Since I spent a good 3 months living in the Bay, I thought I would share with you the highlights of my time. If you haven’t already, check out my first post about SF, Where To Eat, Drink, + Play In San Francisco, where I outline a mini guide of SF, plus the best spot to take photos with the Golden Gate Bridge in the background which is not included in this post. Consider this post a one stop resource if you are planning a trip to SF yourself. You can also check out my “SAN FRAN” highlight on my IG for a mini social guide.
Where To Stay
Short Term: Hotel
Hotel Vitale – Keegan and I got the chance to stay here for his birthday as well as our very last night in SF. TALK ABOUT A VIEW. If you love a place with a view, right on the water, this is your hotel. We stayed in one of the deluxe panoramic circular suite which I HIGHLY recommend booking, that’s how we got this amazing view. The location of the hotel was perfect, right next to the Ferry Building Marketplace which is just a walk across the street, perfect to pick up some cheese, a bottle of wine, and some truffles, which is exactly what I did. They also have a spa which I really wanted to try out but we didn’t have time. If you have the chance, do the bath ritual, I have heard and seen spectacular things.
Longer Term: AirBnb/VRBO
When we were looking for places to stay long-term, we felt like we were out of options. 3 month leases are a rarity and most places were full or too damn expensive. Then we decided to branch out and look for places on both VRBO and AirBnb. This is when we found out that AirBnb will discount long stays, up to 30% for more than a month long booking! We were able to look at places that were initially out of our price range because the discount helped us so much. We ended up finding this lovely home, as many of you got the tour of, to stay for our summer in SF. Because it was AirBnb, it was furnished, had a kitchen and laundry area, stayed clean, and was owned by the nicest hosts we could’ve asked for. Any place similar to this is a great option for staying in a pricey city for long term. We couldn’t have asked for a better place!
Areas to Get to Know:
The Mission – the spot where everyone goes; lots of restaurants and nightlife.
Hayes Valley – My favorite area; super cute, lots of good restaurants, boutique shopping, very clean.
SOMA – Where a lot of companies are, including Pinterest. Where the Giants Stadium is, a few restaurants, and it is not far from the water.
Union Square / Downtown – A main attraction to visitors but I stayed as far away from Union Square as I could due to traffic, tourists, and terrible parking. You will find the major hotels and shopping here. It is a great area to stay if you are visiting and want to be central to things, but living there you find that the “awe” of it wears off. There are so many other areas of the city that are worth spending time in.
*As a disclaimer, and I can say this because Keegan and I both had situations that left us feeling uncomfortable, this city can be unsafe. You need to be paying attention at all times, never walk alone, and be really aware of your surroundings.
Where To Eat
*You NEED reservations at almost every restaurant you go to, often a week or more in advance. This was hard because I like to make day of decisions based on what I am feeling but sadly that doesn’t work very well, especially with the popular restaurants. If you have places you know you want to go to before going, for sure make reservations before your trip to ensure you get in.
Tartine – A go-to bakery in San Francisco. The line is always long, but you have to go.
Tartine Manufactory – BEST LUNCH SPOT.
Zero Zero – recommended by locals, good Italian food.
Elephant Sushi – highly recommended by sushi lovers in the city, and it didn’t disappoint. There is always a long wait (we got a drink over at Union Larder while we waited).
Delfina – This was our most frequented place. Amazing pizza! Get to-go and have a picnic at Mission Dolores park
Tacolicious – Good tacos in the Mission
Bar Bocce – My favorite place I went the entire time. Good food, good wine, bocce ball, and their own beach. Bring a book, grab a glass of wine, and hang on the beach while you wait for a table. It’s usually about an hour wait.
Marlow – Trendy, cute, in the financial district. Keegan and I only ever got drinks here but it is right across from Pinterest.
Pabu Izakaya – Japanese; order the Wagyu and pork belly, trust me.
Nopa – Honestly, this was recommended by SO many people and it’s one of SF’s “best restaurants” but honestly Keegan and I were underwhelmed. Maybe give it a go and let me know what you think.
Twenty Five Lusk – Quality food with a great vibe and bar; a date night spot.
Mr. Holmes bakehouse – Where the “I Got Baked in San Francisco” sign lives
Samover tea lounge – A great morning stop, order the avocado toast.
Chez Maman – In the Hayes Valley, cute French lunch spot
Roka Akor – Love this spot for a fancy sushi stop. Skip the table and go to the lounge, the vibe is great and they serve there full menu there.
Cafe reveille – Cute, pink, trendy. If you are a blogger, come here in the morning!
Restaurants we didn’t get the chance to try but are highly recommended by locals:
Lazy Bear – A splurge foodie experience
Liholiho Yacht Club – island fusion, a little pricy, apps are amazing
Che Fico – I really wanted to go here but couldn’t get a reservation even 3 weeks in advance.
Nopalito – Same owners as Nopa
Burma Superstar – Burmese food, usually a line
Bi-Rite – Ice Cream that started in SF
The Plow – Brunch
Zazies – Brunch
Leo’s Oyster Bar – Really wanted to go here but ran out of time. COOL interiors & super trendy.
Where To Get Drinks
The Riddler – Champagne bar, super trendy, great popcorn, perfect for IG pics. Order “A Joan,” a glass of house wine filled all the way to the very top. I ordered two…oops.
Union Larder – The charcuterie of your dreams can be found here + wine! Highly suggest.
Boba Guys – Not alcohol, but the best boba ever!
Mosto – Basically connected to Tacolicious
Marlow – Keegan and I would go here for a drink after work because it was cute & trendy and right across from Pinterest in the Financial District.
Bars we didn’t get the chance to try but are highly recommended by locals:
Hotel Biron – A hidden gem, wine bar & date spot
Bourbon and Branch – Speak easy experience
Local Edition – Speak easy experience
El Rio – Outdoor bar
The Dorian – Slushees
Where To Hang Out
Spark Social – Stop in for drinks + a bite, games, and community. On a sunny day, this is the place to be. We got fish & chips and sandwiches with wine and beer in a relaxing outside seating area. Our only wish is that we went there more often! Additionally, there are many great parks to meet old friends or new. Mission-Dolores park is well known for its spectacular views and kick-back vibes.
The Grid: Coin-Op – A “barcade”, bar + old arcade games. Keegan had a blast here!
Bar Bocce in Sausalito – Noted above. Mentioning again because I loved it so much.
AT&T Stadium Giants Game – GET THE CRAB SANDWICH. IF YOU DON’T I’LL HUNT YOU DOWN.
Almo Draft House – Retro theater where they play current movies and serve you. We saw Crazy Rich Asians here and it was so much fun!
Dolores Park – The park where everyone goes! Beautiful on a sunny day, take a picnic (or pizza from Delfina right down the street) and a bottle of wine.
Where To Relax
Burke Williams Spa – A gorgeous spa! Sauna, Steam room, hot pool, showers, relaxation room, the whole works. If you are looking for a spa day, treat yourself here! I got a massage here and spent almost the whole day relaxing, reading, and just doing a little self care.
International Orange Spa – I got a facial here. A great place for a quick little relaxation during the day.
Hotel Vitale – Keegan and I stayed here but we didn’t use the spa however I have heard amazing things about the bath ritual. It looks so dreamy!
Dry Bar – These are everywhere, but great for a blowout!
Where to Workout
Soul Cycle – The Castro location is BEAUTIFUL.
Berry’s Bootcamp – I hear this will kick your butt!
MNT – Pilates with a gorgeous studio.
Uforia Hip Hop – hip hop classes!
Coffee Shops To Work At
Home SF – Home to the Instagram famous rainbow (birthday cake) latte.
The Full Moon Café – Loved coming here to work during the day, easy parking, good tea & coffee, & WIFI. Only thing is they close a little early.
Mazarine Coffee – Cute place downtown near Union Square, good toast, no WIFI though.
Where To Go Outside Of The City
Sausalito – We biked over the Golden Gate Bridge to Sausalito and took a ferry back. Great way to explore however I thought the biking was a little stressful LOL. Go to Bar Bocce for sure.
Tiburon – It’s near Sausalito and worth the trip over. Hit up both Sausalito and Tiburon in one trip.
Napa/Sonoma – Napa guide coming soon!
Santa Cruz – One of my favorite places ever. Stay at the Dream Inn on the beach, go to the boardwalk, and walk out on the pier.
Palo Alto – If you know someone, get a tour of Facebook & Instagram. IT’S INSANE.
Tahoe – I actually have never been, but it’s not too far away.