There are hundreds of things to do in San Francisco and on a recent brief trip I was forced to narrow down to a few choices. Most importantly, I wanted to balance top things to see and do (tourist stops) with a feel for what the locals do.
We stayed at the Argonaut near Ghirardelli Square, with a view of Alcatraz and a brief walk to Fisherman’s Wharf and Pier 39. It also happened to be at one of the cable car turnarounds, meaning we were center to lots of activity. I spent one morning running west from our hotel, out to the nearby pier to observe Alcatraz, then on toward the Golden Gate Bridge to see it come closer in to focus.
Taking advantage of our location, two of our meals were nearby, first at Bistro Boudin, the famed house of sourdough in San Francisco. The afternoon sun was perfect on the patio with oysters, a crab cake sandwich on sourdough and Anchor Steam on draft. Our next nearby lunch was at Scoma’s, where we enjoyed calamari, clam chowder and a salad topped with mixed seafood. From Scoma’s we walked to Pier 39 to watch the sea lions lounge.
A Dallas friend who has been in the city a few years now recommended a more local dinner spot, Stone’s Throw. Each dish was artfully prepared and full of flavor. The atmosphere was cool and casual, setup to showcase the cocktails and plates.
To see a little more of the city, we spent one afternoon walking from the hotel, through Chinatown and to Union Square to the shopping mecca of San Fran. I stopped in Goyard to admire the hand-painted bags and luggage in one of the few U.S. stores. From there, we rode the trolley car back to the stop near our hotel, admiring the views along the way.
Our most adventurous day took us across the Golden Gate into nearby Sausalito, a town tucked into the hills across the bay. A few small streets, lined with local art shops, wine tasting rooms, restaurants and boutiques makeup the main part of town. We strolled into a few tasting rooms before heading to lunch.
Barrel House Tavern overlooks the bay with a balcony on the water and city views. A California-cool destination, the interiors are outfitted to resemble the inside of a barrel, with gorgeous wood balanced by smooth steel and a cozy fire pit near the front of the bar lining one side of the room. We decided to split some starters paired with a bloody mary and signature cocktail.
After strolling back to the car and watching the crabs scamper on the rocks by the water, we drove back across the Golden Gate but didn’t head to the hotel just yet. First we drove to the west side of the city to take in the ocean before winding through Golden Gate Park. Next we made our way through Haight-Ashbury, where everything seems to be perfectly stuck in the later 60s or 70s.
Again, there’s always plenty more to do, but we hit some high spots that I would definitely recommend on your next trip. Add clam chowder, sourdough bread, seafood and a draft Anchor Stream to your menu, even if you don’t visit the same spots!