Whenever there is an opportunity to celebrate a special occasion together, we will usually choose to travel somewhere. For our third wedding anniversary this year, we treated ourselves to a trip to San Francisco. Although we’ve visited San Francisco recently, it is one of those cities that never gets old.
The summer weather in San Francisco starts off a bit later than other cities along the West coast, which worked out quite well for us as it was mid-September. Due to the city’s many micro climates, it’s best to pack layered outfits so you can easily adjust to the weather.
Round-trip flights from Vancouver to San Francisco are usually quite affordable, but if you’re looking to save a few extra dollars and don’t mind driving across the border, then you can find even cheaper airfare from Bellingham through airlines like Allegiant Air or Alaska Airlines.
Intercontinental Mark Hopkins
We stayed at the InterContinental Mark Hopkins hotel, which is centrally located in the Nob Hill district, just minutes away from Union Square by foot. This luxury hotel has modern amenities, sophisticated and elegant designs, and a rich history. This year, they celebrated their 75th anniversary.
The Top of the Mark is a restaurant and lounge open to hotel guests and the general public for dinner service and weekend brunch. On evenings, they have live bands, so you can enjoy a night of dancing and entertainment, while working off your dinner. Located on the top floor of the hotel, it boasts magnificent views of the Bay area. During World War II, wives of the soldiers who went to war gathered in a particular corner of the restaurant as they wept and to see their loved ones sail away. That corner became known as Weeper’s Corner.
The story behind these bottles in the display case dates back to when the servicemen returned from war. It started when a man who bought a bottle stated that any servicemen belonging to his squadron was allowed a free drink from his bottle. This trend caught on with the other squadrons, and so the number of served bottles (and patrons) slowly grew from there.
Vantigo City Tour
There are many ways to get acquainted with the city, from hop-on/hop-off buses, charter bus tours, to walking or food tours, or bike rentals. We decided to go on a city tour with a company called Vantigo. They also offer brewery tours, evening city lights tours, and oyster farm tours, all in their classic Volkswagon 7-seater vans. The owner and tour guide Erik, took us on a 4-hour tour around all the various San Francisco neighbourhoods. Because “Lillie” is a 7-seater, we can drive right up to many tourist attractions where large tour buses can’t park or stop, as there are restrictions for vehicles that seat 8 or more. We really enjoyed the tour and would definitely recommend it, as it allowed us to see many neighbourhoods and attractions that we hadn’t previously seen before.
— Dennis Pang (@DennisPang) September 20, 2014
If you want to explore the city on your own using public transit, I highly recommend buying a CityPASS. For $86, it contains a 7-day unlimited pass on San Francisco’s MUNI transit system. This includes the use of buses, street cars, and cable cars. The booklet also includes admission to some of the best attractions of the city. We went on the Blue & Gold Fleet for a 60-minute boat cruise around the Bay area, where we passed under the Golden Gate Bridge, and sailed past Alcatraz Island.
We also visited the Aquarium of the Bay and really enjoyed the cool underwater tunnel where sharks and stingrays swim around and over you. With over 50,000 square feet of space right at Fisherman’s Wharf at Pier 39, this is a great attraction for all ages. It was a great time killer as we waited to board our cruise.
Eat Real Fest
If you are a bit of a gastro-tourist, you can be sure to find a fair share of worthy dining establishments around the city. San Francisco’s food scene is alive and well, so we dedicated a separate blog post just for the food. We caught wind of Eat Real Fest, an annual food festival taking place in Oakland that same weekend, and decided to make a day of it. It was a great afternoon of delicious street food, drinks, and live music.
Left: A plate of thick-cut smoked bacon from Pinx Catering, why not? Right: The Humidors provided some great live music to add to the festive atmosphere.
Cholita Linda served up some delicious tacos. Pescado (fried tilapia) on the left, and Carnitas (braised pork) on the right.
Garlic mac and cheese from Homeroom 510 Mac & Cheese. The creamy and garlicky macaroni was a huge hit with festival goers.
The highlight of the afternoon was the Kamikaze Fries from Koja Kitchen, a Korean-Japanese fusion food truck. These crisscut fries came topped with minced Korean BBC beef, kimchi, green onions, red sauce, and Japanese mayo. It was ridiculously good.
As it’s so important for us to remain connected while we travel, we always look to Roam Mobility Inc to supply us with data, text, and voice plans whenever we go to the US. It sure beats racking up ridiculous roaming charges through your regular cellular phone provider, and having your own US phone number can be quite convenient as well. They’ve recently upgraded their plans to include LTE coverage, so it gave us access to high-speed Internet throughout the San Francisco Bay area.
This wraps up our little weekend adventure in San Francisco. We always enjoy visiting this vibrant city and can’t wait to see what’s in store for our next visit. What are some of your favourite things to eat/see/do in San Francisco? Leave a message in the comments below and let us know!