So it’s true. I left my heart in San Francisco. Awesome city. We visited at Christmas time and did some last minute pressie-shopping and general chillaxing.
Hotel: The Fairmont, 950 Mason Street, Nob Hill
Cannot say enough good things about The Fairmont. Loved it. They have a gigantic gingerbread house in the foyer every year. Worth the trip up the hill just to see this alone. Our room was lovely too though, we were on the very top of the hotel so we had a nice view of the city and the Grace Cathedral across the road.
Travel: We bought a MUNI travel pass which got us on the buses, trams and the historic trolley – it was less than $30 for a 3 day pass – the historic trolley costs about $5/$6 per trip – since The Fairmont was at the top of a hill with two trolleys criss-crossing close-by it was well worth the $30!
The hotel was maybe a 15 minute stroll downhill to Union Square, where there’s a lot of shopping; Macys, Westfield etc. – they’re all here. There’s an ice-skating rink in Union Square at Christmas too, trés romantic. Alcatraz
We took an evening tour on our first evening in the city. www.alcatrazcruises.com is the official ticket seller. We did the night tour and it was so cold! I purchased a little scarf in Benetton (it’s actually about 2 metres long!) to get me through the evening. There’s a beautiful view of the Golden Gate Bridge on the trip over, perfect if there’s a nice sunset. Tick. Definitely worth the trip to Alcatraz. Scary stuff.
Quite a tourist-spot but worth a walk around. Plenty of small shops and this is where you’ll find Pier 39, the spot where the sea-lions hang out.
Back to food and Bistro Boudin who are famous for their sourdough bread bowls – the crab and corn one is so good. I’ve been dreaming of it ever since I first had it! There’s a casual eating spot downstairs but we went to the restaurant upstairs (although that is pretty casual too). You can sit by the window and have a view over the water out towards Alcatraz.
The Ghirardelli Chocolate Marketplace is down the road at Ghirardelli Square – AMAZING hot chocolates (and ice-cream sundaes although I wasn’t that brave). Perfect location to warm up. They have some awesome peppermint bark for Christmas too. Scrumptious. It’s only a couple of minutes walk from Fisherman’s Wharf.
Up the street from Ghirardell is Lombard Street, one of, if not the most crooked street in the world – the streets around it are seriously steep too. Bring your walking shoes.
We took a bus out to Haight-Ashbury. Definitely still more of an adult spot – all tattoo parlours and random spots where people were shot and all the hippies hung out back in the day. Cool cafés, bookshops and record shops. Quite similar to the Newtown area of Sydney.
Architecture buffs or people who like pretty things should also visit Postcard Row or the Painted Ladies in Alamo Square. There’s a great view looking back into the city from there. We got there early-ish in the morning and it was quite shaded – I’d say go after lunch if you want a good picture.
We went to see the Nutcracker by the San Francisco Ballet on our second night. Absolutely magical – it snows on stage! Ok, I thought it was magical. John fell asleep. What can you do.
We also wandered around Chinatown in the evening – think it’s the largest Chinatown outside of Asia.
There’s quite a good Macy’s in Union Square. There are 2 Macy’s actually – the men’s store is housed on it’s own across the road from the main building. all the shops are really in the Union Square area – Macy’s women and men are in 2 separate buildings across from each other. Oh and there’s a Westfield with Nordstrom and all the usual suspects. Oh shopping in the US is just the business!
Places we didn’t get a chance to check out but are definitely on my list: