The City By The Bay: San Francisco

It’s pretty hard not to fall in love with San Francisco. The atmosphere, the food, the weather, I’m still convinced this place was made up in a fairytale. When I was in California in October, we only had one day to spend in the city, but we completely filled our day in San Francisco sight seeing, eating, and exploring the city. Here are 9 things that I did, and that you HAVE to check out, when you’re in San Francisco.

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  1. Sausalito is a one-of-a-kind, beautiful town, with its houses built into the hills overlooking the San Francisco Bay. Across the bay you can see the skyline of the city and even the lone Alcatraz in the middle. We stopped and had breakfast and coffee at one of the local cafes along the main road before heading out to The Golden Gate Bridge. sausalito-california-travel Sausalito-CA-TravelSausalito-Travel-CA
  2. Vista Point is one of the top sight-seeing spot for the bridge in Sausalito. You have to drive up a steep mountain to get to the top, and then fight for parking like you’re in NYC, but it’s totally worth it. You’ll get some of the best views and the best photos from the top of Vista Point. After a highly involved photo shoot, trying not to trip and slide down the side of an incredibly steep mountain, we finally drove into the city.
    Golden-Gate-Bridge-Travel
  3. Lombard Street is the perfect first stop in the hilly city. The infamous windy road with EIGHT unbelievably sharp turns is pretty thrilling in itself. Everyone goes down that part of the street one-by-one and traffic directors tell you when it’s your turn to go. Tip: if you want to get a picture, make sure you hop out of the car and run up to the intersection on foot while the car waits in line. You’ll notice, I don’t have any pictures of Lombard Street. We weren’t quick enough so all my pictures turned out not-so-great. So instead, here’s what it looks like driving over the Golden Gate Bridge. Golden-Gate-Picture-Bridge
  4. Fisherman’s Wharf is the next spot you have to check out, where you can see the sea lions sunbathing off Pier 39. How could you not want to see a million sea lions shouting at and climbing all over each other?! Directly behind the sea lions is Neptune’s, an amazing yet affordable place to eat on the pier. We had a beautiful lunch overlooking the Bay, enjoying calamari, lobster bisque, and out-of-this-world strawberry peach sangrias! (Psst.. check out Alcatraz in the bottom picture)Pier39-FishermansWharf-CAPier39-Sea-Lions-San-FranciscoIMG_4711
  5. Want to take a scenic tour around the San Francisco Bay? Buy tickets for the Rocket Boat tour. Except here’s something we didn’t know, although we should have had enough sense to realize just from its name, it’s more of a high-speed thrill ride around the bay with loud music blasting the whole time. It turns out it was a happy surprise, bringing us amazing views and tons of laughs. Hint: Don’t sit on the end row closest to the water- you’ll get pretty wet (Sorry, Stef!). San-Francisco-Boat-Tour Rocket-Boat-SanFran-Bay
  6. Ghiradelli Square is the place to be if you love chocolate as much as I do. Chocolate sundaes are a must at the Ghiradelli Chocolate store, where you can buy all sorts of chocolately goodness. Within the square itself you can shop at any of the numerous boutiques and stores it features. And it’s just walking distance from our next stop…Ghiradelli-Square-San-FranciscoGharadelli-Sundae-San-Francisco
  7. You can’t be in San Francisco without riding on a trolley! That was our mentality, so leaving the square around sunset, we waited in quite the line (about 45 minutes!) to take a classic San Fran trolley up Market Street on the Powell-Hyde Line. Hint: don’t make the mistake we did and wait in line! Instead, walk about three blocks up… the trolley stops to pick up more passengers (with NO wait)! Trolley-Car-San-FranciscoIMG_4784
  8. The Full House house was a must-see for us Uncle Jesse fans. But by the time we were finished on our trolley ride, it was dark so our photo opportunities of the Painted Ladies were slim. But seeing it in person with the shining city lights above the strip of Victorian house was incredible. If you think going to see the house at night is a lost cause, don’t! It’s still definitely worth the trip. Full-House-San-Francisco
  9. I’m sure there’s tons of great places to have dinner in the city. But we had dinner at the awesome farm-to-table restaurant Nopa that offered amazing “urban, rustic cuisine,” like hamburgers, pasta, and my favorite- the freshest and tastiest tomato mozzarella salad I’ve ever had! Somehow, we had the incredible luck to get a table as soon as we walked in. We heard others being told of an hour (plus!) wait time, so if you want to check out Nopa, I would suggest calling ahead or making a reservation, just in case! Nopa-Restaraunt-San-Francisco

After a late dinner it was nearly 10:30 at night when we finished, and although we had planned on seeing the night-life/bar scene of the city, we ended up stopping for milkshakes at a diner before heading back to Napa (#postgradlife). Our day in the city was filled with tons of sight-seeing and overall being the most stereotypical tourists. On my next trip maybe I’ll know some more inside secrets of the city, but for now, this is a good start!

What should I add to the list the next time I’m in San Francisco?

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