We spent a fantastic few days in San Francisco and the Bay area, and merely scratched the surface of everything Fog City and its surroundings have to offer. While there, we stayed in downtown San Francisco, but also headed to Berkeley, Oakland, Sausalito and Palo Alto.
Four Seasons Hotel San Francisco
Located downtown in the SoMa district next to Yerba Buena Gardens, the hotel is an immaculate, modern oasis with well-appointed rooms, comfy king-sized beds, high-end finishes and sumptuous bathrooms filled with L’Occitane and BVLGARI bath products, robes and cosy slippers (provided even for the littlest feet). As most of our readers know, Grant is an Executive Sous Chef for Four Seasons Hotels & Resorts, and we always feel so relaxed and wonderful staying with Four Seasons when we travel –the employees are kind and helpful plus food and service are always top notch.
To Eat & Drink:
Smitten// Gastronomy enthusiasts will enjoy having their preferred flavours of ice cream made-to-order right before their eyes. Our kids loved the novelty of watching liquid nitrogen at work. We tried salted caramel, vanilla and Earl Grey tea chocolate chip.
Yank Sing// Traditional and contemporary dim sum features cartload after cartload of scrumptious food. Yank Sing is the highest Zagat-rated dim sum in San Francisco, and we are very much inclined to agree.
MKT// located on the 5th floor in FS San Francisco, MKT offers steak, seafood, communal and small plates as well as great views of downtown. The house-smoked pork chop and sugar pumpkin walnut scallops with black garlic vinaigrette are not to be missed. As a rare treat, I had a (virgin) Mojito with pickled strawberry that was out of this world.
Boccalone (aka Tasty Salted Pig Parts)// We visited their salumeria in the Ferry Building during the week-end farmer’s market, and heard ooh’s and aah’s from other customers about their salumi cone (featuring prosciutto crudo or mixed salumi).
Blue Bottle Coffee// Offering artisan micro-brewed coffee and modern espresso bar, Blue Bottle uses small batches so each varietal can be roasted individually. They use only certified organic beans farmed from pesticide-free, traditional farming methods. The coffee? Delicious hot or iced.
Tartine Bakery & Cafe// If you can get through the line at James Beard Award-winner Tartine, you’ll get to try some of their amazing bread (which is only available after 4.30 pm). Tarts, cookies and savoury items are offered too.
Golden Gate Park// We especially loved the Koret Children’s play area and carousel for our kids, but the park also features the de Young Museum (SF’s oldest museum featuring an array of art), a Japanese tea garden, conservatory, botanical gardens, the California Academy of Sciences, and even a bison paddock.
Golden Gate Bridge// Drive, bike or walk over this famous of American bridges that feels, as Grant so aptly put it, “like the Lions Gate Bridge in Vancouver on steroids.” Tolls: free leaving San Francisco, but $6 (pay-by-license plate) or $5 (FasTrak) heading back into the city. My toll bill arrived in the mail shortly after our return home, complete with a picture of my car and license plate number. Travel tip: if you are going to be away from home for longer than 2-3 weeks (and unable to receive your mail) after using this kind of toll bridge, make sure to call them and get your bill paid. They gave me approximately 3-4 weeks to pay my bill; if you are late, the price jumps from $6 to $31.
Muir Woods// Federally protected forest land featuring coastal redwood trees. If you live in Southern California like us, and are used to mostly tropical trees and succulents, it’s a real treat to be surrounded by moss, treetops and trails.
Haight-Ashbury// Former stomping grounds of hippies and counter-culture, this area of San Francisco is filled with painted ladies (American architecture term for colourfully painted Victorian and Edwardian houses).
San Francisco: we will definitely be back!