We rented a car on Thursday so that we could venture outside of the city to see some of beautiful Northern California. We started our morning with ahhh-mazing donuts from All-Star Donuts that we picked up the night before in Cow Hollow (I wish I had taken pictures, but I forgot). They were delicious and exactly what we needed for an early morning sugar high! We navigated our way through the San Fran city streets (which was way easier than we thought it was going to be) and we crossed the Golden Gate Bridge (a pretty surreal moment) into Marin County. Our first stop was Muir Woods National Monument. It was early (around 8:30am) and we basically had the place to ourselves for the first hour or two. We ventured off of the more traveled wooden walkways for a heart-pumping tour of trails that led deep into the redwood forest. Everywhere we looked we saw one gorgeous scene after another and it was the quietest place I've ever been in my entire life. We loved it! The pictures can't do it justice...
After hiking and climbing trails for about three hours, we had worked up a major appetite, so we headed to the bayside community of Sausalito for lunch. I'd heard that Sausalito had been called the Mediterranean of the West with it's picturesque views of the bay, it's consistent near 60 degree temps year round and it's uber wealth. In fact, we'd been told to keep our eyes peeled for a celeb sighting as many actors call Sausalito their home. Even though we didn't see the likes of Robin Williams or Danny Glover walking the streets, Sausalito lived up to everything that we could have imagined. If you ever have the opportunity to visit there, be prepared to handle some crowds. Ferries come over from the city, pouring in tourists to fill every restaurant and shop. We got lucky and managed to snag a table on the outdoor patio at Copita where I had the 24 Hour Carnitas. The shredded pork came in a tiny crock, along with fresh guacamole, salsa, cilantro and a lime. We walked through the crowded streets after lunch and then decided to take off to find the Marin Headlands for the best views of the bay and Golden Gate Bridge.
This is where the trip reached an all-time high for me. I hadn't expected to be so in awe of the sights we'd see from the hillside overlooking the Golden Gate Bridge, but it was my singular favorite moment of our entire trip. There was something about being so high above the water and overlooking all of San Francisco that made me feel so small, yet so invincible (cheese-tastic, I know, bare with me). All of the trip planning, traveling to reach our west coast destination and the pure adrenaline rush of our first couple of days came to a grinding halt and I soaked up every moment...to appreciate the exact spot that I was standing in and that I was with the man who I love more than anything in the world. So if you ever find yourself in San Francisco, don't neglect to make a pit stop at the Marin Headlands. The winding roads and desolate pre-World War military settlements will have you convinced that you're lost, but stay the course, because the views and the experience are 110% worth it!
When I say that I didn't want to leave that hillside, I really mean that I DID NOT want to leave that hillside!! But our day wasn't done and we still had so much to see, so we hopped back in the car to see where we'd end up...and we found ourselves in the heart of Sonoma County. We took random roads and weaved our way through downtown Sonoma and through the most charming residential communities to get a sense of what life must be like to live amongst one of the most beautiful landscapes in the country. We stopped along the way and took some pictures of vineyards, but due to our super casual attire (remember, we'd been hiking that morning), we refrained from doing any actual tours. Nonetheless, it was a great way to spend an afternoon and we were glad that we decided to make the trip further north to see what wine country was all about!
On the way back from Sonoma, I drove so that I too could have the experience of driving across the Golden Gate Bridge and it gave Chris the opportunity to enjoy the scenery. When we reached the city, I made an impromptu decision to drive down Lombard Street to check off "driving the crookedest street in the world" from my bucket list! ;)
That night, we made our way back to an area that we'd passed the day before, where we remembered a narrow alley of restaurants. Little did we know at the time that this area is known as Belden Place and at night it comes alive with al fresco dining at eight separate restaurant options and is referred to as San Francisco's French Quarter. We shared a Dungenness crab bruschetta and Margherita pizza at Brindisi Cucina di Mare. The perfect end to a perfect day.
Friday morning (my hubz' birthday!) we woke up starving and headed to breakfast in the North Beach neighborhood. We had every intention of trying to have breakfast at Mama's on Washington Square because we'd heard that it was a San Fran legend, but much to our surprise, we found a line wrapped around the building at 8am. Not knowing how quickly the line would move (did I mention that we were starving?!), I hopped on the Yelp app on my phone to come up with a plan B. We walked a few blocks away and decided to try Caffe Greco. I enjoyed a zero-calorie-(because everyone knows that calories don't count on vacation)-chocolate chip belgian waffle and a chai tea. Both were wonderful!!
We made a couple of final shopping stops in Union Square and then took off for Alamo Square so that we could see the Painted Ladies (aka: the Full House street from their opening credits). I have to say that I thought the houses would be painted in more vibrant shades of pastels (maybe they need a fresh paint job?), but the city views and being in the iconic location made the hike we took to get there well worth it. Plus, it put us in a great position to be able to walk to the Haight-Ashbury neighborhood where we could take in tons of graffiti and tattoo parlors on every block. We also scored another Jamba Juice while in the neighborhood...I told y'all we were addicted!
We stopped back by our hotel to quickly change clothes before heading to AT&T Park to take in a SF Giants versus LA Dodgers game that night. We had dinner at a really cool sports bar called Public House that is attached to the stadium. After another great meal (we both had burgers), we ran into the Dugout to purchase our Giants baseball caps and then walked around the concourse of the stadium, which had gorgeous views of the bay. We had amazing seats (13 rows from the field) between first base and right field. The Dodgers initially went into the lead, but San Francisco rallied back and made it an awesome game...winning 5-2! It was exactly the ballpark experience that we were hoping for, considering that last year during our trip to Chicago, the Cubs game we attended went into a rain delay after three innings and we ended up watching the end of the game from the bar in our hotel. Chris is a massive sports fan, so I couldn't have been happier for him that this was how he got to spend his birthday!
I hope you guys have enjoyed reading these recaps and that you've had a wonderful weekend!