Being the self-proclaimed free spirit that I am, I was in the mood for sunny skies, fruity drinks and a quick weekend escape. I messaged my girlfriend to see if she was down and our search started there, Turks and Caicos? Guadalupe? Mexico City? We started rattling off destinations when I got a flight alert, via Travel Noire, for tickets from the East to the West for about $200 USD RT and on none other than my favorite airline- Delta. We decided to go for it. I used my Chase Sapphire Preferred points to book my flight and the travel planning began.
When traveling I like an even mix of party, relaxation, off the beaten path destinations and super touristy activities, so I usually put together an extensive yet loose itinerary. I’ll scour the web, fellow bloggers and my trusty Facebook travel groups for tips or recommendations as I draft my itinerary, but this time was a bit different. After a few hours of searching, I honestly didn’t feel that I had gotten many simple answers. So aside from just wanting to document my experiences, I also felt the need to give some good information for those wanting to visit San Fran.
First things first, apparently none of the locals call it “San Fran”. Secondly, San Fran is just as expensive as you’ve heard, actually maybe more expensive. Hotels ranged anywhere from $200-$400 USD a night on average. In order to not break the bank, our options were to get a hotel in a nearby city, Oakland, California, easily accessible to SF via the Bart or Uber, or to find a less expensive Airbnb. We opted for the cutest Airbnb in Lower Pacific Heights, the link is here for those interested. It averages $135 per night so it’s a much more affordable option and is within walking distance of the infamous Full House, House. Visit my IG and check out my saved stories to see videos of our Airbnb as well as other trip highlights, @fitflyflournoy.
Home to Uber, you don’t need to spend much time planning out transportation, we pretty much walked, used uber/lyft or used the train system, BART. Buying tickets for BART was simple, accepting cash or card, you just need to get to a train station and can pick up a pass there. We also bought a 24-hour pass to the Hop On Hop Off tour, about $50 USD, and it took us to all of the key touristy spots we wanted to hit.
Here’s a list of some of the activities we did while in San Francisco, ranked in order of my favorite to least favorite (though I enjoyed it all):
- Tour of “the Rock” Alcatraz
- Spent a day in Napa, California visiting Napa Valley; we went to the first and only black-owned vineyard, Brown Estate (See later post on Napa)
- Hop On Hop Off Bus Tour
- Golden Gate Bridge ( We didn’t walk across)
- Shopped in Union Square
- Visited Fisherman’s Wharf and ate delicious seafood
- Walked around Mission District, popular San Francisco neighborhood
- Toured and had lunch in Chinatown
I wish we had more time because there were so much more to see and do like Muir woods or hiking Alamere falls and so many more restaurants to try. So another visit will be happening in the very near future.
Pretty known for its food scene, we tried to explore a little bit of everything. Suggested by a few locals, we ate tacos in Mission District at La Taqueria, it was subpar at best. I would try some of the various other Mexican restaurants or local bars in the Mission District. I ate some of the best Indian food I’ve had in my life in Oakland, Aangan, we ordered a few different dishes and nothing disappointed. We delighted in Thai Food and good wine at Orchid, also in Oakland. Famous for its seafood we visited Fisherman’s Wharf and ate at Fisherman’s Grotto, I got the shrimp po’boy and got a taste of New Orleans in every bite. And for my final restaurant recommendation, for our first San Fran meal, we dined at the Slanted Door in the Ferry Building where the menu looks weird at first glance but is full of delicious surprises.
There is so much packed in this historical city, I highly suggest the Hop on Hop off Tour for its use of transportation, live audio tour, and views of the most famous spots in San Francisco. You may not be able to do and see everything in your quick visit, but this is a great way to jam in as much as possible. I also recommend you pay close attention to the weather, we lucked up and missed the rain by a few days, but despite almost 70 degree days, at night the temperature dipped quite low. The Golden Gate Bridge and boat ride to Alcatraz are supposedly always chilly and extremely windy. Aside from a few jackets, pack ample cash and a big smile because everyone we encountered was extremely welcoming. Lastly, don’t be afraid to venture over the bridge to go see Oakland, Ca, with tons of character and places to eat, it is worthwhile.