I’ve always wanted to be a California girl. Right after college, I moved to San Francisco to work with Habitat for Humanity through a year-long volunteer program. It was one of the hardest years of my life (growing up stuff / big college break-up) but also one of the best because San Francisco is so darn cool!
I felt like I could be anyone I wanted to be in California. The easy going vibes are good for my soul, and every time I visit I still think WHY DON’T I LIVE HERE?! While I’m no longer local, I thought I could give you my take on a quick city guide to San Francisco.
The lovely photographer, Carolina Mariana and I returned last October to interview some kick-ass ladies for the Women Who MAKE Series, and I was reminded of all my favorites.
Here’s what I’d do (and did) with 48-hours in San Fran.
- Cole Valley
- The Castro
I love these neighborhoods because they are close to Golden Gate Park and walking distance to the Muni and BART transit lines, which can get you everywhere. They are also walking distance to my old neighborhood, The Mission District, which is a creative and cool hub. Also, most of these neighborhoods are up in the hills a bit, so you get good views! Look for an Airbnb or B&B with a roof deck!
Use the easy public transit system to make your way into the city center. There is the MUNI system and the BART (high speed trail). Head downtown on Market Street. If you get off at the Powell stop, you’ll be right in the heart of the downtown. Try any and all of the following:
Stroll up market street and find the hidden gem – Blue Bottle Coffee, in Mint Plaza. My favorite San Fran coffee bar.
Hop on a cable car and ride up to Coit Tower and take in 360-degree views of the city and bay, including the Golden Gate and Bay bridges.
Walk along the Embarcadero and visit the Ferry Building, which is the most amazing permanent farmer’s market around. Have lunch at one of the tables near the water, on the back side of the building.
Stop at Union Square and watch everyone enjoying their lunch break outside. Those CA perks! Pop into the LEVI’S store and grab some 501s (the birth of blue jeans happened with a patent for rivets in San Francisco).
Head back towards Golden Gate Park for a sunset stroll.
If it’s Wednesday try the special wood fired pizza night at Marla Bakery (in the Outer Richmond) and don’t miss roller skating in a church that’s been converted to a roller rink! That’s right the Church of 8 Wheels was pretty sweet, and the disco music was perfectly retro.
Wake up and head directly to Tartine in the Mission District. Arguably, the best bread and pastry in the city. Brunch, chocolate cake or just bread for breakfast – you’ll be happy.
Walk a few block to Mission Dolores Park. A perfect place for San Fran people watching. I used to think, “Doesn’t anyone in California have a job?” The park is usually full of happy picnicking people, often with a hula hoop or slack line in hand.
Make your way over to Valencia Street. You could spend hours browsing all the cool shops. Don’t miss my favorite vintage at Wallflower.
The Mission is also known for it’s colorful murals. Keep your eye’s peeled. Here’s a guide to some specific mural locals.
And when you need a snack don’t miss the best ice cream EVER at Bi Rite Creamery.
If you’re a design buff, you’ll want to be sure to make it over to the boutiques on Sacramento Street before closing time. Don’t miss St. Frank Textiles, Serena + Lily, and Jessie Black Home.
Try upscale American fare with seafood options at Spruce for dinner.
If you’re renting a car and have a bit more time try…
- Sausalito for a day trip
- Baker Beach
- Muir Woods / Stinson Beach / Bonitas – great hiking
XOXO – CLAIRE