California Love

I had the opportunity to go to San Francisco for a work conference last week. It was my first time in California so I took full advantage and tacked on a few extra days to see all the city had to offer. Unfortunately it rained most of my trip but I crammed in about as much as I could and had a great time!

The tourist checklist

  • Chinatown – So many shops! I got a beautiful purse at one shop and also stopped in the Golden Gate Bakery to try dan tat (egg tart). It was a little too custard-like for me but the flaky crust was delish.
  • Lombard Street – Obligatory photo opp but honestly not that exciting.

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  • Fisherman’s Wharf and Pier 39 – Lots of restaurants and shops to wander through. At the end of the pier is a pretty unique site, which I captured on video.
  • Cable Car Museum – Free and really interesting! You can learn about how cable cars work and see the system that powers all the lines in the city. (Watch a video here)
  • Muir Woods – Thankful for my friend who lives in SF and drove out here with me! We wanted to do a 10-mile hike but it was so rainy and misty that we ended up doing less than four. Still, it was a pretty amazing hike among the ridiculously tall trees.



  • Alcatraz – The crazy rain added an element of eeriness to touring the rock. I took the guided walk up to the cellhouse listening to a ranger talk about all the escape attempts. In the cellhouse, I did the audio tour which was incredibly well done. It’s narrated by four officers and four prisoners talking firsthand about their Alcatraz experience. Including ferry time, the entire trip took about three hours.

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The eats

  • Urban Tavern – Juicy steak and trendy décor. What more do you need out of a restaurant?
  • Mikkeller Bar – A must visit for craft beer lovers! Diverse tap list and great food to pair with it, too.
  • The Franciscan – In my attempts to overcome my pickiness, I am tip toeing into the world of seafood. I enjoyed the crab alfredo and the view of the Alcatraz lighthouse in the distance.
  • Bread & Cocoa – Quick, tasty pit stop for lunch near the Financial District.
  • Tony Tutto Pizza – Stopped here in Mill Valley after hiking at Muir Woods. The smell of bread is overwhelming when you walk in. I started drooling immediately. Note: Cash only.
  • Boudin – Picked up a loaf of sourdough bread to bring back with me.

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The hills

  • I did a four-mile out and back on the Bay Trail from Hyde Street Pier toward Crissy Field. The trail is perfect for runners! Wide with separate lanes for bikers and an awesome view of the Golden Gate Bridge.
  • My second run was probably the most challenging I’ve ever done. I ran from the hostel to the Lyons Street steps and back (5.3 miles). I thought the stairs would be the craziest part but the streets on that side of town were insane. I was hunched over, huffing and puffing just trying to keep moving. The payoff was a great view of the bay and some super fancy houses from the top of the stairs.

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The digs

  • Marriott Marquis – Stayed here during the work-sponsored portion of the trip. Great location, comfy bed and friendly staff.
  • USA Hostels – Moved here for the Melanie-sponsored portion. Very affordable alternative to the pricy SF hotels. I stayed in a four-person room with an en suite bathroom. Awesome staff, great lounge area, planned activities every day and pancakes for breakfast! It was a great experience.

I covered a lot in my short time but there’s so much more to see in SF. What did I miss? Share your favorite spots in the comments!


3 thoughts on “California Love

  1. The city looked so tantalizing for the inmates on Alcatraz but trying to make that swim in that cold water was deadly. Good stuff Melanie, thanks for sharing.

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