Welcome to the City by the Bay! I've been lucky to call this place home for the past three years, and it's been three years of pure beauty and adventure. So happy you're here; see below for recommendations on how best to see SF, updated regularly:
1. GoCar Tours - Before you knock it, remember where you are: Silicone Valley. It might look silly, but this is hands-down the best (and most fun) way to see the city, and one that will keep you laughing the entire time. I've done it with my brother, boyfriend, cousin and colleagues, have sent my mom and aunt to do it, and recommend it to anyone who comes out. With GoCar, you have your own personal tour guide (a Siri-like voice gives you a personal GPS-guided tour) and wheels to go at your own pace so you can stop and take photos at your leisure. (Recommended route: Fisherman's Wharf, up to Golden Gate Park and back). Check out the video of my colleagues and I riding GoCar (above).
2. Marin Headlands (the other side of the Golden Gate Bridge) - get a zipcar (must apply in advance), use Getaround or have an Uber drive you along the Coastal Route. SF Gate describes it best: "Conzelman Road provides access to one of the most spectacular driving routes anywhere on the Pacific Coast. When you come over the rise near Hawk Hill, the 800-foot drop to the ocean is so dramatic that some feel a dizzy euphoria. You get the best view anywhere of the Golden Gate Bridge and beyond across San Francisco, and moments later, a lookout across the Pacific Ocean where it seems you can see nearly to Hawaii. The route then drops down into Rodeo Valley and skirts past pretty Rodeo Lagoon to the parking for Rodeo Beach. A must-do is to scamper up the nearby bluffs for a sweeping view back across the lagoon and Rodeo Beach to little Bird Island." The Headlands are also home to some of my favorite hikes! Check out AllTrails (download the app here) and look out for a future "Guide to Hiking the Bay Area" post!
3. Bike The Bridge - rent bikes in Fisherman's Wharf or outside the Safeway in The Marina from Parkwide Bike Rentals & Tours and bike the bridge to Sausalito (little beach town over the bridge) and take the ferry back; Parkwide will set it all up for you.
4. Alcatraz - book tickets in advance! Bonus: you'll get to enjoy a nice ferry ride with views of The Bay to and from Alcatraz.
Highlights of the GoCar tour (incase you don't do it!):
1. Battery Godfrey - another amazing view of The Bridge
3. Pier 39 - sea lions and Fisherman's Wharf... Really touristy, but iconic.
4. Lombard (the crooked) Street
5. Golden Gate Park - tons of stuff in here, designed by Central Park's architect
6. Lands End - can do a short hike here.
7. Twin Peaks - full 360-view of the city (left)
----- Restaurant Recommendations (by neighborhood) ----
The Marina (can you tell which neighborhood I live in?)
Tipsy Pig (American, bar) - try to sit out on their cute back patio and order the Strawberry Fields - full of sugar, but, hey, you're on vacation!
Jaxson (dive bar) - 90's/country bar. Not recommended for locals, but if you want a wild crowd... you'll find it here.
Roma Antica (Italian, wine bar) - SO. GOOD.
Flores (Mexican) - best Mexican in The Marina. Do not pass on the carnitas!
Tacolicious (Mexican) - very fun spot, especially when you catch their happy hour.
The Interval (cafe, cocktail bar) - cool little spot, especially if you can grab the back nook that looks out on the Marina
Greens Restaurant (Vegan, Vegetarian, Gluten-Free) - dare I say the only restaurant from which you can see the Golden Gate Bridge?
Sessions (American, brunch, bar) - I've never been, but have heard good things! It looks like a cute little spot for a glass of wine during happy hour.
Arguello (Mexican) - I've never been here either but it looks cool!
Pacific Cocktail Haven (cocktail bar) - artisanal cocktails
El Techo (Latin American, cocktail bar) - fun rooftop! No reservations and always a long line... go early!
The Financial District
Kells (pub) - an (always) crowded bar if you're looking for a fun spot to go out!
Natoma Cabana (cocktail bar) - a cozy, cool spot!
Il borgo (Italian)
Trouble Coffee (cafe) - the most amazing, artisanal toast you've ever had in your life. Bring cash and don't be on your phone unless you want to get yelled at. We're serious.
Hot Cookie (bakery) - "fun-shaped" cookies; something you just have to see for yourself.