We spend a lot of time traversing back and forth to the West Coast, and one of our favorite cities is San Francisco. Between the weather, views, history and buzz around the tech industry, it’s high on our list of favorite U.S. cities. I’ve compiled a list of our must-dos overtime I’m in the area:
Food & Drink:
Leo’s Oyster Bar in the Financial District is toward the tippy top of my dining list. The decor to Leo’s is truly spectacular. Think palm-tree printed wallpaper with dripping chandeliers and gold touches throughout. It’s guaranteed to produce the most perfect Instagram post because each place you turn is super cute and harkens back to a different decade.
We recently had dinner at Leo’s and the oysters are the shining stars on the menu, but the crab and lobster cake with bacon was one of our favorite items, and the shrimp cocktail and tea leaf salad was awesome, too. For drinks — trying the “lunch” martini with picked vegetables. Reservations are a must.
Flores: This Marina District Mexican restaurant is equal parts buzzy and delicious. It is also a stark reminder that California Mexican food is infinitely better than New York Mexican. We ate guacamole, halibut ceviche, carne aside and carnitas, all family style, while sipping on spicy skinny margaritas. Would totally recommend it to readers, as the food is packed with flavor and they have lot of options that are low-carb, high-protein. The decor is also really fun and we liked the lively vibe.
Foreign Cinema: This hotspot in the Mission is a great place for dinner or brunch. It’s indoor-outdoor and features a giant movie screen that plays old films nightly while you eat. The menu has a great raw bar selection and lot of shareable, as well as local California favorites and touches, so the produce that goes alongside the main entrees are really on point.
Locanda: This Mission spot is low-key and unassuming, but the food is anything but. We went here for brunch last Sunday and had a great meal of a breakfast panino, scrambled eggs with the most amazing spicy tomato sauce, hash browns and bacon. We also had pizza bianca with jam. Just typing this is making me want to diet. The Mission area is up and coming, so if you want an excuse to walk around the Mission, Locanda is definitely worthy of that.
We spent a night at a new immersive theater experience called “A Night At The Palace,” which was such a fun time. This experience is a mix of theater, lounge, cabaret and gambling, all set in a 1920s speakeasy. I loved that you must dress up in accordance with the time period to attend, so my friends and I set out to find feather headbands, satin gloves, pearls, suspenders and other gear to fit in with the theme. Given the prohibition-era vibe, you check in to the show by meeting on a street corner where a man in a trend coat gives you your “prescription” before being guided to a speakeasy. Everyone stays in character and the decor of the theater looks really authentic and the costumes are so creative.
We stayed at the Palace for around four hours because there was so much to take in. There is a fabulous burlesque and comedy show that is a must-see (make sure to make a reservation) and there is also a casino set up with chips to play roulette, black jack and other games. The experience is very well-executed and you do feel like you’ve been transported back to the 1920s.
Presidio Park Hike: For a great hike with views of the city and Golden Gate Bridge, Presidio Park has some great trails. We did a two-hour walk that brought us by gilded homes in Pacific Heights, giant redwood trees and a park overlooking the iconic bridge.
Golden Gate Bridge: The iconic Golden Gate Bridge is the ultimate workout (and free to boot). Whether you walk it, run it or bike it, and it is the ideal workout experience because you are surrounded by gorgeous views, meaning your workout will fly by. The trail is 1.7 miles each way, and it is steep at parts. I did stop a few times to take photos (it’s too beautiful not to).
Mission Delores Park: While there’s no true equivalent to Manhattan’s Central Park in San Francisco, Mission Delores Park has been described to me as being in its peer group. This 16-acre park is set on a hill offering great views of the city. It attracts a diverse and young crown, equipped with beers, picnics, music and books. It’s a great way to spend a late morning or afternoon like a local.
Clarion Alley: Down an unassuming side street in The Mission is Clarion Alley, an alley dedicated to vibrant street art that is definitely worth a gander. Many of the murals are politically charged (I loved one that read: “Men, Put Down Your Guns) and many are just colorful and beautiful. It’s the perfect spot to find a fun backdrop to stand against for your Instagram.
Napa: Venture an hour outside of San Francisco to Napa Valley or Sonoma to sample some amazing wines. There are literally hundreds of vineyards to choose from (and some great restaurants). To see our complete guide to a day in Napa Valley, click here.
Primp & Prime:
Cinta: For blowouts, look no further than Cinta’s Blow Dry Bar. I recently had the opportunity to be pampered at Cinta at their Grant Street salon and luckily I had a few meetings and a dinner that evening to show off my shiny locks.
After washing my hair, the stylist applied an amazing Kersastase treatment that is meant to add shine to your hair and cut down on frizz. It lasts two months or so and costs $35 at Cinta. After, I got the most amazing swingy blowout with big waves and lots of volume. Benjamin, my stylist, gave me the most amazing brush curls and lots of height at my roots — something I really struggle to do on my own. They have a great menu where you can pick beach waves, a sleek straight style, or other looks for $45.
I love that the Kerastase treatment has lasted weeks later. My hair is shiny and hasn’t frizzed, which says a lot given the humidity in New York City in the summer. I would totally recommend Cinta to friends or visitors in the area. It’s a great spot to go before a meeting (takes less than one hour) and is super chic. Or, you can have a day of pampering with friends before a big night out.
Rosewood Sand Hill Sense Spa: For massages, the Rosewood on Sand Hill in Menlo Park is the most amazing and decadent experience. The spa is uber luxe, and the entire grounds at Rosewood are also beautiful. I’ve had countless meals in their restaurant, Madera, and drinks out back on the patio or by their pool.
Their massages are a bit pricey ($165 for 60 minutes), but it’s one of the best massages I’ve ever gotten. After the massage, there is a whirlpool to relax in or you can chill in the garden. They also have a great gym you can access before or after your workout.
Pop Physique: This barre class in San Francisco’s Russian Hill and Mission neighborhoods delivers on every level. The location is ideal, surrounded by amazing restaurants and bars and shopping, meaning you can make your workout social. The studio is flawless and fun, with hot pink barre balls, bamboo floors and fun gear (we love the “Barre so Hard” grippy socks) and most importantly, the class is kick ass. I recently took a class with Maddie and came out sweating. We did a mix of weight work, barre work and core, and your legs will shake throughout, which means your muscles are really engaged. I liked the pace of the class as well because the instructors communicate how long you have left for each move and guide you through the exercises.
Core40: I had no idea what to expect before I went to Core40 for a full-body reformer workout. I left pleasantly surprised (and a bit sore). Located in the adorable Nob Hill neighborhood (but there are a number of locations in SF) is Core40, a light-filled studio filled with 12 megaformer machines that will give you a killer workout. I loved that the class was small in size, and that the instructor went into detail on how to do each move correctly. Even as a newbie, I found myself picking up the moves relatively quickly. We went through a series of exercises on the reformer that worked our core, thighs and arms, doing lunges, resistance work and other exercises. Plus, the music is high energy, which is an added bonus. They also offer a class that is half spin, half pilates which sounded great for those who want to get some cardio.