I lived in San Francisco for 11 years, I went to college there and loved the city so much I stayed. The city holds a very special place in my heart. Since moving up to Tahoe this past year I’ve taken quite a few weekend trips down to the Bay Area. Sometimes because Rob has work stuff, and sometimes just for fun to see friends and hang out. It’s fun to be a tourist when you used to be a local, plus you already know some of the best spots to hang out.
When getting ready for your San Francisco weekend, make sure to check out my SF packing list!
To have the ultimate San Francisco weekend here’s what I would do!
For any getaway weekend you will usually get in on on Friday evening, get checked into your hotel and probably have a pretty mellow night. Staying downtown is the best because you are close to a lot of things and it is the hub for all public transportation making it easy to get around. My favorite hotels are The Triton right outside of Chinatown, it’s super funky and all the rooms are decorated differently. Hotel Zetta is next to the Westfield Mall, it’s the ultimate hipster hotel with modern decor and bikes to rent in the lobby.
Once you are all settled in head over to Press Club for drinks and a light dinner. It’s a bougie wine bar with excellent wine a delicious food. On a Friday night it attracts the downtown after work crowd, so it’s a pretty happening place.
If you are feeling like you want one more drink before calling it a night definitely check out The View. The bar is at the top of the Marriott hotel and has amazing views of the city through its giant floor to ceiling art deco windows. I love drinking an old timey cocktail like a Manhattan or an Old Fashioned while sitting on the puffy couches and gazing at the skyline.
Saturdays are for sleeping in, so enjoy that comfy hotel bed a little while. When you do get yourself up grab coffee and a little breakfast at Blue Bottle Coffee on Mint Street. Then hop on BART (the closest station will be the Powell Street station) and cruise over to the Mission District.
The Mission is filled with gorgeous murals and it’s fun to walk around and see all the public art. Make sure you stop by Clarion Alley and Balmy Alley. While you are cruising around checking out all the murals make sure you duck into a thrift shop or two. There are some really great second hand stores in the Mission and you might be able to find a few gems! My favorite shops are Community Thrift I actually bought my dining room table there, Retro Fit is great for funky vintage clothes, and Thrift Town has all kinds of stuff!
It’s probably time for an afternoon beer by this point so head over to Standard Deviant Brewery to chill out for a little bit with a cold beer. And if you are needing a snack they usually have some kind of pop up food biz in there selling comforting bar food.
For dinner you gotta have Chinese food, or at least I do. One of my favorite spots in the city is called Kung Food, great name right? We used to order takeout from them all the time when I lived there. The restaurant is located in the NOPA neighborhood so depending on where you are coming from you can take the bus (the 5 bus stops right near by) or use uber or lyft to get over to that neck of the woods. Kung Food is small and cozy, but the food and service are awesome. They don’t sell alcohol but you can grab a beer or two from the liquor store next door and bring it in.
For an after dinner drink walk over to Black Sands on Haight and Pierce for a delicious cocktail. Black Sands is actually a small brewery, but I think their cocktails are amazing (even better than the beers!). It’s a hip sort of place where the bartenders wear flannel and have beards and the drinks have ingredients that you’ve never heard of. It may be a little cliche San Francisco, but I love it.
If you are feeling rowdy and want to get your groove on walk up to Madrone Art Bar for some dancing. This bar has rotating art installations and great music to jump around to. Every night of the week has a different music theme (Mondays are always Motown Mondays) and Saturdays are usually something funky like the “Prince and Michael Experience”, be sure to check their calendar for what’s going on that night.
It’s time for what I know you’ve all been waiting for, brunch! You’ve got a few different options for this amazing meal. If you are going to be heading home on Sunday you’ll probably want to stick closer to the hotel. In which case you should try either Farmer Brown for excellent southern style buffet brunch, they also have the best bloody mary you’ll ever taste! Or Homeskillet, a little more low key comfort food, it’s order at the counter style and super chill.
If you’ve got the day to hang out then I’d go to Sycamore in the Mission for brunch and sit on the back patio if it’s nice out. They have bottomless mimosas that are delicious but can be dangerous, the servers are really good about refilling your glass. The food is great, and make sure to try the pork belly doughnuts, sounds weird I know, but it’s worth it!
After you’ve filled up on mimosas and doughnuts walk on over to Dolores park and hang out for some people watching. Make sure to grab snacks (and probably some water) from Bi-Rite Market on the way over to the park. Dolores park is the largest park in the Mission and is on a hill so you get great views of the city from the top of the park.
While you might need another weekend to recover from your weekend in San Francisco it’s sure to be a fun and memorable time. This really isn’t the tourist track of things to do in the city but more of how locals spend their weekends, which I think is better way to get to know a place. And these are some of my favorites places in one of my favorite cities.
Have you been to San Francisco? What are some of your favorite spots or things you did? Let me know in the comments!