Where we Stayed: The Clift Hotel
THE CITY BY THE BAY
When planning our trip to California for a friend’s wedding we decided to make the best of it and fly into San Fran with a couple friends, tour around the bay area and road trip down the coast via Big Sur and then slug it down to LA, Laguna Beach and San Diego. Pretty Far right! I mean, we are from Texas and have been all over the states and EU so no foreigners to driving long distances, but this was an ambitious venture for about 2 weeks. In the end was a beautiful and very lucky trip especially considering that over 23,000 acres of Big Sur was burned by wild fires just 3 months later!
One thing we did not prepare for… and were kicking ourselves for after we arrived was that San Francisco and Big Sur, even in June, can be COLD! I mean we checked the weather and it was supposed to be in the 70’s and yes we should have listened to people and brought more warm layers but didnt want to over pack for SF/ Big Sur when we would be in Laguna days later. If you have read my other blogs you know we are always prepared and I bring layers. I mean my husband is like The Mr. Prepared so when we had to stop at REI and drop a couple hundred on jackets and base layers that we had a home, I was mad at myself for not just bringing that extra sweater that he said was going to be ‘over packing.’ Ha. Fifty degrees may not be cold to your man but its cold to most us ladies, so note to self, don’t just bring that cute jean jacket and drapey sweater for those Laguna beach nights, layer up!
I’ll post about Big Sur next so stay turned! Alright enough about that, here’s the good stuff.
Where to Stay
Usually we would pick a sweet Airbnb to stay in but the perks of being in a hotel was better for us during this quick San Fran trip. The Clift Hotel is a beautiful boutique hotel in the heart of downtown San Francisco featuring artwork by Salvador Dali and a unique selection of furniture decorating the interior. At night the bar area turns into a popular nightclub, don’t be surprised when you come back late at night and there’s a party happening, you’re still in the right place. Just show your key to get in. We were thankful that this hotel was within walking distance from Union Square and an upscale shopping area including Barney’s, Neiman’s, and then like Uniqlo and Urban Outfitters, etc… There was a lot to see in the area and made getting around or getting an Uber really easy.
The guys made friends with a few homeless men outside who gave us a few tips of where to drink as well as some great dirty jokes. Did you hear the one about Tiger Woods? Ok maybe another time.
Also within walking distance was award-winning food, everywhere! Including an amazing stumble-upon dinner at Rove Kitchen which leads me to my next section…
Rove Kitchen is a New American, small house, rustic restaurant space in the Lower Nob Hill area of San Fran. We stumbled upon this gem while climbing the hills in search of another place, any place, to eat. Even though the interior is small, we must have arrived just in time and luckily were seated shortly after arriving. There are only about a handful of tables available Wednesday – Saturday or Sunday Brunch. Their menu is written up on the blackboard and boasts tasty items such as the Rove Burger, Fried Chicken Sandwich, the BEST Grilled Cheese with fried egg I ever had and a very savory Grilled Peach Salad.
The next morning we work early still on Texas time and made our way to Dottie’s True Blue Cafe which has been a classic San Fran Brunch staple since 1993. You’ll find classic breakfast items like pancakes, home made sausages, egg bakes and more; but the unique items like zucchini cakes, fresh baked house-made pastries and breads, and chipolte pepper jams are absolutely worth the wait! Everything was amazing: coffee, pastries, atmosphere was busy and welcoming, and I highly recommend stopping by for a meal and a classic San Fran restaurant. The portions were rather large so maybe consider getting a couple items to share. Tip: Get there early. They open at 7:30 am, we arrived at 8 and there was already a line out the door… and the line only grew longer as the day went on. By the time we were done, it was at least a whole block long.
While leaving a local hanging out on the street asked us where we were from, when we said Texas he asked if we brought any ribs with us. When we said No, he turned to the entire block-long line of Dottie and yelled to them that ‘we were all from Texas and failed to bring any ribs’ with us. Too funny.
After a full morning in Golden Gate Park visiting the San Francisco Botanical Garden (below) we walked up to 9th Avenue for a quick lunch. First stop was Social Kitchen, where we enjoyed a few craft beers, great apps like the Truffle Mac & Cheese and Blistered Shishito Peppers. The restaurant had a fun industrial meets rustic interior, high ceilings and lots of warm wood beams. I could see this being a great neighborhood hangout. Check out their awesome brewery in house!
Before heading back to the park we pooped into Sunday’s Ice Cream for an espresso and caffeine fix. This was a really cute shop filled with clothing and art, check them out at San Franpsycho.
So I’ve heard that you can’t go to San Francisco without going by Mr. Holmes Bake House! So much YUMMM happening here. We pooped by on our final morning for some items to-go. The Cruffin is still super popular, and there is a line from the time they open to when they run out, and you are limited to 2 per person. If you don’t want to wait specifically for the Cruffin you can hop to the shorter line for the ‘everything else’ section. From amazing croissants, to cream filled donuts, salmon sushi filled croissants, boysenberry danishes’ to strawberry jalapeno brioche bombs, you are bound to find something heavenly here.
A gal pal and I had a very Unique experience while waiting in line. A homeless man ran in, shoving past several of us in line, grabbed the tip jar from the counter and took off- yelling back at the MHBH worker who ran out after him. Apparently he hits them up almost every Saturday. After grabbing our goods we headed down the street to Jane, and the same man had just hit them up for tips too. The 5-0 had just arrived to address the situation.
Down the road from Mr. Holmes is a cute lite cafe and coffee shop called Jane. This delightful cafe offered everything we wanted to get the day started and on the road. Their full coffee bar and breakfast/brunch menu did not disappoint. Order at the counter, grab your number and find a seat. The inside space is on the smaller side but still a good number of tables. The windows up front are were full sun, even with the windows and doors open on a cool morning, the morning sun was rather hot, making me just wish I ordered an iced coffee… Anyway, the people were friendly and turnaround was fast. Check them out!
Things to Do in San Francisco
GOLDEN GATE PARK! Exclamation Point! This is over 1,000 acres of beautifully landscaped park. Spend the day relaxing on the grounds, going for a bike ride, picnic with your friends, exercising, or visit one or more of the beautiful Japanese Tea Gardens, Botanical Gardens, or the Arboretum. Not into that but still want some art, check out the Amazing exhibits at the de Young Museum. Golden Gate park is a giant rectangle and though you may feel as if you’ve been lost in its beauty, being 20% larger than NY’s Central Park, the trails are well marked with several exit points.
The Conservatory of Flowers was a huge highlight of the day for me, being a cactus enthusiast, lover, connoisseur. You’ll find a potted plants gallery, highlands area (South to Central America) and lowlands (South America) gallery, an aquatics gallery as well as a cactus and succulent gallery. Tour the world in the Botanical Gardens surrounding the conservatory. Collections from all over the world including the unique California Natives including a beautiful Redwood Forest of Nor Cal, lush blooms of Australia, South America and Chile, and beautiful South Africa! “The Garden is host to the most comprehensive collection of high elevation palm species in any botanical garden, including some that grow up to an elevation of 11,000 feet in their native habitats. Visitors may enjoy the palms year round, and expect to see many of them flower in the next 5-10 years”
We saw this book in the giftshop and immediately went home and purchased, such a great resource for my fellow gardeners: Succulents Simplified : Growing, Designing and Crafting by Debra Lee Baldwin
Toward the end of the day we hopped in an Uber and had him drop us at Crissy Field just down from the Warming Hut. We walked the kilichi path following toward the bridge, stopping every once and a while to enjoy the scenery, the bay over looking Alcatraz in the distance and the bridge up above, little pull outs with benches were perfect for stopping and taking a few deep breaths. We caught up to the Warming Hut just in time for sunset and then made our way zig zagging up the walking path to the top viewing area overlooking the Golden Gate Bridge. Towering and beautiful, painted International Orange that happily compliments this gorgeous Californian coastal town.
I would love to hear about your trip there and if this has been at all helpful. Please let me know if you have any questions and …