San Francisco had long been on my bucket list and so when I could make it work to fit in a weekend there before a Californian wedding… it was a no-brainer. Unfortunately, a flight cancellation made it into 24 hours. But what a 24 hours; all the food trends, instagrammable houses and tram-filled streets and THE COFFEE! This itinerary is ideal for the active city-explorer or could be spread over two days for the city-stroller, adding in a few other gems I didn’t have time for like the zig-zagging Haight-Ashbury or a boat trip.
I stayed at the Cartwright on Union Square to be super central and for easy access to the shops, where I could stock up on Benefit products etc. The Cartwright had a roaring logfire and comfy sofas in the foyer and the rooms were all dark wood, tufted headboards and ceiling fans. Just my aesthetic, Nomads.
After enjoying your hotel breakfast, head straight off to the Golden Gate Bridge to start your day in the most iconic way possible. It absolutely lives up to expectation; take the time to wander across the bridge and admire the scale. And take a million photographs, let’s be straight about this, Nomads.
From here, head back into the city down Divisadero Street, stopping in at The Mill for some excellent Four Barrel coffee. If you didn’t manage breakfast, the Bi-Rite Market is closeby for deli and snacking goodies. This area has some great little boutiques in this area, but I was saving myself for Mission District.
Make your way to Chinatown and enjoy getting lost amongst the hub-bub. Find the Golden Gate Fortune Cookie Factory down Ross Alley (the city’s oldest street) and watch the gentleman making up the cookies before leaving with a big bag. Wander down Jack Kerouac Alley, named after its most famous loiterer, and enjoy the mix of East and West poetry decorating the pavements. At the end, you’ll find the City Lights Bookstore, which will through you straight into the Beat Age. Pick up a book and take a seat.
It’s probably time for some food, so if you’ve resisted the Chinatown smells, head over to Dolores Park for an al fresco lunch. The Tartine Bakery has a wonderful selection or try the incredible Rebel Within from Craftsman and Wolves (it’s a trendy scotch egg and I LOVED it.) Dolores Park is an attraction in and of itself; bringing to mind the summer of love and LGBTQ movement. Take your time and enjoy it, definitely with an ice-cream from the nearby Bi-Rite Creamery to finish off your picnic. It’s so worth the queue.
Spend a good chunk of the afternoon lusting after Mission’s pastel homes and darting in and out of the range of boutiques in this area. I loved Gravel and Gold for beautiful interiors.
Late afternoon is a great time to make your way to the Marina District and Fisherman’s Wharf for a walk along the sea front and a view out to Alcatraz. For dinner time views, I headed to Boudin’s, an old bakery which is now a large restaurant for a bread bowl of chowder and a huge glass of good local wine. A dreamy end to a dreamy day.
I’d love to hear your extra tips, Nomads – shopping, eating, evening entertainment. Drop them in the comments section below!