San Francisco

One day if I do go to heaven...I’ll look around and say, ‘It ain’t bad, but it ain’t San Francisco.
— Herb Caen
 
  • Oliver Guide: Jen Lane

  • trip Type: Family

  • Ideal Trip Length: 3 nights

 

To & From

  • Fly into SFO and take an Uber to your hotel. If you plan to stay in the city, no need for a car- can uber and walk everywhere.
  • Don’t fly into Oakland. Traffic gets bad in east bay and Uber will be a lot more expensive than flying into SFO. Dealing with BART is the worst.
 

STAY

  • Hotel Drisco: Located in the very nice (and quiet) neighborhood of Pacific Heights, good spot to get more of a feel as a local, but not close to the downtown action
  • Hotel Vitale: On the Embarcadero, across from Ferry Building- great location downtown
  • Cavallo Point: Across the bridge in Sausalito, amazing spa and gorgeous views- just beware that when those fog horns go off, they will be keeping you up all night. I would suggest the contemporary rooms versus the historic. Amazing spa (see below)
  • Inn at the Presidio: Tucked away in the Presidio, quiet and gorgeous location. Close to Marina/Pacific Heights/Cow Hollow.
 
 

Eat & Drink

  • Bix (Financial District): Great dinner spot, dark atmosphere, but one of the best in San Francisco. Get the martini and burger.
  • Jackson Fillmore (Pacific Heights): One of my favorites (my husband and my first date) Get the shaved zucchini appetizer.
  • Park Tavern (North Beach): Central north beach location, great cocktails, atmosphere and fun. 
  • Roses (Cow Hollow): Weekend brunch spot. The breakfast pizza is my favorite…save time sure to shop on Union Street after.
  • Swan's Oyster Depot (Polk Street): Get there early as they were recently discovered by Anthony Bordain. Cracked crab jackpot, owned by native SF family.
  • Big 4 (Nob Hill): Great cocktails - classic SF location.
  • Farina (Mission): Favorite Italian restaurant.
 

Do

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  • Morning Run on Crissy Field: Make sure you touch the Hoppers Hands at the bottom of the bridge.
  • Spa: Either Nob Hill Spa or across the bridge on Cavallo Point.
  • Yoga: The Pad on Union Street (Cow Hollow) or International Orange on Fillmore (Pacific Heights)
  • Lyon Street Stairs: (Cow hollow) stair climb run in the morning
  • Cavallo Point happy hour: sit outside on the deck for happy hour (they’ll provide you with blankets) or go inside to Farley Bar if too chilly. If you are still having fun, head down to Presidio Yacht Club- best dive bar ever
  • Manicure/Pedicure on Chestnut Street - Ciao Bella is my favorite.
  • Trail Run: Drive to Marin and park at Tennessee Valley- surrounded by gorgeous trails (check out separate OG guide to Marin County)
  • Shopping: Chestnut Street up Fillmore Street and then Union Street...drive/uber to Sacramento Street
  • Lands End Hike: Park at Sutro Baths parking lot, hike the trail to see gorgeous view of bridge and ocean. Warning- first spot to get the fog, try to capture on clear day.
 

inside scoop

  • Summer is actually really chilly in San Francisco as the fog comes in, but if you just drive over the Golden Gate bridge the sun is most likely shining
  • Do not call it Frisco, they will know you are not a local right away.
  • If you want to ride the cable car, just hop on in the middle of the route- don’t wait in the huge line.
 

SKIP IT

  • Fisherman's Wharf