The Golden Gate City. Baghdad by the Bay. Paris of the West. Fog City. However you refer to it, San Francisco, the piquant younger sibling to New York, is undeniably striking. With its intensely rolling hills, remarkable ethnic and talented melting pot, breathtaking oceanic scenery, and mouthwatering cuisine, this urban esplanade never disappoints… And should you find yourself blessed with arrangements to visit, be sure to visit the following spots:
Food & Fun
Tony’s Pizza Napoletana. Nestled near Fisherman’s Wharf at the corner of Stockton and Union, this excellent eatery is a must. Tony’s menu proffers its patrons a mind-boggling array of options, including which temperature they prefer their pizza to be cooked — ‘Classic Italian’ or ‘Coal Fired’. Don’t fill up too quickly – be warned… Because even the complimentary breadbaskets and dips are outstanding!
Recommended dishes: quinoa salad (shown below), fried green beans, marinara pizza…and any other pizza.
Ghiradelli Square. Yes, as in the chocolate. After dinner (hell, after breakfast), tell your cabbie “900 North Point Street” and satisfy your sweet tooth with one of Ghiradelli’s rich ice creams, or just snap a few pictures and enjoy their free samples. Rather than wrestle with the store’s line at the mouth of the entrance, I suggest you visit the very back of the square in their additional shop, where it tends to be less crowded.
Recommended dessert: Chocolate Quake Shake
Les Joulins Jazz Bistro. At the fringe of Union Square on Ellis Street, enjoy a drink amidst piercing strains of saxophone and trumpet. This musical gem is an excellent Friday night cap off.
Fisherman’s Wharf. While it is a bit of a tourist trap, it is still worth stopping by for sightseeing. San Fran regulars will likely direct you to Buena Vista, an Irish coffee spot, where a scene from When a Man Loves a Woman with Meg Ryan and Andy Garcia was filmed. (Don’t forget to take a picture of the long line of Irish coffee mugs!)
Bonuses: Here, you catch glimpses of Coit Tower, Alcatraz Prison, San Francisco Bay, and the Golden Gate Bridge. During the winter months, sea lions frequent Pier 39’s K-Dock where males brawl over spots on the floating docks designated for their use. In June and July, most of them take off, heading south to the female nesting grounds to mate.
Union Square. This central locale has, quite literally, everything – dining, shopping, enviable cityscape, ample cab hailing — you name it! San Francisco’s “jewel” of shopping districts, Union Square, hosts a range of retail royalty, including Macy’s, Neiman Marcus, Barney’s, and Sak’s.
Dining locations are numerous; the surrounding area has several authentic Asian restaurants. For a coffee, try Blue Bottle Coffee Co. or Philz. Locals will also recommend having breakfast at Sears Restaurant on Powell Street (famous for their silver dollar pancakes), or a drink atop the Hyatt, esteemed as “the best view in town.”
Lombard Street. The crookedest street in the world, with an awesome view overlooking part of the city/bay, and beautifully landscaped… #braggingrights
Glide Memorial Church. This is the place for Sunday. Remember the scene in which Will Smith wins a spot in line at the homeless shelter with his son Jaden in The Pursuit of Happiness? That was filmed at this lively church, also on Ellis Street. A self-deemed “racially inclusive, just, and loving community,” Glide Memorial will leave you thoroughly impressed. Soulful gospel singers, spontaneous worship-dancing, and heart-wrenching testimonials are not uncommon.
Saulsalito. Across the Golden Gate Bridge, Saulsalito boasts similar scenery with a bit of new flavor than its cross-bay companion. Try Spinnakers for a bite to eat with an epic view of the city, and swing by Lapperts for ice cream.
Suggestions for other places to see in San Fran? Feel free to comment below and if you’d like to share your last visit? Talk to me!
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