My first stop on my solo trip itinerary was San Francisco! I had never been to California before (this was my first time) - and I am SO glad I chose San Francisco to be my first "taste" of CA. I only had one day here, and I certainly packed in as much as humanly possible, (in true "amyventures" fashion). ;)
(click any image below to enlarge)
My first stop was Mr. Holmes Bakehouse for cruffins! I had heard so many good things about them, and made it my first priority, haha. While the shop opened at 7 AM, the cruffins didn't come out until 9 AM. I went on a week day, and there was still a line (I recommend getting there around 8:30) - but it was well worth the wait! They sell out within 1-2 hours of coming out, so be sure to get there on time.
Next, I walked over to Clarion Alley in the Mission district.
I am a huge fan of street art, so anywhere I go - I always make it a point to figure out where the best walls are! Many of the murals here held political significance (they weren't just a series of pretty paintings), and I felt like I learned a lot by taking the time to read through everything.
I made a brief stop at Dolores Park - the first park I've ever been to with palm trees (LOL). I sat up on the hill and took in the gorgeous view overlooking the city. It was a great spot to people-watch and observe the "California lifestyle" that was so foreign to me, haha.
For lunch, I met up with Kristin from Beyond Ordinary Guides at Tartine. I had at least 4 or 5 people recommend this place to me, so I had to try it! We both got the shitake mushroom croque monsier (which was basically an open faced veggie sandwich) and shared an order of the bread pudding. Everything was so yummy, and I definitely recommend eating there if you're ever in the area!
After lunch, we walked to the nearby Castro rainbow crosswalk. Being that the Castro is a huge hub for LGBT - there was a nearby memorial for the recent FL tragedy. Although it was sad - it was nice to see that sense of community after such a terrible event.
We also drove to the mosaic steps near Grand View Park + Golden Gate Heights. There were 3 different ones, but this one was my favorite!
Along the way, we stopped to check out many of the colorful (G-O-R-G-E-O-U-S) homes.
We also stopped quickly at the "Full House House" (not pictured), but it has since been repainted and there's now a giant tree blocking a good half of it. I was a little underwhelmed because it looked just like any other house in the area haha - but at least I can now say that I saw THE house. ;)
Every corner I turned, there were thriving succulents and vibrant bougainvillea (both of which are absent on the east coast). They grow like weeds there! I can't imagine growing succulents outside... I can barely keep them alive in a contained pot indoors on a windowsill, haha!
I stopped by Japantown to see this store called Daiso - which sold a ton of cheap and adorable knick knacks. I somehow made it out of there without buying anything. I think I was just overwhelmed + my brain was fried at this point in the day (walking the steep hills of San Francisco is no joke, haha) - but it was so fun to look around! I almost bought one of the adorable animal planters, but was afraid it'd break in my suitcase (as I still had 3 additional destinations after SF).
From there, I walked to Alamo Square to see the Painted Ladies. Unfortunately, they were redoing the grass (which was completely dead / dried out due to California drought) - so I didn't get to enjoy it in all its glory.. but luckily they had a "Painted Ladies viewing area" sectioned off. It's the iconic spot from the opening of Full House, so the 90's kiddo in me can finally die happy (LOL).
I caught sunset at Fisherman's Wharf / Fort Mason - which had a distant view of the Golden Gate Bridge. It was such a beautiful night, and I sat along the water until it was completely dark out. Although this area was particularly touristy, I still enjoyed it - as it was all new to me. I finished my day off with a crab sandwich for dinner from one of the seafood shacks down there before making my way back to the hotel around 10 PM for a shower / quick nap. It was such a whirlwind of a day - and I (sadly) had to catch a 6 AM flight the next morning.
A huge thank you to Kristin (Beyond Ordinary Guides) for driving me around and allowing me to cover more ground than I originally thought possible -- and Kelly (Studio DIY) - whose CA road trip guide convinced me I needed to stay at the Hotel Carlton and kickstart my day with cruffins (#priorities).
I'm already yearning to go back and explore more of California. There are SO many other spots I want to see: Big Sur, Palm Springs, Los Angeles, Joshua Tree... the list goes on and on! One day was definitely not enough time, but I'm glad I was able to fit in as much as I did. It may have been my first time in California, but it certainly won't be my last!