A Weekend in San Francisco

San Francisco was the first stop on my vacation. It has been a dream city for me for a long time, so I was excited to finally visit. The food was incredible and standing next to the Pacific Ocean the air was indescribably fresh. As expected, the cost of living in San Francisco is astronomical and the price of hotels and food matched. Most of the trip I stayed at a friend's place in the Financial District, which saved money and was comforting while being in an unknown city. Below I break down what I did and, more importantly, ate during my three days in the city. I didn't explore any of the surrounding areas like Palo Alto, Mountain View, Berkley, etc, but that's for another trip. Included at the very end of the post is my pro-con list for living in San Francisco. More pictures of my time in San Francisco can be viewed here. I'll also be filling instagram with other SF photos today. 

Day 1

Friday night I flew into SFO from Philadelphia around midnight. I stayed at the Double Tree hotel near the airport knowing I would be too exhausted to commute into the city. There was a free 24/7 airport shuttle that took me to the hotel and they had fresh baked cookies and water available at check-in. The room was sufficiently comfortable and they had an on-site gym I took advantage of the next morning. In hindsight, the savings of taking a late night flight were negated by the cost of the hotel room.

Saturday morning I took the hotel shuttle back to the airport and took BART (Bay Area Rapid Transit) to where I would be staying for the remainder of the trip. It cost $8.75 and took about 45 minutes to travel from the airport to the city. I dropped off my luggage and then headed for the Ferry Building Marketplace. I LOVE that place! It's an indoor market with a dozen or so small, local vendors, with a couple of chain stores like Sur La Table. On Saturdays they also have a sprawling farmer's market outside in a parking lot by the water. I was hungray so I ordered from the first place I came to, Frog Hollow Farm Stand.  The avocado toast was the best I've ever had. The base was a slab of roasted garlic foccacia toasted topped with sliced avocado, olive oil, and salt and pepper ($7 for a half order). Of course I needed a cold brewed coffee to wash it down. Unfortunately there's was so bad, it was almost undrinkable. Schade.

I made a few rounds through the farmers market outside searching for lunch goodies and decided on a juicy peach and Hodo Soy Thai Curry Tofu Nuggets. After packing them in my tote, I continued walking along the San Francisco Bay Trail, making stops at Fisherman's Wharf and Fort Mason. The later is an open field filled with sun bathers, picnic goers, and other people enjoying the sunshine. Fisherman's Wharf was a bit too crowded for my taste, but it is home to Boudin Bakery, which made it a must stop for me. The bakery is known for sourdough bread and being the city's oldest continuously running company. At $1.55 for an individual sized loaf, it was the cheapest stop during the trip. In the evening, I walked the path in reverse and made a second stop at the Ferry Building Marketplace to grab a bottle of House kombucha from Frog Hollow's Farm to Table.  

Day 2

Sunday morning I took the MUNI to the Outer Sunset neighborhood on the western side of San Francisco. It was a comparatively rougher neighborhood, but I was determined to visit Outerlands Cafe (discovered here). I was seven or eight deep on the wait list to get a seat, but it didn't take too long. The cafe did not disappoint. Windows and sunshine were abundant and the walls were covered in reclaimed wood. I opted for the dutch baby pancake topped with local strawberries and maple syrup with a cup of hot coffee (the best of the trip). The food was incredible. I wish I could have tried everything on the menu. Because I couldn't resist, I ordered the matcha, dulcey, raspberry scone to go. The cafe was only a block from the ocean, so I meandered along the shore taking photos of the water (plus selfies) and filling my lungs with as much of the fresh air as possible. There were also several homeless people there fishing for breakfast (literally) and I felt guilty about the indulgent meal I had just enjoyed.

The day of meandering continued and I strolled through Golden Gate Park for a couple of hours. Stowe Lake, the wind mills, and the rose garden were among my favorite stops. Then it was on to the Richmond District. The landscape and architecture of every home was different and quirky in its own way. I ended up climbing to the Presidio where the Off the Grid festival was going. So many good places to eat and drink! The view was also incredible. A friend from NYC was also visiting San Francisco and we met up on Crissy Field by the Golden Gate Bridge (hey Theresa!). From there we happened upon the Palace of Fine Arts, which was also magnificent. Based on a recommendation, we headed over to Chestnut Street to check out their shopping and dining options. It was necessary to stop at la Panotiq for macarons (macarons are always a necessity) and realizing how hungry I was, I also ordered the yummy vegetable tart.

As if I hadn't walked enough that day, I walked through the Tenderloin and Union Square after dinner plans fell through. I was craving pizza by the time I returned to the apartment and used google to find the nearest option. Goat Hill Pizza seemed like the closest, so I headed out using google maps as my guide. Each block was sketchier and sketchier with an increasing number of homeless people. The directions said to go down a narrow alley way where there were only garages. I had come that far already so I decided to risk it. Sure enough, the pizza place was inside a garage with a teenager by the door. I ordered my $16 individual pan pizza and waited, hoping for the best. Concrete floors, exposed light bulbs, and the garage door entry (you know, just a regular garage) didn't match with the image of a little girl cuddling a goat on the website. I was scared shitless to be honest, but I'm glad I stuck it out because the pizza was so delicious. I raced home the instant it was ready (it was getting dark), not sure what to expect. The sourdough crust was the right balance of fluffy and crispy and the topping flavor combination was great (goat cheese, pesto, and tomatoes). I would definitely order it again, but pay the delivery fee. In hindsight, the website did say the SOMA location was for delivery only.

Day 3

For my last day in the city, I wanted to do a couple more touristy things and experience other neighborhoods. I started by taking MUNI to visit the famous Painted Ladies houses on Alamo Square. They are the quintessential Victorian structures that most people equate with San Francisco housing. I ate a late breakfast at the Duboce Park Cafe. I opted for the bagel deluxe (everything bagel, cucumber, tomato, red onion, avocado, and cream cheese) with a beet smoothie (beets, strawberries, spinach, honey, protein powder, and apple juice) and cold brew coffee aka I stuffed my face and LOVED it. The cafe overlooked Duboce Park and the surrounding area was very charming (read: expensive). From there I headed to Inner Richmond to visit Clement St also known as Little Chinatown. There were so many interesting shops and cafes, I would need a week just to visit them all. My favorites were Fabrix, a discount fabric store, Bunh Mi, a Vietnamese sandwich shop, and Fog Notion, where I bought a few Scents of San Francisco candles.

With the day quickly coming to an end, I made one last stop at the Ferry Building Marketplace for macarons from Miette and a Blue Bottle iced coffee to fuel my flight to Portland. Sometimes I get absurdly emotional about things and this was one of those times. I cried walking out of the Ferry Building Marketplace for the last time hahaha. BART took me back to the airport. I was hungry again, so I checked out the airport dining options. Every option was healthy! I went with the beet burger from The Plant. It definitely beat the Philly airport options. Overall I had an amazing trip and really enjoyed my time in San Francisco. Here's what I perceive as the pros and cons of the city.


-Close proximity to water (fresher air)
-Undeniable charm
-A lot of parks
-Doable without a car
-Strong food culture
-Mostly young professionals
-City of introverts; no pressure to interact


-Very little sense of community
-City is very spread out and it takes a long time to get anywhere
-A LOT of homeless
-The charming neighborhoods are expensive
-Few families
-People are efficient with their interactions
-Everyone is on Tinder

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