How to spend five days in San Francisco
This post may contain affiliate links which won’t change your price but will share a commission.
Our San Francisco trip in June of 2014 was the perfect get-away to celebrate our 25th wedding anniversary. We stayed at the The Palace, a landmark historic hotel located at the SW corner of Market and New Montgomery streets. It’s also referred to as the “New” Palace Hotel to distinguish it from the original 1875 Palace Hotel – which had been demolished after being gutted by the fire caused by the 1906 San Francisco earthquake.
Our trip started with a walk to Embarcadero, or The Market, located on Fisherman’s Pier. Vendors were set up everywhere, selling food, jewelry, flowers, souvenirs, and other items. We spent the day browsing along the pier and chose to eat at Fog Harbor Fish House, enjoying some wonderful seafood and the best clam chowder ever. Really!!
No trip to San Fran is complete without a trip to Napa Valley! We joined some friends and toured several smaller wineries along the valley. Our favorites were Rutherford Winery (and we joined their wine club!) where we nibbled on chocolates that were pared with each variety of wine, and Hill Winery, which was also fabulous as we sat outside sipping and enjoying the beautiful weather.
DAY THREE. Day three was hands down…our favorite day! We rented bikes and pedaled across the Golden Gate Bridge to Sausalito, ate lunch (at Scoma’s) and shopped there, took a detour through Mill Valley to hug trees, and then continued on our (very long!) way to Tiburon (home of the late Robin Williams). We stopped for gelato and a pastry (YUM!) and hopped on the ferry, with our bikes, back to the pier in San Francisco.
Bike riding over the Golden Gate Bridge was pretty cool and interesting. There were TONS of other tourists doing the same thing. And it seemed that for some of them, it was their first ever experience on a bike. If you know what I mean…
On our way to Mill Valley, we saw lots of “floating houses”. For those of you who watched the show, Parenthood, remember Crosby Braverman’s floating house in the first series or two? This is what we saw…a pretty crazy lifestyle for us Texans to imagine!
So when we rented our bikes at Blazing Sattles, we received a map of where to go and how to get to Sausalito. We decided to keep riding past Sausalito so that we could go hug some trees! But we are amateur travelers so of course, we got lost. After a few wrong turns and extra miles on our bikes, we found what we were looking for after riding through Mill Valley, a beautiful little town outside of San Francisco.
These trees!!! OMG!
The redwoods simply took our breath away! It was amazing riding our bikes through this beautiful part of California. We hugged some gigantic trees!
On our ferry ride back to the pier, we went past Alcatraz – which unfortunately, we didn’t get to tour as they were booked up the entire time we were in San Fran. Alcatraz is on our must see list for NEXT time. And next time, we’ll book the tour far in advance.
After bike riding over 30 miles that day, we got cleaned up at our hotel and walked to Anchor and Hope, a trendy little San Fran seafood restaurant. The fish and chips were our favorite and we ate every last morsel.
Well, Day four was our actual 25th wedding anniversary! So we knew we wanted to do something really memorable. And that usually means FOOD for us foodies. Mike’s pre-trip research on Mama’s on Washington Square (a very tiny and quaint family-run restaurant) was spot on. We waited well over an hour to get in the door. Ok, let me re-phrase that. MIKE waited well over an hour while I rested my weary feet on a park bench nearby, chatting up the mayor of Sausalito and his sweet puppy while waiting. Small world!
The food was SO worth the wait. Brunch included Mama’s Florentine Benedict, Swedish Cinnamon French Toast, and Buttermilk Pancakes. Yes, three meals for two of us. Sounds about right!! I highly recommend you check out Mama’s on your next trip to San Fran.
After our very hearty and delicious brunch, we walked through ChinaTown and on to Lombard Street – “the most crooked street in the world” with eight hairpin turns down a steep one block section of street. It was really beautiful with flowers and greenery planted throughout. We walked up along the side next to the apartments and then after taking in the view from above, we caught the old fashioned trolly going down to the pier.
Favorite quote on our trip…”There is no such thing as too much ice cream”.
Yup, Mike and I both inherited the intensely addictive ice cream gene. Not fair! We love our ice cream, especially on vacation, and hit up the famous Ghirardelli’s nearly every single day. We visited the well-known Ghirardelli Square as well as the smaller Ghirardelli Shop connected (ummm….yes!) to our hotel.
Our last full day in San Fran was dedicated to our favorite sport. Baseball.
Mike’s bucket list included taking a kayak (along with a couple of beers) out in the bay during a Giants game at AT&T Park. He tried to make that my bucket list item too but I insisted I take pics of him instead. He had a great time and eventually joined me in the park to see a great game, ending in a win for the Giants let by Tim Lincecum – who threw a no-hitter. What a day!!
Check one off the bucket list!!
Our trip to San Francisco was amazing. I’m going to leave you with some important tips when traveling to this beautiful city.
- It’s colder and windier than you think. The night before our trip, we thankfully realized that we should pack some long sleeves. Thank goodness because the only day we didn’t need them was after we rode bikes for several hours. And that was all due to exercise heat.
- Eat the seafood and clam chowder. OMG…the food was delicious. Take advantage of the delectable seafood. And the clam chowder is SO SO good. We ate it at almost every meal – except breakfast.
- Wear comfortable shoes. I have lots of feet issues and I did not follow these directions except for our biking day. Trying to wear flip flops while out touring is a big mistake. Trust me.
- Learn the transportation system. We took MUNI when we could but also did tons of walking because we didn’t really prepare for public transportation. There are also apps you can get to help you.
- Take tons of pictures. I love looking back at all my old photos and I even created a photo book on shutter fly. I’m so happy I captured these memories and can re-live our trip whenever I want to.