We asked blogger Caroline of Perfect 10 SF to give us a local’s tour of San Francisco, and dish on where to eat, stay, and play.
San Francisco is the most amazing city ever. Trust me — I was born and raised here and my love for the 415 grows exponentially. Not a day goes by that I don’t think about how fortunate I am to have spent my childhood in this wonderful city. I have fond memories of birthday parties at Pier 39, bike rides along Crissy Field, the opening of the Giants’ ballpark, and incredible concerts at the Fillmore, just to name a few. As I have gotten older, I feel like I have grown with the city. It has been fun to watch new restaurants, shops, artists, and musicians reshape the San Francisco scene, all while remaining true to the eclectic and accepting essence of San Francisco. The best part about it is that there is always something fun and new to do. You can spend a day going around the city on just $15 or you can find renowned restaurants serving $15 cocktails — it’s really up to you!
I am beyond thrilled to take you around #mySanFrancisco, so throw away those guidebooks and don’t even think about purchasing a touristy windbreaker! Since I prefer to spend my money on dresses, make up, and shoes, I like to do a mix of free and pricey things. Let’s go!
Actually, before we get started I just want to say do not call it Frisco or San Fran. That is a big no-no!
Stop 1: Craftsman and Wolves
746 Valencia Street at 19th Street
Craftsman and Wolves is the perfect place to start your San Francisco day. Located on Valencia Street in the popular Mission District, the offerings are artisanal without being too uppity. I have a major sweet tooth so I usually grab a decaf latte, a croissant, and whichever beautiful pastry catches my eye. Like many places in the city, Craftsman and Wolves has communal tables. It’s perfect for meeting new people, eavesdropping, and eyedropping on what others are eating (I just made up eyedropping!). In the mornings, I love to read the SF Chronicle, write on my blog, and shop on Modcloth. You have to try The Rebel Within, The Granola, and the Pea, Smoked Ham, and Ricotta Pop Tart.
Golden Gate Park is a must when visiting San Francisco. I repeat, a must see. I have often thought about building a treehouse in the park because I love spending time here. It is in the center of the city and borders Haight Ashbury on one end and Ocean Beach on the other end. I love running the distance of the park and ending up with my toes in sand. You can rent bikes, go to the de Young Museum, the California Academy of Sciences, picnic, and more.
My favorite thing to do is grab a blanket, some books, and a ball and sit outside of the Conservatory of Flowers. The vibrant colors of the flowers are so picturesque. You will see families hanging out, couples cuddling, and people playing volleyball.
After a few hours hanging out by the east side of the park, I like to walk west to Stow Lake and rent a boat from the Boathouse. Row boats and paddle boats are available to rent. I spent my childhood at Stow Lake on the boats and feeding the ducks. The Boat House just got remodeled with a new restaurant and tasty menu serving up California cuisine.
Stop 3: Nopalito
1224 9th Avenue at Lincoln
Nopalito is the perfect lunch spot. It’s right outside of the park so it’s a quick walk or bike ride. I love to order the Machaca de Camaron con Huevo y Salsa — it has smashed shrimp, egg, serrano pepper, tomato, onion, cilantro, refried black beans and salsa ligera de jitomate. To drink, I usually get the Magnolia Brewing Company “Kalifornia Kolsch” since it’s made in the city. You can also visit Magnolia just a few blocks away on Haight and Masonic. Patios are secret gems among the city and on nice days they are packed! Nopalito has the perfect patio (shh…don’t tell!).
Stop 4: The Ice Cream Bar
815 Cole Street at Carl Street
I can’t go very long without having something sweet, so after lunch a stop at The Ice Cream Bar is mandatory. I have ice cream every single day (I’m not kidding, ask my husband) and I love when I can get some really yummy ice cream from an SF original. The owner Juliet is amazing. She told me when they first opened they had a Modcloth dress as their uniform for their employees. Whenever I get ice cream I get two scoops in a waffle cone — there is no other way to do it! All of the flavors are delicious but my favorites are vanilla and cherry.
Stop 5: Night time activities: Urban Putt, Giants game, show at the Curran Theater
You have three unbeatable options for night time activities: Urban Putt, Giants game, and a Broadway show at the Curran Theater.
Urban Putt recently opened and it has been a great success! It is an indoor miniature golf course in the middle of San Francisco. I can’t think of anything more San Francisco — something fun and old school that reminds you of your childhood but now is back and better than ever. With amazing food, cocktails, and music, Urban Putt is the perfect place for a date, a birthday party, or night out with your family.
If the Giants are playing you have to check them out. The team is full of characters, the ballpark has a slide you can go down, and the food is delicious. Any seat is a good seat so don’t shy away from the upper deck. Growing up my parents would take my four siblings and me to ballparks around the country. It’s a great way to check out the vibe of the city.
I love seeing shows at the Curran theater because it reminds me of old San Francisco. Glamorous and entertaining, the theater is our go-to date night. We’re so lucky to live in a city with a great theater scene so we try to take advantage of it. We’ve seen Les Mis, Phantom, Wicked (three times), Jersey Boys (four times, I swear!), Book of Mormon, and Next to Normal. I cannot wait to see Kinky Boots and Motown the Musical.
After a long day you’re going to want something delicious. I almost don’t want to share how amazing Saru is because I know it will get even more crowded. This intimate sushi spot is only a few blocks from our house and my husband and I go once a week. Order the popcorn tuna! It will change your life. You can’t go wrong with anything on the menu. Ask the servers for suggestions too! They are so friendly and knowlegable.
Stop 7: Creme Brulee
After dinner you are going to want something sweet. So just walk a few blocks down 24th Street to the Créme Brúlee tiny storefront. This is a good secret. The Créme Brúlee Cart was one of the first food carts to take San Francisco by storm. You could only find out the CBC’s location by following them on Twitter. They had a cult following and are one of the most well known food carts/trucks in the city. One of my best friend’s hired them for her wedding a few weekends ago and it was the best idea ever!
Stop 8: St. Vincent
Around the corner from the Creme Brulee cart head into St. Vincent for a glass of wine. It’s the perfect night cap before going home and putting on House of Cards before falling asleep.
Where to Stay:
The best neighborhoods to stay in are NOPA (north of Pan Handle) and Noe Valley. NOPA is really developing and has amazing bars, restaurants, and shops. It’s also where Alamo Square is and you can see the famous Painted Ladies Victorian homes. We live in Noe Valley and it has the most sun, babies, Golden Retrievers, and yoga mats. It’s easy to get around and gives you the true San Francisco neighborhood experience.
San Francisco doesn’t really have any fashion rules. You can wear whatever you want, whenever you want. With so many great things to do around the city, I sometimes leave my house in the morning and don’t come back until late at night and I like pieces that are dressy and can transition from day to night.