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Trip Report - July 2014, 4 days, couple in 30s, Union Square

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Duluth, MN
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Trip Report - July 2014, 4 days, couple in 30s, Union Square

We celebrated our tenth anniversary with a trip to SF from July 23rd - July 28th. We had a great time, would love to go back someday to see more of what we missed!

Wednesday - landed at OAK a little before 6pm. Found AirBART and took it to the BART station, then hopped on the train towards SF. This was all fairly simple except I wasn't exactly clear on how to do the tickets - I ended up just getting two $10 tickets and we used them for both this trip and the return trip. I'm assuming had a bit of $ left on them after - oh well. Got off at the Powell station and walked a few blocks uphill to our hotel - the Westin St. Francis, which is right on Union Square. I would definitely stay there again, we really liked the location and had a great view facing Union Square from the Tower Building. We were tired, so instead of trying to navigate any further transportation we decided to walk over to Belden Place. We walked up and down the alley checking out menus until we decided on B44. Very much enjoyed our tapas and paella and the atmosphere there.

Thursday - We had planned a tour with Max Napa Tours. Evan picked us up right at our hotel and we headed to Napa. Visited two wineries, had lunch at Brix, and then visited two more wineries before heading back. I would definitely recommend this tour, especially if you are into wine, as we were with others that were and Evan was extremely knowledgable about anything they asked about. We don't know very much about wine but it was still an enjoyable day for us - we learned a lot and enjoyed the beautiful scenery, plus shipped some wine home for later.

We had dinner reservations for Gary Danko that evening. One thing I would change about our trip is planning a big dinner the same day as our wine tour - I was feeling a little hungover and therefore didn't enjoy the food as much as I could have, although my husband welcomed the other half of my courses. :) I would go back in a heartbeat, however - the service really was top-notch, but not stuffy at all. Everyone was so NICE - why can't more high-end restaurants be like this instead of making you feel like they are doing you a favor? Perfect place to celebrate an anniversary - and they do give you a dessert if you are celebrating, so you can use that course for something else if you want! :)

Friday - We stopped in at the Walgreen's near Union Square on Powell St to buy 3-day MUNI passes - I didn't see signs or anything, so I was a bit unsure if they were sold there or not, but walked up to the cashier and she had them there. Walked down to Market St and got on the F streetcar. We got off at Greenwich, with plans to walk up to Coit Tower. We crossed Levi's Plaza and headed up the Filbert Steps. It was quite the climb! And, I think we managed to visit during some record high temp days in SF (it was HOT... although we are from northern Minnesota so used to cool weather) - by the time we got to the top, we had worked up quite a sweat. We got to the tower before it opened, but since the views were so great we decided to grab a bench, cool down and enjoy the beautiful view until we could go inside. Once it opened we were on the first elevator up to the top for some really great views, then checked out the murals after coming back down. In retrospect I'm glad we happened to get to the tower right when it opened because I'm not sure it's worth a long wait to go up (seeing as the views are great from the base as well), and even by the time we got back down, a line was forming.

After visiting the tower we walked down toward North Beach and Washington Square. We made a stop in Sts Peter and Paul Church and walked across the park before heading down Columbus to see a little bit more of the neighborhood. We saw a few places that looked good for lunch but since it was still early we decided to walk back and head over to Lombard Street. Another steep climb up the hill and we were there! I couldn't believe the crowds. :) We decided it was enough to just see it from the bottom and only spent a few minutes taking in the spectacle of it all. We walked back to Columbus and L'Osteria Del Forno for lunch. Our mozzarella appetizer, side of bread and pasta were all delicious.

Next we got on the 30 bus to head to Crissy Field. We rode all the way to the loop at the end of the line and got off around Bay St. We took in the Palace of Fine Arts - amazing, so glad we stopped - and then walked across the street to get on the trail that runs along the water. We had a nice walk all the way down to Fort Point. It was a busy beach day since it was so warm. We went inside the fort and thought it was really cool, both for the history and the awesome views (really appreciate the recommendation from sfimporter on this board!). For how busy the bridge was, the fort was practically empty - I can't believe more people don't take advantage of it!

After that we managed to find a trail up towards the bridge, and because at this point we felt like we had been walking forever and were still heading to the Giants game that evening, we got on the 28 bus to Fort Mason, got off at Divisadero and then walked up a block to Chestnut to get on the 30 again back to Union Square. Bought a Giants cap at the Giants shop right next to our hotel on Geary, then after a stop in our hotel room to change we were off again to the ballpark. We walked down 2nd St until we got to 21st Amendment where we stopped off for a couple of beers. Busy there but we were able to find a spot to sit upstairs. Headed to AT&T - what a beautiful park! We have a nice park at home (Target Field) and have visited some greats (Wrigley, Fenway) but AT&T is definitely up there near the top of our list. We sat in section 307 and had a gorgeous view. Despite a rather lopsided loss against the Dodgers (ouch) we really enjoyed the game. We could not figure out what the strange lighted floating sphere out in the cove was. The garlic fries will hold a special place in my heart! We walked back to our hotel afterwards, not too bad of a walk at all and felt safe at night.

Saturday - We were headed for the Ferry Building right away in the morning, so decided to try to get in a cable car ride while we were at it. We walked up a few blocks to California St, waited only a few minutes to get on the car and rode to the end of the line. MUCH better than trying to wait for the Powell cars out in front of our hotel. Then made our way through the vendors and over to the farmer's market. We tried some Blue Bottle Coffee, a couple of pastries and some fruit. Very nice to walk around there, and everything was delicious. I thought the entire market was out in front until we walked through the building and I realized that there was a whole other section in the back!

After that we walked to Chinatown and did a quick little walking tour. Stopped in at the fortune cookie factory, we also climbed up to the Tin How Temple and spent a few minutes there - fun things to see that don't take a lot of time. After a bit more walking we were ready for an early lunch so we headed for City View. This was probably one of our least favorite meals - but was also our first time having dim sum. I would say we enjoyed the experience probably more than the food itself.

We decided to walk back to California and take the cable car back up the hill to Grace Cathedral. It is lovely and was well worth the visit being so close by. We then walked back down the hill to our hotel to grab some warmer clothes since we'd be out in the bay later.

At that point we tried waiting for a Powell St cable car to go to the Wharf, but after waiting a few minutes gave up and just grabbed our old friend the 30 bus again. :) We got off at Ghiradelli and it looked insanely busy so we skipped it and headed for Hyde Pier. We didn't get tickets for the boats but just walked by to see them. Then we walked over towards Fisherman's Wharf and it was PACKED. Of course, we ended up there on a Saturday afternoon so we probably should have known? We could barely move due to the crowds! At that point we were ready to just sit and have a beer so we walked in to Nick's Lighthouse and split some chowder and fish and chips. The food there was pretty good, I remember the bread being great, the fact that we got in immediately and got to sit down, even better. Once we were ready to brave the crowds again we went into Musee Mechanique, which was a lot of fun and though busy, not busy enough that you had to wait to play anything. Definitely my favorite part of the Wharf (other than that, I have to say that I don't really get the attraction! :). We jostled our way down Pier 39 just to say we saw the sea lions (there were only maybe a dozen that day) and then stopped in for another beer at a sports bar at the end of the pier.

Then it was time to make our way down to Pier 33 and our Alcatraz night tour. We really enjoyed the audio tour and also visited the hospital area - kind of creepy. There were boy scouts there when we caught the boat back that were supposedly staying overnight - no thanks! We took the first boat back and caught a VERY crowded F streetcar back to Powell.

After a quick stop back in our room to change, we walked over to Bourbon and Branch. Used our password and enjoyed some very good drinks. And then we decided to stoop to visiting a restaurant we could visit anywhere, and hit up the Cheesecake Factory in Union Square for a late-night snack. :)

Sunday - We had a huge breakfast at Pinecrest Diner on Geary a block from our hotel. Got there early enough to avoid a wait but a line formed quickly after we were seated - very good omelettes.

We had scheduled a Dylan's Tour for this day since we wanted to see Muir Woods. Brendan picked us up at the Westin and there were eight other people on the tour. LOVED the tour and would definitely recommend it. Brendan was great and had so many interesting stories to tell. We were shown through the Mission, Castro, Pacific Heights, and the Presidio and made a stop at Twin Peaks. We were able to walk around Haight-Ashbury and stop in a couple shops. Definitely saw some areas of the city we could visit on another trip. We also really enjoyed Muir Woods, even though it was very crowded. My recommendation would be to not plan on both eating there AND hiking if you are taking a tour on a weekend when it's so busy - grab something during the Haight stop instead. We ended up not eating lunch at all because it was so crowded, but that was okay with us because we were still full from breakfast. :)

Brendan was nice enough to drop us in the Mission after the tour, and we walked to Bi-Rite for some ice cream, then sat in Dolores Park with about a thousand other people. It was a sunny day and nice to just relax there for a bit and people-watch. Really enjoyed the Mission District and could spend a lot more time there (and regret not making the time for a burrito). We walked by Mission Dolores although it was closed, and then tried to get on the J-Church line at 16th, but it didn't seem to be marked anywhere as a MUNI stop? This was the only time we were pretty confused by taking MUNI. We ended up walking up to Market St and taking the T I think back to Powell, which worked just fine.

We stopped in at the hotel and, because we were running out of time, took a taxi down to the Ferry Building for our dinner at The Slanted Door. Had spring rolls, stir fried chicken and the cellophane noodles with crab, all delicious. It was a gorgeous, warm night so after dinner we walked over to California & Drumm to get on our favorite cable car. Took that to Top of the Mark for a drink at dusk. After we had enjoyed that beautiful view, we walked across the street to the Tonga Room for a couple more drinks, fun place. And then we closed out our trip by climbing on the side of a Powell St cable car (finally - I guess the trick is to wait until the middle of the night! ;) to go a few blocks back down the hill.

Monday - BART back to OAK and home. :(

We loved visiting this beautiful city. To everyone that contributes to this forum: it was so helpful while we were planning our vacation. I'm grateful for all of the time you spend here! Thank you!

Santa Cruz...
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1. Re: Trip Report - July 2014, 4 days, couple in 30s, Union Square

What a wonderful trip report. You accomplished so much in the way of seeing the city in your four days, and I really enjoyed reading it. Thank you.

Los Angeles...
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2. Re: Trip Report - July 2014, 4 days, couple in 30s, Union Square

Wow! You two really got around the city and up to Napa and up to the redwoods! I'm feeling tired just reading it. What a fun trip. Thank you for sharing it.

Minneapolis
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3. Re: Trip Report - July 2014, 4 days, couple in 30s, Union Square

Enjoyed your trip report. Thanks for taking the time to post it.

Boulder, Colorado
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4. Re: Trip Report - July 2014, 4 days, couple in 30s, Union Square

Ohhhhhh to be your age again. You certainly PACKED IT IN. it would take me two weeks to see/do what you did..

However, we are going to be in the city w/our kids for 3 nights and then headed to Mill Valley as a base for 5 more nights.

My big question: How much weight did you gain eating all that food????????????????

Thanks for taking the time to tell us all. Enjoyed your report.

Down Under
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5. Re: Trip Report - July 2014, 4 days, couple in 30s, Union Square

You got a lot done in your 4 days and what a really good trip report you have done.

Thanks for sharing.

San Francisco...
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6. Re: Trip Report - July 2014, 4 days, couple in 30s, Union Square

great TR Come and see us again. Thanks for sharing your time in SF with us

Fremont, California
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7. Re: Trip Report - July 2014, 4 days, couple in 30s, Union Square

Fun trip report - happy you had a good trip.

Enjoyed reading.

San Frantastic
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8. Re: Trip Report - July 2014, 4 days, couple in 30s, Union Square

I am officially very impressed. You definitely did your homework. Food & drink choices were spot on. I hope that people planning a trip to San Francisco read your TR. Very informative & enjoyable.

I'm glad you found that California cable car line. :-)

9. Re: Trip Report - July 2014, 4 days, couple in 30s, Union Square

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