Hello, friends, my name is Katie. My husband, Aaron, and I live in the beautiful city of San Francisco. I’m a San Francisco transplant, but Aaron grew up in the Bay Area. Now, the first thing you need to know about San Francisco is that the locals call it “The City”—because as Urban Dictionary tells you, “All other cities have nothing on San Francisco.” Aaron spent his childhood visiting The City when friends came to visit, so when he got a job offer that would mean moving here, we jumped at the chance. I will say that although I am a San Francisco transplant, this city stole my heart from the moment we got here.
I’m currently a law student, and Aaron works full time in Finance. Our day-to-day is super busy—filled with casebooks and budget balancing, but we still make sure to save time for fun! To be honest, after all my studying and Aaron’s office life, we just can’t sit still. We love to be outside exploring. I would say the best part about living in The City is that adventure is literally at your fingertips!
The “don’t be a Tourist” exception:
There are certain spots in San Francisco that the locals know to avoid because they are overrun with tourists. Google “Top 10 things to see in San Francisco” and that’s the list of spots we stay away from. Don’t get me wrong, all those places are neat and fun to see if you only have a few hours to visit, but there is just so much more to San Francisco than those sites. However, that said, there is one touristy thing you just can’t miss if you are visiting San Francisco, and that is; The Golden Gate Bridge. The Bridge is iconic San Francisco, and, while Instagram selfies have made it a bit cliché, the Golden Gate Bridge is truly beautiful—I wouldn’t miss it. Plus, there are ways to avoid the throngs of people at the base of the bridge. You see, most people go to the southeast side of the bridge where the gift shop is located. What they don’t realize is that you can get an amazing view of the bridge, coastline, and ocean if you come from the northwest side of the peninsula. Land’s End Park or Baker Beach are my favorite spots to get this breathtaking angle of the bridge.
Soak in that Skyline
Ever since we moved into The City, I have been obsessed with the San Francisco Skyline. It is beautiful, and honestly, I can’t get enough of it. To get the best view of the skyline you should:
Visit Mission Dolores Park
This sunny park, complete with tons of palm trees, is a perfect spot to get a great view of the city. I could sit on a bench in this park for hours and just stare at the view. This is my go-to place when I want to clear my head or simply want to people watch. Another fun feature: the park has a playground with huge slides—big enough for even adults to have fun on (and yes, I know from experience!)!
Hike (or drive) to Twin Peaks
Most people will recognize the road to Twin Peaks because the windy road up is featured in tons of car commercials. However, the view from the top is this San Francisco Hill’s real claim to fame. It’s one of the highest points in the city and on a clear day, you can see the entire bay! There is an “urban hike” that will get you to the top—it takes you through some of the quieter but more colorful streets of the city via sidewalks and stairways until you reach the peak. This gives you a chance to look at the unique architecture and colors of classic San Francisco homes. This is one of my favorite city activities!
Take a Ferry
This is another great way to get an incredible view of the city. You can take a Ferry from the Ferry building in Downtown San Francisco over to a little town called Sausalito, on the other side of the Bay. The ferry ride is cheap (about $11 round trip) and it takes you past Alcatraz and the Golden Gate Bridge. On sunny days, the bay is filled with sailboats, another fun site to see!
Bike through Golden Gate Park
Aaron and I love to bike—it is our preferred mode of transportation for all our adventures. A favorite weekend activity of ours is to ride our bikes through Golden Gate Park. Most people don’t know that Golden Gate Park is actually bigger than Central Park. It’s filled with fun things to do and see—Museums, Botanical Gardens, Dutch Windmills, Paddle Boating on Stow Lake, Bison—yes, you read that right, Bison! The park has a huge paddock that serves as the home to several Bison, probably the last thing you would expect to see in the city. The park also has large grassy areas for picnics, a Frisbee golf course, and a roller-skate rink—it’s fun to stop and watch the neon-spandex-wearing skaters; they take roller-skating very seriously!
As you reach the west end of the park, the tree-lined road opens up to a gorgeous view of the ocean. Ocean Beach always is our final destination. Although in our opinion, the water is far too cold for swimming, Aaron and I both love the beach. We share this weird obsession with watching the waves crash on the shore. We always take a blanket and sit on the sand while staring out at the water. Often times you’ll see daring souls who brave the cold water to go surfing and that’s always fun to watch.
Eat your heart out:
Now let’s get to the important stuff: where and what to eat! The fact that San Francisco is such a diverse city is reflected in the myriad of food options and one-off restaurants that dot the city. Most places use only local and organic ingredients, so honestly, it’s hard to go wrong! We love trying a new place each time we go out and have yet to be disappointed. My advice: Be adventurous and try something new! Our favorite meals have come from food trucks or food carts (often found by the ferry building). I would also recommend trying a famous San Francisco sourdough soup bowl—Our favorite spot for this classic is Boudin’s Bakery. Aaron always gets clam chowder, and I go for the Tomato Basil. The soup and bread bowl combo is absolutely delicious!
My real area of expertise is dessert! I have a major sweet tooth and the fact that there are so many creative dessert geniuses in this city is this dessert-lover’s dream come true! My list of yummy dessert spots could go on forever, but some favorites include:
This quaint bakery and restaurant tops the charts as one of San Francisco’s best bakeries. This is made apparent by the constant line that flows out the door and around the building. But let me tell you, it is WORTH the wait! From coconut cream tarts to eclairs and tres leches cake, each dessert is so rich with flavor. After our first trip, Aaron kept commenting “Man, I am dreaming about that éclair from Tartine!” Needless to say, we keep going back and take everyone who visits to try it. Plus, it’s right by Mission Dolores Park, so you can get a delicious treat and enjoy the view of the city at the same time.
Just as the name suggests, this ice cream spot has some of the creamiest ice cream you have ever tasted! Cream’s claim to fame is sandwiching this delicious ice cream between warm baked goodies, such as cookies, brownies or do’sants (our donut and croissant hybrid). My favorite combo—cookies and cream ice cream with a brownie on top and bottom! Though the churro ice cream between two snickerdoodles is a close second!
These donuts are to-die-for. When a friend first took me to Bob’s I hesitated—it’s your classic “hole in the wall” type place. However, it’s those places that are typically culinary gems and that is true about Bob’s. My favorite donut—the cream filled maple! Bob’s is also famous for their “BIG Donut” challenge. All you have to do is eat a “BIG Donut” in 3 minutes, and you win a Bob’s Donut’s T-Shirt and get your name listed on the Hall of Fame—finish in 2 minutes and they will give you your money back too! Easy enough, right? Here’s is catch: the “BIG Donut” is the size of an entire plate and about 4 inches thick! I haven’t yet tried the Challenge, but perhaps I’ll put it on my bucket list!
There are so many fun things to do and eat while visiting San Francisco. Adventuring a little further into the city reveals culture, tastes, and beautiful views that make this city so unique. I certainly love San Francisco and I hope you now have a glimpse of why San Francisco truly is “The City” to visit!