Thursday, March 21, 2013

San Francisco Trip

While I was on my blogging hiatus, I had the opportunity to travel to San Francisco for business. I was so excited to be able to go somewhere cool (it didn't hurt it was on my company's dime either) and make my first trip to the west coast.

I spent about 5 days in the Golden Gate City in the beginning of October (great time of the year to go) and while I was in a training class during the day, I tried to explore as much as I could during the evenings and wanted to share some of my trip.

I stayed at the Kimpton Hotel. I highly recommend this cute boutique hotel, the location is great - right by the Chinatown entrance and 2 blocks from Union Square - you are walking distance to many sites as well as close to trolleys and other forms of public transportation. Plus the hospitality was great. Since I was traveling alone (although I spent time with one of my training-mates), I had a lot of questions and asked for suggestions frequently. Plus, they had a "happy hour" every day with wine and gave me lots of free treats.

King Room
I loved how funky the decor was, boutique hotels are my new favorite! 

 Hand written note with snacks and wine halfway through my trip!

I arrived in San Francisco Sunday afternoon around 2:30 and wanted to get lots of sightseeing in since it was the most time I had uninterrupted. The concierge suggested I catch the "Hop on, Hop off Tour Bus" and while I am always skeptical of these, it was actually a great value and perfect for traveling solo.

We saw all the major sights including Chinatown, Union Square, Haight-Ashbury Neighborhood, Fisherman's Wharf, Civic Centre, Little Italy, Painted Ladies (Full House traditional row houses), Golden Gate Park, Golden Gate Bridge, and more!

The best part of the tour was the Golden Gate Bridge, it is not super close to the downtown area so it was the only time I could experience it. We stopped on both sides for photo ops and even drove over it, it truly is a sight to be seen.

Driving over the Golden Gate

The Golden Gate Bridge was even more stunning in person!

Monday, I walked the hilly streets to Telegraph Hill and Coit Tower. It is one of the highest points of the city and provides great views of San Francisco. Afterwards, I met up with one of training classmates for dinner in ChinaTown.

Amazing views from Coit Tower

Tuesday, I made a trip to Union Square for some shopping! They have every store you can imagine, its a shopper's dream!

Then I went to the Embarcadero (definitely go during the day) which is right on the water, with views of the Oakland Bridge. The Embarcadero is a cute little market that is bustling with restaurants and shops with unique products. During the day, they have stands set up outside with artists and craftsmen with great products. I wanted to get my sisters something from my trip, but we hate touristy items, so I went Friday afternoon and got us name bracelets from a vendor here, he made them custom in front of you!

The Embarcadero at night

I ended up being able to meet up with my boyfriend's college roommate for dinner and drinks in San Francisco, its always nice to see familiar faces plus he was able to give some great local suggestions. We met at Waterbar, a really hip restaurant with a great atmosphere and great views. They have a huge selection of oysters and great seafood.


Wednesday, I walked to Fisherman's Wharf (caution, very touristy) and walked around some of the shops before I headed to Ghiradelli Square! I knew I had to pick up some of the famous chocolate as well as indulge in the hot chocolate (a must). Then I ate McCormick's for some great seafood and views of the bay.

Views from the Wharf

Chocolate Heaven

Thursday was my classmate's birthday so she picked a seafood restaurant on Fisherman's Wharf for dinner. I do not suggest eating at the Wharf, the food was sub-par compared to the rest of my meals and service left something to be desired. The best part about that night were our trolley rides (again a must, and if you can stand on the outside one trip).

Powell & Mason Sts. Trolley

Posing on the trolley! 
Friday, after participating in a little Embarcadaro shopping, I walked to the famous Lombard Street aka crookedest street. This is a hike, but its a cool must see.

The one thing I wish I had done was an Alcatraz tour. My uncle suggested I do a night tour, but unfortunately you have to book those in advanced and not knowing my schedule I missed out on the opportunity. Additionally, I would loved to have walked around some of the neighborhoods but did not feel safe venturing that far by myself at night.

Have you ever been to San Francisco? What was your favorite part?

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