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A First Timers visit to San Francisco

A First Timers visit to San Francisco

A First Timers visit to San Francisco

My sister and I went to San Francisco over Thanksgiving week in 2014. I had briefly visited SF once before, but I wouldn’t even really count that trip since most of it was spent in Palo Alto. Since I didn’t really have a chance to explore the city during my last visit, I knew I wanted to see everything this time.

Linds and I arrived on Monday afternoon and hopped in a van at SFO (the best and cheapest way to commute to and from the airport into the city, imho) to our hotel, the Sir Francis Drake. The Drake is in the perfect location right in Union Square. It’s so close to shopping, restaurants, and shopping!

We spent our first day poking around Union Square and partaking in the free daily wine tasting at our hotel. After getting sufficiently buzzed, we headed around the corner to Cafe de la Presse for dinner. We had a late lunch in the hotel’s restaurant so we weren’t starving… which means more booze! I think our main goal was to not fall asleep too early but I’ll admit it wasn’t a late night. (FTR, we went back to Cafe de la Presse before we left and I highly recommend it. Great little French bistro.)

On Tuesday, our first stop was The Painted Ladies, aka the Fullhouse house. I watched the show religiously growing up so I was pretty excited to see it in person. The park across the street from The Painted Ladies is great and if I lived in the city I would probably walk Charlie there or maybe have a picnic or two. After the PL, we made our way to Lombard Street (GORGE!), Ghirardelli Square and Fisherman’s Wharf. Ghirardelli Square is home to the Ghirardelli factory (chocolate!), lots of cute shops and restaurants. Next, we headed to Fisherman’s Wharf. It’s fairly touristy but totally worth checking out. If you want to rent bikes or visit Alcatraz, you can do it here. (Since it was a holiday, we couldn’t get tickets to Alcatraz but it’s on my list for next time.)

What I was most looking forward to was the Ferry Building. The Ferry Building is what Faneuil Hall should be. (Yeah, I just went there.) It’s home to the best coffee, best cheese, best bread, best wine and the BEST clam chowder I have ever had. (Yeah, I went there again.)

Hog Island Oyster Company is hands down one of my most favorite eating experiences ever. The food is so fresh… and a low-key oyster bar is my idea of heaven. Some of my other faves in the Ferry Building: Blue Bottle Coffee, Cowgirl Creamery, Acme Bread Company, Boccalone and the Wine Merchant.

Hog Island Oysters Company | The Stopover by Meaghan Murray |

Wednesday morning, we rented bikes in Union Square and biked over the Golden Gate to Sausalito. DO THIS. It’s an amazing way to see the city. We did a self-guided ride. We tried our best to follow the map and avoid any major hills, and we were somewhat successful, but hey, you’re just earning your wine, right? The ride ends in Sausalito, an adorable coastal town. Linds and I were starving after our ride so we treated ourselves to ceviche and margaritas at Copita. Really good food, excellent tequila.

We took the boat back to the Ferry Building where we picked up a few snacks for Napa (see “the ultimate snack” below), and headed back to the hotel. After relaxing for a bit, we made our way to dinner at Perbacco. Yeah, this place is good. If you are visiting SF, I highly recommend making a resie. Everything is incredible. P.S. get the burrata. P.P.S always get the burrata.

Cowgirl Creamery | The Stopover by Meaghan Murray |

Thursday, Thanksgiving morning, we picked up our Hertz 24/7 car and headed to Napa. I didn’t realize how close wine country is to the city. It’s a gorgeous drive with endless farms and vineyards. We attempted to visit the Muir Woods on our way out of town but I’m pretty sure every family in California had the same idea and we couldn’t find parking. So instead, we headed straight to our hotel, La Residence, in Napa and had a little snack before dinner. (It sounds like all we did was eat in SF. I’m ok with that because #yolo.)

For Thanksgiving dinner, we were headed to FARM at The Carneros Inn. I had read about The Carneros Inn way before planning our trip and I was dying to stay there but it was WAY outside of our budget. The next best thing was dinner at their restaurant, FARM. And it didn’t disappoint. The dinner was a traditional Thanksgiving dinner served family style. It was incredible which wasn’t surprising. (We even tried to recreate the meal for Christmas dinner. I give us an A for effort.) Honestly, though, I think my favorite part of my FARM experience was the design of the restaurant itself. First of all, they have outdoor seating and firepits. Second, the outdoor seating was covered in black and white striped fabric. And third, they hung lucite lamps as chandeliers over the bar. SO GOOD. (I have really dark, blurry pictures that I have deemed not blog worthy. And I couldn’t find a pic from their website.)

FARM at The Carneros Inn | The Stopover by Meaghan Murray |

The next morning we were on a mission… WINE! It was a little too early to drink…legally. Luckily the Napa Outlets kept us company. (Thanks, Barney’s!) After the outlets, we stopped in downtown Napa’s Oxbow Public Market. It’s a great public market with too many delicious things to list. Actually, there is one noteworthy place: Model Bakery. Go here. My go-to at any bakery is a scone and a cappuccino… and Model didn’t disappoint. Probably the best scone I’ve had. Next stop was FINALLY Domaine Carneros. Linds and I both had the sparkling wine and pinot noir tasting flight. Their wine is always tasty but I have my favorites: the brut rose and the avant-garde pinot noir. If you’re ever in Napa, make sure you visit Domaine Carneros. The grounds are beautiful. Their tasting “house” is a French chateau. So there’s that.

After Domaine Carneros, we made our way back to the city. We had dinner reservations at Tyler Florence’s Wayfare Tavern later that night so we relaxed in our hotel and unpacked/packed. If you go to Wayfare Tavern, get the burger and a beer. I wouldn’t steer you wrong. But again, my favorite part of Wayfare Tavern was the interiors. It was 80% Ralph Lauren, 10% French bistro, 10% pub. It’s spectacular in there. (Again, I have some super blurry pictures that are not blog-worthy.)

On Saturday, our last day in the city, we stayed local and did some shopping in Union Square. We ended up stopping for one last glass of wine at Press Club. It’s a great bar with an even better wine list. I can see it being a scene later at night but during the day it’s a great place to grab apps and a glass bottle of wine.

After the Press Club, we headed to SFO to catch our red-eye back to Boston. I’m not really sure how to sum up this trip. We ate a lot, we explored a lot and I enjoyed every minute it. To be honest, if I did the exact same things on my next trip to San Fran, I would be ok with it.

San Francisco | The Stopover by Meaghan Murray |

If you made it through this whole post, well done and thanks! I’m happy to share more details – or wine recs – so just leave a question in the comments.

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