I may not have been in San Francisco for a long time a few weeks ago, but I sure as shit made the most of the little time I had there (even after ANOTHER plane delay threatened to end my trip before it even started).
The last time I was in SF, my friends Jeff, Chris, and I made sure to hit up all of the top tourist areas -- Lombard Street, Fisherman's Wharf, Golden Gate Park, Napa Valley, etc. We even rode bikes through the city and over the Golden Gate Bridge to Sausalito. This time, I wanted a local's take on the city. I wandered the more residential areas by myself, asked local shop owners for recommendations, enlisted my gracious host Anna to take me to awesome bars, and ran the city with my friend Evan (who also showed me around his favorite neighborhoods!). I also met up with college friends, Rich & Sarah, who happen to be experts on the city and had fantastic dinner recs.
Here are all the neighborhoods I explored:
Pacific Heights, Russian Hill, Presidio
I was staying at my friend Anna's place in lower Pac Heights (thanks, Anna!), so I was in this area quite a bit. It's right near Russian Hill, Nob Hill, and the Presidio. Evan lives about two blocks away, so he took me on his hill-packed running route through Pac Heights (including Millionaires Row -- yes, SF has legit mansions, who knew?), the Presidio, and down through the Palace of Fine Arts and the Marina. This area is beautiful and quiet. I'd liken it to Manhattan's Upper West Side in that it's less about trendy bars and hipsters, and more about beautiful tree-lined blocks and cute cafes and shops.
Crissy Field, The Marina, Palace of Fine Arts
On my first day in the city I was alone since everyone was working, so I wandered about a mile down from Pac Heights to the marina and then through Crissy Field. I did a similar walk when I was in town back in 2008, and it was oddly nostalgic. I kept the sentimentality going by making my way over to the Palace of Fine Arts (a place where Jeff and I also spent some time). I
courageously stupidly attempted to climb the hills back to Anna's before giving up and grabbing an Uber.
The Mission + The Castro
In 2008, because of our severe plane delay, we basically lost an entire day of exploring SF. That meant we never made it over to the Mission or the Castro. I made sure to check out both areas (which are right next to each other) on this trip. Between Maggie's awesome map and Evan's helpful guidance, I was able to experience the best of both neighborhoods within a day -- including a delicious trip to Tartine and an awesome dinner at Tacolicious.
Side note: Unfortunately, I was too weak to walk through Hayes Valley to get to The Mission (after our intense 5-mile hill-filled run), but we drove through it, so I feel like I got the general gist of the neighborhood. Next time I'm in SF, I'd love to see more of this place.
Part of this trip was to see if I could ever see myself living in San Fran, and to be honest, the answer is yes! Even though I'm an East Coast lady at heart, I could get used to a city that values the barre method more than bars and is just a walk to the beach. Not to mention the on-point pastry game.
I don't think I'll be leaving NYC anytime soon, but its always good to know that there's another city I'd be happy in. I guess that just means I need to visit more often, plane delays be damned.