Hoards of people come from all over the world to visit San Francisco for its imaginative foods, arts, and architecture, gorgeous surroundings, and San Franciscans, who, let’s just say, are quite the eccentric bunch. But I’ll admit, the past two times I visited San Francisco left me feeling unimpressed and without any sliver of eagerness to return. I absolutely hate to hate places I know are supposed to be great, so I wanted to give San Francisco another shot; I wanted San Francisco and I to start over.
As a last little getaway before Mauricio went back to New York, we decided to take the super long trek up to San Francisco (a whole one hour flight). We ventured out of the typical touristy areas like Union Square and Fisherman’s Wharf, we talked with the locals and learned about the real San Francisco, and then we experienced it for ourselves. I now have a completely new view of this city and its people, and this time, I can’t wait until we can go back again to do more, see more, and most importantly, eat more. I realized why some can’t get enough of this city, why some people say it’s so fantastic, and this time, yes, I agree with them.
Where to stay:
The hotel you choose to stay at really does make a huge difference in the overall success or failure of your trip, so choose wisely. Luckily though, we have a great recommendation for your stay in San Francisco. We stayed at the Hotel AbRi in the heart of Union Square and we couldn’t have been happier with our choice. This beautiful 5-story boutique hotel features a contemporary design with warm, bright colors that instantly make you feel at home. From the moment you walk into the lobby until the time you check out, Hotel AbRi‘s professional staff will provide you with excellent hospitality service along with a warm smile to ensure that you have the best possible stay in San Francisco. The rooms are spacious, very clean, and equipped with everything you’ll need for a comfortable stay; the beds are cozy, you’ll find plush robes in the closet (my favorite thing – a must!), and you’re getting luxury and comfort at a price that won’t empty your wallet. And if that wasn’t enough, Hotel AbRi‘s location cannot be beat. Located on bustling Ellis Street just a few steps away from Union Square, Hotel AbRi is surrounded by cafés, restaurants, shops, and is also conveniently situated close to all public transportation, whether it’s the BART, Muni, or trolley car that you’re after. Next time we visit San Francisco, we already know where we’ll stay; Hotel AbRi is our new home away from home in San Francisco!
Where to visit:
- The Ferry Building – This is on the top of my list because it’s my absolute favorite place in the entire city. Inside the Ferry Building you will find cheese shops, organic food markets, ice creameries, great coffee, popular restaurants, specialty shops, and so much more. On Saturdays, you’ll enjoy browsing the outdoor farmers market and tasting everything that the market has to offer. Yum, yum, YUM.
- Fisherman’s Wharf (Pier 39) – One of the most touristy places in San Francisco. Visit here for scenic views, historical landmarks, clam chowder in a sourdough bread bowl, street entertainment, and sea lions roaring off the beautiful coast.
- Union Square – The center of it all. Visit here to shop your heart out (there are many outdoor stores as well as the giant Westfield mall), have a bite to eat, and check out Little Paris.
- The Castro District – This is the gay/lesbian neighborhood of San Fran. It’s a lively neighborhood where you’ll find fun bars and clubs to drink and dance the night away. You’ll also find diverse eateries, art galleries, boutique shops, and cafés.
- The Mission District – Don’t listen to people when they say this place is dangerous; it’s completely fine, just have your wits about you and be alert (like you should when you’re traveling anywhere). In the Mission you’ll find some of the best Mexican food you’ll ever have in your entire life and also super friendly people, but mostly, you’ll feel like you’ve left San Francisco and crossed over into Mexico.
- North Beach – This area comes alive in the nighttime. There are many amazing restaurants, places for dessert, bars, and clubs. This is one of the coolest areas in San Francisco, in my personal opinion.
- Golden Gate Bridge and Park – Of course your trip to San Francisco cannot be complete without a visit to the iconic Golden Gate Bridge: a great engineering feat and a delight for the eyes. In the Golden Gate Park and along the coast you’ll see the Bay’s gorgeous sights and the many San Franciscans carrying out a variety of recreational activities. Why not join them!? San Franciscans are super active, so go for a run, rent a bike, or buy a frisbee or a kite and get to it!
- Chinatown – In Chinatown you’ll find Chinese markets selling interesting seafood products, bright colored decorations, and traditional Chinese trinkets. Walk through Chinatown’s parks and spy the men playing Chinese checkers and the women dancing to traditional music and step. Oh, plus Chinese food is yummy.
- Alamo Square – Here you’ll find the Painted Ladies, made famous by the hit show Full House. If you’re a fan of the show or just a fan of Victorian architecture, Alamo Square is worth a visit if you’re in the area.
- Lombard Street – This is another quirky places in the city that’s interesting to take a look at if you’re in the neighborhood. This street zig-zags up a hill and is known as the most crooked street in the world. I have no idea how people drive up this hill but it’s funny to watch! Enjoy the flower gardens as you hike up and then take in the beautiful views of the city and the Bay at the top.
- Alcatraz Island – Just a quick ferry ride away from Fisherman’s Wharf and you’ll find yourself standing where the likes of infamous “Machine Gun” Kelly and Al Capone were imprisoned. Take a tour of the prison and see what it was like to be a high-security inmate at Alcatraz.
Where to eat:
As if you could possibly go wrong while eating in San Francisco! From the restaurants to the cafés to the street food, I had some of the best food of my entire life during our 72 hours in San Francisco. To see my recommendations for the best food in San Francisco, click here.
Travel Alphas visited San Francisco as a guest of the Hotel AbRi. As always, all opinions are our own.