Painted Ladies and Streetcars and Bridges, Oh My! (San Francisco, Part 3)


Happy Thursday everyone! It may not be Friday, but at least we can start the countdown – right?
Now without further ado, let’s talk about the part of this trip that (some of) you may have been waiting for…the city of San Francisco!

Table of Contents

Dim Sum and (the real) Fisherman’s Wharf

On our first day in San Francisco, we took our sweet time getting ready in the morning, because we weren’t going to breakfast. No, my friends, we were going to something much better: dim sum. Now if you’re unfamiliar with dim sum, first of all I feel bad for you (totally kidding!) and second, here’s the gist of it: it’s essentially a constant rotation of yummy small plates that circulate throughout the restaurant, and as a whole it can basically serve as a nice big brunch. And brunch was definitely what we chose to make it!

Our restaurant of choice was Yank Sing, a place that my parents have been to at least twice before – and as you can tell, they love it. I was a huge fan too. I have had dim sum before, but I have to say: each dish that we tried had such a distinct and delicious flavor, that Yank Sing may be my favorite now! Following a rather filling dim sum, we made our way down to Fisherman’s Wharf to check out the local sights and stop by the craft fair that happened to be going on. Since the craft fair was out on the street, we went there first before heading into the shops at the Wharf.

And, I am so happy that we did this! We visited quite a few booths since there were so many different types of artistry on display, but I ended up buying four different pieces of jewelry: a lovely necklace that consisted of a single turquoise stone strung on a sterling silver chain; a dainty pair of drop earrings that looked to be made of mother-of-pearl and were shaped like roses at the bottom; a pair of delicate pearl drop earrings; and a double-strand pearl necklace to match.

I guess you could say that it was a successful shopping experience! Once we finished at the craft fair, it was time to explore inside the Wharf shops. I already liked how close we were to the bay (obviously), but what I didn’t realize was that Fisherman’s Wharf housed quite the collection of shops inside! From gourmet ice cream to a little pastry shop to a store with cheeses galore, I was in foodie heaven.

We sampled some goodies (although I did not think I had room for any more food!), and then walked out to explore the pier before heading back to the hotel to drop off our new purchases and walk around downtown a bit.

**I have to say, I like the unique hustle and bustle of San Francisco, and I love the hills – even though they look like a major pain to walk up. But, one thing that did startle me was the volume of homeless people that we saw in all parts of the city. Perhaps I was naive not to expect it, considering the stories that I have heard about the city. But it was still jarring to see in real life. And, as someone who volunteers with children and families experiencing homelessness, it made me really sad to see such an abundance of poverty in a city with so much wealth. I just hope that one day, we as a society find more effective solutions to help those who are less fortunate.

Dinner at Zingari

After walking around until the sun began to set, we all had finally built up our appetites again. So, it was time to go find something to eat! We settled on Zingari, the restaurant/bar in our hotel. Ironically, we had stopped in there simply to grab a cocktail while deciding on a place to eat dinner. But, after we began looking at Zingari’s food menu, we were hooked! The plates that we ordered were so delicious: fig toast with a citrus ricotta, polenta con funghi (polenta with mushrooms), cavolfiore (lightly breaded and fried cauliflower), and more. It turns out that our choice to have a drink at Zingari was a great choice indeed!

Famous Irish Coffee

Our night concluded with a trip back down to the Fisherman’s Wharf area, but this time it was for a round of Irish coffees – namely, Irish coffees from the famous Buena Vista!

There truly is an art to getting the delicate foam of an Irish coffee to float and froth on top of the glass, and these guys have perfected it. I definitely recommend stopping by the next time you’re in San Francisco (if you’re 21+)!

Final Day in the City

Our final day in San Francisco was positively jam-packed with sightseeing! We saw everything from the Painted Ladies to Haight Ashbury to the Golden Gate Bridge to Sausalito. By the time we got to dinner at the Franciscan (more on that later) for a final crab feast, I was already tired!

Of course, our day couldn’t really begin without having a good breakfast, so we checked out a café that was around the corner from our hotel. The café (and creperie), called Honey Honey, had a yummy assortment of crepes, omelettes, and countless other specials! We ended up splitting a strawberry Nutella crepe as a family in addition to our individual dishes. Go big or go home, right?

Painted Ladies

Once we had fuel for our adventures that day, it was time to set off and see everything on our list – and all before our dinner reservations. Our first stop was the Painted Ladies, a small group of tall and narrow Victorian houses back-dropped by the downtown cityscape.

This was a quick stop for us, as there wasn’t much to do except look at the (very pretty) houses, take photos, and try not to feel too creepy when a resident of a Painted Lady would enter or exit their house (yes, of course this happened while I was perched on the steps of the blue Painted Lady). Oops.

Haight Ashbury (My Fave!)

Our next stop was Haight Ashbury, per my request after being told about the area by the woman who sold me my turquoise necklace. Let me just say: I LOVE Haight Ashbury! The vibe is right up my alley: I am very into free love, good energy, live-and-let live philosophies, and I loved the psychedelic graphics in the shops and in various murals around the main streets.

We (I) stopped in a few shops to see what Haight Ashbury had in store – excuse the pun – and I was delighted to find a whole bunch of vintage clothing, crystals, incense, and more. I didn’t end up buying much in Haight Ashbury – minus a t-shirt or two – but I thoroughly enjoyed exploring the area. And, they had a Ben & Jerry’s. What a perfect way to finish that part of our day.

Golden Gate Bridge and Photo Opps

After Haight Ashbury had been properly explored, it was time for the quintessential San Francisco experience: photos with the Golden Gate Bridge in the background, and then driving over the bridge (in our case, heading to Sausalito). We found that a great place to get photos with the bridge would be none other than Crissy Field, a former military airfield that’s been transformed into a park of sorts. In addition to affording visitors a clear view of the bridge, Crissy Field is right on the bay. So, you can along the sea while taking in the sights around you. I loved it!

Once we left Crissy Field, it was finally time to drive over the bridge. This drive is beautiful in and of itself: on one side, you can see the bay and the cityscape; and on the other, you can gaze upon a seemingly endless horizon as the Pacific Ocean extends into the distance. But honestly, the drive over the bridge was too short! As a result, I would have loved to walk along the bridge and stare at these views even longer. Sadly, it simply didn’t make sense to with our time constraints – so, I’ll have to wait until next time!

A Seaside Town called Sausalito

Our final destination before heading to dinner was Sausalito, a very cute seaside town nestled in the cliff-side. Seriously, some of these houses were so vertical that the garage on the street level and the rest of the house continued in the levels below. I’m sure it makes for an interesting lifestyle, but I’m not sure how I would feel about having that for myself. Oh well, to each their own!

We parked in the main shopping area of Sausalito and walked around a bit, popping into a few stores and taking in the views. Again, I really love these seaside towns! There’s something so peaceful about living right on ocean water (without being completely coastal). It’s definitely something that I plan to keep in mind for the future.

After exploring Sausalito, it was time to head back to downtown San Francisco, drop off our car at the hotel, and then head down to Fisherman’s Wharf one last time – via streetcar! The streetcar was one experience that we definitely wanted to make sure we included in our trip, and this turned out to be a great time to ride it. And let me tell you, there is an art to operating these things!

The streetcar has a few different levers that the operator has to pull with varying pattern and frequency, and it certainly does not look easy. Another thing to note about the streetcar: you get very familiar with your neighbors if it gets full. This happened for most of our trip down to the Wharf – but hey, it’s all part of the overall experience.

One Final Seafood Feast

We ended our evening with dinner at The Franciscan, a delicious seafood restaurant (specializing in crab, of course) that boasts varying quantities of crab in their “secret garlic sauce”. To say that we were ready for this feast would be an understatement! I think that this was the best crab I had tasted throughout the entire San Francisco trip, and I would go back to The Franciscan in a heartbeat! It was a wonderful meal and a great end to our trip.

Besides a bit more walking around the Wharf area, this was our last activity for the San Francisco trip before heading home the next morning. I was sad to leave, partially because it flew by so fast…and partially because I knew we were returning to cold weather at home. No thank you!

But, all great things come to an end. So, we packed up that night, slept soundly, and left for the airport the next morning. After experiencing some of northern California, I definitely want to go back ASAP. I’ve been mulling over the idea of doing a road trip up the West Coast…and perhaps that will come to fruition some day!

Well, that’s it for San Francisco! Can you believe how many activities fit into just two days in the city? We certainly don’t like to waste time, that’s for sure.

Have you ever been to San Francisco? If so, what’s your favorite place to visit?

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