What to See, Eat, and Do in San Francisco

Two weeks ago today, Brian and I had an amazing time visiting Marisa (from Uproot Kitchen) and Noah in Berkeley and San Francisco. While we were only there Friday through Sunday afternoon, we packed in a TON and made the best of our time by touring the city on foot and eating our way through each neighborhood.  It was a truly amazing experience, and I cannot wait to go back to such a diverse and fun city!

Visit San Francisco: What to See, Eat, and Do

Before I get into some of my favorite things that we did, I wanted to make note of a couple of things that would be important to keep in mind when packing and preparing for your trip to San Francisco.

What to Know Before Visiting San Francisco:

  • You will be doing a lot of walking (we walked over 15 miles on our first day!).  It’s also important to note that the city is full of hills, and you could truly be walking up hill in multiple directions.  The city is great to explore on foot because you can experience the variety of personality in each neighborhood of the city, but it can be pretty miserable if you aren’t wearing comfortable shoes.  Wear comfortable shoes so that you can enjoy every part of your San Francisco trip.  (I wore Nike Juvenate shoes and classic Keds)
  • Make sure to pack layers and always have a light jacket.  It was really hard to gauge what the temperature would be despite looking at the forecast each morning.  One thing I learned though, was that San Francisco is extremely windy which makes it feel much cooler than expected.  It was also much warmer than expected when we were in locations with lighter wind and more sunshine.  Having a light jacket or vest really helped with the ever-changing temperatures.

Berkeley Activities

Hike in Berkeley

Visit San Francisco: What to See, Eat, and Do

Friday morning, Noah took Brian and I on a hike on a trail that was very close to Berkeley’s campus.  It was a beautiful way to see the unique and adorable houses in Berkeley, and when we got to the high point of the hike the views of the city were absolutely amazing.

Visit San Francisco: What to See, Eat, and Do

Visit San Francisco: What to See, Eat, and Do

Walk around Berkeley’s Campus

Visit San Francisco: What to See, Eat, and Do

The campus is absolutely beautiful!  There are tons of trees and green spaces to visit, and the buildings are fun to look at too.  We didn’t spend a ton of time touring the campus, but we did go into the library and Life Sciences Building.  The Life Sciences Building has a public exhibit of a dinosaur!

Visit San Francisco: What to See, Eat, and Do

Shop at Berkeley Bowl and cook dinner at the place you are staying (if you have a kitchen!)

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I’m kind of a sucker for grocery stores, so if we are traveling and I happen to see a cute, local shop I HAVE to stop in!  I feel like grocery stores really show how the locals LIVE and eat.  It’s almost like I’m peeking inside the homes of those who live in these new-to-me places.  Berkeley Bowl made an appearance on Marisa’s snap chat quite a few times, so I knew I had to check this place out.  We purchased tons of fresh ingredients and then went back to cook dinner together after our second day of exploring the city.  Our menu included roasted asparagus and tomatoes, fresh salad, and baked chicken stuffed with mozzarella and basil.  It was fantastic!

Visit the Temescal Farmers Market (technically in Oakland)

Visit San Francisco: What to See, Eat, and Do

This market has tons of amazingly fresh produce and products made by locals.  We shopped around and purchased some fruits and vegetables to snack on and for Marisa to enjoy later in the week.  I adore Farmers Markets, so this was another fun way to peek into the lives of the locals.

Visit San Francisco: What to See, Eat, and Do

Where to Eat in Berkeley

Cinnaholic

Visit San Francisco: What to See, Eat, and Do

Those cinnamon rolls…so amazing.  Cinnaholic is a vegan cinnamon roll shop, which means that all of there delectable treats are 100% egg-free and dairy-free…but I promise you that they are also 100% delicious, decadent, and amazing!  Brian ordered a cinnamon roll and I told him I would just have a couple of bites.  I quickly regretted not ordering my own!

Vik’s Chaat and Market

Visit San Francisco: What to See, Eat, and Do

Vik’s Chaat and Market is an authentic Indian restaurant that is set up cafeteria style.  Upon walking in and looking at the menu, things can be a bit overwhelming.  Luckily, we had Noah and Marisa to assist us in placing our order!  Brian and I ended up sharing a vegetable dosa and a vegetable kathi.  Both were served with delicious sides such as dal, a hummus-like dip, and pickled vegetables.

Visit San Francisco: What to See, Eat, and Do

We then shared roti (puffy Indian bread) so we could dip and enjoy the leftover sides.

Visit San Francisco: What to See, Eat, and Do

It all tasted amazing!

Asha Tea House

Visit San Francisco: What to See, Eat, and Do

Have you ever heard of “boba” or “bubble” tea?  While I had heard of it, I had never tried this sweet tea drink with tapioca pearls in the bottom.  Asha Tea House spoiled us.  Our first experience with boba was incredible (and they even had almond milk as a non-dairy option!).  Everyone in the group enjoyed the Hong Kong iced Boba Tea, but I sipped on the Hojicha iced Boba Tea.  We all enjoyed our sweet and icy drinks!

San Francisco Activities

Walk walk walk

This was the best way to experience San Francisco.  I loved that we were able to literally walk through all the different neighborhoods because you could feel the difference in personality as the neighborhoods changed.  Some of my favorite neighborhoods that we walked through were:   

  • Chinatown

Amazing food and buildings to look at.

Visit San Francisco: What to See, Eat, and Do

  • Hayes Valley

Lots of shopping here.

Visit San Francisco: What to See, Eat, and Do

  • Alamo Square

This is where you can visit the Painted Ladies!

Visit San Francisco: What to See, Eat, and Do

Visit San Francisco: What to See, Eat, and Do

Visit San Francisco: What to See, Eat, and Do

  • Castro

A historically gay/lesbian neighborhood with amazing decor and “punny” local business names.

Visit San Francisco: What to See, Eat, and Do

  • Mission

Home to Delores Park, and full of vibrant culture, a variety of ethnic restaurants, and interesting people.

Visit San Francisco: What to See, Eat, and Do

Walk up Telegraph Hill to Coit Tower

This is the highest point in the city.  While there are amazing views and it’s really cool to see Coit Tower, I wouldn’t recommend paying for the guided tour or to go to the top of the tower.  You get a great experience simply walking around the area and you can still get wonderful pictures.

Walking up Telegraph Hill

Visit San Francisco: What to See, Eat, and Do

Visit Alcatraz

This was definitely a high point of the trip to San Francisco.  The visit was interesting, engaging, educational, and an overall memorable experience.

Visit San Francisco: What to See, Eat, and Do

If this is something you want to do when visiting San Francisco (which I highly recommend!), make sure to book tickets early.  We were on the first tour of the day and really enjoyed the fact that at the beginning of the tour there was no one else inside the prison.  It was really cool to see empty hallways and areas that were filled with other tourists later in the day.

Visit San Francisco: What to See, Eat, and Do

Visit San Francisco: What to See, Eat, and Do

Visit San Francisco: What to See, Eat, and Do

Visit San Francisco: What to See, Eat, and Do

In addition to learning about the amazing history of “The Rock,” there are also pretty spectacular views of the Golden Gate Bridge.

Visit San Francisco: What to See, Eat, and Do

Enjoy the beautifully colored buildings and homes

I was completely amazed by all of the color and beauty of the buildings and homes in San Francisco.  While enjoying your walking tour, definitely stop to enjoy the scenery on each street.

Visit San Francisco: What to See, Eat, and Do

Visit San Francisco: What to See, Eat, and Do

Visit San Francisco: What to See, Eat, and Do

Visit San Francisco: What to See, Eat, and Do

Stop and smell the roses…literally!

There are so many flowers and plants everywhere, the entire city has a slightly fruity and tropical smell (or maybe that was just my imagination!).  I had a lot of fun looking at all of the unique flowers and plants.

Visit San Francisco: What to See, Eat, and Do

Visit San Francisco: What to See, Eat, and Do

Visit San Francisco: What to See, Eat, and Do

Visit San Francisco: What to See, Eat, and Do

Visit San Francisco: What to See, Eat, and Do

San Francisco Restaurants and Places to Eat

Great Eastern in Chinatown

Visit San Francisco: What to See, Eat, and Do

Noah recommended this restaurant and I am so thankful he did!  San Francisco has an amazing selection of ethnic restaurants, so starting our tour with dim sum in Chinatown was the perfect start to our food tour through San Fran.  There were vegetarian options, fish options, and more traditional dim sum to enjoy.  ALL of it was fantastic.  We enjoyed:  shrimp dumplings, snow pea sprouts and shrimp dumplings, Zhu Zhou dumplings, Shangai dumplings, and rice noodle roll with shrimp.

Chantal Guillon

Visit San Francisco: What to See, Eat, and Do

This little macaroon shop in Hayes Valley is the perfect spot for a small afternoon sweet treat.  I had my first macaroon here, and I worry that I am ruined!  The flavors were so vibrant and fresh, and the macaroon was soft and oh-so-delicious.

Visit San Francisco: What to See, Eat, and Do

Visit San Francisco: What to See, Eat, and Do

Ritual Coffee Roasters

Visit San Francisco: What to See, Eat, and Do

There are a couple of locations around the city, but we stopped at the pop-up shop in Hayes Valley.

Visit San Francisco: What to See, Eat, and Do

While, I adore a good almond milk latte I think I was biased from the start at this little coffee joint.

Visit San Francisco: What to See, Eat, and Do

Upon walking up to place my order, I noticed that they use Califia Farms almond milk!  Despite the slight bias in my opinion, we all enjoyed our lattes as we fueled up for more walking and touring throughout the afternoon.

Hog Island Oyster

Visit San Francisco: What to See, Eat, and Do

Having seafood in San Francisco is imperative.  The seafood is extremely fresh and truly makes the experience.  Hog Island Oyster Co. did not disappoint in that department.

Visit San Francisco: What to See, Eat, and Do

The restaurant is located inside the Ferry Building (which is something to checkout all on it’s own!!).  The Ferry Building is full of local shops with food, handmade goods, ice cream, and restaurants.  If had more time, I felt like we could have spent all afternoon there.

Instead, we did a quick peruse through and landed at Hog Island.  For starters we all shared extremely fresh oysters.  Then, we shared wonderfully delicious and unique salads and heaping bowls of the Rustic Seafood Stew.

Visit San Francisco: What to See, Eat, and Do

Hello comfort food! I think we all licked our bowls clean 🙂

Oh! And the company was even better!  This was the perfect way to end our first day in San Francisco.

Visit San Francisco: What to See, Eat, and Do

Boudin Bakery

Visit San Francisco: What to See, Eat, and Do

San Francisco is known for it’s sourdough bread.  A great place to sample the wonderfully, crusty, doughy, and tangy treat is the Bistro Boudin located on the Fisherman’s Wharf.

Visit San Francisco: What to See, Eat, and Do

While there were many street vendors displaying delicious-looking seafood eats, we were so thankful we held onto our hunger so we could enjoy clam chowder in a sourdough bowl.

We sat outside in the more upscale Bistro Boudin to give our feet a rest and to fill our tummies with more comforting food.  One thing to note:  the line at the cafe was incredibly long as we arrived and as we were leaving, but by going upstairs to the Bistro we had absolutely no wait at all!  If you are tight on time or looking for a bit of relaxation amidst the hustle and bustle of the city, definitely check out the Bistro.

Overall our experience was absolutely amazing.  Noah and Marisa were the BEST tour guides ever, and we seriously cannot wait to visit them again 🙂  Thinking of visiting San Francisco?  Check out Marisa’s San Francisco’s To Do List for more ideas!

Your Turn:

  • Have you ever visited San Francisco?  What were some of your trip highlights?
  • Do you prefer to explore a city on foot, by bus, by car, etc?  I’d love to hear!

Comments

  1. Ah such a fantastic city!! CA has always always been on my list (and places to live in too)!

  2. Yay for being in my neck o’ the woods! <3 It looks like you had an awesome time! So very much agreed with you on wearing layers and comfortable shoes! I need to go hiking in Berkeley!

  3. What a fun read! I actually live in hayes valley, right down the block from Ritual Coffee :). I’ve been tempted by the macaroon place so many times but have yet to try!

    Definitely agree with you about the temperatures in SF – I feel like it changes dramatically every hour of the day. All about layers!!

  4. It looks like you had a wonderful time! I really enjoyed San Francisco when I was there a few years ago. It was very foggy there and we only saw the bridge when we biked across to Sausolito (which was SO fun!). I also found out that I had a shellfish allergy there x2 so it wasn’t my most favourite vacation lol

    • Tara Deal Rochford says:

      That would totally make the trip memorable in a non-fun way. So sorry that’s what you learned on your trip!

  5. Great pics! I was just up there last week! Such a fun city! Hog Island Oyster co was on my list, but we didn’t make it there. Next time!

    • Tara Deal Rochford says:

      You must get to Hog Island if you can some time. The food is delicious, the outdoor area is beautiful, and it’s totally worth a visit 🙂

  6. Ah! I miss SF so much. Loved getting a trip back through your photos. Hi Marissa! 🙂 Looks like you had a great time and got to see a lot of SF! Berkeley Bowl is my favorite.

    • Tara Deal Rochford says:

      Isn’t Berkeley Bowl the best?! Glad to know I’m not the only grocery store lover 🙂

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