The San Francisco Bay Area
looking for some tips + tricks for your next adventure that don't break the bank (or your finally-developed self-care habits)?! i've compiled everything i found during my favorite trips around the globe so you don't have to!
ah the beautiful san francisco. i've decided to compile the entire bay area (napa, silicon valley, sf propper) into one post because well...they are all so intertwined. during my time here, i've been blown away at the sheer beauty of this part of the world. i view san francisco as a sleepy town that's growing quickly, but still much smaller than people expect. here are some of my favorites across the bay!
to me, san francisco is a city built like an amalgamation of neighborhoods. so, wherever you stay will have one main road with lots of shops, and then a bunch of cute "house"-style apartments. here are some of my favorite neighborhoods in the city:
- lower pac heights: it's not the marina, and it's not pacific heights...it's that middle ground for conscious adulthood. fillmore street has lots of cute cafes and shops; it's also close enough to marina green and the presidio but still has some distance.
- hayes valley: this neighborhood is one of my favorites. it's pretty central and has loads of shops, and restaurants (for sf that is). it also has a cute little park, patricia's green, where lots of people congregate at all hours (oh and ritual coffee is right there).
- mission: the eclectic, colorful, a little overwhelming part of the city. some people liken it to williamsburg in NY - i would say it's more like lower east side. it has great food, an awesome park and lots of shopping.
- cole valley: i feel like no one ever talks about this neighborhood but it's so cute. it's close to twin peaks, mount sutro, and zazies. a perfect weekend.
You could totally do day trips to the north and south, but if you want to stay in napa / sonoma, i'd splurge and stay in yountville, or on a cute farm in the russian river valley.
whoever tells you that you don't need a car...is lying. in order to really explore the bay area, a car is necessary for sure. even though parking here stinks, driving is pretty easy.
within the city, driving is still common but less needed because uber/lyft run the game. there's some public transportation (BART, muni, etc). opt for walking or biking; it's a workout in itself!
i haven't found san francisco to be too much of a foodie city. they do really expensive and really cheap...really well. but, eating out here is definitely a process - don't forget a reservation, otherwise you might need to wait hours!
casual / coffee
- as quoted: this little shop is so san francisco to me. it has your choice of healthy drinks - from matcha to turmeric lattes, big salads and avocado everything. their white decor also makes it perfect for all-day work sessions--if you can snag a spot outside.
- plow: ugh. favorite brunch place ever (if you come on a weekday). everything is locally sourced and insanely good. but they open at 8am (seriously!!) on the weekends and people get there to line up that early. so wake up hungry.
- cafe revielle: this coffee/brunch spot has a bunch of different outposts around the city. it's always a cute, safe bet for coffee, matcha and surprisingly tasty cafe food. if you're in the mood for a quick brunch or cozy work place this is your spot.
- ritual (any location - my favorite is in mill valley!): i love ritual coffee; it might be my favorite in the city. they also have a cute location in mill valley on your way up/home from hikes in marin--my favorite stop.
- saint frank: if you're in russian hill - go here. this cute coffee shop has some of the best coffee in the city, and a great upstairs nook for work/meetings.
- urban remedy: ah one of my favorites. all of their food is created by their chinese medicine and herbalist certified founder, so you know it's extremely good for you. i am obsessed (obsessed!) with their sunflower butter squares...you will be addicted.
- arlequin cafe: this super cute spot in hayes valley is surprisingly large--and connected to an awesome wine shop (cause why not?!). sit in their back garden to work during the day or sip on rose over the weekends. it oddly can do both well.
- leo's oyster bar: this was one of the first restaurants I ate at in sf. it has really cool brooklyn-esque decor, and great cocktails. don't come here hungry, but their live oyster bar is pretty badass.
- gracias madre: this LA original has made its way up north. it might be one of my favorite spots in sf. you can always count in it for feeling indulgent while being pretty healthy. and, it's super close to mission dolores park--perfect picnic food.
- greens restaurant: this place has been around since the 70's and showing everyone that vegetarian can be fancy...and delicious. it also has an amazing view of the bridge/ocean. totally worth a parent's visit or date night here.
- el techo: my not healthy addition. this is one of the cool rooftop spots in the city, and they do mexican food really well. i like their dinner (pork - yes!) but i heard brunch is awesome, too.
- ++ farmhouse inn: this spot is located in the russian river but it's amazing. all farm-to-table, michilen star restaurant without the bougie-ness. go for it when you're in the area!
I'm going to split this up between in the city and out. i often prefer exploring outside the city limits, but that's because there are so many amazing hikes and wineries to explore. these are my favorites!
in the city
- spend an afternoon in mission dolores park. stop at bi-rite for picnic festivities beforehand
- go for a stroll along the pacific ocean at baker beach. grab a coffee from the stand at the marina beforehand
- explore the botanical gardens
- spend an afternoon having ritual coffee among the plants at flora grubb
- go for a hike at mount sutro / twin peaks
- spend a saturday at the noe valley farmers market (or the embarcadero)
- walk the hills at bernal heights
outside the city
- go oyster shucking at point reyes
- any hike in marin county. my favorite is near stinson beach (& get drinks on the beach after!)
- spend an afternoon strolling around half moon bay. get drinks at the ritz after.
- bike to sausalito. have a drink. (take the ferry back).
- hang at the beach / in town in pescadaro
- go hot air ballooning in napa (+ lots of wine)
- enjoy a mud bath in calistoga
- try some pinots and freshly churned cheese in the russian river valley