John and I just returned from San Francisco and the surrounding area, and wow was it an incredible trip! We had beautiful weather, got to see several friends, ate delicious meals, and had the perfect mix of adventuring and resting. It was my first time there, and I already can’t wait to go back some day. Since we packed lots of adventures (and pictures!) into five days, here is Part I of the recap.
Day 1 (Thursday)
We arrived in San Francisco in the morning, and headed straight downtown to meet up with a colleague of John’s dad. He works in a building in the city with incredible 360 degree views of San Francisco. Here is one of the views:
We then drove to Santa Cruz to meet up with Mike, John’s good friend from Wheaton. On the way, we drove through Palo Alto and Stanford’s campus, which was pretty with the palm tree lined drive.
We met up with Mike at the camp he works at, Mission Springs, and my good friend Heather, who lives a couple hours away, met us there too. We all went to dinner in the quaint downtown Santa Cruz, and afterwards we drove to the coast though it was getting dark. We climbed down a steep slope to walk out on a cliff (Heather did this in 4 inch heels!), and it was windy and chilly but so pretty with the waves crashing on the rocks and the sound of the ocean. Mike then took us to his favorite ice cream place in Santa Cruz, Marianne’s.
Day 2 (Friday)
On Friday morning, Heather, John and I headed to San Francisco via Highway One. Although it was overcast, the drive was beautiful with the hills on the right and cliffs/coast on the left. About an hour and half into the drive, we drove through a tunnel and when we came out it was bright and sunny with blue skies!
When we got to the city, we rented bikes for the day. We biked over the Golden Gate Bridge, which was crowded with pedestrians and bikers so it was a little scary. Since it was such a nice day, though, we had excellent views.
After the bridge, we biked into Sausalito down steep hills. Once down the hills, the bay was on our right in a quaint town with gorgeous houses. It was so pretty! We stopped in Sausalito for lunch at a place called Fish, which was a recommendation ahead of time but that Cooking Light also wrote about in the section on San Francisco this month. It was incredible! We sat outside overlooking docked sailboats in the beautiful weather.
Sausalito was so picturesque but Tiburon, the next town we biked through, might have been my favorite. To get there we biked through a valley surrounded by rolling hills and fragrant flowers. We had to pass through some busy roads but then got to the coastal, quiet town. The view of the bay and the boats was breathtaking. As we sat on a bench, resting from the 15 miles we’d just biked, we found out that we’d missed the last ferry of the day. Since we didn’t want to bike all the uphill back for 15 miles and Heather had a dinner reservation with a friend that evening, we were thankfully able to call a cab with bike racks on the back of his car. The cab driver miraculously (and a bit scarily) got us back to the bike rental place in about 30 minutes despite Friday rush hour. John and I checked into our hotel before heading to SPQR, an Italian restaurant. I definitely recommend SPQR if you’re in the San Francisco area as the food was amazing!
Day 3 (Saturday)
On Saturday morning, John and I headed to Land’s End, a hidden gem of the city. Land’s End is the edge of the continent and what used to be an attraction with a trolley car and baths that are now ruins. We hiked along the edge of the Pacific, and it was again a beautiful day with gorgeous scenery. Each turn led to better and better views of San Francisco and the Golden Gate Bridge. We walked the trails among the tall, beautiful trees and blossoming flowers. At one point we climbed down a small cliff for where the Bay met the Pacific.
From Land’s End, we continued on the same coastal trail through nice neighborhoods near Presidio. We followed the trail another mile and ended up at Baker Beach with more views of the city/bridge. We then headed to brunch at Foreign Cinema, another spot I highly recommend!
In the afternoon, we met up with several of John’s friends from Wheaton, some of who happened to be in San Francisco at the same time as us. We hung out at Fisherman’s Wharf before it was time for John’s and my night tour of Alcatraz.
On the ferry ride to Alcatraz, the sun was starting to set and the guide gave us a history of the island. Once we arrived, we listened to the audio tour and walked around the prison, hearing stories from actual prisoners and corrections officers who’d been there. Seeing the isolation cells was startling and hearing the escape attempts/successes and Battle of Alcatraz was very interesting. The view outside of the city lights was also beautiful.
After our tour, we went to dinner at Frances, yet another excellent restaurant!
Here’s the recap to Part II of our time in Sonoma, Napa, and the Redwoods!