on Vans for an absolute steal price of $14. Other stores to check out are, Love Street Vintage, Audrey and Haight Ashbury T-shirts which is conveniently placed on Haight and Ashbury so super easy to find. This T-shirt shop was one of the most bad ass places I've ever had the pleasure of shopping in; I could have spent hours browsing the floor to ceiling displays of the most epic band tees but left with a very modest two instead, damn you baggage allowance!
Haight Ashbury is super vibrant, colourful and full of the most awesome people, which is to be expected, the streets reminded me a lot of Camden Town with there fun facades, we had the best time exploring such a fun part of San Francisco and I would add this to the top of you "must see" list whilst in SF. You can also hunt out Jimmy Hendrix and Janis Joplin's house too which is pretty fun.
Mission is a rather cool part of town, again full of independent shops, bars and restaurants but this time with a much more modern and "cooler" aesthetic to it. Think more Shoreditch than Camden if you will.
We stumbled across a number of beautiful shops on Valencia Street which are worth a look in including Mira Mira, Therapy Stores and The Voyager Shop along with some rather rough around the edges yet super duper cheap thrift shops too.
I'd reccomend heading here late afternoon to check out the shops including Reformation (AMAZING store) and Dog Eared Books which is the most insane bookstore I've ever seen and then heading for some drinks and dinner as it's a really cool place to spend an evening.
Now The Ferry Building reminded me a lot of New York's Chelsea Market but on a much smaller scale.
Take-away food vendors, wine bars, cheese and meat stores, gift shops and coffee, a really gorgeous place to take a stroll and to pick up a bite or two. There was also a gluten free stand filled with delicious cakes and sandwiches so naturally Amy was in her element, as you can see in the photo above!
Naturally The Golden Gate Bridge is a big one to tick off your "to-see list", it's a San Fran landmark and personally it absolutely blew me away. Engineering of this kind truly blows my mind and to see it so up close and personal really was extraordinary. It's an absolutely incredible thing to see with your own eyes and we were SO lucky with the weather as many peopled warned us that it may be foggy and we wouldn't actually get to see it...
We also hopped on the Big Bus Tour which took us across the bridge too so we've actually seen it from all angles. The Big Bus Tour was absolutely awesome and something I've surprisingly never done before, but will be doing in another city very soon I am sure. Going across The Golden Gate bridge on the top deck of a bus was an experience to say the least, it was utterly FREEZING and soso windy but my gosh was it hilarious! Head to my San Francisco vlog if you want a laugh.
The Painted Ladies is somewhere you can walk to from Haight Ashbury which is super convenient and what we did but you can also keep on walking to get to the next place I'm going to mention if you fancy tying them all into one day.
As you can see The Painted Ladies is a collection of beautiful Victorian properties painted in the most beautiful of colours, it really is a sight to see with the contrast of the old Victorian buildings and the modern high rise landscape behind. In front of the houses is a park where you can sit and take in the breathtaking views of San Francisco, yet another gorgeous thing to do on a sunny afternoon.
Steiner St & Hayes St, San Francisco, CA 94117, United States
YAY for one of my favourite films of all time, Mrs Doubtfire. Take a short stroll from the brunch joint Sweet Maple as we did to the famous house or carry on from The Painted Ladies if you so wish.
You won't need to spend long here as there's not much to see but as Amy and I are HUGE fans of the film, it was really fun to see and to sing "Dude Looks Like a Lady" at the top of our lungs whilst outside...
2640 Steiner Street
So there we have it, a rather extensive guide to one of the most incredible and vibrant cities I've ever visited. We had the best time in the Californian city and I'd definitely urge you all to visit should you get the chance, I'm deffo itching to return, hopefully next time as part of a California road trip, a girl can dream hey!
I really hope you enjoyed this post and that you found it useful for your trip, there is of course SO much more to see and do in the amazing city but this is exactly what we did and it was really rather perfect indeed.
See you soon.