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Wednesday, May 04, 2011

San Francisco: Any advice?

In ten days, Alex, Toby and I will be taking a long-awaited trip to...San Francisco! We're staying in Noe Valley and can't wait to walk across the Golden Gate Bridge, hang out with my sister, and ride these insane-looking cement slides. Alex also wants to walk around Berkeley and reminisce about his college days. We don't know the city that well, though, so I'd love to ask: Do you have any recommendations of fun things to do? Restaurants? Shops? Day trips or hikes? We would LOVE to hear! Thank you so much for any tips. San Francisco is so amazing! xoxo

P.S. These sails look incredible.

518 comments:

1 – 200 of 518   Newer›   Newest»
cheryl.andrey said...

Check out the wave organ! My husband and I saw it a couple of years ago when we were in San Fran. It was really cool. Here's my post about it: http://cherylandrey.blogspot.com/2008/05/wave-organ.html

Katie said...

Go to Greens Restaurant! http://www.greensrestaurant.com/ It's right on the bay. It's vegetarian, but AMAZING, and the decor is beautiful.

Michelle said...

Visting Sausalito on the other side of the bridge is a must! Cutest little waterfront town, gorgeous surroundings, fun small town feel shops!

Kate Ann said...

I really enjoy visiting the farmers market at the Ferry building on Saturdays. The Ferry building is not to be missed. Tons of stalls with delicious artisan food and bev and their farmers market is the best I've ever been to.

Also dim sum in SF is kind of ridiculous.

Have fun!

Fannie said...

You must go to the ferry building—a fantastic food mecca. The Mexican restaurant that's along the water in the Ferry building (I'm forgetting the name) is outstanding, and owned by a chef who as done wonders for San Francisco's restaurant world.

The Exploratorium is a must when you have slightly older kids, though it's fun for parents too!

And Ebisu is one of the best sushi restaurants in town. I'd highly recommend it.

scsd said...

How fun! Have a great trip, can't wait to see pics!

~Blair @ scsd
www.sarahcatherinedesign.blogspot.com

Stacey said...

Check out the Cheese Board in Berkeley!
Best Pizza and the make an insanely good chocolate brioche. Take your goodies up to the Berkeley Rose Garden to relax and take in the view.
http://cheeseboardcollective.coop/
http://www.ci.berkeley.ca.us/contentdisplay.aspx?id=12048

Dana said...

Go to First Crush. Honestly, the meal I had there at Christmas time last year has gone on my top ten favorite dinners of all time! It has great ambiance too. Oh, and all of there wines are from California, which I thought was pretty neat. Have so much fun!!! San Fran is an awesome city.

love, dana
danalovestobake.blogspot

sherri lynn said...

Oh I love San Fran! Have a great time!

jill said...

Come to the de Young museum in Golden Gate Park after the slide (for which you'll enjoy more if you have a large piece of cardboard to sit on) and see our incredible exhibition, Balenciaga and Spain. If you love haute couture, you'll be in heaven.

email me directly and i'll give you more suggestions --i've lived here for 20 years.

Anonymous said...

go to GREENS! It's a vegetarian restaurant in fisherman's wharf.

best,
millicent

Luciane at HomeBunch.com said...

Plans? Don't have too many! Go with the flow... That's the best way to really explore a new city.

xo


Luciane at HomeBunch.com

andrea despot said...

ever since i visited SF a few weeks ago, it seems that quite a few fellow bloggers are visiting as well! i absolutely fell in love with the place and can't WAIT to move there (in a couple months).

i don't have much advice as far as specific places (except for the obvious: golden gate bridge, crissy field, palace of fine arts, alcatraz, chinatown, city lights books, fisherman's wharf). what i loved about san francisco was that you could just wander around and always find something interesting. just walking around and LOOKING was reward enough. such an amazing, amazing place...

you'll love it!! have fun!!

Susan said...

I highly recommend a day trip to Muir Woods: http://www.nps.gov/muwo/index.htm

Have fun!

Judith @ iheartmyroof said...

I've never been, but have been living vicariously through Oh Happy Day's love for SF..

http://jordanferney.blogspot.com/2011/04/mission-cheese.html

and

http://jordanferney.blogspot.com/2011/02/san-francisco-eats.html

seem they'd be right up your street

xxxxx

Caitlin said...

The best meal I've ever had was at Canteen (www.sfcanteen.com) - amazing food, fantastic service, great atmosphere.

If you are a fan of McSweeney's or Dave Eggers, visit the 'Pirate Supply Store' (I think it's 428 Valencia Street). The Curiosity Shoppe and gallery (also a fantastic online store) is just down the street.

San Francisco is my favourite city in the world, I look forward to my annual trip every year!

Girly Notes said...

aww we'll miss your posts while you're away :(

http://girlynote.blogspot.com

VA said...

Ferry Building for lunch - if you can get in, Slanted Door is excellent! Muir Woods (by way of Sausalito) is a great afternoon trip, or if you have more time, go up to Sonoma/Napa (my favorite place in the world).

Kate said...

A day trip to Sonoma is always lovely. My parents live in Sacramento and my husband and I leave our kiddo with them when we come visit and head over to Sonoma for a quick getaway.

Their main town square has a ton of adorable shops and great restaurants (The Girl and the Fig is yummy) I like Sonoma because it's more low key than Napa. All the lovely views and wines with fewer people. If you are in Berkeley then you should also go to the Cheeseboard. Amazing breads and pizzas and obviously, cheese. You can picnic up in Tilden Park where they have a sweet little carousel although its hours are sketchy. :-) Have a lovely time.

Manolos to Asolos said...

Ohh! one of my best friends lives in SF and is from Berkeley. She loves A16 in San Francisco and Chez Panisse in Berkeley.

I hope you all have so much fun!! I need to make a trip out there soon myself. It is such a wonderful city. : )

Have a wonderful time!! And as always thank you for sharing your lovely blog, I love it!

Shannon Mac said...

A great, healthy Chinese food restaurant that I used to work at! It's in the Marina -- which is a lovely place to walk around, especially if you have Toby with you. And the restaurant is super friendly :)
http://www.dragonwell.com/

Also, if you're in Berkley, eat at Naan and Curry -- it's near campus.

And, if you're up for a hike, the coastal trail is lovely. We usually start at the Cliffhouse (in Richmond) where you can see the ruins of the 20s Sutro baths. From there, you hike north to the Golden Gate Bridge! It's a gorgeous hike and not at all challenging. http://www.californiacoastaltrail.info/hikers/hikers_main.php?DisplayAction=DisplayCounty&CountyId=7

Hope you guys have a great time! I live back in Florida now, but my husband and I can't wait to visit (or move??) San Francisco again.

Vanessa said...

Tartine Bakery for sure, and dinner at Zuni cafe is always delicious (roast chicken with currants..yum). Day trip and great hiking in Point Reyes Station, where you can visit the original Cowgirl Creamery shop! My favorite part of the world! Enjoy xo

Dana said...

San Francisco is the best place to just walk around. I recommend walking through the Presidio/Chrissy Field, then you can go over to Chestnut street for ice cream and to look at the shops there. I also HIGHLY second the ferry building farmers markets.

If you go to Sausalito, skip the downtown area (too kitschy and touristy for me) and head to the Heath Ceramics factory for a tour and marked-down ceramics.

I love taking day trips to go wine tasting. Quivira, Hop Kiln, and Preston are my favorite wineries.

My favorite, favorite restaurant ever in the city is Universal Cafe. I recommend it for brunch, and lots of people bring babies.

Enjoy! I lived there after undergrad and am about to move back in a month after I graduate from grad school!

robin said...

Clam Chowder from Sabella's at Fisherman's Wharf. The best clam chowder I have ever had. I used to walk there when I lived in the area. They even sell it outside the restaurant if you don't want a sit down meal.

Chapstick Fanatic said...

that is so exciting! i have never been to the west coast and i have always wanted to go. san fran is on the top of my list.

http://lachapstickfanatique.blogspot.com

Life Abroad said...

Oooo we just got back from SF, and I received so many lovely recommendations from fellow bloggers. Muir Woods (just 20 min north of SF) was great; seeing the Redwoods was once-in-a-lifetime. We also really enjoyed taking a road-trip down to Monterey Bay to see the seals!

Aura said...

The Chinatown in San Francisco is amazing! And if you have a day, take a trip to Yosemite National Park, it's beautiful.

Noelle at Gray Paint Decor said...

We were there recently and loved the restaurant Absinthe in Hayes Valley (good shopping area too) and Pizzeria Delfina in the Mission. Have fun!

a house mouse said...

Jealous, I love San Francisco! Such a beautiful city. If you are crossing the Golden gate I would recommend checking out the Marina, which is very close (Palace of Fine Arts, Presidio, etc) The following restaurant is my favorite in the area, www.dragonwell.com/ (I actually dream about it. Have a safe & fun journey.

Anonymous said...

Go to Mama's on Washington Square. Their breakfast food is outstanding!

Leah Gray said...

I'm so glad you posted this because I'm going to San Fransisco in a few weeks and these suggestions are great!

In a Certain Fashion said...

Find the Christopher Elbow Artisinal Choclates shop at 401 Hayes Street. He has two stores in the whole country and the other one is in Kansas City. I'm sure there is amazing chocolate in NY, too, but I've never had anything like his creations. There are flavors like Spiced Carrot and Grapefruit Campari and Elderflower and Rosemary and Lavender. If you or anyone you love likes chocolate, you need to go! I informed my boyfriend that a box of Christopher Elbow is all I need for Valentines, Christmas, birthdays and anniversaries :)

Victoria said...

Find the creme brulee man - the treats from his cart are amazing! You can follow him on twitter and find out where he will be popping up:) We visited last month and loved it.

Jules said...

Definitely hit up Tartine Bakery for the banana cream tart + huge croissants! Bi-Rite Creamery is also a short walk away from Tartine, and their salted caramel ice cream is to die for!

Click here if you need a little visual bribery ;) http://juliannetan.wordpress.com/2011/02/23/tartine-bakery-san-francisco/

Here is a link to my feb 2011 SF travelogue too, hope you'll find it useful! http://juliannetan.wordpress.com/2011/02/07/travel-an-uncommon-san-francisco/

Anonymous said...

http://www.yelp.com/biz/intramuros-restaurant-and-bar-south-san-francisco
intramuros resto. so goood!

Anonymous said...

You must visit the parks!! Try to visit Kite Hill, Dolores Park, Alamo Square, etc. The top of Lombard street has a great view! I hope you all have a lovely time :)

Sara said...

If you're looking for a nice walk/ hike, but don't want to devote the time it will take you to get to a real hike on your short vacation, try Land's End Trail. It's a little 2-ish mile hike from the Cliff House and Sutro Baths to the Palace of the Legion of Honor. It has stunning views of the Bay and the Golden Gate, and there are little pocket beaches you can hike down to along the way. It really is a gorgeous trail.

Mary Ann said...

Went to San Francisco with my sister last year in March--trip of a lifetime! You have to go to the Ferry Building Marketplace-lots of great cheese, bread, chocolate, wine and gelato shops. Get a blue bottle coffee and pastry and take the ferry over to Sausalita. Great ride across the bay. When you are over there have some seafood and a glass of wine and watch the water. Best day we had there was just like that. If you don't know where you are staying yet check out the Hotel Vitale. It is across the street from the Ferry Building so you can walk across the street for great meals. Also has a great "spa" feeling with lavender bunches all down the hallways. Enjoy!

Rachael said...

I'm echoing a lot of suggestions that have already been made, but here are some of my SF favorites:

Best Neighborhood for Noshing - Mission (home to Tartine and Bi-Rite Creamery)

Best Spot to Feel Like You're in Europe - La Boulange (awesome pastries, coffee drinks, and light lunches)

Best View of the City - from the Observation Tower at the de Young Museum

Best Day Trip (if you have a car) - Muir Woods and Sausalito (you MUST try a fish taco at the Salsalito Taco Shop)

Amuse-bouche said...

My boyfriend went to San Francisco last summer and loved it! We took a long hike through Golden Gate State Park, which I would recommend. You absolutely have to go to El Farolito, the best burrito place in SF (on Mission St.). Also, make sure to pack some warmer clothes because we went in August and it got really chilly, which we hadn't anticipated. Have a great time!

Nicole said...

Eat at the Tipsy Pig!

SisterBatik said...

Oooh I want to know too : ) Thinking about SF trip as I have a friend who lives there now and I have always wanted to go - fingers crossed!

suzy. said...

have you talked with sfgirlbybay? she's coming to new york from san fran right around when you're headed out there. she's looking for advice too.

http://www.sfgirlbybay.com/2011/05/03/new-york-tour-guide-a-giveaway/

Katie said...

Boulevard, burritos at La Taqueria in Mission, House of Nanking for good Chinese, Irish Coffee at Buena Vista (http://www.thebuenavista.com/irishcoffee.html)....and so many more fabulous things!!!!!!!

coco said...

you MUST go to Gitane! amazing and gorgeous restaurant http://www.gitanerestaurant.com/ and i think you would love Alembic on haight street, http://www.alembicbar.com/ where i had the best cocktail of my life! and don't forget amoeba music right down the street for an amazing selection, and then you can stroll through golden gate park!

winter blue said...

Mmm... I still dream about Ici handmade ice cream in Berkeley's Elmdale. Meyer Lemon and ginger snap if you are lucky...

I have heard the new Cal Academy of Sciences (also in GG park) is a do not miss!

I love the sculpture garden at the De Young - great spot for hanging out on the grass.

Have a wonderful time!

Katie said...

Oh - and walk up the steps through the backyards and gardens on the hill to Coit Tower!

Anonymous said...

Burma superstar for excellent Burmese food
Godzilla sushi
Little Thai
Dotties true blue cafe
Little Star Pizza
Blue Bottle Coffee
Samovar Tea House

All of the places that I miss since I moved from SF.

winter blue said...

oops - I mean Elmwood. It's been too long!!

Sarah said...

Slanted Door in the Ferry Building, Farmers Market (Saturday only), Sausalito, Muir Woods and Sonoma for day trips! Have a wonderful time.

http://chenaultlife.blogspot.com/

Tracy said...

Two words: BIKE IT!

You must rent a bike and go over the bridge to Sausalito. It's an amazing way to see the Bay area!

Lilly said...

Hi, Joanna!
I've never actually been but I bought this book when I came across it, it's a field guide to experiencing the city in a totally unique, colorful way! I totally intend to use it when I do finally visit. Check it out here:
http://www.stoutbooks.com/cgi-bin/stoutbooks.cgi/73935
and please let us know if you try it, I'd love to hear all about it:) Have a great trip!!

Christine O'Connell said...

Nick's Crispy Tacos are cheap & delicious! hey were so good that my friends & I went twice over a 3 day trip!

meelkoff said...

Favorite meal in SF= http://www.frances-sf.com/

So cute, lovely ambience and service. Stayed for 3 hours drinking wine with owner.

inoakpark said...

Food/Drink:
Blue Bottle Coffee
Tartine
Burma Superstar
Little Star Pizza
Rosamund's Sausage Grill/Tornado
BiRite Creamery
Hog Island Oyster Co

Shopping:
Ferry Building
Paxton Gate
Pirate Shop/McSweeneys

Sarah said...

Joanna, I've recently started reading your blog and reading it in the morning is now part of my routine. Thanks for being so smart and lovely!

I second the Land's End trail hike. It's gorgeous, and it even smells great! Eucalyptus! You can take the N all the way out to the ocean and walk up. Toby would LOVE the Academy of Sciences in Golden Gate Park. It's a little pricey, but lots of fun, especially for little kiddos.

Monogrammed Throw Pillows said...

You must go to the Ferry Market!xx

Melanie
www.LuxuryMonograms.com

Johanna said...

Oh wow! We have cement slides like that carved into a hillside in KY. FUN! I love San Fran. There is a bike route called "the wiggle" that allows you to bike around the whole city and never hit any of the ridiculous hills. I know you love bike riding, so maybe you should check it out!

Lauren said...

San Fran is the best! Take a picnic to the Palace of Fine Arts. I got engaged there October of 2009 - best surprise of my life and the most beautiful day!

Bethann said...

I've lived in SF for 10 years now- love this city. Hit the Ferry Bldg on a Sat morning for rotisserie chix or other outdoor food. Or try out Hog Island (also in Ferry Bldg) in the evening for local oysters. Rent bikes n have a picnic in the GG Park- while you are there def go to the Ca Academy of Sciences (choose a week day- too busy on weekends). Great farmers markets and food carts all over town. Favorite restaurants/lounges: Delfina Pizza, Range, Nopa, Nopalito, Bar Crudo, Suppenküche, Uva Enoteca, Zuni, Absinthe Brasserie & Bar (get the burger), & Hotel Biron wine bar. Everyone will tell you to get Blue Bottle Coffee. Have fun- watch the fog roll down off Cole Valley into the Castro.

Cassandra Marie said...

I love San Fran! Well a friend of mine who used to live there told me about this restaurant "Opaque"- where you have a dining in the dark experience. A place where you are seated and served by blind, or visually impaired people, and get to waive "vision in exchange for a new, multi-sensual dining experience...enhancing your senses of taste, smell, touch, and hearing by abandoning one that we often take for granted"

I thought this place sounded so cool and have wanted to visit it ever since she told me about it!

Whatever you end up doing, I hope you two have fun!

Anonymous said...

Mission Pie on Mission St.
http://missionpie.com/
Cutest sunny cafe, delectable sustainable pies!

Chloe's Cafe in Noe Valley! http://www.yelp.com/biz/chloes-cafe-san-francisco
Croissant french toast with strawberries.. sit outside!

Mackenzie said...

When I went last year I scoured EVERY BLOG EVER for cute clothing and antique shops and other interesting, designy must-sees.

Here's my google map!

http://www.google.com/maps/ms?ie=UTF8&hl=en&msa=0&msid=216076410076074184848.00048ad6398b11ac302f4&z=12

Mackenzie said...

oh p.s. TARTINE, duh.

Ethaney B. Lee said...

I would suggest going to the restaurant: HOME.

They have an amazing menu of comfort food and their Mac n Cheese and Meatloaf is amazing. It's on Church Street I believe.

Also, this little place in the mission called YAMO serves Burmese food. It only fits about 10 people at a time, and the old Burmese women cook right in front of you. It's so good. That's on 18th street.
Have fun!

Christina said...

Fisherman's Wharf is so much fun! There are little stands where you can buy seafood that you can eat as you walk around and you can see the seals sunbathing. I would highly recommend going there. I also ate at a restaurant called the slanted door. That was pretty yummy and it had a great view of the bay.

Nikki said...

My home town. :) Here are the places I always head to when I'm home for a visit:

Philz Coffee (in the Mission. Original location).
Burma Superstar has amazing food (if you go to the Richmond location, you can browse the popular Green Apple bookstore.)
The Pork Store in the Haight is the best breakfast. Or St. Francis Diner in the Mission.
If you want a really amazing (but expensive) restaurant head to Chez Panisse in Berkeley.
The Alembic Bar is a great whiskey bar in the Haight. And you have to get Dim Sum in China Town (or...Daly City).
The Asian Art Museum always has great exhibits.
Clam chowder in a sourdough bowl at the Wharf. (The best clam chowder is in Monterey at the Fisherman's Grotto, but guess you won't be heading that far south)
Berkeley is definitely worth spending some time visiting. The farmer's markets are great and you have to go the Cheese Board.
If the weather cooperates, a picnic in Golden Gate Park is always nice too.

Kaylen said...

Mission Pie is AMAZING. I would also highly recommend Chow, which is in the Castro (the best meal we had on our honeymoon).

Also, SF is SUCH a walkable city. We took the train from the business district (where our hotel was) to fisherman's wharf and walked through the wharf, little italy, chinatown, and back to the hotel. It was perfect. There was always something to see!

Have the BEST time! It's such a glorious, beautiful city.

Jane M. said...

The Slanted Door (restaurant) is delicious and has a beautiful view of the Bay Bridge! Very romantic.

ARIEL said...

Rent a hot car and cruise through Sonoma and Napa. We stopped at a few vineyards and ended the day with dinner at Tra Vigne. Soooo delicious. They have this flat bread with whole heads of roasted garlic that is to die for. http://www.travignerestaurant.com/

Have fun! Xx

Christina said...

Sorry. Forgot about this post I did a while back: http://christinaphillis.blogspot.com/2009/04/san-francisco.html

The Yerba Beuna Gardens in front of the Moscone Center are a beautiful place to sit out and enjoy a picnic and it is right across the street from the SF Modern Museum of Art. This is also walking distance from Union Square. I stayed right at the Westin, so I was pretty close to all of this.

Anonymous said...

For restaurants Mamacita is a must! http://www.mamacitasf.com/

Here's a link to a review for more details: http://www.sfgate.com/cgi-bin/article.cgi?f=/c/a/2011/01/26/DDHO1H9UDK.DTL

Enjoy! You pretty much can't go wrong in SF!

marissa said...

#76 Marin Headlands Bus Route (only on Sundays) is a beautiful ride across the golden gate bridge through the Headlands and drops you off at the ocean! Perfect for a Sunday picnic. And so cheap!

Janna said...

I went there a month ago and a friend recommended Nopa for dinner... it was amazing. Very locavore driven. Mussels with sausage appetizer is a must!!

Nan Myers said...

Oh, now you ask! Just Kidding. I just got back a few weeks ago...Nest on FILLMORE is amazing, cross over an go to JIGSAW, who Princess Kate worked for. The Ferry for allyour snack and Saturday for sure NEEDS! We stayed in walking distance, ideal location for traveling with TOBY.Go see the exhibit Pulp Fashion, beautiful museum and park( take a picnic). Miette is the most darling sweet shop ever, really cool area too. I think it is HOWARD? Take a scarf, and a lightweight jacket- a trench would be perfect. Have fun!

Angela said...

just flew back to NYC from there on monday!

eat dinner at NOPA by alamo square. fab!
OR
dinner at BAR JULES in hayes valley. both places are farm to table freshness, yum!

bfkfst must - maple/apple/bacon donuts from DYNAMO COFFEE & DONUTS in mission.
OR
brkfst and ciphoned coffee at BLUE BOTTLE in the mint just off of market.

must go check out PAXTON GATE shop in mission. crazy cool store. (unicorn heads anyone?)

i'll be posting my pics this week.

have a great time!
toodles :)

ifyoulisten said...

A hike in Muir Woods and Stinson Beach are beautiful!

Cannoli at Stella in North Beach...delicious!!!
http://www.stellapastry.com/

have a fun trip!

Flora A. said...

You must walk up and down the Vallejo Steps! it's soo beautiful and peaceful! we got to see all kinds of cool birds up there.

lemondropdreams said...

If you have time take a day trip to Napa or Sonoma. Also, Alcatraz is a very cool tourist attraction. Then you must stop by Buena Vista for an Irish coffee. When my brother, sister and I were pretty young we went to SF with my parents and we ate practically every meal at Buena Vista so my parents could get their fill of their Irish coffee before we went back home.

highpriestess said...

Jealous! SF is my my favourite US city, have a great time.

I last went there in 2007 and my stand-out food memory was Vietnamese at Ana Mandara. It is quite formal & pricey but the shrimp were amazing, as large as my hand!! Obviously we went a few years back so may be wise to check on recent reviews!

Also definitely walk/cycle across the Bridge to Sausalito; a very pretty town and has a magnificent view back to the city.

Liz said...

My favorite thing to do on a sunny day in San Francisco is to buy sandwiches and cupcakes at Angelina's in the Richmond and take them to Alta Plaza park for a picnic! Get the vanilla cupcake with chocolate frosting- the best!

Have a lovely trip!

Melanie said...

Shuck, cook (optional) and eat oysters straight from the source at Tomales Bay Oyster Company! Also, make sure to stop by Cowgirl Creamery on the way.

I recently had an amazing brunch at Beretta in the Mission. Share some of everything, and definitely order the gnocchi with porcini & pancetta.

Turtle Tower in the Tenderloin has the city's best (northern style) pho! Also in the area is Lers Ros, a great Thai spot. If you have a big group and like crab and garlic noodles, get a set dinner at PPQ in the outer Richmond. Soooo good.

Lastly, if you want to ride the cement slides, make sure to bring a piece of cardboard to make the ride smoother. Cement/concrete isn't exactly the smoothest surface.

Have a great time!

Brittany H. said...

The Haight Ashbury has wonderful thrift stores!!

Hugs!

You Are My Favorite

bsmithhill said...

Used to live there and miss it daily! Best subs--Marina Submarines, best pizza: Front Room Pizza.
Have fun!!

lovely_amazing said...

Ferry Building farmer's market on Saturday mornings (say yes to Blue Bottle coffee, New Orleans style!)

Little Star pizza in NoPa (their cornmeal crust puts traditional deep dish pies to shame!)

Hike through the Muir Woods early in the morning and then stop up at the Marin Headlands to see the most stunning view of the bridge (just a quick trip across the GGB to get there!)

Watch an old cartoon at the Walt Disney Family Museum in the Presidio, or get really fancy and see the new Tales of The City musical at American Conservatory Theater for a night on the town!

Avoid Fisherman's Wharf - it's for tourists who don't have the inside scoop :)

I live here in San Fran and this city is my dream come true on a daily basis. Have a wonderful time!

Hilary
veryhilary.com

Shea Nichole said...

Wish I had recommendations. I do have friends that live there and they just love it! I'm sure you'll have a great family vaca :)

http://justbreathe18.blogspot.com/

Yumi said...

How fun! In Berkeley we love The Cheese Board Collective (amazing cheese selection and great pizza). They also have jazz bands playing in the shop on a regular schedule. Haven't been here yet but my sister in law loves the Berkley Bowl Marketplace (organic market & cafe). Just on across the Golden Gate Bridge - downtown Mill Valley is adorable for an afternoon and a little walk in Muir Woods. Have fun!! :)

MotherEarth said...

A visit to the Ferry Building, any day! Grab some blue bottle coffee and head to the beach to watch some surfing!

MotherEarth said...

Or authentic, delicious dim sum at the Mayflower

Melanie said...

sorry, a couple more things - catch a movie at the castro theater! ...and santa cruz would be a nice day trip.

Angelique said...

Great boutiques on Sacramento Street (Presidio) and Fillmore area. For entertainment, a classic, not to be missed show is Beach Blanket Babylon. You can walk around North Beach and explore China Town. Go for a hike in Marin at Mt. Tamalpias. Take a ferry and a picnic over to Angel Island. Enjoy the city!

Lisa said...

i agree with Stacey. Cheeseboard in Berkeley is a definite must. also bar bambino in the mission is quite delicious http://www.barbambino.com.
Plus a visit to sf isn't completely without an ice cream from bi-rite creamery and an afternoon in dolores park.

Amber said...

I can't suggest anything that hasn't been posted here already, but we honeymooned there and particularly loved our stops at Dynamo Donut, Pizzeria Delfina and Tartine. Also, it's very corny and touristy, but I think Toby would enjoy seeing the sea lions at the wharf!

AMS said...

Ah, lucky you!!!! SF is the only ohter city I would move to, after NY. But, I've been there on my honeymoon and once after. I looved walking and eating at cafés in Hayes Valley. Loved the De Young museum, the park, the beach. Also, the farmer's market at the Embarcadero, marvelous!
Walking on Valencia, stopping at 826 (a writing center for kids on the theme of Pirates, very cool!!!). Enjoy and tell us all about it, please! :)

Alex Waidley said...

I am going to give you a less hipster, more local tour of the city highlighting the best of the best, not the trendiest.

If you are staying in Noe, go to HAPPY DOUGHNUTS, it is way better than any of those trendy donut places like dynamo, plus their apple fritters will blow your mind.

Have lunch at EL FAROLITO on 24th in the Mission and get a carne asada burrito or a super suiza quesadilla.

Then walk over to HUMPHREY SLOCOMBE for the best ice cream in the city, way better than bi-rite though most hipsters are too proud to admit it.

Take a shoppy stoppy at PAXTON GATE a fun home oddities store in the MISSION.

Come over to my hood and walk LANDS END TRAIL, a beautiful hike that traverses a lush and lively sea hanging cliff with beautiful views of the Golden Gate Bridge.

Think outside the box for coffee, instead of doing typical trends in coffee (Ritual, Four Barrel) try TROUBLE in the Outer Sunset, excellent lattes and superb cinnamon toast.

Finally, do dinner at SAN TUNG in the Sunset for the best chicken wings you ever had in your whole life! And this coming from someone who doesn't even like wings :)

Tania said...

I haven't read the other comments so maybe this has been mentioned, but the Seward Street Slides are better than the one at Golden Gate Park. And if you do go to Berkeley, there's a really steep concrete slide at Codornices Park. Have fun! I'll try to post more later.

Bethann said...

Forgot to mention some day trips in my last comment. Angel Island is a wonderful (great on bike) easy ferry ride from the city. In Marin, the Marine Mammal Center is an amazing rehabilitation center (plus it's free)- combine it with a hike in the headlands or a trip to Muir Woods for big redwoods. If you head to W. Marin, go to Tomales Bay and eat Hog Island Oysters from the source. Hiking at Pt Reyes is exceptional.

lost + found said...

i live in noe valley, what a great neighborhood to stay! most visitors stay downtown and it's not nearly as fun! bernie's coffee on 24th is my fave over here...honey hazelnut latte, trust me!!

my best advice, just wander around. there's great food in the mission, especially on valencia between 16 and 20th-ish!

marin headlands are gorgeous. maybe a day trip to sonoma? montara beach is my fave. and fort funston is great if you have doggies?

grab a sunset magazine in the airport and you'll find a ton of fun things to do as well!

have fun!!

Kerry said...

I visited San Fran a couple of years ago and loved it. I have to recommend a Catalan restaurant called B44. Amazing. My friend and I arrived just as they were about to close but the friendly staff invited us in anyway and we enjoyed delicious Catalan cuisine. Highly recommend.

Melissa Stevens said...

Oh my gosh I love San Fran!!! I've visited there twice, and am love with the city!! Make sure you spend lots of time on the Pier, eat at Bubba Gumps for a great view of the bay and great food! Go spend some time watching the sea otters! I've never done the alcatrez tour, but I've always wanted to! Spend the whole day there, soak it all in and enjoy!

www.melstevens1.blogspot.com

jana laurene said...

i am from the bay area, and my favorite restaurant in san francisco is scoma's in fisherman's wharf - it is the BEST seafood you will ever eat. i order the fresh halibut every time i go. it is like eating clouds, and i can't bring myself to try anything different.

san francisco also offers FREE walking tours that my mom swears by. i believe you have to reserve your spot in advance, but i hear they are SO fun and interesting.

have so much fun! san francisco is the best!

xoxo.
jana
he says. she says.

Jaclyn @ thelateafternoon said...

Definitely visit mission cheese for lunch! As a cheese lover, you'll be in cheese heaven amongst their freezers and wooden boards filled with all varieties of cheeses! Here's my post about it:

http://www.thelateafternoon.com/mission-cheese

Enjoy!

Tim said...

Holly has a really nice list of places to go here: http://nothingbutbonfires.com/travel-guide/san-francisco

roberta said...

you are so lucky!!
my boyfriend also studied in Berkeley and every time I visited him (we are from Italy)I loved more and more the city of SF...
so here is what I suggest you

for breakfast I reccomend you http://www.mamas-sf.com/
for a nice dinner
http://salthousesf.com/flash/
for a nice and different night go to the planetarium http://www.calacademy.org/events/nightlife/
for a great burger
http://www.pearlsdeluxe.com/

ciao have fun

Sarah said...

YAY. Love San Francisco. Lived there for 4 years in 4 neighborhoods (including Noe Valley!). In fact, going back for a visit in a week and already dreaming up everything I want to do. Here are some of my personal favorites (with some obvious must-do's):

EAT:
- Ferry Building: Either the food vendors inside (Cowgirl Creamery cheese + Acme bread = picnic!) and/or farmers market on Saturdays (view of the water! ppl!). You could also take a ferry to sunny, charming sausalito from here. Lots of people like Slanted Door, though I think it's just o-kay.

- If you have time to drive up north, you can park yourself around the Tomales Bay area and get yourself a bag of fresh fresh oysters (Tomales Bay, Hog Island, Drake's Bay are a few places) and eat them by the water. Peaceful, beautiful, way better than getting oysters at a restaurant, and cheaper.

- NOPA: Love coming here late at night; lots of food industry folk; used to come here when i worked in catering

- Dim sum at Golden Mountain in Chinatown. it's not necessarily amazing dim sum, but the place is big, it's crowded, it's fun, and it's cheap

- Spanish food at Zarzuela. Cozy, small, authentic, reminded me of my time in Spain

- In Noe: Brunch at La Boulange, apple pastries from Noe Valley Bakery on 24th St, sushi at Hamano's

- Mission District: Burritos, ice cream from Bi-Rite (eaten at Dolores Park, of course) or Humphrey Slocombe, fresh pastries/bread from Tartine, donuts from Dynamo Donuts, Ethiopian food (there's 1 spot, forget the name)

- brunch at Foreign Cinema is a LOVELY experience

- Other: A16 (mm esp their pizza), tea at the Fairmont Hotel, beer outdoors at Zeitgeist (biker/hipster bar), Zuni Cafe, Perbacco for nice Italian (or Delfina),


- Drinks: Rickhouse, Bourbon & Branch (but you need a reservation/secret password)



SEE/DO:

- DeYoung museum, botanical gardens (both in Golden Gate Park, a lovely place to be on a sunny day)

- Public baths at Kabuki Spa

- Mission: All the cute, non-chain shops on Valencia Street, McSweeney's Pirate store (started by David Eggers-part pirate shop, part writing center for kids)

- Cable cars at night on Powell St are fun; at one point you get a clear view of the Ferry Building (beautiful)

- Musee Mecanique down by the Embarcadero is cool with vintage mechanical arcade games/machines

- Crissy Field: Just walk around, see the Fort at the end point under the GG Bridge, enjoy a bite in nearby Marina, take in a view of the water, lounge on the grass

- If you like the arts, Intersection for the Arts (in their new downtown location) is doing some amazing stuff. They're community-oriented, multigenre, have been in SF since the 1960s (ok disclosure: I used to intern for them, but still, they truly are the real SF thing)

- the Castro!

- Sutro Baths ruins by the ocean

AND SO MUCH MORE!

I love SF. Have fun!

brie said...

Someone may have already suggested it, but definitely try to get to Dottie's True Blue Cafe (522 Jones Street) for breakfast. It's my favourite breakfast in the world. I've memorized the address (I don't live in SF). Also, the Curiousity Shoppe in the Mission is pretty great. While you're in the area stop by the Bi-Rite Creamery for a yummy ice-cream cone. Have fun!

Habit of Design said...

How fun!! Go to MIllennium Restaurant....it's delicious! http://www.millenniumrestaurant.com/

Have a great time!

-Jennifer

Kendall Marie said...

Definitely our favorite restaurant is this little venezuelan food place called PICA PICA, there is one in Napa and one in SF. It is amazing!

http://www.picapicakitchen.com/

A great hike would be around Mount Tamalpais area.

Anonymous said...

go to the exploratorium! it's an amazing interactive science museum. i'm 20 years old and i still get a huge kick out of it.

Clarissa Dodge said...

Saw this blog post and thought of you.

http://renniksn.blogspot.com/2011/03/2011-san-francisco-festival-season.html

Alex Yates said...

If your family loves Chinese food I highly recommend this! In china town there is a resturaunt called House of Nanking. It is amazing!!!!!!!!! I really hope you get a chance to go and visit the rest of china town too! Have an amazing trip!

- Alex Yates

Tristen said...

If you like Chinese, you can't beat Chinatown... House of Nanking is my favorite.

And of course, Golden Gate Park! There's an Andronico's on Irving and Funston, grab a picnic and enjoy a day in the park. Hopefully the sun will come out for you!

There's also a really good gelato place near the park too. It's called Holy Gelato! and it's on 9th Avenue, a few blocks from the park.

Have fun!

H.Reams said...

Things to do with your son:
Your son would absolutely love the Bay Area Discovery Museum in Sausalito and the views of the GG bridge from there can't be beat. It's my top rec.
The Academy of Science in GG Park is also great for families and there is a baby/toddler room to rest/play in too.
Yoga Tree on Valencia (near Noe Valley) has a mommy/baby yoga class if he's not crawling yet and Noe Valley has a great playground for baby/toddlers.
Tilden Park in the East Bay has steam trains, Little Farm (bring lettuce or celery to feed the animals) and a merry go round, but you have to drive to all these various spots.
And if its nice, go to the beach! Babies love to play in the sand!!

Have fun!!

Alex Yates said...

Here is the address to house of Nanking
919 Kearny St
94133

Liv said...

I'm sure you'll have a swell time:)

http://imagerecycled.blogspot.com/

Lilacs In May said...

Sausalito - a must.

Amanda said...

If you're in Noe Valley, definitely try Savor and La Boulange for great food, and Ambiance for shopping.

Hannah Q. Parris said...

Oh fun! My husband & I will be in SF at the same time as you. We'll be there part of the time and up in Sonoma for a bit, too, to celebrate our anniversary. I'm excited to look at everyone's suggestions to plan our trip!

Þórhildur Ásgeirsdóttir said...

Oh I used to love that park growing up in SF as a kid! Definetly drive down Lombardi st. and if you like mexican food go to La taqueria on Mission st. it is the best!! And North Beach Pizza near Coit tower. And Coit Tower!! San Francisco is my favorite city in the world I love love love it!!

xoxo
dontgonaked.blogspot.com

Dana said...

Walk, walk, walk! I'm amazed at how walkable SF is, given the size of the city. Here are a few great walkable places:

Golden Gate Park and bring a picnic! (DeYoung Museum with it's lovely Balenciaga exhibit and one of the best city views in the world from the tower, Botanical Gardens, Academy of the Sciences)

You can eat very well at nearby Nopalito or Nopa, two of the best restaurants in the city.


The Mission (and don't miss a stop into Bi-Rite Market + Creamery, Tartine, Delfina, and/or La Taqueria for food and treats)

The Ferry Building (if you can make a reservation for lunch at Boulette's Larder, don't miss it! Blue Bottle Coffee, Acme Bread, and a small but wonderful Heath Ceramics store!). And while I find Pier 39 totally Jersey Shore, it is worth a nice long walk from the Ferry Building to see the famous sea lions. I took my husband for his first peek a few weeks ago and he thought they were hilarious and totally worth wading through the kitsch and crowds to see them.

Have a great time!

Haley said...

You MUST try Gather in Berkeley! It's a newish restaurant that focuses on locally sourced ingredients, and their cocktails are among the best I've had (the bee sting is my favorite). My husband and I usually share the spiciest sounding pizza they have and a local lettuces salad, but there are so many super-delicious things on the menu. I hope you check it out: http://www.gatherrestaurant.com/

lowercase said...

Here are my top pics for restaurants: Range, Delfina, Contogna, Slanted Door. You will not go wrong with any of these.

sarai said...

The Academy of Sciences is a must. The rainforest exhibit and aquarium are amazing. I was just there last weekend, and am sure that anyone would love it! My boyfriend and I spent a good few hours exploring. Actually just posted a few photos from there on my (very bad) blog: http://www.artclubwednesday.blogspot.com

Enjoy and travel safely!

Brittany said...

you must eat at tacolicious. it has incredible food, and a funky and fun vibe.
http://tacolicioussf.com/
definitely spend some time at the ferry building, and try to eat lunch at the slanted door (or anyone of the other restaurants that face the bay). also, try to visit the ferry plaza's farmer's market. i think you'd love that!
http://www.ferrybuildingmarketplace.com/farmers_market.php
noe valley is my favorite part of the city. it's fun and on the weekends there are endless parents strolling their chic children on the sidewalks. grab coffee (or tea) at martha & bros and enjoy the people watching!
http://www.marthabros.com/
oh, and toast has a great brunch menu.
http://www.toasteatery.com/

enjoy!

Molly said...

I grew up in Sonoma, went to Cal for undergrad and lived in SF after I graduated....

In SF...
1) Bourbon and Branch for a Speak Easy great time.
2) Academy of Sciences. It is a must.
3) Beach Chalet on a Tuesday for a fresh margarita, a fish taco, and adirondack on the lawn (child and dog friendly).
4) Monk's Kettle in the Mission. 5 page long beer menu.

Cross the Bay Bridge to Berkeley...
1) Cheeseboard Pizza is worth the line.
2) Cross the street after pizza to get a cupcake at Love at First Bite. Far superior to Magnolia in NY. I'm not afraid to say that.
3) Tilden Park has petting zoo for the little ones.

Cross the Golden Gate to Sonoma, if you have time...
1) Tuesday Night Farmer's Market. Bring a picnic blanket, a couple of bottles of vino and peruse the market for produce, cheeses, breads and other treasures for a delish dinner. Live music.
2) Ride bikes to the peripheral wineries. Ravenswood, Buena Vista, Gundlach Bundschu, Bartholomew.
3) Have my brother Aaron serve you at Girl and the Fig. Order the mussels.

Carey said...

Since you're staying in Noe Valley, try and check out Firefly Restaurant (http://www.fireflyrestaurant.com/). It's a great neighborhood restaurant, has a cozy atmosphere, and charming staff. Also, check out the new Cal Academy of Sciences (http://www.calacademy.org/). I've been with my friend's 10 month old and he loved looking at all the fish in the aquariums.

skeizix said...

Chocolate Tour. It was so much fun! You get to walk the city and go to some great local shops. Plus you get to sample chocolate! They have a few other tours as well that would be worth a try.

http://www.gourmetwalks.com/

Also, the Heirloom Tomato Salad at Boudin Bakery. You have to go to the main one and go to the upstairs restaurant. I was there a couple summers ago so not sure if they're still serving it.

Additionally, I think it was around Pier 1 or so there is a great market. Local vendors and great selection of food.

Winchester House is pretty close and you can do day tours out to there. Never got a chance though.

Oh! And Alcatraz. It was way better than I imagined. Very informative tour and beautiful setting.

Jamie said...

Definitely for down to the Wharf and ride a trolly! Have a blast!!

http://www.glamlatte.com

Chuck & Erin said...

Go to Burma Star. Great Burmese food. i think there are multiple locations.

Alexis said...

You have to go to the California Academy of Sciences! It's in Golden Gate park; there's an aquarium, a walk through rain forest and a planetarium. It is so much fun. Go to Humphry Solcombe for ice cream, I recommend secret breakfast.
You have me excited for my trip in June!

marie said...

well i am one that seeks out restaurants/food first and foremost in a new city. the best two meals i had were at bar tartine and farmerbrown.

bar tartine is a sister restaurant of a famous and amazing bakery in san fran. i shared a delicious brunch with a friend here.
http://www.bartartine.com/

farmerbrown partners with local farmers to come up with some AMAZING soul food. i definitely recommend the bread pudding!
http://www.farmerbrownsf.com/

Julie said...

An amazing vegan restaurant called "Cafe Gratitude"...I believe it's on Harrison Street and even though I'm not vegan I really loved it. Have a great time!

Katelyn said...

Just saw this article this morning actually!
Cute coffee shops, which are a staple for the northwest.
http://www.refinery29.com/get-a-buzz-on-with-these-8-cute-coffee-shops
Enjoy San Fran!

jean goddard said...

Chez Panisse is in Berkeley. It is Alice Water's restaurant and serves amazing local food - maybe you could go there for dinner. (I have always wanted to go there, but never have.) Also, Lucy works right near Berkeley so maybe you can meet up with her and take a picnic from the very first Whole Foods which started in Berkeley!!!! xoxo

cathie hong said...

looks like you already have plenty of recommendations, so i'll just pitch in my top 2 faves in SF:

-tartine, which everyone seems to have already mentioned! the almond croissants are delicious.

-hayes valley. this was my husband's & my favorite little neighborhood in SF! tons of little furniture, handmade, clothing, & stationery boutique shops, along with great eateries & of course paulette & miette for their macarons & pastries! you will love it. great for walking around with a baby :]

Lee said...

Eat at Firefly in Noe - it's really solid, and reasonably priced for what it is.
And get bread or breakfast to go at Arizmendi's.
Bike across the bridge (and stop at Fort Point on the way) - it's way more pleasant than the windy, loud walk across the bridge. I highly recommend the bike ride to Sausalito on the Bunker Rd path rather than across the freeway with all the cars. If you can't make it back up the hills with the baby, ride the ferry back.
I'm a sucker for Hitchcock so I always love a trip to the Legion of Honor.

Willa said...

http://www.suppenkuche.com/ is really good! We are going on the 24th!

Julia said...

Definitely rent bikes and head over to Sausalito - it's such a sweet little town. And do the Alcatraz tour - it seems a cheesy idea, but it's actually very cool.
Someone else recommended Greens and I wholeheartedly agree! I still dream of their curry. And there are endless spots to stroll - Lombard Hill, Golden Gate Park, The Wharf - just keep walking!

Coté Writes said...

A fabulous restaurant in Noe Valley is Firefly. I highly recommend getting dinner there one night. Taking a hike in Muir Woods is a must, and I think you guys and Toby will love spending a morning at the California Institute of Sciences. It is the coolest science museum/planetarium/aquarium ever.

Libby said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
L said...

Yes!!!

Zazie: for brunch

Caffe Trieste: there are a few locations, but I like the one on Market

City Lights bookstore: of course

And then go next door to Vesuvio for a drink!

Cynthia @ Go Chic or Go Home said...

Blue Bottle Coffee! A few people have mentioned this already. I suggest the siphon method. Pour over is wonderful, but siphon will satisfy the geek in you and it's so delicious.

Never thought I'd bop around in my chair to a siphon coffee music video. Ha! http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=R25Sd4B6pfc

blerg said...

Go to Marnee Thai on Irving- best thai I've ever had. Very authentic and unpretentious, but small so lunchtime might be best. The playground at Golden Gate is my favorite place in the world- the cement slides are more comfortable if you sit on a piece of cardboard. There are usually pieces lying around. Go on a day trip up to Sonoma- your other commenters are absolutely right that it is more relaxed and fun than Napa. I love Hop Kiln, Benzinger (they have an awesome tour about wine making), and Ledson. You can also see a much less busy version of Muir Woods at Armstrong Woods and then head out to Point Reyes for Cowgirl Cremery. Coit Tower in SF offers wonderful views of the city if you have a clear day. Alacatraz is super super fun- you get to ride on a ferry out there and the audio tour is really interesting! Plus, it is really beautiful on that island when everything is blooming in the spring. One of my favorite places in the city.

Levis said...

i just moved here myself and am quite clueless. but i love the refinery29 san francisco page. i get lots of shopping and eating tips there.

xxoo
www.thelevisgirl.tumblr.com

crabigail said...

End the day with a cocktail at the Top of the Mark with some fab views of the city! (on a clear evening, that is)

Jillian said...

Dottie's True Blue Cafe is a MUST for breakfast (as previously recommened)but get in line super early in the morn. Also, take the ferry from the Ferry building over to Sausalito. There's the most amazing seafood lunch spot over there called FISH. And you can't miss the Farmer's Market on Saturdays at the Ferry building. You're gonna have so much fun!!!

Anonymous said...

http://smittenicecream.com

(They custom-make your ice cream on the spot; yum!)

Gwendolyn said...

if berkeley is in the cards than the berkeley bowl is a must, so many interesting things! (especially the produce section). http://www.berkeleybowl.com/

if you're looking for a day trip than consider a 45 minute drive up to Petaluma, an eclectic town that features some great eats, antiquing and a heirloom seed market! Petaluma also features Garden Valley Ranch - acres and acres of fragrant garden roses (you can even stay in the small cottage on the grounds). http://www.gardenvalley.com/

El said...

First of all, SF is wonderful and I think you'll love it. Secondly, my friend Alicia has a quite popular blog and she happened to do an entire post about where to go in SF.
http://www.cheetahisthenewblack.com/2011/03/san-francisco-gems-cheetah-style.html

When I had family from Australia visit the US for the first time, we went to SF, and spent several days following her recommendations entirely. LOVED everything from the food to the shopping.

carolynjl said...

Lots of great ideas already up there:
Golden Gate Park and the de Young/Academy of Sciences
Exploratorium
There's the Disney Museum

FOOD
Ferry Building (Cowgirl Creamery has such tasty cheeses!)
Delfina's
Foreign Cinema
(both the restaurants are in the Mission)

AND PLEASE EAT BI-RITE ICE CREAM. BEST. ICE. CREAM. IN. THE. WORLD.

Sarah Jean said...

http://www.humphryslocombe.com/%7C_Home_%7C.html

Humphrys Slocombe. 'Nuff Said.

I highly suggest grabbing a scoop at BiRite, walking across the street to Dolores Park, laying down a blanket and doing some good people/dog watching all around you!

megan said...

My favorite spot to bring people when I lived there was this walk (starting in the Inner Sunset):
-Grab lunch to go at Pasquales Pizza (best pizza ever (I recommend the house pizza)
-Walk up to 9th and toward Golden Gate Park - head toward the DeYoung and eat lunch at the music concorse
-Walk from there to the East end of the park (toward the pan-handle), you'll pass a great kids park, hippy hill, and tons of lawns where you can take a blanket, if there aren't kids soccer games going on
-One of the main walking paths (stay away from the streets) will spit you out at Haight and it's a short walk to Haight/Ashbury from there.

I'ts a great walk, really beautiful and a part of the city that not a ton of people really talk about.

A-Diddy said...

If you like BBQ, my absolute favorite place to eat in the entire world is this small little BBQ place called Memphis Minnies in the upper Haight. Its amazing!

Ali said...

Oh goodness, so many ideas.

A few of my favorites:
-dinner at Frances in the Castro (it's hard to get a reservation, but they often have last minute cancellations or if you don't mind eating at the bar, it's walk-in)
- Tartine bakery
- Birite ice cream - ask for a dainty gentleman (it's not on the menu, but it's amazing)
- Trattoria Contadina is great if you want Italian food in North Beach
- Ride a tandem over the GGB
- Ferry ride to Sausalito

I love this city! There are so many more things but I'll stop there so I don't overwhelm you. :)

Have a great trip!

Jenni Austria Germany said...

oh my goodness! i've never seen anything like those cement slides. please take photos and post about it! looks so fun.

Anonymous said...

you know, the Alcatraz trip is really fun, actually (do the audio tour!). The boat ride there is fantastic, amazing views... or just take a ferry ride across the bay to Sausalito or (spacing on the name... Tiburon?) on of the towns across the bay and have drinks at one of the bayside restaurants, amazing views.

the tonga room at the fairmont - is that still there? very amusing tiki sstyle show...

Mandy said...

So much fun! I didn't go through all the comments, but if you find yourself in Oakland, you should go to Fentons Ice Cream Parlor. It's a neighborhood institution, with really good sundaes! It's perfect for familiies -- my dad used to take us for Black and Tan sundaes after A's games. Also, it's the ice cream place in the movie Up!

http://www.yelp.com/biz/fentons-creamery-and-restaurant-oakland

Anonymous said...

Bette's Oceanview Dinner in Berkeley for sure!

kirst said...

TARTINE!!!!!!!
My favorite bakery in the world!

http://www.tartinebakery.com/


and muse mechanique! bring lots of quarters!

http://www.museemechanique.org/

Sammi said...

Ugh, I am so jealous, Jo! Please post lots of photos when you come back with your own recommendations. If I ever get to go there.

Lillian said...

I second the Uva Enoteca suggestion. Also Chow is great for breakfast.
And I'm sure you've checked it out but D*S has a great shopping guide. Have fun!

Elena said...

Muir Woods is a great place to visit! It's in Mill Valley which is about 30 minutes outside of the city but we had a tour bus take us and it was awesome.

megan auld-wright said...

I'll be there visiting as well! Already have reservations at http://www.cotognasf.com/. Looks deeelish.

sabria said...

Take a road trip up north to Stinson Beach. Highway 1 is beautiful during this time of year. I think little Toby will like the windy, twisty roads!!

Brittany said...

Pizzeria Delfina (see cupcakes and cashmere for a complete review), Musee Mecanique would be fun for adults & Toby alike (even though it's a bit touristy, still a blast). Ferry Building is a must, would recommend particularly the Blue Bottle Coffee, caramels from Miette, smore's bites from Rechiutti, the olive oil stand, and Slanted Door for lunch. Muir Woods, Cheeseboard (not just for pizza - fabulous cheese selection). Coming from NYC I was also actually very impressed with SF's modern art museum. Great for a rainy day.

jenny said...

Coffee and insider advice: Matching Half Café. You can find a nice review and pictures on my sister’s blog (scroll down). Talk to Jason, one of the owners. The slim guy with the curly hair. He will have great suggestions.

Dinner: Emmy’s Spaghetti Shack – Funky Hipster Spot: great ambiance, interesting people watching, and good food. Not sure if they take reservations. Go early. The wait can be really long.

Good Weather: Baker Beach – If it’s nice out, take a picnic lunch to the beach. Funny dogs, people watching and a great view of the golden gate bridge. OR Take the Outbound N line Muni to Ocean Beach. The ride there is nice.

Have Fun!

layersandlayers said...

SF: Hike/Walk
-Coastal Trail at Land's End (next to the Sutro Baths, beautiful views of ocean & GG)
Eat: Beach Chalet & Park Chalet
Activity: Exploratorium! & California Academy of Sciences

Sausalito: Visit the Headlands Center for the Arts (directly on the other side of the Golden Gate)

Berkeley: 4th Street (!!!)
-Castle In The Air (shopping/inspiration)
-The Gardnener (shopping/inspiration)
-The Pasta Shop (gourmet grocery)
Restaurants:
-Bette's Diner
-Tacubaya

Palo Alto: Restaurants
-Hobee's (breakfast)
-Village Cheese House (sandwiches)
-Cafe Esin
-Flea Street Cafe (Jesse Cool's restaurant)
Hike:
-The Dish (popular walking/running path from Stanford University up to the satellite dish)
-Windy Hill (gorgeous views of the Bay)

katie jo said...

I will totally agree that the Farmer's Market on Sat morning is a great way to enjoy the city and all the beautiy and food and people it has to offer....

A few other ideas:
1.) Check out a walking food tour (2 hours or so in a neighborhood tasting the reseteraunts special dishes. Here is a living social deal from today:
http://us.mg6.mail.yahoo.com/dc/launch?.gx=1&.rand=fpaccfs6plr3r

2.) Check out my neighborhood- the Dogpatch and try some of the best ice cream in town. Here is a little snippet about Mr & Mrs. Misc: http://blogs.sfweekly.com/foodie/2010/05/mr_and_mrs_miscellaneous_class.php

3.) you are gonna LOVE all the adorable kiddo boutiques in Noe. Neatest toy stores ever!

Courtney said...

I'm leaving to go there Friday for a week! Can't wait! Thanks for posting. I had the same questions as well.

Courtney
CWhimsydesigns.com

ERalston said...

La Farine. Morning Buns! On College Ave in Rockridge.

Anonymous said...

Philz Coffee and Dynamo Donuts on 24th! Dynamo has a great back patio area that is really casual and relaxed. They also have the most amazing donuts, passionfruit milk chocolate and lemon thyme are my favorite!

Also nopalito has excellent mexican food and is near haight/ashbury without being in the madness. The panhandle park is very close by has a great playground for small kids. If you head over to the Richmond district you want to check out Burma Superstar for a tea leaf salad, it will change your life!

The shops on Valencia have fun locally made stuff too. Nooworks, The Common, No, and Four Barrel coffee are all on the same little street (Valencia btw 14th & 15th) and have a great local feel.

Enjoy your time in the golden state! Hope the weather is as nice as it is now for your visit.

Julia Jackson said...

Tilden Park in Berkeley is full of beautiful trails. If it's warm, take a dip in Lake Anza. And when you need a pick-me-up, check out the carousel (with neighboring ice cream shop!).

I haven't tried it yet myself, but friends have recommended Gather as a great place for dinner (reservations are necessary).

Have fun!

Kristin in the Mission said...

Walk over to the Mission district from Noe Valley, and check out shops along Valencia street (btwn 16th/24th) or 24th street (btwn Valencia/Florida) and pick up some cool groceries at a Mexicatessen or Lucca Deli - take Toby for a picnic at nearby Precita Park (very kid friendly) or Dolores Park (great people watching!). End the day at La Ciccia restaurant at 30th & Church in Noe Valley is a great restaurant, excellent food in a warm relaxed atmosphere.

Gracie said...

do NOT neglect the 20 minute drive across the bridge to an afternoon in MUIR WOODS. that place is a temple: so beautiful and peaceful and wise. those trees always manage to revive a soul.

Angela said...

ps. is jean your mama? tell her that the first whole foods is in austin, tx, not berkeley! ;)

Linh said...

Awww I love San Fran! We went in July last year and it was amazing! Words of advice:
- dress warm. It IS windy.
- DON'T wear a dress when you visit the bridge. It will fly up. (That happened to me.)
- Walk everywhere and try everything! They have amazing food esp in Chinatown.
- Shop til you drop :)

Please post pics!
xoxo
-linh
http://la-lalinh.blogspot.com

Anonymous said...

You should try to check out Tartine Bakery in the Mission, a block or two away from Dolores Park. The Land's End hike is super easy and pretty short, and you get to check out the ruins of the Sutro Baths and it's right by the Cliff House! Eats on Clement is fantastic food and Clement is a great little street to check out. The observation deck at the De Young Museum is free and Top of the Mark has incredible music and delish cocktails. Enjoy your trip!

Lindsay said...

You must must do the Lands End hike. It's a hike (not an intense one) from baker beach (amazing view of the golden gate bridge) to Sutro Baths, which is at Ocean Beach. It only takes an hour or two and it is just great, soooo pretty and so fun!

http://sanfrancisco.about.com/od/environmentnature/qt/landendtrail.htm

Anne (no longer in Reno) said...

I love everything in Golden Gate Park, but the Arboretum and the Conservatory of Flowers are two of my must-sees. I also love the new Academy of Sciences and DeYoung, and if you have time, the Legion of Honor always has great exhibits and an amazing view.

Meg - [Life of Meg] said...

SF native here!! :)

My absolutely MUST DO recommendations:

BRUNCH:

Tartine (Mission)
(www.tartinebakery.com)


PICNIC:

Chrissy Field (Bay)


ROMANTIC RESTAURANT:

First Crush (Market)
(www.firstcrush.com)

Foreign Cinema (Mission)
(www.foreigncinema.com)


DAY TRIP:

Sonoma Wineries (car)

Monterey/Los Gatos (car)

Sausalito (by Ferry!)


PIZZA:

Little Star
(www.littlestarpizza.com)

Delfina (Mission)
(www.delfinasf.com)


CHEESE HEAVEN:

Cowgirl Creamy (Ferry Building - Embarcadero)
(www.ferrybuildingmarketplace.com/cowgirl_creamery.php)


ARTISAN ICE CREAM:

Bi-Rite Creamery
(www.biritecreamery.com)
* local, organic, amazing!


PARK W/ A VIEW:

Dolores Park (Mission)
(blocks from Tartine Bakery or Bi-Rite Creamery)

*Great playground, side walks, and views!


RESTAURANT W/ A VIEW:

Beach Chalet/Park Chalet (Ocean Beach/Golden Gate Park)
(www.beachchalet.com)

* choose park side to sit in the golden gate park atrium, or beach side for views of the ocean!


Cliff House Bistro (Ocean Beach)
(http://www.cliffhouse.com/home/index.html)

BEST FAST CITY TOUR:

San Francisco Open Top Double Decker Hop-On & Hop-Off Bus Tour
(www.sanfranciscotours.us/?event=offer.detail&offerId=9447)

* Amazing city views, see all the sites, hop on and off all day! Cheap way to tour SF!


Feel free to message me if you have any travel questions or need more recommendations - always happy to help visitors navigate the best of the city I adore! :)

Enjoy!

ap said...


Musee Mecanique
- A free antique penny arcade. A total old world feel -- very fascinating!! Take pictures with Alex and toby in the vintage photo booth!

Haight Ashbury District - Stroll through the center of 1968's "Summer of Love," for it's vintage shops, history and exceptional architecture.

Find a coffee shop that serves Blue Bottle Coffee-- mmmmm!

Go to Golden Gate Park - a large park with gardens and museums such as the California Academy of Science(where there is an awesome albino alligator), the DeYong Museum, and the Japanese tea gardens!

Cara Hall said...

I just moved to the bay area and my must-do list is already like 200 items long. But if you get a chance to drive over to Marin County, go to the Point Reyes seashore and find Limantour Beach. We just saw two whales there last weekend!

In San Francisco we loved Pizza Delfina and Tartine Bakery in the Mission. The Ferry building has the best coffee (Blue Bottle) and the adorable Miette Bakery. Walk down Columbus st. at night and get a cannoli at one of the Italian bakeries.

In Berkeley follow College Ave. south toward Oakland. There are miles of adorable shops and great restaurants all through the Rockridge neighborhood. Have fun!

Rebecca said...

Balenciaga and Spain exhibit, morning bun at Tartine, The Slanted Door for lunch (in the Ferry building)have fun!:)

Lori Cartwright said...

Rent bikes to ride across the Golden Gate Bridge into Sausalito, then eat lunch and catch a ferry back.

Zoë said...

Muir Woods! Some of the oldest, most ENORMOUS trees you'll ever see. It feels magical.

I love San Francisco--have a wonderful time, and enjoy the seafood!

April said...

Lucky you! San Fran is my favorite big city in the US : )
My most memorable experience there (and uplifting, and inspirational, and fun) was volunteering in a soup kitchen for a couple hours. The optimistic personalities and the supportive camaraderie these people possess (even without many material possessions) has stuck with me for over a decade. Can't wait to go back sometime!

Have fun, friend!

Carol {Everyday Delights} said...

Since you guys like to bike - bike across the Golden Gate! We didn't do it last time we went there, but its on our list for next time! Enjoy your trip!

Melissa said...

I lived there for a couple years. Alcatraz is really fun and interesting. Watch the movie " The Parrots of Telegraph Hill" before you go(I think it's instant watch on Netflix) then check out Telegraph Hill.

Have fun! I'm jealous I want to get out there soon.

Mel said...

i definitely also recommend dottie's true blue cafe! it's so worth the wait and probably the best breakfast i've ever had.

Tatiana said...

I am a UC Berkeley student (soon to be grad!) so I know the area well. Just so you're aware when planning, the weekend you come is graduation so you might not want to be in Berkeley on the 14th.

Someone may have already mentioned it but I would suggest Cheeseboard pizza in Berkeley...it's in a really cute area. Also worth checking out in Berkeley would be Gregoire's, it's a small take-out French bistro. You should take it up to Tilden Park, the views of the bay from there are AMAZING and there's plenty of hiking trails.

As for San Francisco...Sunday the 15th is Bay to Breakers, a marathon that shuts down a lot of streets in the city. It's worth checking out simply for the fact that people dress crazy...though it does get pretty rowdy. Cute areas to walk around would be Fillmore Street and the Marina.

Margaret E. Perry said...

japanese tea garden and the ferry building, of course.

Also, San Francisco has a wealth of really beautiful churches in vastly different architectural styles--because it is such an immigrant town:

+ Mission Dolores, of course
+ St. Ignatius, stunning neo-classical
+ The Old Swedenbourgian Church
+ St. Dominic's and Grace Cathedral are great Gothic churches.
+ Holy Virgin Cathedral (Russian Orthodox)

Anonymous said...

has anyone recommended house of nanking yet for chinese food? it's amazing. best hands down.

Anonymous said...

Two words: Blue Bottle. Even if you do not drink coffee, you will think this is the most amazing latte you have ever had. (All organic and all that.) There are only two on this planet, both in SF. One is in some little alley way out of what looks like a garage, and the other is (crap, I can't remember the name of the building) in that huge emporium- like place along the embarcadaro. Just ask a local. Seriously, you will not be disappointed!

(And, if you are in the mood for totally unhealthy junk food, never skip In-N-Out when on the other coast! Animal Style, of course.)

Tatiana said...

Oh also, how could I forget Dolores Park in SF! If you come on a nice day it's a great area to hang out. There's an amazing Italian restaurant called Delfina's really near the park and there's also a to die for ice cream spot called Bi-Rite!

Spags said...

Sliding on those cement slides is one of my favorite memories from my childhood. So. Fun.

Hike in Muir Woods or Mt. Tam!
Eat burritos at Little Chihuahua!! Best burritos, hands down.
Visit the buffalo and the windmill in Golden Gate Park!
Buy books at Green Apple and take Toby to Toy Boat. Best ice cream in the city.
Visit the new Academy of Sciences. The rainforest exhibit is incredible.

Enjoy your vacation! San Francisco is one of the best cities in the world (not that I'm biased or anything.)

chantie said...

You're getting great advice. Any restaurant in Noe Valley will be kid friendly. Most places in the Mission are as well. My favorite is Foreign Cinema (they have amazing brunch). Toby's probably too small for their kids menu but they will heat baby food for you. And you can sit out on the patio (heat lamps if its chilly). The best playground for little ones is at 24th and Douglass Streets in Noe Valley - perfect for crawlers and cruisers. My two year old and I are often there - please don't think we're stalking you if we say hi. Have fun!!

Anonymous said...

House of Nanking is overrated and too touristy. go to Dim Sum at City View instead.

Brooke Baty said...

Cafe Gratitude! Restaurants in San Fran and Berkeley too! All vegan and raw food, and it all is AMAZINGYLY fresh and tasty (and I'm not even a veg.)

violet gray said...

if you have time for a road trip and love cheese, stop by CowGirls Creamy in Point Reyes. They have a store in Ferry Building as well but if you go there you can watch them make cheese! My BF took me there but sadly we missed the cheese making. The town is small but cute! It's also close to Marin so you can easily stop by there too or go up Petaluma (20-30 mins away - north) and check out there antique stores.

Also, Park Chow in Sunset (around 7-8 Ave) is a good place for breakfast. They are also located half a block from Golden Gate Park - that way, you can visit DeYoung and CA Academy of Science! Mama's at Washington Sq. is over-rated in my opinion and the wait isn't worth it along w/ bad coffee. If you do go to Mama's.. drop by (across the street to Liguria Bakery) for some Focaccia Bread - very good but don't expect fancy/polite service.

Have Fun in SF! =)

Abby - Bright Yellow World said...

Three quick suggestions:

1. Burma Superstar. You *must* eat at this Inner Richmond restaurant. Get there before 6pm, or you'll wait a few hours.

2. Farmer's market at the Ferry Building. Go to the very back corner of the market, as close to the Bay Bridge as you can, for Prima Vera. They have the most delicious Mexican breakfast. Best people watching ever!

3. Just enjoy walking around Noe Valley. It is lovely, and kid friendly.

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