We drove down highway 101 through Avenue of the Giants and wanted to take highway 1 but honestly, it took long enough getting to San Francisco from where we were! It’s a huge state, and you don’t really know how big until you’re driving through it. When we got closer, we realized we were heading through wine country and stopped at a place called Williamson Wines near Santa Rosa. They did a complimentary tasting with food pairings, so we got to drink 6 wines and try them with 6 cheese combinations (score!) I ended up buying a white wine I liked to drink at Aunt Amy’s as a housewarming gift, and we got a block of Irish cheddar cheese to go with it. We ate at an Indian-Nepalese restaurant in Santa Rosa, then went another hour to her house, and sat and drank the wine and talked with her. We got some much needed showers and rest.
The next day, we drove about a half hour from her house in Lagunitas (North of the city) to the Golden Gate bridge, crossed it and snapped some pictures after we pulled over. It is honestly the prettiest bridge and view I have seen, I really enjoyed getting to cross it so many times and it always feels like a special experience when you do. We headed to the harbor, a place called Fisherman’s Wharf and parked our car (we really didn’t want to drive much, but SF surprisingly isn’t as accessible as I thought in terms of transportation, so cars are the easiest way to do things..though they aren’t really easy at all).
We got a sourdough bread bowl with clam chowder in it for lunch and sat in the sun eating it as we tried to avoid all the seagulls. We walked around and visited an old-time arcade on Pier 45 which was super cool! They had games from all eras – even ones where you put in a quarter and can “see Gertrude’s goodies!” so you look through this eye thing and there is a picture of a woman in a bikini (scandalous). There were shooting games Grant had a lot of fun with, and I liked the ones where you put a quarter in and some puppets start to dance – the simple pleasures they used to love back in the day… Pier 39 was really touristy, but we got Ben and Jerry’s and watched the sea lions laying on their decks for a little while.
It was SO windy the whole time and it was making things a lot less fun, and colder. We grabbed a beer and some food at another restaurant (to get our parking ticket validated for free) then drove down Lombard Street (a very zig-zagged windy road on one of many, many steep hills in SF). We drove over the bridge again before rush hour to meet Amy, and went into Fairfax to an Italian restaurant that was quaint and charming.
We tried to ride the Larkspur ferry into town to try something different, but as we got to the parking lot, every single spot was taken and we realized later it was because of the baseball game (the ferry goes right by where the AT&T stadium is) so it figures. We ended up driving and parking in the Haight for free on a street, and walking through Haight-Ashbury district, popping into lots of vintage shops and hippie-themed places. It was consistent with it’s smell of weed on the street everywhere we walked, which was laughable.
We grabbed a snack at a coffeeshop called Coffee to the People and then took a bus to Chinatown. It’s the first and biggest in America, and we were impressed with it’s authenticity. We got bubble tea to drink (well, I did and Grant helped me) and kept walking to the North Beach little Italy part of town.
There was a place called The Stinking Rose that was all garlic-themed and Amy told us to go there to see if a mural was still on the upstairs wall. It was – and it was depicting Pittsburgh compared to SF, which was super random but cool too. We got an Uber taxi (cheap and convenient – I love using Uber) to Alamo Square Park. We saw the Painted Ladies and walked around a little, then found a place to eat called Tsunami – a really great sushi place. It was super pricey, but worth it, as it was delicious. We ended up near the Golden Gate bridge before sunset to take LED photos.
The last day, we wanted to go to the coast so after eating breakfast with Amy at Two Bird Cafe, we headed to Stintson Beach, about a half hour away. It was the most gorgeous day for the beach, the sun never went behind any clouds and we enjoyed getting some tans. We heard days like this are rare in SF, so we were lucky.
After a few hours there, we drove to find a place that was recommended to us for a beer called the Tourist Club, but after a really long and SUPER windy drive, we realized it was only for members unless an event was happening. By that time we both needed to drink more water and eat, but we had more windy roads ahead of us to get into a town called Mill Valley. We were so happy when we reached it and got to eat at a Puerto Rican place called Sol Food. It was delicious and healthy, just what we needed to pick us back up. We left there to go to the city again – this time we had an event to go to at 6. The Center for Sciences was in the Golden Gate Park and we got there early to walk around the park a bit. The event was great, it was about sustainable sushi and the whole museum was open to people 21+ so we walked around the aquarium, rainforest exhibit, and saw a show at the planetarium all the while drinking some beers! It was a really fun place to go..our only regret was parking in the lot adjacent to the park ($24 for the night – SF has been screwing us hard). California has been a very expensive chunk in our road trip, we feel like we’ve spent more the past week than the whole month anywhere else! We’re just trying to enjoy it though since we don’t know the next time we will make it back.