My first, and favorite, love affair with a city is San Francisco. As they say, you never forget your first love. I've been visiting this iconic place since I was very young. I remember trips with my family to Golden Gate Park for viewing the Conservatory of Flowers or the Japanese Garden, a concert at the iconic Grace Cathedral, chocolate at Ghirardelli, or the gorgeous flower displays in the windows at Macy's around Easter. Somehow we often ended up at Union Square for shopping and lunch at Blums. I remember a luscious dessert, a cake with the most amazing crunch frosting (I suppose I haven't quite gotten over it). Occasionally, my parents would splurge and we would dine at 'The Iron Horse' a quintessential San Francisco restaurant on Maiden Lane, just off Union Square. It was all red leather banquets, candlelight and white linen tablecloths. I remember the waiters wore formal black jackets (with tails?) with starchy white shirts. It was very Old San Francisco and quite fancy for a little girl~I loved it!
Since that time I have enjoyed many getaways and found some new favorites in this beguiling city. There is no way to cover all that delights in San Francisco, I'll simply share a few of my go to favorites.
Golden Gate Park-home to the The De Young Museum-historic and classical art with an eclectic collection of revolving exhibits. The Park is also home to the Conservatory of Flowers. Pacific Heights-take a walk or a drive through this elegant and historic neighborhood with classic mansions and fantastic views of the city, the Golden Gate, and the bay (Divisidero is a good choice to get you to Pacific Heights-from there you can meander your way around the neighborhood). Catch a Cable Car-take a ride on the historic line-perfect for sightseeing and getting around the city.
Golden Gate Bridge- walk or rent a bike to cross and visit the charming Sausalito on the other side. Take in the sights and sounds of Chinatown to the north of Union Square.
Buy fresh flowers on the street corner in Union Square as a souvenir of your perfect day in the city.
Hotel Adagio-Urban, sleek boutique hotel in the heart of the Theater District. The Adagio is one of our favorites, in the perfect location, just blocks west from Union Square and flanked by several high end boutique art galleries.
The Clift Hotel- is just across the way from the Adagio. This sleek, modern, whimsical hotel designed by Phillippe Starck has a stylish vibe.
The W Hotel-Sleek, modern hotel near the Moma (Museum of Modern Art). Fantastic roof top in warm weather.
Intercontinental Mark Hopkins- A classic! The top floor Lounge/Bar-Top of the Mark-boasts outstanding city views-and some nights a live band on the dance floor. A personal favorite since we started our Honeymoon here back in 2000.
First Crush-Intimate, romantic, food and wine near Union Square in the Financial District. Perfect start to a memorable San Francisco evening.
Balboa Cafe-Iconic SF restaurant/bar maintains that old San Francisco charm.
Belden Place-the Alley- often called the French Quarter of San Francisco. A diverse group of dining spots offers an array of cuisines with an international flavor. Outdoor dining adds to the ambiance.
The Rotunda at Neiman Marcus in Union Square-A lovely setting for a special lunch or afternoon tea.
Sociale- in Presidio Heights tucked away at the end of an alley on Sacramento Street this romantic gem is like a European getaway in a quiet neighborhood. Almost anywhere in North Beach-for authentic Italian dining.
Here is a great guide to shopping in San Francisco.Some of my favorites: Union Square-Iconic spot for luxury brand shopping and a gorgeous tree at Christmas.Chestnut Street with a distinctive neighborhood vibe.Sacramento Street-high end, stylish boutiques for fashion and home decor on the border between Pacific Heights and Presidio Heights.Fillmore Street-fashion and home decor shops in a high-end, picturesque neighborhood.
The weather in San Francisco can be mercurial. On the hottest day of summer inland, it can be shrouded with billowing layers of fog and a bracing wind. Since the weather can turn on a dime, layering is always the way to go.
Celebrating Our 10th Anniversary at the Mark Hopkins, September 2011
This is just a start.
I would love to hear your San Francisco favorites.