I’ve posted less than normal this past week, but it’s with good reason — we were off exploring San Francisco, and I was soaking up every minute. I already shared the part of our trip that took us to Yosemite (which you can read here), and now I’m happy to capture the highlights of our days in San Francisco.
Despite Jameson’s unamused look, we had a great time. But sometimes, when you travel with kids, and you rely on strangers to take family photos, well… this is the very best/only presentable shot you come up with.
The main purpose of our trip to San Francisco was so Jordan could preach at Redemption Church, which is pastored by friends of ours. Jordan and I also got to share our story with a smaller crowd the following evening and talk about dating and contentment (you can listen to that here). Our friends have a private guest space they told us we could stay in for as long as we wanted, so that led us to plan a week-long stay that would allow us to explore and enjoy the city at a leisurely pace and justify taking Jameson on that long plane ride.
San Francisco is a lot like NYC, in that it’s not a very large city geographically, but it’s made up of several different neighborhoods that each carry their own vibe. With the free time we had, we tried our best to sample as many parts of the city as we could, and I think we made out pretty well.
Golden Gate Park
When we arrived after a long day of travel, we were eager to find a place where Jameson could be free and run around. Golden Gate Park, which is like the Central Park of San Francisco, was the perfect place. The park is huge and has so much to offer — I’m talking museums, paths, lakes for fishing, and even a heard of bison(!) roaming around. We made a visit to the park pretty much every day while we were in town. The park has a botanical garden, and we happened to be in town while they were running a really cool exhibit called Flower Piano, where the park placed 12 pianos around the grounds, and people could play at will. As we walked into the gardens, not only was it beautiful, but you could hear the tinkering of keys coming from several directions. And the people playing ranged from child novices to classically trained professionals. It was really kind of magical.While we loved the pianos, Jameson really loved the Koret’s Children’s Quarter Playground within Golden Gate Park. It’s apparently the oldest public playground in America, so Jameson can add that to his résumé, I suppose. And like the rest of the the park, it’s big and beautiful.Here is King Jameson conquering the slide like a big boy — and very happy about it too.
We headed to The Mission District to find the best tacos/burritos in the city and to check out this historically latino neighborhood that’s seen an influx of hipsters in recent years. We had a crazy good lunch at La Taqueria, and because we were hungry and the place was packed with a line out the door, I failed to snap a photo of the tacos I downed. But I will say that I’ve come to the conclusion that like a Philly cheesesteak becomes great because of the roll, not the meat, I’m now convinced an amazing corn tortilla is really the secret to a delicious taco. Anyway, no food pic proof, but good vibes in these photos, nonetheless. Sunshine, shades, and street art in the background.And Jameson washing down his food.After tacos, we walked around The Mission, taking in the shops and streets covered in street art (between our trips to Wynwood Walls and Coney Island, I feel like this is kind of becoming a thing for us).My hard fellas posted up on the wall. (this photo cracks me up.)There’s surely a rule somewhere that says you can’t be tough while holding a baby bag, hard as you may try.“Lemme touch that thing you’re pointing in my face.”
We stayed in Cole Valley, which is a neighborhood full of families and a ton of quintessential San Francisco homes. I wanted to take so many pictures of so many houses, and I hoped I wasn’t caught looking like too much of a creeper. But the details on these houses are so crazy. Everyone knows the Painted Ladies from Full House, but I think this set of homes near where we stayed gives the Painted Ladies a run for their money.Knock knock, I’m moving in.And as if the homes weren’t cute enough, some even had “free libraries” in front, which encouraged people to take a book. This one was a miniature replica of the house it sat on. Crazy!From where we stayed in Cole Valley, we were also able to experience some of the great restaurants steps away and in nearby neighborhoods like Haight-Ashbury and Inner Sunset. Here’s Jameson going to town on some truffle mac & cheese. I think the jet lag was definitely setting in. :-)
Financial District/Ferry Building Farmers’ Market
There’s a huge farmer’s market held at the Ferry Building every Saturday, which is known to get pretty crowded. But given our early wake-up time with Jameson, we were able to get there early to sample lots of food and take in views of the Bay Bridge. Our first stop was for coffee and baked goods from Craftsman and Wolves. I was eager to try this savory muffin that had a soft boiled egg baked inside. A complete breakfast in a tiny package.But then this peach pastry number really stole our hearts. Like, Jordan is still talking about it and won’t stop, level of thievery. And when Jameson opted out of the piece I offered him, I gladly sat back to be greedy.We wandered through the food stall aisles looking at amazing foods and flowers, buying additional things to eat, and tasting free samples.There was even a live band playing classic swing and jazz numbers, and given his love for music, Jameson was totally into it. And just when you may have thought the hipsterdom found in Williamsburg could not be outdone, two of the band members broke out with very coordinated swing dance moves. We were thoroughly entertained. Brooklyn, it’s time to step your game up.
Lombard Street, etc.
We spent a lot of time driving around in our rented Prius (we could not have fit in more), mainly because it helped us cover more ground and also it was a surefire way to get Jameson to sleep for his naps. We’d hop in the car and make our way around the city to see some of the more well-known landmarks, like the winding Lombard Street or the trolleys near Fisherman’s Wharf and Ghirardelli Square and views of Alcatraz.There was also time for random ice cream breaks as Jameson slept in the back. Three cheers for Smitten Ice Cream in Hayes Valley!
Presidio Picnic Area
After church on Sunday, our friends and their kids took us to the Presidio picnic area, where dozens of food trucks and restaurants set up tents for a weekly summertime event called Off the Grid. We took our friends’ suggestions for what to eat, and everything was so good — paella, brussel sprouts with red grapes (who knew?!), and totopos, which I’d never heard of, but were kind of life-changing. No pics of totopos, because again, demolished too soon.And yes, my child is the weird one who likes eating lemons. After climbing into a lawn chair intended for a grown-up. #unbothered.
Golden Gate Bridge/Marshall’s Beach
On our last full day in town, the fog was light enough to make out most of the Golden Gate Bridge, so we headed to Marshall’s Beach to take in the views. Lots of people swear by crossing the bridge and getting the view from the other side, which I’ve done in the past, but I really loved the views from Marshall’s Beach. Initially I was disappointed that the sky wasn’t crystal clear, so we could get a clear shot of the bridge. But looking back, I see the beauty in the fog — how it’s true to San Francisco and what we experienced. And similarly, I arrived in San Francisco wanting to cram it all in and capture perfect moments, but now I see the beauty in our leisurely pace, in quiet moments in the car, in missing out on things, and in it not being perfect but instead feeling like we got a very authentic dose of this city.
If you find yourself hungry in San Francisco, here’s a little round-up of the places where we ate:
- Zazie – so good we went twice!
- La Boulangerie
- Craftsman and Wolves
- Donut World – fuel for the trip to Yosemite
- Nopa – crazy good farm-to-table
- Nopalito – same owners as Nopa
- La Taqueria – “best burrito in America”
- Social Kitchen & Brewery
- El Porteño
- In-n-Out Burger – a west coast must for us
- Smitten Ice Cream – made to order
- The Ice Cream Bar – blackberry and corn
- Sightglass Coffee