A Tourist's Guide to San Francisco

Our trip to California was kind of like two separate vacations. One being the drive up the Pacific Coast Hwy with pit stops in LA, Santa Barbara, Solvang, Hearst Castle, Cayucos, Big Sur, Bixby Bridge, Monterey, Laguna Seca, and Santa Cruz. The other being a few days in San Francisco doing touristy things and visiting my family.

We walked so much on this trip, I felt like we walked the Pacific Coast Highway rather than driving - and SF was no different. We arrived after our track day and stop in Santa Cruz and after a shower and a tour of my Dad's new place, we had dinner at a place with some awesome sage gnocchi with duck ragu called Palmer's.

On the morning of our first full day in SF, we had the pleasure of meeting Robert Swan - polar explorer and, notably, the first person to walk to both poles - at a brunch hosted at Dad & Anita's place! The brunch was a true highlight of the trip. Robert and his son Barney lead extraordinary lives and their 2041 project is quite the inspiration. Next month, they are traveling back to Antartica again with an international group of young men and women (three of whom decided to apply to join while at the brunch!) on an expedition using renewable energy. The 2041 Foundation is dedicated to the preservation of Antarctica through sustainability (effectively making it too expensive for any country to WANT to drill). In 2041, the moratorium on drilling will expire and be renegotiated.

Napa & A Walk Around the City

After brunch, 7 of us headed to Napa for a wine tour. Our first stop was Silverado Vineyards where we were treated to the most pleasant & educational wine tasting I've ever had (thanks Balsik!). From there we had a lovely sit-down on the patio at Stag's Leap, where they are famous for the Judgement of Paris. Next, Domaine Chandon for some bubbles. And we ended the day at the Silver Trident tasting room, which was a crowd favorite (although I think the last stop on a wine tour tends to get the most favorable reviews anyway).

The following day, my sister & her boyfriend were headed back to NY. We got a late start, and after saying our goodbyes, Joe and I walked up and down probably each one of San Francisco's hills. We spent some time strolling Haight-Ashbury, visited the painted ladies, and nearly didn't make it up Divisadero

Alcatraz & Ghirardelli Square. 

Day 3: Alcatraz! Did you know that in 1969, American Indians claimed the island for nineteen months? I had never known that. It was a great audio tour with some beautiful views of the city. 

When the ferry came in from the rock, we walked over to possibly the most touristy part of the city to have lunch on the Fisherman's Wharf on Pier 39. My sister, fresh back from Nashville, joined us for lunch overlooking Alcatraz. Then, for another attraction, the three of us visited Ghirardelli Square and shared a Lands End sundae for good measure. 

Then we spent some time hanging out at my brother & sister's apartment before dinner at a really delicious restaurant called 1300 on Fillmore

Nice to see you Erin!

Nice to see you Erin!

de Young Art Museum & Muir Woods

On the last day before we left, we squeezed in a couple of great stops! 

In the morning, we visited the de Young Fine Art Museum. They had a very interesting exhibit of Oceanic art and a lovely collection of early American art. I used the app, too, to listen to information about featured works. 

Then in the afternoon, we borrowed the car to drive up to Muir Woods National Monument Monument, where, in 1945, United Nations delegates met to honor the late President Franklin D. Roosevelt. It was a very easy "hike" - the main loop is mostly boardwalked and accessible. We took the main trail into the wood, and the Hillside trail back. 

What's been your favorite vacation?