San Francisco: Biking, Sightseeing, FOOD!
March 27 – 31, 2018
During my senior year of high school, my dad took me on THE BEST trip to San Francisco. Only having been to California once in my life (when I was thirteen so does it really count?), I was pretty excited to return.
I’d only ever seen the city by the bay in movies as a kid, probably the most impactful being The Princess Diaries, so I kinda knew what to expect—but I loved SF so much more than I thought I would.
Whenever I visit a new place, I like to leave feeling like there was nothing else I could’ve done or seen, and I definitely felt this way after leaving San Francisco.
Day 1: Arrival
After a 5-hour direct flight from Tampa, we drove into the city and checked into our hotel, the Stanford Court. We ate lunch at the Laurel Court Restaurant in the Fairmont Hotel, one of the most famous hotels in SF that I personally recognized from the dozens of flags hanging off the building.
We spent the latter half of the day exploring, walking around Chinatown and then the piers on the water. I remember feeling like the city reminded me of New York, just a hilly version. But if New York was that hilly, I would definitely not be living there.
For dinner, we ate at The Big 4 in the Huntington Hotel, just within walking distance from our place. I can recall eating the most delicious filet mignon and of course, a rich chocolate cake for dessert.
Day 2: Biking & the Bay
On our first full day we didn’t shy away from danger. Renting bikes at our hotel (I opted for an electric one for obvious reasons), we biked all the way from our hotel in SF across the Golden Gate Bridge and into Sausalito on the other side of the bay.
If I’ve learned anything from my travel experiences, it’s that biking really is the best way to see a city, even with all those hilly and traffic-filled streets, which was terrifying. But when we got to the Bridge, it was worth it.
Biking across the Golden Gate Bridge was absolutely surreal—hundreds of feet above water, I felt like I was on top of the world, surrounded by fascinating views from Oakland to Sausalito with Alcatraz right in the middle. I had never seen anything so gorgeous.
Upon arriving in Sausalito, we biked around until we found a cute lunch spot on the water. I ate a delicious plate of calamari before we rode around a bit more, then took the ferry back to San Francisco.
After a day of earning our dinner, we chose to eat at the Pier 23 Café Restaurant & Bar and had a casual but lovely seafood meal.
Day 3: Gardens & THE BEST MEALS EVER
After a great night of rest and a nice breakfast at our hotel, we headed to the San Francisco Botanical Gardens. Although this day sounds less than entertaining, the flowers and plants were honestly gorgeous, unlike anything I’d ever seen.
Plus, the exhibit was huge with tons of vegetation from all different countries such as China, Chile and Australia. It was super cool.
Afterward, we went to the San Francisco Yacht Club to eat lunch. My dad and I sat outside right on the water and I ate a brie cheeseburger with sweet potato fries while staring at the most gorgeous view of the Golden Gate Bridge. It’s one of the best meals I’ve ever had to this day, and my second favorite on the trip.
My very favorite meal on this trip was our dinner at the Slanted Door that night. We rode a cable car to get to the Vietnamese restaurant, which I remember having super cool lighting and architecture.
My dad and I ordered some dumplings, spring rolls, a steak dish, and a noodle plate. Everything tasted beyond exquisite, better than I could’ve imagined in my wildest dreams.
For the finale, we ate an unearthly s’mores brownie with crumbs, marshmallows, and ice cream. I distinctly remember this dinner being one of the best I’d ever consumed.
Day 4: Nature Adventures
On our fourth and final day, we rented a car and drove North to the Redwood National Forest. We hiked around the gorgeous scenery for an hour or so, and it was super nice to smell fresh air away from the city. I love hiking, exploring new places, and seeing beautiful views, so this adventure was right up my alley.
On the way back to SF, we ate lunch at In-N-Out Burger (because you can’t go to Cali without hitting it, right?). Although Californians act like the chain serves holy food, I thought it was about average-tasting. It reminded me of Steak n’ Shake, one of my favorite fast food chains.
In the city, we drove past the Victorian Houses across from Alamo Square Park, and of course, we had to see the Full House house, where tourists must be taking pictures 24/7. It was pretty cool to actually see it in person.
Afterward, my dad took me on Lombard Street, aka the wackiest, windiest street in the US, if not the world. If you don’t know what I’m referring to, just google it. Crazy stuff.
For our last dinner, we ate Thai food at a casual restaurant called Chabaa. I devoured a delicious wonton noodle soup and my dad had fried rice.
Day 5: Departure
Before flying out, we ate a victory breakfast at Scala’s Bistro. I remember the French toast we ate was literally the best I’d ever had.
All in all, this trip will go down in history as one of my favorites of all time. I love spending time with my dad, and looking back on it, I wouldn’t have wanted to do or see anything else while I was there.
My favorite parts were definitely biking across the Golden and dinner at the Slanted Door. If you visit San Francisco, you have to experience both of those.
And just a little warning—walking up those hills is a lot harder than you think it’s going to be.