Living in Sacramento there have been many day trips to the beautiful city of San Francisco over the years. Memories of crossing that bay bridge and the ocean air blowing through my hair are all fond memories of living in Northern California.
Brent and I took many trips while we were dating to visit the city. But we haven't made the trip in the past few years as we have expanded our travel experiences by being intentional in investing our time and money to visiting new places. With the recent opportunity to meet and cover the Martha Stewart event in San Francico last month, we took the chance to go back to the beloved city for another day trip trying a few new places to us.
We have done Union Square, Fisherman's Warf, Alcatraz, the ballet and many of the other typical touristy places in the past. This time I wanted to go off the beaten path a bit and try some of the more local flavor.
Our day started at Union Square for the Macy's Martha Stewart event. We arrived about an hour early giving us just enough time to stroll around a few shops before heading into Macy's.
A woman at Neiman Marcus insisted we take a photo in this "thinking chair." It is amazing what people are willing to spend thousand of dollars on!
We were one of the first to get to the Martha Stewart event allowing us great seats and a moment to soak it all in.
You can say I felt pretty special with my press pass. It is still surreal sometimes to take myself very seriously and fully grasp the wonderful opportunities blogging has brought.
And of course, meeting Martha was the highlight of the day. We could have gone straight home after that and I probably would have been fine.
So after shaking off my high of meeting this iconic woman, we took a few more snapshots of Union Square and then headed out on our city adventure.
Our first stop was to Hayes Valley, a quaint little spot filled with shops, places to eat, and locals hanging out all within a few blocks of each other. We ate at Stacks, which is known for its high stacks of pancakes.
The decor was perfectly inviting as we got to debrief the excitement of the Martha event.
It was a late lunch for us so we shared a high "stacked" burger and fries. As you can imagine, it was pretty tasty!
After lunch we wandered down the street to visit Miette, a lovely little candy shop full of pastel pretties.
To satisfy our sweet tooth, we decided to try some of their macarons.
They were a delight to say the least. But a little softer and chewier than the ones I have made. I am looking forward to sampling and comparing some authentic french macarons this fall when we take a trip to Paris.
Often when we are traveling, it's all about the food for us. So after finishing off our macarons, we headed to Smitten Ice Cream to sample some of their famous made to order ice cream.
Using liquid nitrogen, they are able to rapidly make and serve ice cream to order. It was pretty fascinating.
And the salted caramel ice cream definitely did not disappoint.
Just a few steps away, after browsing a few local shops, we took our last food sampling of Hayes Valley at La Boulange. This little french bakery is known for it's cute green building.
With a full stomach, we decided to get a few macarons to take home. The red velvet one? To. Die. For.
From there we headed to the Golden Gate Bridge to take a few photos at the beach. Over the past few years, I had noticed a trend of photographers doing photo sessions at this beach with the Golden Gate in the background. We have only visited the Golden Gate from the opposite side at Golden Gate Park. So I was determined to research this beach to set up our own little beach side photo shoot.
After a little time online I was able to find that this great little photo spot was located at Baker Beach. It was pretty easy to find and once arriving to the entrance of the park, you just take a windy road all the way down to the beach parking lot (which is free!) and walk your way towards the bridge. When we arrived there were plenty of locals hanging out. Kids were barbecuing and hanging out in their swimsuits, something not seen very often in this usually chilly city.
But if you decide to take the trip yourself, be warned, there are quite a few nudists that hang out here! We have ran into some on our trips to Stinson Beach but none quite like this! They were everywhere, walking around (one with nothing but a camera around his neck!), and getting into our photos! Though they are blurred, you can see in the picture below that there are a couple in the background. I will spare you from the few of the shots where they are a bit more obvious!
It made for quite a hysterical little adventure and definitely one to share when we got home! But most definitely worth it for these beautiful photos!
Baker Beach is such a beautiful spot to visit. After our photos on the beach, we continued on up the hill to check out the view. There are plenty of little paths to get around and you are surely to run into people out jogging and walking their dogs. What a dream to live so close to the beach with hills to hike on a regular basis.
With how packed and busy San Francisco is, it was literally a breath of fresh air to take in the large city from such a quiet and private place.
We then headed back into the city for dinner. We decided on trying out the hole in the wall, Taqueria El Farolito, after seeing such rave reviews as well as one source proclaiming it the best burrito in America!
To no surprise, the line was out the door and the inside was packed. We were prepared for a not very clean restaurant but I suppose to us it was all part of the nostalgia of this authentic Mexican restaurant.
After getting our carne asada burrito and quesadilla (both highly recommended in the reviews) we set up our blanket over at Mission Delores Park to eat dinner and watch the sunset.
And the burrito? AMAZING. This is my best burrito in America eating face.
Mission Delores Park provides a big steep grassy hill with one of the greatest views of the city. With local music playing, dogs being walked, and couples on dates, we enjoyed taking in another quiet but lovely view of the city. And as many trips to San Fransisco has taught me, like a good girl, I packed a pair of boots and a scarf as the night got chillier.
Of course, we brought along our tripod.
We were pretty stuffed by now, but we had to hit one more spot before heading home. While Smitten Ice Cream was fun and unique, it was Bi-Rite Creamery that won our hearts over when it came to ice cream. Another hot spot, with a line out the door, in chilly San Francisco, at nearly 10:00 at night.
Oh, but it was worth it. They also have an ice cream cookbook that has been on my wish list for awhile.
If you do not know what to order, take their recommendations. This brownie sundae with oreo ice cream? Amazeballs.
On our way back to the car, we caught the night lights from Mission Delores Park one more time. Such a beautiful and breathtaking view.
So there you have it. Where to eat (and find nudists!) slightly off the beaten path of San Francisco. We loved exploring one of our favorite places to visit with new eyes and a definitely full stomach!