A few months ago I escaped to San Fransisco for a few days of fun with my step mom-in-law.  We had such a great time being tourists in San Fransisco.  Although I have been to SF more times then I can count, I never get tired of the touristy stuff this city has to offer. 

Hard to believe that I've been a "widow" now for 16 months.  I hate that word.  I love road trips and the time I spend with Mike's step mom is very healing since she lost her husband, Mike's dad, my father-in- law, when she was my age.  At the time I thought I knew how she felt but turns out I had no idea.  The truth is you don't know, until you know.  When we're together we get to talk about them unconditionally, with laughter and/or tears, and it's so good.  When you lose your spouse, talking about them keeps their memory alive, it's very cathartic.  I love talking about Mike.  But most people, even close friends, often avoid the subject like the plague.  People think that if they mention your deceased loved ones name that it will remind you they died. Trust me, we haven't forgotten they died. 

One of the nice things about this trip was that we were not on any particular time schedule.  That made for a nice scenic drive with lots of potty breaks, Starbucks stops and an impromptu lunch in Gilroy, the garlic capital of CA.  We stayed at Hotel Rue at Fishermans Wharf.  I have never actually stayed at the wharf before but my favorite boutique hotel, sadly, went out of business during covid.  It turned out to be a great location for us.  There are a few different parts of Fishermans Wharf.  Pier 39 is the touristy part, which is really fun, and the old ferry building and the Embarcadero are more upscale.  And of course Ghiridelli Square, famous for Ghiladeli chocolate.

Our first stop was Boudin for their famous clam chowder in sourdough bread bowls.  They are the original sour dough makers and have been baking on that site since 1849!  The first time I came to SF I was 22 and had never even heard of sour dough bread.  I sent the bread basket back twice and told the waiter there was something wrong with it because it tasted sour.  After the second time he asked me if I knew it was sour dough bread.  I was a native NY'er what did I know from sour dough.  Back then it wasn't a thing.  It was pretty funny, the waiter had a field day with me, calling the rest of the staff over to meet the NY'er that never heard of sour dough bread.

Our first morning, after a great breakfast, we headed off to Pacific Heights, my favorite neighborhood.  Why not, it's just about the most expensive real estate in CA with amazing views of the bay, gorgeous homes and lots of very steep hills to climb.  I always use the address for the Lyon Street stairs to get there. I'll share all the addresses and links below.  There was a house under construction and the constructor saw us gawking and started talking to us about the living wall installation of plants and lighting he had just installed for a zillion dollars.  It was gorgeous and fun to get the inside scoop.  

Then we were off to the Presidio, the Presidio is a former military base that has been tunred into a National Park.  Below the Presidio, is Crissy Field where all the locals go to jog, ride bikes, and socialize and all the tourists go for the best spot to take pictures of the Golden Gate Bridge.  We stopped in at the Warming Hut for hot chocolate and biscotti.  It was unseasonably cold and windy for June.

Next stop, only about 10 minutes away, was Lombard Street.  This is also in a great neighborhood and if you've ever been to SF I'm sure you know Lombard Street.  It's known for being the crookedest street in the world.  What intrigues me about it is that people live on it.  I never get tired of being a tourist on this street.  I've walked it a ton of times with my husband and my daughter.  But this time I drove it.  It was early morning on a Wednesday and not crowded at all.  It was so much fun to drive that when we got to the bottom we went around the block and did it again.  Then we decided to catch the ferry to Saucalito for lunch.  Saucalito is an artsy town of 7,000 people and is referred to as the Meditereanin of the west.  We ate at Barrel House Tavern and had a gorgeous view of the bay.  And according to my my MIL the best ginger margarita this side of Mexico.

We shopped the boutiques and would have stayed longer but it was so windy and cold we decide to catch the 4:00 ferry back.  The ferry is located at Pier 39 and from there we walked back to our hotel to add another layer and then we walked to the hub of the cable car station at Hyde and Powell to take us to Chinatown.  It was June and people were wearing puffer jackets. The last time I took the cablecar in SF was with Mike probably 10 years ago.  He was hanging off the side singing the Rice-a-Ronie song giving me a heart attack.  

It was a full house on the cable car and we sat in the back with the woman who controlled the back break.  Those hills are so steep it requires two people and two sets of breaks, one up front and one in the back.  This woman break operator happened to be a comedian.  She was telling us stories of the stupid questions tourists ask her and she was hilarious.  It was loud and friendly, we took pictures, and it was just one of those lucky things that the cable car turned out to be an extra source of entertainment. 

When we got off we walked a bit into China Town and got on line (there's always a line) at The House of Nanking.  It's the best place to eat in China town.  It's pretty famous and they don't take reservations unless you're a large party so we waited and as always it was worth it.  After dinner we had to walk back to the trolley stop, up hill all the way.  I was a little leary as it was getting dark and the streets were noticeably emptier compared to when we arrived. But we did it, and we made it back to the hotel safely. All in all we walked 8 miles that day!

The next morning we headed off to Golden Gate Park.  It's big, as a point of reference it's 1,013 acres, Central Park is 842 acres. You could spend a week in the park and still not see everything.  Our first stop was The Conservatory of Flowers.  We both love gardening so this was something we were looking forward to.  I've never seen so many rare and unusual plants.  Next we walked to the de Young Museum to take in a 360 degree view of SF from the 12th floor observation desk, spectacular.  Then off to the Japanese Tea garden.  I love this place.  I got tapped on the shoulder by a woman who said "how was your Chinese dinner"?  It was the two women visiting from Canada who had sat across from us on the cable car! 

The Conservatory of Flowers where Scarlet, the famous Corpse Flower, was about to bloom / The view from the observation deck at the de Young Museum, 12th floor, you can get up there for free even if you are not touring the museum / Another view with the Golden Gate peeking out / One of the beauties in the Tea Garden at Golden Gate Park
More sites at the tea garden

House of Nanking, a favorite in China Town, you must try their house special Sesame Chicken and the Sizzling Rice Soup, and the tea ball that opens into a flower in your cup! We took a cable car to China Town / Shots of the bridge from the ferry to Sausalito / Sausalito / Homes and Heart in Pacific Heights at the Lyon Street stairs. There are 131 hearts around SF by local artists, a project that started n 2004.

Palace of Fine Arts / Drinks and lunch at Barrel House Tavern in Sausalito / Ghirardelli Square for my fellow chocolate lovers / The original Section of Fishermans Warf / Merry Go Round at Pier 39 

Clam chowder bread bowls at Boudin first thing, it's the original sour dough bread factory baking since 1849 / A place to contemplate inside the Conservatory of Flowers / The old Brick buildings of Canary Row / the view from Lombard Street / Cable Car Depot

I'm kind of obsessed with taking pictures of the Golden Gate Bridge, every time, over and over / cable car stop at the top of Lombard St. / Hills and steps everywhere / gorgeous architecture

The Presidio is part of Golden Gate Park and Crissy Field in a great area under the bridge where you'll find lots of locals jogging, biking, walking and lots of activities / The Warming Hut if it's cold this is a stop for hot chocolate / Pacific Heights / House of Nanking

If you're interested in more SF check out our San Fransisco family Christmas with other sights and restaurants I recommend.  Find it here