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15 Nov

The Ultimate San Francisco Travel Guide.

we’ve lived in San Francisco for a while now, and i’m super excited to finally share my SF Travel Guide with you! this is easily one of the most asked questions i get emails/DMs about: what to do, where to eat, what to see, and everything in between. i’ve had a list on my phone since the day we moved here but there were certain things i wanted to actually do and experience myself before sharing with all of you! everything on my travel guide robbie and i have done, eaten, etc. i wanted this to be a very real & authentic guide. i have included some of the typical tourist activities that are definitely worth your time, but this will mostly be from a local’s point of view so you know you’re getting the hidden gems!

i’ve broken down this guide into three categories: where to eat {the tastiest food spots for breakfast, lunch, dinner, and dessert}, what to do {fun activities/cool sights to see}, and where to stay {the best hotels}. be sure to check out my top ten most instagrammable spots in San Francisco here as well for the best photo opps while you’re in the city! all these spots are not listed on this guide, so be sure to click on over and add them to your trip’s itinerary!

so without further ado, enjoy my ultimate guide to San Francisco! if you’re ever visiting here in the City by the Bay, be sure to let me know! xx

ps: i will consistently be adding to this guide as we continue to explore our city!

where to eat

Le Marais: the cutest French bakery/cafe with the tastiest dishes. our favorite!

breakfast/brunch:
Le Marais Bakery: without a doubt one of our favorite spots in SF. the food is phenomenal, the bakery is gorgeous, and the owners are some of the nicest people we’ve ever met. definitely make a stop at one of their two locations. {we always go to the Castro location on Sanchez Street!}

Plow: if you’re feeling hungry, order “The Plow.” either way, you must try their famous Lemon Ricotta pancakes! try to go on a weekday because the weekend wait is 2 hours+.

Sidewalk Juice: hands own the best acai bowl you will ever have {we order acai bowls wherever we travel and this place in SF is still the absolute best!}

Mission Rock Resort: highly recommend sitting outside on the deck with a gorgeous view of the San Francisco shipyard!

lunch:

enjoy all the Cuban vibes at Media Noche in the Mission District

sweetgreen: our very favorite salad spot you’ve probably seen on our Instagrams a million times. we come for lunch and/or dinner at least once a week! it’s healthy and very filling! we can’t get enough of it.

Lite Bite: this is our favorite healthy lunch spot in the cute Cow Hollow neighborhood that’s also super reasonably priced! i always get the chicken enchilada and robbie gets the turkey meatloaf & fresh sweet potatoes. it’s all homemade, healthy, and so yummy!

Koja Kitchen: this is one of robbie’s absolute favorites in the city! Koja {Korean-Japanese fusion} was such a popular food truck that they made a location in the Sunset that offers all the amazing dishes. the rice buns and kamakazi fries are to die for!

Media Noche: super good Cuban food in the colorful Mission District. plus, the decor is out of this world. i’ve blogged it before here. get the classic Cubano sandwich!

dinner:

Straw’s legendary donut burger. (via @strawsf)

Straw: our number one, go-to recommendation for anyone visiting the city! it’s a carnival themed restaurant and the food is soooo good! their world famous donut burger {no, really}, chicken and waffles, corn dog appetizers, etc. make it the most unique menu you’ll find. make a reservation online! it’s super reasonable prices and has really fun decor.

Elephant Sushi: there’s a few locations in SF but we always go to the one in upscale Russian Hill. you have to go before it opens to put in your name or else you’ll be waiting in line forever. the restaurant is tiny {maybe seats 20 people} so the earlier you can get your name down, the better!

Tratto: our very favorite Italian spot! i’ve sent many followers here and they always love it. we’ve even brought my parents here; it’s that good!

Tony’s Pizza: best pizza place in North Beach aka Little Italy! the pizza is made by 12-time world pizza champion Tony Gemignani and is known worldwide.

Gott’s: my favorite burger place in the city! gourmet burgers, sweet potato fries, and quality milkshakes located right in the iconic Ferry Building!

Palomino: looking for something fancy with a view? Palomino is right on the Embarcadero and has a gorgeous view of the Bay Bridge. the food is European-inspired and everything is tasty. get a seat near the window so you can enjoy the view!

treats:


the healthiest {and most delicious} frozen treat you’ll ever eat: Freeze by Pressed Juicery

Bob’s Donuts: we come here about once a week #noshame. there’s a reason why it has the widely known reputation as the best donut shop in SF!

Gio Gelati: this is the best gelato we’ve found in San Francisco, right on adorable Union Street. it’s owned by the nicest family from Italy, and the mother and son make it fresh and authentic every day. trust me when i say their fruit flavors are out of this world. you all know i have a major sweet tooth and always go for anything chocolate, so this should tell you how good their fresh, smooth fruit gelato is.

Loving Cup: the best frozen yogurt we’ve ever had! they blend all your toppings together so smooth and it’s so yummy. my go-to is the s’mores.

Bi-Rite Creamery: it’s legendary here for a reason. after getting your cone, walk across the street to enjoy famous Dolores Park! the top of the park has such a good view of the City skyline.

Pressed Juicery: want something healthy? grab a delicious cold pressed juice or our favorite healthy treat: the Freeze. think frozen yogurt but no milk, only frozen pressed juice with fresh berries and little cacao chips as toppings. guilt free and so tasty.

Salt & Straw: Portland’s finest finally made it here! love all of the unique ice cream flavors.

get baked with the yummiest treats at Mr. Holmes

Mr. Holmes Bakehouse: yummy bakery known for its amazing pastries, croissants, and of course, cruffins. very instagrammable with its cool neon sign inside.

Ghirardelli Square: very touristy so expect lines to be long but this is the place for a sweet ice cream treat and great view of the Golden Gate Bridge.

Wrecking Ball: hands down my most favorite hot chocolate ever. i’ve heard the coffee is good too! it has the cutest pineapple wallpaper in a super trendy location.

*sorry no bar/cocktail recommendations! robbie and i don’t drink!*

what to do

swingin’ below the Golden Gate at Kirby Cove

bike the Golden Gate Bridge: this is our favorite things to do with friends/family that come into town. it’s a really fun way to get out and see the city! you can cruise along the Embarcadero, up through Fisherman’s Wharf, into the Marina Green, and then up to the Golden Gate all in one route. there’s bike rentals all over but a lot of people use Blazing Saddles because of their convenient locations.

tour Alcatraz Prison: we’ve done this a few times now and it’s super interesting each time! it’s such an iconic piece of history. you should definitely buy tickets online a few weeks in advance so you can be sure you get a spot.

set sail on a catamaran to experience the Bay up close and personal

take a catamaran out into the Bay: we went under the Golden Gate bridge with a group of friends and it was amazingggg! it was about $50-60 a person. definitely a great photo opp.

book a SoulCycle class: looking for some fun exercise to burn off all those vacation treats? take a SoulCycle spin class at any of the awesome SF locations! i visit the location in the historic Castro neighborhood, so maybe i’ll spot you there!

take a drive to the historic Napa Valley & enjoy all the vineyard views

take a trip to Wine Country: it’s a 50 mile drive from the city to the world famous Napa Valley but it’s worth every minute. one of my very favorite things we’ve done was a hot air balloon ride in Napa! so many unreal views of the vineyards and it was beautiful to watch the sunrise. the food in Napa is incredible as well. we don’t drink, but so many people come from all over the world to visit the wineries there.

enjoy Union Street: this is my favorite street in the Marina neighborhood. it has the cutest shops and some really good lunch places mentioned above. you can grab some candy at Sugarfina, shop in the boutiques, and if you walk up or down the streets on either side, you’ll get the classic shots of all the super cute SF homes. 

drive down Lombard Street: the crookedest street in the world! you can walk it too. this is another iconic spot in SF that is popular among tourists.

enjoy the heart of the city by shopping in Union Square

shop Union Square and the Westfield Shopping Center: these two shopping meccas are right next to each other and provide everything from Chanel to Forever 21. the Nordstrom in the Westfield Mall is one of the biggest ever! Union Square is another iconic SF spot so be sure to take a photo with one of the heart murals placed on each corner! also, November through January, Union Square hosts an outdoor skating rink which is really fun.

go see Beach Blanket Babylon: this hysterical musical/comedy revue is the epitome of San Francisco. it is so hilariously over the top and constantly poking fun at pop culture. it’s super funny while still being appropriate humor.

visit the San Francisco Premium Outlets: if you have the time to take an hour drive away from the city out to Livermore {not sure why they are called San Francisco outlets when they aren’t close to the city…}, these include so many amazing stores like a Gucci outlet!

the best, most picturesque view of the city from Hawk Hill in the Marin Headlands

get the best view of the City/Golden Gate Bridge from Hawk Hill: drive across the Golden Gate Bridge and head up into the Marin Headlands for this breathtaking view. you’ll see the famous bridge in all its glory and get the city in the background. if you park at the first stop, you can even hike the mile down to Kirby Cove, which includes a really fun swing with an incredible view under the Bridge!

stop by The Painted Ladies: say hi to the cast of Full House {joking!} and snag a great photo opp at this famous pop culture landmark. the best photos are from across the street on the little hill in Alamo Square Park.

Baker Beach: the best beach with the best view

enjoy Baker Beach: this beach has the most beautiful view of the Golden Gate. lay out and read a book, build a bonfire, play frisbee, or just cozy up to watch the sunset.

visit the Muir Woods: just a short drive outside of SF, this U.S. National Park is known for its massive Redwood trees that are thousands of years old. take a hike and connect with nature in the most peaceful woods of Northern California.

where to stay

if you’re coming to San Francisco, why not do it big? stay at the iconic Palace Hotel and enjoy all the luxury it has to offer.

The Palace Hotel, San Francisco: this hotel hardly needs any introduction. movies have been filmed here, books have been set here, celebrities have stayed here, and it’s all for one good reason: it’s pure luxury. every detail is gorgeous and rooms provide amazing views of Market Street. one of our biggest treats here in the city is to have tea and finger sandwiches in their stunning Garden Court. {see more photos from my stays in The Palace here and here.}

staying at Hotel Zelos will put you right in the middle of the city so you won’t miss any of the action

Hotel Zelos: right in the heart of downtown SF! it’s basically attached to the Westfield Shopping Center and so convenient if you’re wanting to be right in the middle of everything. read my entire review on this artistic, modern hotel and its incredible restaurant The Dirty Habit here.

the modern-chic Hotel Zoe is another great place to stay, just a quick walk from Fisherman’s Wharf and North Beach {Little Italy}

Hotel Zoe: this hotel opened just this year! it’s super modern and chic. robbie and i loved it! it’s located right off Fisherman’s Wharf and is just a few minute walk to North Beach {Little Italy}. this means you get a lot of great food options: you can enjoy all the seafood on Pier 39 or get the best slice of pizza you’ve ever had in Little Italy. see my IG post on it here.

—–

always reppin’ the Warriors!

 

San Francisco is for Lovers <3

23 Comments
  • Cathy

    Great guide to the city! These are good suggestions, I love that Palomino is still there after all these years. When I lived in the city it was one my go-to places with my friends. So fun!

    XOXO
    Cathy

    November 16, 2017 at 7:29 am Reply
  • Colby James

    Also “Sweet Maple” for Brunch. Get the “Big Hip with a side of Millionare’s Bacon.” Thank me later.

    November 16, 2017 at 9:16 am Reply
  • Shelby Tucker

    I absolutely love San Francisco! I have done a few things on this list, but now your making me want to plan a trip out to check off the things I haven’t! Such a great guide!

    November 16, 2017 at 9:56 am Reply
  • Valencia Gentry

    This is so helpful and amazing. I hadn’t planned on coming to San Fran but, I am now. I want to swing on that swing. Absolutely, love is post. A bunch of ideas and fabulous indeed. Thank you for this.

    November 16, 2017 at 11:56 am Reply
  • LuxMommy

    I love San Fransisco and you gave some great tips! BTW, that bag!!!

    November 16, 2017 at 6:31 pm Reply
  • Stephani

    Such an amazing and detailed guide to SF!! I haven’t been in a couple years and dying to go back soon! I need to try some of these places especially the restaurants and treat spots!!

    Xo, Steph

    November 16, 2017 at 8:16 pm Reply
  • megan

    looks & sounds like so much fun! I’ve never been but now I want to go!

    xo megan

    November 16, 2017 at 8:23 pm Reply
  • Shira

    I’ve never been to SF and really really want to go! Clearly will reference this post if I do haha.

    November 17, 2017 at 6:36 am Reply
  • Mei

    What an awesome guide! I loved San Francisco when I visited last year.

    November 17, 2017 at 6:41 am Reply
  • Emily The JetSetting Fashionista

    Sarah,

    Great list! It’s always fun as a San Franciascan to see other locals favorites. You’re going to love The Palace Hotel. Be sure to experience their tea it’s fabulous!!
    Xo
    Emily

    November 17, 2017 at 7:32 am Reply
  • Liz

    Thanks for putting this together! Definitely bookmarking for the future!

    Liz
    http://Www.lizzieinlace.com

    November 18, 2017 at 10:32 am Reply
  • Kim

    Oh my gosh love this travel guide so much! San Fran is on my list of places to go so I’m pinning this for later!

    xoxo,
    Kim

    November 19, 2017 at 8:55 am Reply
  • nita

    Definitely saving this for the next time I visit San Fran! I’ve been there once and it didn’t steal my heart but I think using this guide will create a different experience for me!

    November 19, 2017 at 8:22 pm Reply
  • Truelany Guerra

    I just printed this post!!! This is exactly what I was looking for!! Yeiiiiiiiiiiiii!!!!

    I can’t wait to spend the holiday break in San Francisco!!

    December 13, 2017 at 12:25 pm Reply
  • Mamoon Moulavi

    Enjoyed reading it. Nice post.
    I have a dream to visit union square and golden gate. 😊✌

    December 16, 2017 at 8:56 pm Reply
  • Alyssa

    Bookmarking this! I’ll be heading there soon, and you always need to try local cuisine so a donut burger it is!
    Alyssa @ http://feathersandstripes.com

    February 28, 2018 at 1:43 pm Reply
  • Denis Mountain

    The plow is really awesome, their single panel menu covers are easy to read and understand.

    July 25, 2018 at 2:22 am Reply
  • Kurt rental

    San Francisco is just a wonderful city! The city is filled with pieces of history that have influenced the development of the country. If you are going to visit the States then this city should be obligatory part of your itinerary. Only the Golden Gate Bridge will be remembered for you forever.

    July 26, 2018 at 3:01 am Reply
  • Jacqueline

    Amazing blog was this and wonderful city was sanfrancisco… and this is wonderful trip…u had an ultimate delicious food even and hotel zelos is very cool and peace wow thanks for sharing.

    July 27, 2018 at 2:25 am Reply
  • Jazelle Ao

    Wow, love your travel guide! So helpful! I have a long layover in SF next month and plan to explore the city as I’ve never been before. With 3 adults and 2 children, do you recommend us renting a car or would it be better to utilize public transportation? We want to see the Golden Gate Bridge, Painted Ladies, and some hidden gems like 16th Ave Tiled Steps. Your help would be greatly appreciated!

    August 6, 2018 at 1:38 pm Reply
  • Dorrie Klatt

    Hi! We are coming to California and spending most of our time in Mendocino and Crescent City but will have one full day in San Francisco before we head home.

    What are the highlights you suggest that can be done in a day?

    Thank you!!

    Dorrie

    September 25, 2018 at 6:02 am Reply

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