The Golden Gate Bridge, Alcatraz Island, cable cars and clam chowder, these are the things I remember most from my first visit to San Francisco almost 15 years ago. Last month I had the opportunity to visit this buzzing Californian city again, however this time I was eager to explore the streets through the eyes of a local.
With the hospitality of some fab friends and adventurous colleagues, my week in this sunny yet foggy city was anything but boring. My camera rarely left my side so I thought I'd share with you some of my highlights & perhaps inspire you to put this city on your travel list.
I spent the first few days of my trip staying with friends in Sausalito, a pretty, green, harbourside town. From the city, Sausalito is only a short ferry ride or drive across the Golden Gate Bridge, yet feels a million miles away.
Within hours of touching down and setting foot here, I found myself wrapping my hands around an all American burger at the Napa Valley Burger Co, what better way to start the trip huh!
The Sausalito boat houses are absolutely worth checking out. So colourful and unrestrainedly creative...anything goes and I love that!
As the wine county Sonoma, is only a stones throw away, we decided to make the scenic drive and explore the region. We visited three wineries with the last making us feel like we were starring in Wedding Crashes (the wedding season was upon us).
Fab friends Matt & Kellie Lough & me - sipping on Rose at Madrone Winery
Top left: Chateau St Jean Winery (Fairytale wedding venue!) Bottom Right: Muscardini Winery
Madrone Wine Estate
So back to the heart of San Francisco. I spent the next five nights at the Hotel Zetta which is smack bang in the middle of the shopping district. Within metres are the doors to Westfield, dangerous, VERY dangerous, especially as the shops don't close till 8:30pm every single night. The hotel is modern, playful & arty, an ideal base for a fun fuelled week.
Time to get back to some food. A fab place for brunch is the Park Tavern. For those who have spent time in London, this place reminded me of The Wolseley. Grand, stylish yet cosy.
We ordered banana & coconut fritters, cast-iron baked farm eggs with spinach & jamon, scrambled eggs with homemade chorizo as well avocado on seeded whole wheat toast drizzled with lemon & chilli flakes.
Later I found out that the Park Tavern is actually the sister restaurant to The Cavalier restaurant inside Hotel Zetta. Both delivering bistro style food celebrating seasonal and quality produce.
No visit to San Fran is complete without visiting these key locations. The "Painted Ladies" (think Full House), Union Square and the Ferry Building.
Union Square - the shopping hub of the city
Inside the Ferry Building is home to gourmet food stalls of local artisan producers. Blue Bottle Coffee, Cowgirl Creamery Cheese and Humphry Slocombe ice cream are some of the local favourites. I can personally testify that the ice-cream at Humphry Slocombe is worth committing to the lengthy queue.
A restaurant highlight which too is located within the Ferry Building is The Slanted Door. A modern Vietnamese eatery, a place catered for power lunches and friendly get togethers. The place was buzzing. The food came fresh and fast. Highlights were the fresh Vietnamese rolls, grass fed filet mignon on Sausalito watercress and their special hokkien noodles which weren't on the menu. Located by the water it's the ideal place to linger over a long lunch.
It was a whirlwind of a week but it definitely reignited my interest with not only the Californian state but the USA. I need to start planning (& saving!) my next adventure over there.
All highlights are listed below in case you'd like to reach out or bookmark them for your next trip.
55 5th Street
San Francisco, CA 94103
Phone +1 415 543 8555
Napa Valley Burger Company
Sausalito, CA 94965
Phone +1 415 332 1454
Ferry Building Marketplace
One Ferry Building
San Francisco, CA 94111
Phone +1 415 983 8030
The Slanted Door
One Ferry Building #3
San Francisco, CA 94111
Phone +1 415 861 8032
1652 Stockton St
San Francisco, CA 94133
Phone +1 415 989 7300
Madrone - Valley Of The Moon Winery
777 Madrone Road
Glen Ellen, CA 95442
Phone +1 707 939 4500
9380 Sonoma Hwy
Kenwood, CA 95452
Phone +1 707 933 9305
Chateau St Jean Winery
8555 Sonoma Hwy
Kenwood, CA 95452
Phone +1 707 833 4134
Have you got any upcoming holidays booked? If not where would you like your next travelling adventure to be?