Ah, the things we do for Cupid…
After I met and fell in love with El Hub, I wanted to be closer to him, so I left my favorite city of San Francisco and moved the 10 miles north across the Golden Gate Bridge to the suburbs of Marin.
I like it here, but I’m a city girl at heart. I miss SF’s bustling beauty scene, and the city’s diversity, restaurants, museums and clubs.
San Francisco at dusk
Which is why I love to visit. If you’re planning a trip to San Francisco and looking for Bay Area adventure, you’ve come to the right place! Here are 9 of my favorite things to do in the city.
View of the Golden Gate Bridge from the Marin Headlands
Don’t forget to wear layers (it can be cold by the water)
1. Fisherman’s Wharf
Yup, it’s super cheesy and touristy (lots of tchotchke stores), but it’s well worth doing at least once. Be sure to…
- Stop and watch the sea lions at Pier 39
- Grab a quick bite to eat at Pier Market restaurant (try the clam chowder and crab cakes)
- Visit the charming elizabethW fragrance boutique for some unique scents
- Clear your thoughts at Crown & Crumpet over afternoon tea
- Refuel with a cupcake from Kara’s
Crown & Crumpet Tea House
2. Shop till you drop
Union Square has some of the best beauty shopping in the city, and it’s all within walking distance.
Bring your credit card (and a good dose of willpower) because they squeezed plenty of shopping into Union Square. You’ll find… Nordstrom (my fave!), Bloomingdales, Saks Fifth Avenue, Macy’s, Neiman Marcus (grab lunch at the Rotunda restaurant if you’re in the mood to splurge), Sephora and Barneys.
3. Benefit by the water
The upscale Marina district rests at the base of the Golden Gate Bridge. With lots of shopping and restaurants, parking can be a pain. Come prepared to wait for a space and walk a while if you come by car.
Here you’ll find the Benefit Cosmetics store. It offers brow tinting and waxing. Later, swing by the MAC Pro store for lots of unique MAC products unavailable at regular counters (NOTE: You don’t need a MAC Pro card to shop at their pro stores).
4. Hit the outer avenues for museums and a breath of fresh air
The Sunset and Richmond districts, located at the outer edges of San Francisco (near the ocean), are rich in culture and nature.
Escape the traffic for a few hours with a trip through Golden Gate Park…
- Take the kids to the Academy of Sciences to see dinosaurs, sea life, botanical exhibits and lessons on California history.
- Ditch the fog with a visit to the Conservatory of Flowers
- Explore the gargantuan deYoung Museum (current home of King Tut, fun!)
- Skip along stone walkways at the Japanese Tea Gardens
Striking a pose at the deYoung
The Conservatory of Flowers
In the Richmond…
- Visit the Palace of the Legion of Honor
- Hike the Land’s End (it’s an easy walk with epic views of the Marin Headlands and Golden Gate Bridge)
- Stroll through Sutro Heights Park and explore the Sutro Ruins
5. Good food and fun
When I worked in SF, I loved passing through the ferry building. Located in the Embarcadero near SF’s Financial District, it’s where the ferries connecting Sausalito, Larkspur and Tiburon (cities north of the Golden Gate Bridge) arrive and depart. It’s packed with restaurants and shops galore.
- At the Farmer’s Market, you’ll find lots of fresh produce and fantastic photo ops along the water
- Grab a cupcake at Miette
- Fill up on spring rolls and Vietnamese coffee at Out the Door
- Browse the books at Book Passage
- Hop on a ferry over to Marin for a fun day trip to Angel Island (the Ellis Island of the West), Tiburon (grab a drink at Sam’s Anchor Cafe and lunch in Rooney’s) or Sausalito. Bring your camera to catch phenomenal views of the city from across the Bay
Tiburon, now a quaint tourist town north of San Francisco, was once a railroad/ferry depot before the Golden Gate Bridge was built
6. Get loose
I look forward to my once-a-year treats at Bliss
7. Sing your heart out at Martuni’s Piano Bar
Bring your courage, your inner American Idol and some sheet music if you have it! Martuni’s is like a karaoke bar with live piano music. Kick back and enjoy the show over delish drinks. The servers are nice and the atmosphere lively. After taking singing lessons a few years ago, my teacher had me perform here one night with my classmates for the “final.” So terrifying but lots of fun!
8. Canto do Brasil!
Canto do Brasil serves delicious Brazilian food (beans and rice, plantains, barbecue chicken and fish, yum!) at decent prices, and you even get a show with dinner. Nights are like Carnival! Hawt Brazilian showgirls dressed in costume dance around the tables, and they even encourage patrons to participate.
When I went with friends a few years ago, it took a few minutes to adjust to the scenery (having girls shade their goods in jeweled thongs and feathered headdresses), but it’s quite a show.
9. Stairway to Heaven
The Filbert Steps are a hidden San Francisco gem. Brace yourself for a seriously steep climb, but the reward’s a fantastic panoramic view of the Bay. Bring your camera, bottled water and a comfy pair of shoes, and keep your eyes peeled for the famous wild parrots of Telegraph Hill.
Writer William Saroyan once said, “If you’re alive, you can’t be bored in San Francisco.” He also said, “If you’re not alive, San Francisco will bring you to life.”
Your friendly neighborhood beauty addict,