Earlier this year, I headed to San Francisco with my cousin for a little long weekend getaway for Memorial Day. Feeling restless, I didn’t want to spend the long weekend staycationing, so we hopped on a plane and headed west. Here’s a list of 12 things to do in SF. What we saw, did, and, of course, ate!
Living in New York, the city seems to always get held up next to SF. Friends and family seem to waffle back and forth as to which city is better for working/living and where you can find the coolest haunts and the coolest people. I of course, being a life long east coast gal am quick to list out the merits of New York, but I gotta say that for a jaded New Yorker, San Francisco made for one of the best weekend trips I’ve had in a long time.
It’s hard to identify a single reason as to why. There’s the perfect mild weather, a little extra cloud cover (I am a little bit nocturnal), plenty of natural sights to check out close to the city limits, culture, and of course food. But here’s a rundown of everything so you can decide for yourself.
12 Things to Do in SF
1. Do a few quick hikes at Point Reyes National Seashore
Our first order of business was actually to escape the city proper and head out into the wilds––that is, drive about an hour to Point Reyes National Seashore. While the sky was a bit overcast, the cool salty breezes and wildflowers were more than enough to please me.
On hikes, I’m a big believer in stopping to smell the flowers. These small orange and yellow ones were particularly lovely.
We stumbled upon small quiet beaches…
At this beach, there were plenty of pre-arranged driftwood picnic sites where folks had clearly enjoyed grilled oysters.
2. Frolic on the beach (puppies ideal)
These three puppas had it lucky, living in houses on the rocky outcroppings above the water. We report that these three dogs in particular were very good boys.
3. Check out Point Reyes Station
Point Reyes Station was a sleepy little sea town, but dotted with boutiques, bookshops, and markets on the way to other national and state parks and recreation areas. We stopped to check out the murals, peruse the local farm stand, and pick up some books.
Sometimes I think the flowers alone are enough reason for me to up and move to the west coast…
4. Oyster Trail
Oyster Trail is well known by locals as a great place to down tons of fresh oysters for cheap and with views of the ocean while you do it. While a lot of places had a you-shuck model, we opted to sit down at Nick’s Cove, since I’ve sadly not yet sprung for an oyster knife and thought it best to not test my air travel luck with that one.
We started out with a half dozen delicious baked oysters. Just look at those buttery breadcrumbs…! And a little sampling of the house clam chowder, because obviously we cannot turn down clam chowder. It’s basically a law of the universe, and it’s kind of a problem.
Next, there was a wonderfully fresh orange and beet salad, and to be honest, two of the best seafood dishes I’ve ever eaten: stone crab mac n cheese and a kale caesar with avocado, pepperoncinis and the most delicious, meaty boquerones.
Here’s a close up of the mac n cheese because obviously you want to see that.
There were huge lumps of tender crab meat in this mac n cheese and I will show you this less than glamorous shot I took of my plate marveling at this fact. When it comes to seafood, the experts are truly the experts.
The restaurant had a long dock where we stretched our legs after the exertion of the mac n cheese before our next stop…
5. Muir Woods
Muir Woods speaks for itself. The national park is so conveniently located relative to the rest of SF and there are plenty of trails ranging from super easy and paved to a little bit more challenging. We did the convenient long loop that allowed you to see most of the redwoods.
Hilariously, when we ended the loop, we noticed that there were more than a couple of taxis waiting for city dwellers, and heard a few tech bros talking about ill-fated trips wherein they paid a small fortune to be uber-ed to and back from Muir Woods. This bear outside the gift shop isn’t sure how he feels about that.
Believe it or not that was all packed into Day 1 of SF! From Muir Woods we drove back across the Golden Gate and headed back into the city.
6. The harbor seals by Pier 39
The next morning we got an early start and hit Pier 39 to check out the harbor seals. There’s a small visitor’s center where you can learn more about the research being conducted in the area, and how you can have less of an impact on the oceans. I picked up a copy of the Monterey Bay Aquarium seafood guide and took the time to gently shame my friends about single-use plastics.
7. A trolley ride
My cousin and I butted heads on this one because it was an absolute slog to wait in the long lines for the trolley ride, but I have to say I didn’t regret it. Seeing how the trolley was maneuvered manually and cruising up and down the steep San Francisco streets was pretty fun, and honestly, I would probably recommend to any bright eyed and bushy tailed tourists.
We waited for a very long time, so naturally pictures of foliage occurred.
8. San Francisco MoMA
Next we spent a little time wandering through SF MoMa, which was a great stop filled with lots of wonderfully odd thought provoking things.
9. Ate lots of sourdough!
An important stop for me was to Boudin Bakery. Maybe if you’re a local you’re shaking your head at how touristy I am, but this bread is g o o d. Also the soup bread bowls are giant, fluffy, crusty, and delicious, and the soup is the exact thing you would want–the most archetypal and perfect of clam chowder and tomato soup.
Plus, they serve the tomato soup with more croutons on top. How delightfully excessive is that?
Jalapeno cheese rounds, anyone?
For those looking to indulge, you could also buy these ridiculously adorable bread animals.
10. the Mission District
We strolled through the alleys of the Mission District, home to plenty of murals, equal parts abstract and socially-minded.
Not pictured here, sadly, is the burrito that we split for breakfast, because SF, and because burritos, and because we could.
11. Lands End Trail
A highlight of the trip was hiking the trail at Lands End. It was a popular Memorial Day weekend activity, but the wide, long paths made for a pleasant loop around the perimeter of the city and spectacular views of the bridge in the distance.
12. Good meals
I don’t know if it’s because SF is a tech town, or if the locals have particularly high standards, but we were able to have a few great meals despite not having advance reservations to the best dinner spots in town. We went to a few smaller local haunts, where we had delicious burrata and pasta, and the most luscious appetizer of fried pig’s ears and calamari.