While the Adventure Club is down for collecting passport stamps and chasing those international flight deals, we’ll never miss an opportunity to soak up a long weekend in some of our favorite US cities. As the right coast vs. left coast battle wages on, check out our top picks for exploring THIS left coast city we love 💛 🚲 ✌🏽 🌁
For the active
Lands End Hike + more: If there is one MUST when visiting San Francisco, this is it! Lace up your comfiest pair of shoes (the route we’re suggesting is 13 miles) and step to it. If you’d like to start your trek with a cup of joe, stop by Simple Pleasures Cafe. With coffee in hand, head to the beginning of the trail starting at Land’s End National Park. Just past the Welcome Center, find signs for the “Coastal Trail which connects to Land’s End Trail” (see maps below). Keep your eyes peeled for digressions from the main route along your way, on the paths less traveled we hope you unearth an “Inuksuk” or two and the “Labyrinth.” Coastal Trail + Lands End Trail, start to finish, could take 2-3 hours, pending your pace.
To stretch your legs a little further, about 6 miles further, continue on this path where you’ll spill out into a quaint residential area known as Sea Cliff onto El Camino Del Mar Street. This street connects and turns into Sea Cliff Street; walk alongside the gorgeous homes and make your way down Sea Cliff Street where you’ll run back into a trailhead footpath at the end of the street. Continue up through Baker Beach. There’s a moment of “on roading” where you’ll pop out on Lincoln Boulevard before you reach a trailhead entrance for “Batteries to Bluffs Trail.” Once you see it, transfer back onto the footpath-friendly route which will wind through more beautiful outlooks and IG-worthy snaps of the mighty Pacific Ocean just south of Golden Gate Overlook Park. If you continue the path mapped below, it’ll take you under the Bay Bridge and around on down to Crissy Field and through Fort Mason (your last uphill climb) before reaching the finish line at Fisherman’s Wharf. At this point we highly suggest rewarding yourself by indulging in a delicious clam chowder bread bowl at Boudin Bakery & Cafe chased with San Francisco’s own Anchor Brewing Beer – because 30,000 steps later, you’ve earned it and are likely famished if you’re like us and forgot to pack snacks! Total trek time: 5 hours … if you’re moving.
Bike the Bay Bridge: If hiking isn’t your thing, maybe biking is! Scoop up a two wheel rental from one of the many shops down by the wharf, grab your biker gang, fill up on water (or grab a case of beer to quench your thirst, you’ll need it after the initial ascent … remember this IS San Francisco and everything is uphill) and hit that pedal path. Head on up through Crissy Field and get ready for a breezzzzyyy pedal across the iconic and most photographed bridge in the country (possibly the world? Fact check that one and get back to us). Coast into the quaint seaside town of Sausalito on the other side and wander around the town or watch the sailboats play on the bay. Grab a ferry back to Fisherman’s Wharf or flag down a cab and retrace your trek back to San Francisco’s Marina District on four wheels instead of two.
Check out Basically Free Bike Rentals (we liked this one because you get the value of your rental in store credit)
For the experience
San Francisco Museum of Modern Art (SFMOMA): When it rains, which is a rarity in the Bay Area, don’t worry we’ve got you covered (pun intended)! Follow this link to snag tickets to the San Francisco Museum of Modern Art, you won’t be disappointed. If art or architecture are your thing, indulge your right brain and enjoy a blissful afternoon wandering between the endless galleries and floors of modern and contemporary art.
Anchor Brewery: The brewery known to have cooled it’s beer by the city’s fog, which fosters it’s unique flavor, is not to be missed! Book a tour early, as it’s standard for them to be completely full with a wait list. Cough up $20.00 for a 1.5 hour history lesson in one of America’s Oldest Breweries credited with starting the microbrewery concept, you won’t be disappointed. There’s also a “Happy Hour” Tour Friday – Sunday at 4:30 PM $25.00.
Southern Pacific Brewery: This is a @lauritacambios pick. Located in the Mission District, donning a large outdoor patio area and a hip tap room (don’t fret, they have inside seating), grab a flight and enjoy this brewery’s craft brew selection while soaking in a local sports game on one of the many TVs. #YaySPORTS!
Japanese Tea Garden: If you have a few hours head to the garden to sip on some tea, nosh on some mochi balls and take in the stunning views. The garden changes with every season: Sakura trees and azaleas blossom in spring, and the ginkgo leaves become golden yellow in autumn. The koi ponds and lush greenery make for fabulous Instagram photos, too.
Money saver: You can enter for free on Mondays, Wednesdays, and Fridays before 10am. Otherwise, it’s $8 to get in and $6 for locals.
AT&T Park: Whether you’re interested in baseball or not, AT&T park, home to the San Francisco Giants, is one of the best baseball stadiums in America when it comes to breathtaking views. It’s located right on the bay, so go check out the view, eat a hotdog, and grab a few brewskis. What’s pretty neat too is that on game days, fans hang out in McCovey Cove in boats and kayaks in hopes of collecting a home run ball with their fishing nets. Go Giants!
Alcatraz: A short ferry ride from Pier 33 in Fisherman’s Wharf lies this creepy cuckoo’s nest which was in operation from 1934 and 1963, and housed some of America’s most dangerous felons and gangsters like Al Capone, Mickey Cohen, and @lauritacambios. Located in the cold waters of the bay, no inmate has ever successfully escaped “the Rock,” but there were more than a dozen known attempts made over the years. You can purchase tickets in advance here.
- Plug your ears with an audio tour, it’s super informative with history and fun facts and also gives you a glimpse into the day-to-day lives of former prisoners and tells the story of the famous escape from 1962.
- Wear lots of clothes, it’s very cold out there.
- Be ready for some excellent views of the city from both the ferry ride and the Rock.
Dolores Park: Grab a bottle of delicious Italian wine, pair it with some scrumptious Maytag Blue Cheese from beautiful Newton, IA and head to Mission Dolores Park on 29th and Dolores Street. By both day and night you’ll get some of the most spectacular views of the city skyline on 20th street at the top of the park.
Side note: There is a free outdoor wifi area and while that is a nice perk, we suggest taking in the view, people watching and making new friends.
And finally, the obvious SF spots worth hitting:
- Lombard Street
- Painted Ladies
- Fisherman’s Wharf / Pier 39
- Golden Gate Bridge
- Ride a trolley/cable car on the Embarcadero and ride it to the Castro
- Haight-Ashbury – birthplace of America’s counter culture
- The Ferry Building
- Don’t do this: Go Car 🙄
For the food: Places where we’ve dined and would actually recommend
Tartine Manufactory: To say these guys have cultivated a following would be an incredible understatement. San Francisco’s newest culinary obsession has captured quite a loyal subsequent – and we mean LOYAL. For three days we watched their followers endure a steady consistent line that wrapped around the building, in pouring down rain, without umbrellas, to snag a seat. Captivated by these folks’ sheer commitment to dining with these guys, we had to try it for ourselves, after all, what was the fuss? BREAD. BREAD is the fuss. We don’t know Chad (the baker/co-owner) but his bread is the bomb and worth the (soggy or sunny) wait outside. Order anything, but definitely order the bread and you’ll leave satisfied, we promise!
Il Casaro Pizzeria & Mozzarella Bar: This place was so nice, we ate here twice! Don’t skip on the mozzarella bar (mozzarella is an Adventure Club food group of it’s own) it’s heaven.
Limon Rotisserie: GET THE CHICKEN. Peruvians know their chicken and more specifically how to cook it! It’s juicy and delicious, and leaves you wanting more. There are no words to describe how satisfied you’ll be with your order choice upon leaving. Order empanadas as well!
Foreign Cinema: This gem is located in the Mission, and is ideal for either dinner or brunch. We love this fun outdoor ambiance because you can eat outside while they project movies on the wall. Their food is a unique mix of Californian meets Mediterranean. It’s a solid spot for any sized group, but reservations are encouraged.
To escape the city limits: Day trip to Napa or Sonoma
Actually, get crazy and do both! Duck out of the city limits and endure a 2-3 hour drive into the rolling countryside and highly romantic wine region of our country. Pick one winery (pick two!) but most importantly relax and soak in the beautiful vineyards and tasting rooms around you. Find yourself a great deal at a bed & breakfast to crash for the evening so you can wake-up and hit the repeat button for day number 2.
Valley tip: While San Francisco has cooler temperatures, remember this is NOT the case out in the valley, temperatures can be 20-30 degrees warmer during the day, dropping to cooler temperatures in the evening. (Fun fact: this temperature change drives sugar content in the grapes, which is essential for producing good wines!)
- Medlock Ames – Do a ranch tour for a super authentic experience
- Benziger Family Winery – This is a family-operated estate using a biodynamic farming method. They have a great tour of their estate and caves, as well as lovely people and most importantly, delightful wine tastings!
- Mumm Napa – Amazing champagne here – their Brut Rose is an Adventure Club favorite!
Beer: take a break from the wine!
- Visit the original Lagunitas in Petaluma
- Visit the Russian River Brewery in Santa Rosa and order a Pliny the Elder beer, one of the best-rated beers in the world
What are some of your favorite spots in the bay area? We’d love to hear from you!