Ahh….The City By The Bay. San Francisco is a photographer’s paradise. It has it all…seascape, landscapes, architecture, character…everything. And the cool part is that it is all within a short drive. Heck, you can pretty much take it all in over a long weekend. However, I might give yourself four days to enjoy some of the food.
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Where To Stay
Where to stay is easy, stay at the Fairmont. Why? Here are a few reasons.
- Centrally located – You can get anywhere you need to go with ease.
- The Tonga Room – Have you ever wished you could enjoy happy hour in a ‘tiki torch’ lit room with a live band playing in the middle of a lagoon? Well, if you have, the Tonga room is on the bottom floor of the Fairmont.
- The Scones – All the food is amazing, but their signature breakfast scones are the best scones I have ever had, and I’m a scone guy.
- The Views – The Fairmont sits on a hill overlooking the city. Depending on your room you can see the bay, the bridge, Coit Tower, etc. Also, if you ask nicely they might let you shoot an image or two from the grand ballroom on the top floor. Talk about a view!
- The Staff – I don’t know if I have ever met a nicer group of people. The security guard Stevie that escorted me to the grand ballroom for a photograph actually sent us a thank you card. He was as good as they get.
What To Do/Where To Eat
By no means is this a comprehensive list. Heck, I don’t even think this begins to scratch the surface. There is just too much to do to in San Francisco. That being said, here are a few of the things that we thought were fun.
- Sausalito Ferry – Catch the ferry to Sausalito. It’s a cheap ride and a great way to see the bay.
- Plant Cafe – Some of the best organic vegetarian food I have had. It is located at the SFO ferry terminal so you can grab a bite before you get on the ferry to Sausalito.
- Muir Woods– While you are over in Sausalito, catch the Muir woods shuttle to explore a redwood forest. The shuttle is the way to go. It drops you off and picks you up right at the entrance to the woods. It’s much more convenient that having to park your car miles away.
- Mt. Tamalpias – Just Google it and go there. You can hike, ride, or easily drive to the top for an unforgettable view of the city and Golden Gate bridge.
- Go For A Run! – A great loop is to head out of the Fairmont, down to the financial district, west towards the Coit Tower, south over to Lombard Street, and back up to the Fairmont.
- Alcatraz – Take the boat and explore the historical big house.
- Enjoy Vegetarian – This had to be one of the most exciting finds of our stay. Being a vegetarian, sometimes I miss the classics. At ‘Enjoy Vegetarian’ you can order anything on the menu, including Sesame Chicken and be assured it is all meat free. Totally cool place!
- Sol Food – North of San Francisco, across the Golden Gate in San Rafael, is a unique Puerto Rican restaurant called Sol Food. If you are up that way, make sure to try it.
- City Hall – It is beautiful and worth the visit! Just make sure there are no private events going on so call ahead of time.
- Marin Headlands – If you rent a car, go explore this area. It is a beautiful and quiet drive. There is a lot to explore, so I’ll leave it up to you!
- Extreme Pizza – You can find them outside of SF, but this is where it all began. I think there are 4 of them around town? So if you are in the mood for a slice, you can probably find one close to you.
The Perfect Costal Drive
I have made this trip several times in my life, and next time in San Francisco I will probably do it again. Here’s what you do!
- Wake up early at the Fairmont and have a couple of their signature scones.
- Drive north across the Golden Gate bridge and get another cup of coffee in Sausalito.
- Head west over Mt. Tamalpias and drive north along the coast.
- Stop in the small town of Stinson Beach and have an ice cream cone.
- Continue north through a beautiful costal forest to Point Reyes National Park.
- At Point Reyes you can either drive to the lighthouse (more on that in future posts) or ask the rangers about a good hike.
- After you have finished exploring Point Reyes head back the way you came. Try to make it back to Mt Tamalpias for sunset so you can watch the for roll in from the sea.
- After the sun has set and you have been kicked out of Mt. Tamalpias park head to San Rafel for some Puerto Rican food at Sol Food, or grab dinner in Sausalito.
- After dinner, drive up to the Marin Headlands to capture a beautiful image of the Golden Gate back dropped by the city skyline.
- Go to bed with a fully recharged soul!
Photos From The Drive
The Golden Gate (but you probably knew that!)
The View From Mt. Tamalpias
The Point Reyes Lighthouse & Bay
A Few More Favorites