#take12trips: Complete!

Back in January, I set the audacious goal of taking 12 trips in 2016 (an idea I borrowed from Clare over at Need Another Holiday). It felt absurd for a number of reasons, including the fact that I have a full-time job with limited vacation time, and the memory of only leaving New York City four times in all of 2015. But I set the goal anyway. The guidelines I set for myself were pretty simple – if I left New York’s five boroughs, it counted – and that certainly made it easier to accomplish. As of the end of last month, I’ve taken 12 trips – and there are more to come! Here’s a look back…

The Washington Monument on a foggy day, Washington DC
1. Washington, D.C.

I started the year by jumping on a bus to visit my friend Courtney in her new home, and we had a great weekend hanging out, eating and sightseeing – despite the rainy weather and the fact that we both had horrible colds.

Sunset in Allen, Texas
2. Dallas

Trip number 2 came somewhat unexpectedly when I found dirt-cheap flights to Dallas on my mom’s birthday weekend. It was my first trip to see them in about a year and a half, so we had a great time shopping, visiting museums and just hanging out!

Marina Green, San Francisco
3. San Francisco

My best friend and I decided to meet up in her favorite city for once – bonus that I had never been and had always wanted to go. It definitely lived up to the hype!

Sunrise on the beach in Nassau, Bahamas

4. The Bahamas

Another spontaneous long weekend away because of a cheap flight, this one motivated by the miserable New York winter.

View of downtown Phoenix, Arizona
5. Phoenix

I re-ignited an age-old tradition this year by spending a week in Arizona for MLB spring training! Bonus that I have a ton of friends and family there, and my parents joined me as well.

Breakneck Ridge, New York
6. Breakneck Ridge

My friends somehow tricked me into climbing a mountain upstate, but I was well rewarded with ALL THE FOOD in Cold Spring after.

View from One Liberty Observatory Deck, Philadelphia
7. Philadelphia

I didn’t love Philadelphia, true, but I was thrilled to take advantage of a transitional period and squeeze in an adventure!

Long Beach, New York
8, 11. Long Beach

I have, as you know, become quite the professional beach bum this summer. It’s just too easy to take advantage of!

Mural in Jersey City
 9, 12. Jersey City

I haven’t written about Jersey City at all, because I’ve just been hanging out at my friend Ashley’s apartment, but hey – the walk through Little India is cultural and the street art is on point.

Jones Beach
10. Jones Beach

Not my favorite beach, if only because it’s so hard to get to, but hey – can’t beat a day trip.

I’m excited to see just how many trips I can cram into 12 months – I’m off to Texas again on Wednesday, and I’m thinking at least one more beach trip before summer ends. But as I’ve learned – some of the best vacations are spontaneous!

A delightful guide to San Francisco

Like in D.C., my four days in San Francisco weren’t nearly enough to put together a definitive guide. Luckily, I have plenty of friends who live there, and even more who are just as obsessed with visiting as I am! I flew to the west coast with a lengthy list of recommendations, now featured below for your own use. If a place is listed in bold, it indicates I went there myself and can personally vouch!  Enjoy.

Avocado toast and latte at Reveille Coffee Co. in San Francisco

Avocado toast and latte at Reveille Coffee Co.

Coffee

Breakfast and Irish coffee at Buena Vista in San Francisco

Breakfast and Irish coffee at Buena Vista

Breakfast

Mac and Cheese Grilled Cheese sandwich at American Grilled Cheese Kitchen in San Francisco

Mac and Cheese Grilled Cheese sandwich at American Grilled Cheese Kitchen

Lunch

Dinner at House of Nanking in San Francisco

Dinner at House of Nanking

Dinner

Dessert

Cocktail at The View in San Franciso

Cocktail at The View

Drinks

Parks

At the Cable Car Museum in San Francisco

At the Cable Car Museum

Do/See

The houses of San Francisco

One of the things that struck me about San Francisco is how original and gorgeous so many of the houses are. Every single street felt like something out of a postcard, and I couldn’t help but think how lovely it would be to live in a home as gorgeous as these. Here are some pictures of my favorites…

House in the Mission District, San FranciscoHouse in North Beach, San FranciscoHouse in North Beach, San FranciscoHouses in San FranciscoHouses in San FranciscoHouse in San FranciscoHouse in San FranciscoHouse in San FranciscoHouses near Alamo Square, San Francisco

Which of these homes can you picture yourself in? I’m partial to number 7…

San Francisco’s Coit Tower

As usual, the first thing I wanted to do in San Francisco was check out the views from as high up as possible. The cool thing about San Francisco is that you can get views pretty much anywhere – they do, after all, call it the City of Hills. Still, I dragged Jordan to Coit Tower – 210 feet in the air and just a few blocks from where we were staying – so I could be sure I wasn’t missing a thing.

Getting to Coit Tower

Greenwich Street steps on the way to the Coit Tower, San FranciscoCoit Tower, San Francisco

The first thing you need to know if you want to visit Coit Tower is that you have to work for it. The tower itself is at the top of a hill. We climbed the Greenwich Street steps, which is definitely a hardcore workout. They do wind through public gardens and past beautiful buildings, and you can glimpse some previews of the views you get at the top. Next time, though, I would take the bus!

The murals at Coit Tower

Mural inside the Coit Tower, San FranciscoMural inside the Coit Tower, San Francisco

Once you make it inside the tower, there are murals depicting life in San Francisco during the depression – fascinating to this history buff, but maybe not to most visitors. And then, you ascend to the top in an elevator (thank goodness, because my feet were past done!)

The views from Coit Tower

View of San Francisco from Coit TowerView of the piers and Bay Bridge from Coit Tower, San FranciscoView of Alcatraz from Coit Tower, San FranciscoView of the Golden Gate Bridge from Coit Tower, San FranciscoView of Downtown San Francisco from Coit TowerLooking at the Golden Gate Bridge from the Coit Tower, San Francisco

From the observation deck you can see all of San Francisco: the Golden Gate and Bay bridges, downtown, and more – we even spotted our apartment building!

If you want to visit Coit Tower: It’s located on Telegraph Hill in the Northeast part of the city – easy to visit the same day you do Fisherman’s Wharf. You can climb the Greenwich or Filbert Street steps as we did, or take the 39 Bus. It costs $8 for non-residents to take the elevator to the top (well worth it), and guided tours are also available for purchase.

For more photos of cities from above: Boston, New York, New York again

Street art in San Francisco’s Mission District

I was a little hesitant to visit the Mission District in San Francisco, just because so many people had recommended it to me. I was worried it would be too trendy, too weird, maybe trying a bit too hard.

Street art in San Francisco's Mission District

But after Jordan headed back to Phoenix and I had checked off pretty much every touristy thing on my San Francisco to-do list, I made my way to the Mission District on my last morning. I mainly went to try a restaurant that had a grilled cheese sandwich with macaroni and cheese inside (SO GOOD), but also to see what the fuss was about.

Street art in San Francisco's Mission District

As I wandered down Valencia Street I was struck by how much this part of San Francisco reminded me of Brooklyn (which is where I live). There were trendy coffee shops, an alternative bookstore, a mixture of boutiques and thrift shops. It was cool, to be sure, but I hardly felt like I was on the other side of the country from my home borough.

Street art in San Francisco's Mission District

But then – I stumbled upon Clarion Alley, which is apparently one of several alleys in the Mission donning street art. And I loved it! Not only was the art gorgeous and colorful, it was all purposeful – there were murals protesting everything from capitalism to high housing prices (something this New Yorker can definitely relate to).

Street art in San Francisco's Mission DistrictStreet art in San Francisco's Mission DistrictStreet art in San Francisco's Mission DistrictStreet art in San Francisco's Mission DistrictStreet art in San Francisco's Mission District

All in all, Clarion Alley (and that sandwich, let’s be real) made my visit to the Mission District well worth the long bus ride from North Beach. Sometimes places are popular for a reason!