25/04/2017

San Francisco Travel Guide


San Fran has always been a place I've dreamed of visiting, so when my sister told me she had two weeks off uni for Easter, I jumped at the chance to explore somewhere new. Situated on the west coast of California, San Francisco is just as vibrant and hilly (oh em gee so hilly) as you can imagine. There's so much to do and to me it feels like California's take on New York City. 
Although San Fran's weather can be a little unpredictable, it was warm Cali sunshine for the majority of our trip in April. However, it can get a little chilly by the coastline - so make sure to pack your jumper and jeans too! Comfy shoes are also necessary as we chose to walk pretty much everywhere whilst in the city - I think its a great way of getting to experience San Fran properly and its bloody good exercise as well. Saying that, once you've hiked for hours and just want a ride home, make sure to hop in an Uber, they're incredibly cheap in San Fran and you definitely meet some cool characters and knowledgable locals on your rides.
It didn't take me long to fall in love with San Francisco and our Air B&B was the first factor along the way. We stayed in a lovely little apartment just off Alamo Park and a stone's throw away from the Painted Ladies. All the buildings in this area are stunning and it is incredible waking up and simply looking out of the window to such views. It was actually my first time using Air B&B and would 100% recommend it to anyone! It's really easy and often a cheaper way of staying in some cool properties that a hotel can't always offer. And PS you can use this link here to ge£15 off your first stay.
If you're looking to stay in the city centre however, Union Square is as close as you'll get to the nearest shops and close by to the trollies (the vintage tram cars) which climb the hills nearby. 


San Fran is not short of things to do and although we planned on having a jam-packed 3 day trip, we extended our stay to a week in the end! There's so many different areas to the city each offering an exclusive variety of attractions and stuff to keep you busy!
  • Alcatraz Island: this island used to be home to one of the world's most remote prisons. There's so much history to Alcatraz and you can see great views of views of the city too. 100% worth a visit but make sure to book online in advance as the boat trips can book up fast! The boats depart from Fisherman's Wharf which is a lovely area to grab an ice-cream too!
  • The Golden Gate Bridge: as one of the most iconic bridges in the world, this bad boy does not disappoint IRL. Lindsey and I hired bikes nearby and cycled over this beauty and that was a bucket list moment for me! We also went down to Baker Beach one sunny evening to see the Golden Gate from a different view! 
  • Twin Peaks: As I've mentioned already, San Fran is super hilly, but no view is better than from the Twin Peaks. I'd recommend driving up just before sunset to capture to daylight view and also see the city at dusk once the sun has gone down. We were lucky to visit on a very clear day and the 360 degree views were insane! Make sure to wrap up warm though, it can get super windy in the evening and let's just say I made the mistake of not bring a jacket and was freeeeezing - but it was totally worth it!
  • Palace of The Fine Arts: Not far from the Golden Gate Bridge sits this beautiful architectural structure which is home to some great art exhibitions and a pretty park.
  • Golden Gate Park: San Fran's answer to Central Park sits by the Golden Gate bridge and is pretty vast. Within it you can find museums, the Conservatory of Flowers, a Japanese Tea Garden and lots of nature to go round. Its a lovely place to chill out with a picnic on a sunny afternoon. 
  • City Hall: San Fran's own St Pauls is a spectacular structure in the city centre. Anyone can go in here and I'd recommend a visit to see the interiors and the lighting! Each evening City Hall lights up in different colours so is a pretty sight to see if you're passing. 
  • Vintage Shopping: SF is somewhat known for its vintage shopping and the best area I visited was Valencia St between Noe Valley and the Mission District. Here you can find beautiful shops to your heart's content each with retro interiors and a fabulous range of clothing. If vintage isn't your cup of tea, this area also is home to some cool California clothing stores like Reformation and you're spoilt for choice for where to brunch!
  • Yosemite National Park (pronounced YO-SEM-ETY): Yosemite is around a 3 hour drive from San Fran and there's lots of companies offering Day excursions from the city if you don't rent a car. The first word that springs to mind when I think of Yosemite is BREATHTAKING. I've done my fair bit of travelling but the landscape is like nothing I've ever seen before. The snowy mountains above lead down to some spectacular waterfalls and fast flowing rivers. Lindsey and I spent the day wandering through the forests among some of the tallest trees on the planet as well hiking up to viewpoints to take in the spectacular views of the valley. All I'll say is, if you're in California, Yosemite is a MUST.

Unlike a lot of places I've visited in the U.S, I found San Fran's foodie scene to be refreshingly diverse with eateries offering a lot more than a burger, a hotdog or fries (not that I don't love all three!). Fisherman's Wharf is home to some of the best seafood I've had in a while and is famed for its clam chowder served in a sourdough bread bowl. Here's a few more must-visit spots if you're in the city..
  • Mr Holmes' Bakehouse: a small but v instrammable bakery with a sweet selection of treats and THAT "I got baked in San Francisco sign". 
  • The View Bar at the Marriot Marquee Hotel (there's one too in NYC!) and it certainly didn't disappoint. It was of course a little on the pricier side, but the delicious food, cocktails and amazing city views made it worth while. 
  • Jane (Larkin): if you're after a acai bowl or excellent brunch, here is your spot. Jane has a couple locations around town and does great coffee too!
  • Anchor & Hope: great seafood in the city. Portions are pretty large but they don't disguise the quality over the quantity. I tried my first oyster here (yum!) and tucked into some delicious mussels. 
  • Rose's Cafe: an Italian-ran restaurant offering a lot of traditional dishes but also twists like Breakfast Pizza! Oh yes, we visited on an empty stomach one morning and devoured one smoked salmon and scrambled egg pizza and one with prosciutto and fried egg on top! It makes me question why breakfast pizza isn't a thing everywhere srsly. 
  • Soulva: a spot we grabbed takeaway Greek food from one evening. This is place is AMAZING! If it wasn't for me wanting to check out more of the San Fran food scene, I'd have probably been here every night. Although it is always super busy, the service is quick  and the staff are very friendly. I'd recommend going for the white sweet potato salad or the lamb kofta wrap - yum!
I have to admit, one of my favourite parts of planning my trip was planning my outfits - hey I just really like clothes okay? Unfortunately quite a few of my outfits won't be available any more, but I'll put click on the pictures for what I can find below!

I hope you've enjoyed this post - we've got LA & Coachella coming up soon!

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