My husband and I just returned from a wonderful week in SF and I wanted to share our report in the hopes that it might help others planning to visit. TA forums and San Francisco TA app, City Guide, was so helpful in making our plans and I would like to give back. We were so thankful for beautiful weather and an overall great trip! My husband and I are in our mid-40's and he was in town to attend a class M-F so I was on my own during the day. Here's the break down:
Day one- Arrived on a Friday to SFO and rented a car to head south for the weekend in Big Sur (a slice of heaven on earth IMO). Took 101 to Monterey and did a quick stop in Carmel by the Sea to check out the cute town and to get groceries for our weekend stay. We checked in at Country Flat Farm in Big Sur for our two night stay in a cottage. What a fabulous gem tucked in the hills of Big Sur. A working farm but with views of the Pacific. Very quiet and peaceful retreat. We found it through TA vacation rental section. The drive to the farm is not for the faint of heart but once there you will not want to leave!
Day two- Up early (still on East Coast time) and headed to Point Lobos state park at sunrise. My husband is an artist and wanted to do some plein air painting. I am an amateur photographer and wanted to explore with my camera. We loved the park and such fabulous views and hiking trails. Headed to Point Sur lighthouse for the 10:00 am guided tour. Loved it! Don't miss this opportunity to hear the history and the views of Big Sur from the top. Continued to head south down the Coastal Hwy that afternoon for more painting/photography with stops at Bixby Bridge and near Soberanes (I think!). Dinner "back at the ranch" in our cottage. Absolutely stunning sunset views from the cottage!
Day three- Up early again and checked out at the farm to head south to hike and explore Big Sur. We stopped at a few turnouts to take in the views. Two hikes in the Julia Pfeiffer State Park (Partington Cove and McWay Falls). Loved them both and the falls were just stunning. Easy walk to the falls so if you are considering a stop there with a disability it can be done in a wheel chair. Our last stop in Big Sur was Salmon Creek Trail to see redwoods and more falls. Crossed over to 101 N at Cambria (via Route 46) to get to SF for 6:00 pm rental car turn in at Union Square. Checked in at Marines Memorial Hotel on Sutter St. near Union Square. We loved this hotel and got a great rate with my husband being retired from USMC. Excellent service at the hotel which included free hot breakfast buffet each morning and 4-6 pm reception daily. You do not have to be prior military to stay there. It was a great location for base of operations. That evening we attended a get together with my husband's classmates.
Day four (Monday)- I started my day purchasing HOHO tour tickets online at the hotel through All Sanfrancisco tours (the blue bus). Wasn't impressed with the company but, it was a good way for me to get acclimated to SF and learn my way around. I got a 48 hour pass for the price of a 24 hour pass and it was cheaper online than at the bus stop. Started at Union Square and went through the Wharf area (have explored before so didn't get off here). Got off at Golden Gate Bridge and then GG park. Toured the Botannical Gardens and Japanese Tea Garden. Loved both of these but wish there was some sort of pass to get in all of the gardens for one price. Wanted to see Consevatory of Flowers but it's closed on Mondays. Got off bus at Alamo Square to grab photos of Painted Ladies and to see the park. Took bus back to Union Square. After hubby got out of class, we walked through Chinatown to Coit Tower for sunset views (tiring but fun!) Walked down Filbert Steps and to wharf area for dinner at Pier 23 (okay but over priced). Walked down to see the Bay Bridge lights (cool) and then walked back to hotel.
Day five- Tuesday Treated myself to a massage at Massage Envy (have membership) first thing in the morning and unfortunately took a wrong turn walking back to the hotel and ended up in Tenderloin. Geez...I was pretty mad at myself for that mistake but I made it out okay. It was amazing how quickly the area from Union Square changes almost within one block! Caught a noon-ish HOHO bus for my 2nd day of touring. Stayed on the bus for most of the same loop as yesterday but did get off at GG park again to see Conservatory of Flowers. Bused back to Union Square to hotel. Dinner in Chinatown at House of Nanking. Was awesome. The owner came to our table and said he would "take care of" our dinner order since we were newbies. It was great food and we ate foods we probably would have never ordered. Loved the flowering hot tea... Walked to Tunnel Top bar for drinks with my husband's classmates.
Day Six (Wed) The only rainy day of the week so I can't complain but was disappointed this was the day I reserved a walking tour with Urban Trek USA. Anton was a fabulous tour guide and I was the only guest that day. We decided we would hope for the best with the rain and actually lucked out in the morning but had a soggy afternoon. I think we covered more territory than was listed in the tour but that was the great part of a small tour company in that he could tailor it to what I wanted to see in addition to the regular tour. We walked or took Muni through Financial district, Chinatown, North Beach, Russian Hill, Cow Hollow, Pacific Heights (upper and lower), Hayes Valley, Castro and Civic Center before ending up back at Union Square where we started. Had lunch in Castro at Roam Artisan Burgers (excellent burger and shake) and stopped for some hot chocolate that afternoon at Christopher Elbow Chocolates (yum but expensive!) Too many sights to mention that I saw on the tour but I loved getting the history of all the neighborhoods in a personalized way. Highly recommend. It was also great because Anton introduced me to the Muni system ins and outs which was helpful later in the week. Hubby and I had dinner at Uncle Vitos Pizzeria near Union Square and called it a day early...tired from walking and being in the rain.
Day Seven, Thursday More of a low key day for me by staying in the Union Square area for shopping. That afternoon we took the Muni Metro to Amoeba Music and walked through Haight Ashbury (not our cup of tea and the area really bothered us). Had dinner at Burger Urge in HA neighborhood then walked to GGP to the CA Academy of Sciences for Nightlife (over 21 evening event on Thursdays). We enjoyed the aquarium, rain forest, and planeteriam about earthquakes (was a bit unnerving to see this in SF though!) Took Muni back to Union Square late evening.
Day Eight, Friday (my favorite day in SF)- met with TA staff to rate the new app. That was cool since I had been trying it out all week. They were super nice and I hope my feedback was helpful. Hubby was done with class late morning so we took the Muni bus to the Presidio area. Lunch at Pizzeria Arellino outside of the park (was okay, not great but we were hungry!). Walked to Industrial Light and Magic (George Lucas building) as we are Lucas Arts fans. Took photos in the lobby of cool Star Wars memorbilia. Walked to the Disney Museum for the Snow White exhibit and regular Disney museum. We loved it and I have to say it is one of the best museums I have ever visited. Walked to the edge of the Presidio and stopped at Inspiration Point (such great views and we were out of breath by that point!) Picked up Muni bus to get to the Lands End Trail. Walked the trail late afternoon until sunset overlooking the Pacific at the point. Incredible. Had some of the best views of the GGB and we loved just hiking in the beautiful weather in nature after a week in the "city." A must see! Took bus back to Union Square and had a late dinner at Daily Grill. Expensive but we had great steaks and service there.
Day Nine- Saturday Flight home from SFO. We were ready to be home but we had such a great week. Please feel free to email me with any questions (if you've made it reading this far in my report!) I know it was lengthy but I hope it is helpful to someone planning a trip. It will also help me scrapbook my trip now that I have my thoughts in order! : ) I know I am to link this somehow to the trip report section but unsure how...I will try though. Thanks for reading, Julia