Jun 2, 2022
5 min read
A Travel Blogger's Guide to San Francisco
Chihuei (rhymes with freeway) Liu is the San Francisco-based travel blogger behind the lovely and inspiringDiscover Over There
), a freelance photographer,
has a full-time job in tech sales. She is a life-long travel lover, and spent five years living out of her suitcase while traveling the world as a flight attendant. She’s now set roots back in her hometown of San Francisco, but that hasn’t stopped her from constantly jet-setting!
If you’re heading out West, the Northern California gem of San Francisco should be at the top of your itinerary. Not only is it booming with an eclectic art and culture scene, but you’ll also find that its historic cable-car streets are flawlessly balanced by contemporary cafés and trendy boutique hotels. Chihuei’s an SF expert, and she’s sharing all of her best tips for your next trip.
Read on for all of Chihuei’s best local SF recommendations.
For more from Chihuei, follow her on IG@discoveroverthere
Where to stay
Located in Japantown, Hotel Kabuki is ideal for those who want to be farther from Union Square, yet still in an easily accessible neighborhood. Here, you’re near upbeat areas like Pacific Heights, Haight-Ashbury, and Hayes Valley. Each neighborhood offers a unique feel, making them perfect for strolling around. The decor is modern Asian, but not overwhelming. The lobby doubles as an inviting place to relax, grab a cocktail, and catch up with friends. To top it off, the service is impeccable!
This centrally-located boutique hotel in Union Square is great for tourists and first-time visitors, as most of the action is within walking distance. You can even hop on a cable car just a few blocks from the hotel. Also, it has a speakeasy attached– need I say more?
If you want to wake up to a gorgeous view of the Pacific Ocean and the Coit Tower, this is your place! The location is only a five-minute walk to the tasty seafood restaurants of Fisherman’s Wharf, and the rooms are fashioned with nautical decor – a subtle nod to the coastal neighborhood. While the locals consider this to be a touristy part of town, there are endless activities to do. Picture yourself walking along the water, hopping on city sightseeing buses, checking out the sea lions at Pier 39, then finishing off the day at one of the many restaurants nearby.
Where to eat and drink
For breakfast, head over toLe Marais Bakery
’s Castro location for their smoked salmon eggs benedict, paired with pain au chocolat and a warm cappuccino. Don’t forget to order a box of croissants for the road! Le Marais exudes an authentic Parisian atmosphere that you simply can’t find at just any French Café.
Enjoy lunch with a view atWaterbar
on the Embarcadero. From here, you can marvel at the Bay Bridge, Treasure Island, and the city skyline. The chef’s special oysters are a must, along with the chai coconut seafood stew, and a glass (or two) of chardonnay.
is the go-to dinner spot in the marina on a Friday or Saturday night. It’s not only trendy, but it also has great service. Order the Aperol spritz flight or a glass of nebbiolo, burrata to start, and the porky pepperoni pizza with extra burrata – trust me!
Where to get coffee
on Polk Street is an open and inviting cafe with friendly baristas that truly make an effort to build connection and community. They try to do right by small farmers that grow coffee beans in developing countries. Order the chai tea latte or a regular cappuccino. They won’t disappoint.
Where to shop
I basically only shop for two things – women’s clothing and more plants for my home.
in Pacific Heights has heaps of options. You can find popular brands like Reformation, Intermix, and The Kooples.
, located in the Mission District, is a quirky, one-of-a-kind shop where you can purchase local artisan goods including apparel, jewelry, art, and more.
in the marina is stocked with cool plants, andThe Sill
has tons of large, luscious greenery and succulents.
Where to workout
will give you a serious HIIT workout. They have top-notch instructors and a tight-knit community. Brian/Tommy are the best instructors at Barry’s Marina.
is perfect if you want to run or bike outside with views of the Golden Gate Bridge, Alcatraz, and both the North and East Bays. If you want to relax, you can also come here to picnic.
is perfect if you need a break from the commotion of the city. Take Kalen’s hot Pilates class for a serious sweat.
TheAlice Marble Tennis Courts
are a great place to play a match with a friend. The spots fill up quickly, so don’t forget to reserve a court.
Where to party
SF is a great place to party. The dress code is always casual, and everyone’s invited because it’s not cliquey. You’ll find me staying out until I’m out of money to pay for another espresso martini, or until I’ve shut down SilverCloud with my best group of friends.
is the ultimate wine bar to start any night out.
, andFor The Record
are a blast for bar-hopping.
, where you can karaoke to Fall Out Boy till 2am.
For a late-night snack I’ll order a pie from any pizzeria in North Beach or hit upBob’s Donuts
, a San Francisco staple open 24/7.
Where to relax
offers a Japanese bathhouse, holistic rituals, experienced massage therapists, and much more.
You won’t want to miss theSutro Baths
,Ina Coolbrith Park
at sunset, The Painted Ladies, theFort Point National Historic Site
, and last but not least, make your way toTwin Peaks
for a postcard-worthy view overlooking the entire city from above.
Be sure to pack a jacket and bring it with you on all your excursions, as San Francisco can get brisk in the afternoons! Even on a warm and sunny day, the temperature will begin to drop after 4:00 pm.
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