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

A week in Phoenix, Arizona

Every time I visit Phoenix I feel a bit like I’m being pulled in a hundred different directions: I want to catch up with friends and family, and meet everyone’s new dog/cat/baby (that was a new one this time around!) and visit all of my favorite haunts while checking out the hottest new places. Last week’s trip was complicated by the fact that I also wanted to hit up some spring-training baseball games – in fact, it’s the whole reason I planned my vacation for March.

Miraculously, though, I always seem to pack it all in and return to New York feeling refreshed and accomplished. Here’s a little peek at what I got up to during my homecoming.

Cheeseburger at In-N-Out, Phoenix, Arizona

As soon as I climbed into my brother’s car at the airport, I announced that I was hungry for an In-N-Out cheeseburger. Nevermind that it was 10 a.m., next thing I knew we were stuffing our faces, surrounded by baseball fans and hungover frat boys. Who knew greasy burgers were so popular on Sunday mornings?!

Texas Rangers at Surprise Stadium, Arizona

I made it to three baseball games during the week, thanks to my awesome parents who joined me on this trip and footed some little things like game tickets and a hotel room 😉 First up was my beloved Texas Rangers, who put on a hilarious comedy of errors in an entertaining, if disappointing, loss.

View of downtown Phoenix, Arizona

This was the view from our hotel room and encompassed everything I love about Phoenix and Arizona: The mountains, the palm trees, the blue skies.

Pug

I spent much of National Puppy Day curled up on my best friend’s couch with her pugs, Jak and Sheena. This one here is Jak – Sheena wasn’t quite as fond of the camera (or me, to be honest).

Mac and Cheese at Lux, downtown Phoenix, Arizona

Lux is my favorite coffee shop in Phoenix and has been for years – I used to spend entire days there, going from coffee to mac and cheese to cocktails, curling up with a book or working on school projects or catching up with friends. A return trip seemed necessary, and although they’ve raised their prices, Lux will always have a special spot in my heart.

Street art mural in downtown Phoenix, Arizona

My brother declared that I wouldn’t even recognize downtown Phoenix, the neighborhood I called home for six years. While that wasn’t quite the case, I was surprised at all of the street art and local restaurants that have popped up in the fifteen months since my last visit. Dare I say it feels like San Francisco?! Just a little warmer and a lot less crowded!

Sunset over downtown Phoenix, Arizona

Of course what I miss most about the Arizona landscape is the beautiful sunsets. They’re just not the same on the east coast! I actually got up in the middle of happy hour to take this picture – shoutout to patient and understanding friends!

All in all, a successful trip – my fifth of 2016! You can read about my past Phoenix adventures here.

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!