We all flew out to California last Tuesday to spend Thanksgiving with Aaron’s moms. It was such a lovely holiday and afterwards they were gracious enough to offer to take the girls while Aaron and I spent a long weekend alone in San Francisco. It was the perfect time for them to spend quality time with their grandkids and for us to celebrate our 5 year wedding anniversary.
Aaron and I met and lived in San Francisco and the Bay Area for 5 years before making the big move to NYC so it was fun to go to all of the places we went before kids and see how the neighborhoods have changed. I wanted to share some of our favorite places, old and new, with you guys. Hope you enjoy!
We checked into our hotel, The Hilton, on Friday afternoon. The views were absolutely incredible and it was right around the corner from our old apartment but it was a pretty crowded hotel (think long lines at reception, busy lobby, etc..). If that stuff doesn’t bother you, definitely check it out! We have also previously stayed at the Intercontinental and the St. Regis, both of which I prefer over the Hilton but they are more expensive. I have also heard great things about Hotel Zetta, a newer hotel Downtown.
Airbnb is also really popular in SF. Look for a place in the Mission, Lower Haight, or Hayes Valley. I really like this listing and this listing. If you’re traveling with little ones, Kid & Coe is always the first place I look for family friendly vacation rentals.
Our first stop was the newly opened SFMOMA. It had just closed for renovations shortly after I first moved to SF and opened this past Spring. We have incredible museums in NYC but I’m usually chasing after the girls and have little time to stop and really look at the art, so this was a welcomed change.
We woke up early one morning to do the “Land’s End Trail”. It’s a pretty mild hike that can take you from Sutro Baths (another cool spot to check out) to China Beach. The trail had amazing views of the Golden Gate Bridge and was a nice escape from the city. Afterwards we grabbed brunch at Outerlands and I stopped in The General Store to pick up a few Christmas gifts.
It’s so funny to me how our idea of a romantic vacation has turned into us sitting in coffee shops all day and getting back to our hotel room early to lay in bed and watch movies. As parents, it’s nice to not have to be “on” for a few days, do you know what I mean? To just sit next to each other, without talking, reading our books and sipping lattes was just what we needed.
One thing SF did not lack, was good coffee shops. I feel like NYC always loved coffee but SF made it a “culture”. We went to our old favorite (Philz!) and some new places (how good is the tile at Cafe Réveille in that picture above?!) and I thought I’d share my list with you guys.
- Philz. Hands down my favorite coffee in the world. Get the Jacobs. Or the Mint Mojito if you want iced coffee. Any location works. And Philz, if you’re reading this, come to NYC!
- Cafe Réveille
- The Mill
- Tartine Manufactory
- Cafe St. Jorge
- Blue Bottle
- Saint Frank
- Four Barrel
Pretty sure I gained 5 lbs in a single long weekend, but thats what vacations are for right? When we woke up on our first morning I walked down the street to Mr. Holmes Bakehouse for some pastries. We managed to eat a churro croissant, root beer float donut, chocolate chip cookie, and a persimmon danish all before 10AM. Even I was impressed with myself!
One of my oldest friends, and my Maid of Honor, is the General Manager of a popular restaurant so eating out with her is kind of like eating out with a celebrity. We get to skip the line, get a bunch of free food, and sit at the best table in the house. I spent an entire day walking around the city eating with her and it was the most fun I’ve had in awhile. NYC has incredible food, don’t get me wrong, but between the produce and the incredible service, SF wins the food battle for me every single time. Be sure to check out my personal favorites if you’re in town:
- Delfina – You can’t go wrong at the Pizzeria or their main dining room. It’s all so good.
- Locanda – get the Jewish artichoke. It’s amazing. Always one of my favorite meals when I’m in town.
- State Bird Provisions – Dim Sum style Chinese American cuisine. A really fun dining experience with incredible food.
- Liholiho Yacht Club – We ate our last meal here. Excellent service and they have a dish with a pound and a half of pork belly. It’s out of this world. Didn’t have a single dish we didn’t like and we ordered the whole menu. No joke.
- Golden Coffee – This hole in the wall diner was right around the corner from our old apartment. Breakfast will cost you about $5. It’s a neighborhood classic and part of the “old San Francisco” that you just don’t see too much of anymore.
- Plow – Super yummy brunch. Be prepared for a bit of a wait though.
- Smokestack – If you’ve got a car this is worth the drive to the outskirts of town for yummy BBQ.
- Al’s Place – Everything is good. You really can’t go wrong.
- Trou Normand – Great for lunch of dinner. Perfect if you’re looking for a good charcuterie plate.
- Lazy Bear – This dinner party pop-up turned 2 Michelin-starred restaurant is such a fun experience with food to match.
- Leo’s Oyster Bar – Come for the seafood, stay for the fun cocktail list.
- Zazie – Another one of my favorite brunch spots. Get the un, deux, tois!
- Nopa – Food thats good for the soul and one of my top three spots in SF.
- Brenda’s – A brunch spot thats definitely worth the wait!
This is the Little Paper Planes shop. One of my favorite Valencia Street stores that has been around for awhile. It’s the perfect place to pick up a gift for your best friend or yourself. I wanted everything in this entire store. There are several areas in the city for good shopping. Here are my favorites from around the city:
- Freda Salvador
- Ampersand Florals
- Kira Kids
- Heidi Says
- Hero Shop
- Rand + Statler
- The Voyager Shop
- Mira Mira
And these are the tired faces of two people in love, trying to make it out of this thing called parenting alive and in one piece. I think next time we are going to try and check out a nearby city we haven’t been to before. Maybe Portland, Seattle, or Big Sur. Any PNW cities on your list?