I have been obsessed with San Francisco for a while now, so I was excited to be heading north on the third day of my California trip.
The weather was nice on my first full day in San Francisco and I was eager to get out and explore, but San Francisco’s climate reminded me more of New York than California. It was sunny, but only in the mid-50’s with a brisk wind. I didn’t mind the temperature when I was huffing and puffing up hills, but once I stopped to catch my breath I really felt that cold air. Most of my first day was occupied with touristy things…and a lot of walking.
The hotel, a Holiday Inn, was nestled in a convenient location, between Van Ness and California Street. It made walking down to the Fisherman’s Wharf easy and there were plenty of quaint coffee houses along the way. Of course, I spotted a crêperie and that decided where I would eat breakfast during my stay.
The Crêpe House was a charming space on Polk Street. The corner cafe offered meal and dessert crêpes, as well as French toast, eggs and sandwiches. I knew I needed a sweet crêpe to make up for the 12 hours I had spent the previous day in the car en route to San Francisco, and a cappuccino to start the day off on the right foot. I ordered a strawberry and Nutella crêpe, which arrived on a cheerfully bright plate. The crêpe was delicious, and served with two scoops of vanilla ice cream. It was just what I needed. I slowly sipped on my frothy cappuccino as I people-watched and psyched myself up to tackle some serious hills.
I didn’t bother looking at a map of San Francisco because it is such a manageable city and everything is within a walkable distance. From Polk Street I could see the water and thought that it wouldn’t take too long to walk. After a few blocks I found my way to Lombard, home to the worlds crookedest street, and on my list of things to see in San Francisco. It is a major tourist attraction with people lining up at the top and bottom of the street to take photos. You can also walk down the side of the street and get some good shots of cars gingerly going down it. From there, the Wharf was an easy walk.
Once at the Wharf, I took in the beautiful scenery of the Golden Gate Bridge, Alcatraz and the water. The next stop was Ghirardelli. I had been warned about the Ghirardelli stores and knew that I would probably spend (and buy!) more than I should there. To say that the experience was something out of Willie Wonka would be an understatement. Ghirardelli was founded in San Francisco in 1852 and the stores now make up Ghirardelli Square. The bulb lights illuminating the chocolatiers name facing San Francisco Bay used to attract sailors and are still there today. The stores feature everything you would expect — chocolates, shakes, cakes, fudge and more. If you are looking for a sweet treat then this is your stop. I ordered a brownie sundae after spending the morning walking (or should I say, hiking?) and didn’t feel any remorse. I had certainly earned however many calories (and grams of sugar) were in it.
If you are heading to the Wharf, take a stroll down the main street towards the piers. There are plenty of tourist traps selling souvenirs (yes, I stopped at a few of them!), but there are also some great places to get a bowl of clam chowder and enjoy a nice lunch or dinner overlooking San Francisco Bay. In terms of exploring the city, there are a few ways to get around. Walking will keep you in good shape, but make sure you have proper footwear. I tried wearing my Adrienne Vittadini flats on the first day and by the afternoon my feet were killing me. You can also rent bicycles, Segways, take a bus or boat tour, or hitch a ride on a cable car, which I highly recommend. Anyway you choose to get around, San Francisco is a scenic place to explore.
Stay tuned for my next adventure…touring Alcatraz!