San Francisco daycation.
[A three minute read]
24 (mostly rainy) hours in San Francisco.
Disclaimer: I am not a fan of long blogs (not efficient enough for my event manager brain) so I was surprised at the length of this article, though it is more a ‘pick n mix’ of mini blogs.
I have included pieces of information I wish I had before I arrived, to save my extensive googling.
My first trip to San Fran was a quick stopover en route to Mexico. I had just one day to spend with a friend, and another day for sightseeing. I squeezed a lot in which was only possible with Uber.
Travel // Sydney – San Francisco.
I arrived into San Fran on a Qantas flight from Sydney with my carry on luggage and breezed through customs. International Terminal A seemed dated and bare so don’t arrive hungry and looking for healthy food! Swing past one of the information desks for a map. If you are staying near a BART (Metro Train) station, this is a low cost option, otherwise the next most affordable option is Uber.
From the Departures level, ride sharing vehicles are permitted to pick up. When booking my Uber, the app asked me to choose my specific location for pick up.
San Fran was super chilly when I arrived, so I waited inside at the revolving doors and walked outside when I saw the car approach. Few differences between Uber in Australia and USA:
> Cars have an Uber sign on the dashboard to make them easier to identify.
> A photo of the car and model are shown in the app, again making them easier to identify.
> The Uber Pool service lets you share with other Uber users who are going to a similar destination, though I ended up having the car to myself… and paying $20.66 to Russian Hill (instead of $70ish for a cab).
I stayed on Filbert St in Russian Hill (AirBnB $183pn) which was a nice upmarket area with lots of cafes, gyms and bars, but is very residential and somewhat lacked soul.
After my tour of the Mission District (see below), I recommend staying there as the area is hip, modern, vibrant and close to other attractions.
7:00am // Exercise.
Start the day local style and take a yoga or gym class at one of the many fitness centres. I went to Union Yoga ($14) for a Morning Vinyasa.
9:00am // Breakfast: Brendas.
The cafes near my AirBnb seemed to serve a lot of processed carb laden foods and bad looking coffee.
Instead, I took an Uber to The Plant Cafe in Steiner St. When I arrived, it was closed and also raining. Two days into my month of travel with carry on luggage, I am wishing I packed an umbrella. After walking around the block and failing to find anything resembling real food (let alone gluten free), I ended up catching another Uber to Brendas in Tenderloin (a recommendation from several people).
Brendas is a Creole Soul Food kitchen famous for brunch. I ordered the creole veggie omelette with potato hash ($10.75) and community coffee with a side of soy milk ($2.50) and for once, didn’t have food envy!
Tip: Go hungry and go on a weekday to avoid queues.
11:00am // California Academy of Sciences.
During breakfast, I decided to lock in a walking tour that kicked off at 1:00pm. So I had just enough time to squeeze in a visit to the California Academy of Sciences, which was recommended by locals.
When I purchased the ticket, I actually had no idea what was inside (a museum?) but $34.95 to get out of the cold seemed like a good deal.
Inside the warm doors was the most schmick aquarium and rainforest I have ever seen. At the top level of the rainforest, I was mesmerised by huge electric blue butterflies. So much that I was nearly late for my walking tour! Lucky my Uber was close by…
1:00pm // Walking Tour of the Mission District.
From the moment I discovered the Wild SF website, I knew we would be the best of friends.
Hipster logo: tick. Excellent copywriting: tick. Nice fonts: tick.
I was not at all surprised to find Maz, a SF local, wearing a burgundy leather tie and carrying a ukelele.
After a solo traveller from Chile joined us, along with an older couple from North Carolina, Maz explained our DIY Mission Tour ($14) in the form of a singing ukelele performance.
Captivating, unique and entertaining (we later found out Maz is in a band with Santana’s nephews hence the smooth singing voice). Actually these three words summed up the rest of the tour perfectly as we learnt about the colourful history of the Mission area. Maz was brilliant at connecting the group in a non cheesy way which makes sense, as ‘community’ was the key word in the local story.
I won’t share my long list of what was awesome about this tour, just that it was the best I have ever done in any city. Absolutely must do!
3:00pm // Late Lunch: Delores Park Cafe.
I reluctantly hand back the umbrella leant to me by the lovely couple, tip Maz ($10 I think), and bid farewell to the group.
I head back to Delores Park Cafe on Maz’ recommendation and enjoyed the turkey, avocado, bacon & swiss sandwich on gluten free ($10.95) along with an almond latte ($3.75).
Tip: free wifi and a lovely waitress who will charge your iPhone.
3:30pm // Ice cream: BiRite Ice Creamery.
Ice cream is something I rarely buy at home (unless it is of the sugar free coconut milk variety).
During our walk, Maz told us about the interesting history of the BiRite store and that the ice creamery uses local, organic, high quality ingredients… so then I HAD to go. I ordered a scoop of lavender with Sonoma honey ($4.50). Best. Ice cream. Ever.
5:00pm // Snacks: Wholefoods.
Tomorrow I fly to Mexico and without knowing what food will be available on the flight or in the country, I swing by Wholefoods to stock up on healthy snacks for the trip. Larabar seems to be the cleanest brand of snacks ($1.40), and I also purchase some paleo muffins ($10.99) for breakfast too.
Tip: Wholefoods on California St features Steep Brew cafe, where you can buy a hemp milk latte, as well as almond, oat, soy or plain old dairy milk ($3.15).
6:00pm // Golden Gate Bridge.
A trip to SF would not be complete without visiting the Golden Gate Bridge, and I am running out of time! With the romantic and efficient idea of cycling across, I head straight to Sports Basement, the closest place I could find to rent a bicycle.
When I arrive, I realise the sun sets in 30 minutes… i.e. by the time I rent my bike and cycle to the bridge, it will be dark (and cold). So I whip out my iPhone to hail another Uber to take me to the Welcome Center where I can walk across. Before I leave, I notice they sell Larabar granola ($8.50) and nearly miss the sunset whilst I wait in the queue. But one can never have too many clean snacks whilst travelling!
I arrive to the bridge just as the sun is setting which allows me enough time to snap some beautiful photos across the water towards Alcatraz (now I can give that box half a tick) and recruit some fellow tourists to take my photo on the bridge.
7:30pm // Dinner: Boudin Bistro at Fishermans Wharf.
I had been told the clam chowder sourdough bread bowl is a SF staple, so head to Boudin Bistro for dinner. Gluten is not my friend, but when it is very good quality, traditionally made bread, sometimes I can get away with it. I am in SF, tired, cold and JUST WANT BREAD. I end up ordering the small crab and corn bisque bread bowl upon the waiters recommendation ($10.95). And a glass of pinot gris ($10).
9:00pm // Uber and Chill.
All up, I have taken 9 Ubers today, at a total cost of $105.35. The next morning I tried Lyft to the airport ($23.72).
Thumbs up: The atmosphere. SF is a beautiful and colourful city with positive vibes and strong community.
Thumbs down: It can get cold, is quite expensive and obviously the hills can be a challenge even for the fit.
Verdict: This is the perfect city to explore for a few days pre or post a conference – definitely worth a visit!
Cost of Daycation.
Not including tips (usually around 10%). All expenses paid by myself – no official endorsements, just my recommendations!
Local transport $149.73
Total USD $468.62