The only way to find yourself, is to look for pieces of you in places you’ve never been.
For as long as I can remember, I’ve always wanted to visit San Francisco and for as long as I can remember there was always some obstacle, some excuse for me not to go. But not this year — one of my resolutions ( which I’ve kept loyal too since last year) has been to travel more whenever I can.
This trip originally was meant to be a solo, Eat Pray Love-ish kind of experience, but everything changed when my partner-in-crime, AKA Lil’ Tunchie, ride or die friend, Lindsay enlisted. Everything is better when we’re together right? And so what started off as a solo trip- grew to a full-blown girls trip. With friends from Panama, Peru and even all the way from Mississippi enlisted. While in SF, when an Uber driver heard about how we got together, he said ” You must have some good karma or really good friends.” With immense gratitude in my heart I can say, “I have both.”
It was an amazing experience, not only on a deeper level for me but the city itself is magical. Everything we did, the landscape and city views, the colors, the richness… it’s forever permeated in my mind and heart. I love this city so much I decided to compile a list of what we did, where we went and our experience with you all in case San Fran is next on your travel list.
Biking across the Golden Gate Bridge: We woke up early and headed towards the Wharf to rent out bikes for this. Forewarning, if you have been MIA from the gym or lacking physical activity for a while OR if you’re just not that great at biking… it’s a bitch… but the views are SOOOO worth it. Upside – going downhill is super fun and obviously biking through the actual bridge is a breeze ( recommend going early since around noon is peak tourist hour and it gets kind of crowded).
We biked all the way to a secret spot, ( tip numero dos, do your research on Instagram!) called Kirby’s Cove which I found while Nancy Drew-ing my way around tagged location photos. There’s a cool swing ALL THE WAY DOWN and I say ALL THE WAY.. once you’ve crossed the bridge to the other side it’s a 15 minute ride to the top of the hill which you will then have to trek down to the beach. The results are below.
The place is worth it for the view alone, it’s mesmerizing and breathtaking. It literally takes your breath away … climbing up that hill with your bikes is not an easy endeavor…more on this later but just know that YOU NEED TO STAY HYDRATED AT ALL TIMES. Bring water.
Exploring Sausalito: Once we crossed the bridge, did our Kirby Cove detour, we headed towards Sausalito. IMPORTANT TO NOTE: you are on a main road, with lots of curves and cars swiping by you left and right. Not for the faint of heart like yours truly, at one point, my stomach stressed out so bad I had to stop when a Park Ranger asked me if I was fine to which I subsequently responded “NO!” We pedaled a few more blocks down to where the main street was and alongside there were various seafood restaurants and small shops; at which point my stomach was on the verge of collapsing. The main street is very Gilmore Girl-ish cute and next to a marina so the views were great and the people were also rather nice, at one point I collapsed near the bike racks and this nice lady offered me a granola bar, which was not at all what I needed at that point but it’s the thought that counts. We also found the NICEST cab driver* who gave us a ride all the way back to San Francisco, whilst carrying our four bikes and giving us a tour along the way. * He was actually from Chicago but.. you get the point.
Vineyard hopping: We chose Sonoma because Napa Valley is too mainstream at this point. If you’re going to be doing any wine tours of your own, as in, not through a service: plan ahead, most places will be packed and prefer you reserve a spot before hand. We did Larson Family Winery and Pangloss Cellars. We rented a car from the app Turo, highly recommended for ease of use and delivery and of course the price! We toured around Sonoma Plaza for a bit while we waited for our lunch reservations, more on these places later! TIP: Order snacks during your tasting, these wines are wayyyyy stronger, than your regular grocery/liquor store go-to, really… even just a sip. The views of the vineyard and the hills going into Sonoma were just out of a movie, you kind of felt like somewhere out in the Italian country for a minute. Worth the hour and a half ride for sure!
Chinatown: Went in search of some great Dim Sum which was totally worth the wait, more on that later… like any other ol’ regular Chinatown but the red lanterns are mesmerizing. Definitely something to check out while you’re there!
Lombardi Street: One of the most crooked streets in the world, it’s quite a sight even though the ride down is super overrated. The street’s curves are best viewed from down below, if you can get past the herd of tourists, PRO TIP – avoid the crowds and get here early, like really early.
Fisherman’s Wharf: It’s A TRAP. But if you’d like to see the seals at Pier 39 then be ready to punch your way through the masses to get a glimpse of them… you will however, be able to smell them from miles away.
Where We Ate
COPITA: After basically crawling my way out of the bike racks we ventured into this cute Mexican food place. The margaritas were fresh, the ceviche, the tacos, the guac and even their corn tortilla soup was two thumbs up! Extra points for having super awesome latin waiters that let me know it was ok to puke in the bushes in case I really need to. (By that point my stomach was a wreck) Nonetheless, the restaurant has great outdoor seating and even cozier environment inside. If you’d like to skip the lines at the seafood places across the street, this is your spot!
Tartine Factory: This place was the one with the best lighting overall, YES selfie lighting is something restaurants nowadays should be rated by- this bakery/cafe/cocktail bar was the perfect brunch spot, their grapefruit mimosa was beyond, refreshing but it really gets to you… The service was top notch, the food was on point, their bread and pastry offerings seem to be their forte.
Great Eastern Restaurant: Three words… OBAMA DIM SUM! Funny story on how we got here… in search of the best dim sum San Fran had to offer, we Yelp’d our way into a place that had boasting reviews but turned out to be just LITERALLY a hole in the wall; looked like it was take-out only. I distinctively remember telling our group “Seems too legit” to which our Uber driver responded that he could take us to a place where Obama went to once. At this point we’re down for anyplace but that one… and I mean.. whatever place was good enough for Barry is definitely good enough for us. This place had quite a wait as soon as we came in so we immediately knew we were on to something good! We ordered way too much food, slurped our way through that place and were out in no time. Definitely deserve that Great before Eastern.
Hog Island Oyster Co.: All the oysters please! This place is worth the wait, worth the buck and worth making it to your list while you’re there! We could not leave San Francisco without going to a legit seafood place and boy were we right! From the prawns to the endless oyster platters ( ok, they weren’t endless but it kind of seemed that way from the way we were ordering them) paired with a few bottles of California white wine and you’ve got yourself the best farewell party! We bid our goodbyes to San Francisco before flying out that same day.
The Girl and the Fig: Country food with french passion is how they describe themselves. There is not really any photos of this place because I was too busy inhaling whatever was in front of me. This place is no joke, there was a 2 hour wait, that was MORE than worth it. Everything from the frites, to the mussels to the bread and the butter… finger lickin’ good! The only creepy part of this restaurant were the Barbie and Ken ( literal dolls) bathroom signs- other then that, the place was solid!
Last but not least, on a whole other level and category, was my favorite place of all – an only champagne bar called The Riddler. We were introduced to what is known as the Chambong- or a champagne shot, waffle fries (literally) endless supply of wine and popcorn, and the most beautiful indoor setting. Pictures speak louder than words…
In the end we left hearts (and tummy’s full) but most importantly drenched in the essence of San Francisco and of course an enormous feeling of love and gratitude for the opportunity to spend so much time together in such a wonderful city!