california travel series: san francisco

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When redeeming two frequent-flyer tickets with domestic U.S. liberties, the list of possible destinations will likely feel endless. The question is not if, but where to set off to in a country with such geographic variation? Texas is too big. Maine is too cold. And Nebraska has too much…well. nothing?

When my aunt and I were faced with this dilemma ourselves, we weren’t sure which state to choose. Eventually, our decision-making led us out west. California seemed like the perfect state to explore given its vertical shape and, therefore, choice of climates. In my mind, a road trip down Highway 1 held lots of potential, but wasn’t until we began our research that we grew overwhelmingly excited about the possibilities. With eagerness to fuel us, we began to map out a boredom-proof itinerary.

Our choice to fly into San Francisco was close to a no-brainer. Our desire to see California’s famous Redwoods left us wondering if we should arrive further north in a town such as Crescent City, but our discovery of The Muir Woods  in San Fran solidified our decision to fly to a place where there was more to see and do.

San Francisco 

Our arrival to SFO came at 11 AM PST. We rented a red converticle Mustang and felt instant Californization. After a minor battle with our map, we finally found our way to the Orchard Hotel, located in Union Square. We had reserved a suite and were pleased to find a cozy room, as well as a very helpful, friendly staff. Since the hotel is located at Powell and Bush streets, we were able to easily catch a cable car at the corner and ride down to Fisherman’s Wharf. By 8 PM, most of the restaurants looked busy and inviting, but we settled on the Boudin Sourdough Bakery and Cafe due to its convenient location and attractive looking window front. A sourdough bread bowl filled with traditional lobster corn chowder was the perfect jetlag remedy. Sugar-coma inducing sundaes at Ghiradelli Square and an early retirement to bed helped, too.

At 570 Powell Street also lies Roxanne’s Cafe–our go-to brunch joint less than a block away. It may not be as renowned as Mama’s on Washington Square, but the wait is short and the omelet list is long. Here, I tried both the Napa Valley and California omelets: two culinary delights made by using fresh, native ingredients such as cilantro and avocado.

The Muir Woods

If nature is calling during your time in the city, a visit to the Muir Woods may be just the thing to kaput your craving. It is located off highway 101, just 18 miles north of the Golden Gate Bridge. This forest is perfectly picturesque, even on a rainy day, and the damp ground-cover in combination with the Bay Area fog gives the scenery somewhat of a Jurassic Park feel. The Redwoods at Muir Forest are not the widest or even tallest that you’ll find in California, but they are no doubt tall and beautiful. Dragging along a forest-fearing female? Entice her with the jewelry selection. The gift shop at Muir Woods has beautiful hand-crafted necklaces, bracelets, and earrings, all made from precious metals, semi-precious stones, and of course, Redwood.

Bay Area Neighborhoods

On your journey back south from the woods, stop in Sausalito, or at Alamo Square and Haight-Ashbury, for some real San Francisco treats. At Alamo Square, located at Steiner and Hayes streets, you’ll find gorgeous views of the city–rain or shine. Stand in the middle of the square facing north-east to enjoy a recognizable view of victorians against the foggy city skyline. These houses are known as Postcard Row. Where Haight and Ashbury collide is where you’ll find vibrant colored houses and a bohemian ambiance. It is home to many bars, book shops, and record stores, all with notable 1960’s hippie charm. Also to see in these neighborhoods? A “full house,” located at 1709 Broderick, and the hairpin turn landmark, Lombard Street, located in the Cow Hollow neighborhood. A Mexican dinner complete with flavored margaritas at Las Margaritas makes a perfect finish to the evening, followed by a ride on the cable car back to the hotel.

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One response to “california travel series: san francisco

  1. Pingback: california travel series: yosemite and sonoma valley | dish & tell

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