We Left our Hearts in San Francisco

The trip through Northern California continued with a stop in San Francisco! I had been travelling many days without my family so I was excited when Jessica and Sydney could join me for this part of the trip!  We visited San Francisco last October as well and after a second year visiting this beautiful city in the same month, autumn has become our favourite time to visit!  

When we arrived at the Westin St. Francis hotel, located in the heart of Union Square, we were told that we had been given a suite. We weren’t expecting an upgrade and we laughed with surprise when we discovered it was the Bayview Suite, an 800sq foot room on the 31st floor with 180- degree views of San Francisco.  Shortly after arriving at our suite, a knock at the door delivered delectable little treats to enjoy.  Sydney also received a special gift; a stuffed dog named Francis and a book highlighting his story.  When the earthquake hit San Francisco in 1906, a little dog was found in the hotel cellar, having survived the devastation.  He was then named Francis and became the hotel mascot. The story of little Francis is kept alive through the book and continues to bring joy to children who stay at the hotel to this day.      

On our first evening in the City by the Bay we headed to Battery Spencer Park for sunset views of the Golden Gate Bridge.  With city views to one side and the Pacific stretching out into the distance on the other, it is a spectacular spot for taking in the views and also capturing photos of the bridge.   

The next morning we headed to Mission Beach café for the mushroom eggs benedict, one of our breakfast favs from last year’s visit.  We then walked over to Valencia where two of our favorite coffee shops are located, Ritual and Four Barrel Coffee Roasters.  Valencia is a street filled with coffee shops, juice bars, restaurants and some great boutiques.

No trip to San Francisco is complete without a ride on the cable car, no matter how many times we ride them, they are fun! Our daughter loves the cable cars and you get great views of the rolling hills of the city as you enjoy the ride.

On our second evening we enjoyed dinner at Delfina, an eatery on Valencia that features a daily changing menu.  We enjoyed cocktails (the pomegranate Bellini was my fav), spaghetti and organic roast chicken with trumpet mushrooms and olive oil mashed potatoes.   The food was delicious and the candlelight atmosphere was so enjoyable.      

The following day we enjoyed coffee and toast at The Mill, a great bakery and coffee shop around the corner from the famous painted sisters.  We then hoped on a bus tour with Big Bus and toured through from Union Square South to the Civic Centre, SF Jazz Centre, Alamo Square, Haight Ashbury, Golden Gate Park & Japanese Botanical gardens, and across the Golden Gate Bridge.  My favourite part of the tour was the history on each of these areas.  As a person oriented in detail, I always love hearing the history and back story of each landmark. 

San Francisco is known for its fog, particularly in the summer but riding on the bus was my first time experiencing it on the bridge. It was so incredible, so thick you couldn’t see the peaks of the bridge until you were directly under them. Our tour explained that the cold ocean water that travels down from Alaska meets with the warm air and creates fog. Interestingly, most summer days in San Francisco are quite foggy though still warm.

We hopped off the bus at the midway point of the tour so we could head to Tacolicious on Chestnut for lunch.  The manager at this location, Amanda, was the most amazing host and rather than us trying to decide what to order she just brought out a range of items to try.   The margarita pitchers are a must!  We had the margarita fresca with lime, raspberry, tarragon & agave and it was delicious!!!!

We also enjoyed a variety of tacos and a few side dishes.  Out of everything we tried, the Brussel sprouts were my single favourite menu item.  They are pan fried with lime, agave and ancho recado and they were so good I’m still dreaming of them.   They are a seasonal item so if you have the chance to try them I definitely recommend it!  

After lunch we headed over to a Pier along Fisherman’s Wharf to catch a catamaran tour around the Bay with Adventure Cat Sailing Charters.  A catamaran ride wasn’t something I had through of doing in SF before, but it was so much fun.   We had great views of the city skyline, Alcatraz and the views of the bridge at sunset were spectacular!   Sydney loved every minute of it, especially when she was allowed to sit in the captain’s seat for a few minutes!

We then caught a late dinner at Barcha, a Mediterranean bistro in downtown San Francisco.   The specialty cocktails were the best I’ve ever had.  My absolute favourite was the ‘Jemaa el Fna’ with tequila, passion fruit, lime, cilantro topped with a ghost chili-vanilla salt rim.   This cocktail is named after a famous marketplace in Marrakesh, the spicy rim inspired by the zest of the market, and it was perfection in a glass!      

For an appetizer we had the hummus with cumin, olive oil and grilled Turkish flatbread.  When we travelled to Israel earlier this year, we enjoyed the most amazing hummus the entire trip, setting the standard of hummus very high but I would say that this was the hummus I’ve had since our trip which is saying a lot!      

On our last morning we tried a new coffee shop called Sight Glass before heading to the airport.  I wish we could make time slow down because every minute in San Francisco was amazing. It truly has everything. From the urban life, incredible restaurants and shopping to the stunning views of The Golden Gate bridge over the Ocean. For those who love to escape to nature Mount Tamalpais, Muir Woods and Point Reyes are just a short drive away.  Our trip to San Francisco was so much fun, our only complaint is that we never want to leave!!    

An entrepreneur, creator, father & husband from Calgary, Scott Bakken is inspiring a generation of creatives to live their best life.