Ah, San Francisco! With its colorful houses, its steep streets and its famous Golden Gate Bridge, this West Coast city is certainly a favourite of everyone who has been. Although spending a few days there would be charming, know that it is possible to make the best out of the San Fran experience in one weekend, and also explore a few vineyards around the city. Here are a few recommendations that will make things clearer for you, all the while saving you some time for unplanned activities!
Where to sleep?
San Remo Hotel
If you’re looking for the typical experience, you will find it here. This small historical Victorian-esque hotel offers comfortable rooms with an antique style to them. Located in the North Beach area, the establishment founded in 1906 is linked to a cute Italian trattoria, Flor d’Italia. The penthouse on the roof is totally worth a visit. The view from the private room with a panoramic terrace will take your breath away – a charming experience that will make you feel the energy of San Francisco, even if it’s one night only! This hotel is one of my favourite places of the city.
For a more luxurious experience, in the heart of the city, a stay at JW Marriott should reach your expectations. The magnificent rooms with cozy beds will ensure that you have a good night of rest in a city that is always frantic. If you are travelling with a family, know that the rooms can welcome many people at once – and sometimes have more than one bathroom in the suite. The lobby is the ideal place to relax after a tiring day, and the breakfast is delicious! Kudos to the hotel for its awesome location, close to many main attractions of the city. The Marriott Marquis, from the same chain of hotels, is also a good idea for accommodation. You should mostly go for the bar on their rooftop (which is also the place I suggest for aperitifs!)
Where to eat?
Steak lovers, remember this address. John’s Grill is the pride and joy of all San Franciscans since 1908, and since then has welcomed celebrities and public figures from all around the world. The cordial restaurant serves excellent seafood and tender meat. The interior of the restaurant remains classic and the images on the walls tell the story behind this great establishment. It feels as if we were in a 50s movie, living a detective’s life. It’s the place to go for a good meal after a day of shopping or before a show late in the night.
It would be a mistake to visit San Francisco without tasting their seafood and fish! The best place to do so? Scoma’s. The famous restaurant was founded in 1965 on Pier 47. Well-known artists and people from the industry have been to this iconic restaurant, and charming vintage pictures are all over the walls. The place is romantic, trendy, chic and welcoming. What to say about the food? We go there to try the traditional cioppino, a mix of crab, shrimp, scallops, oyster –and more- in a (divine) tomato sauce, their succulent seafood pasta dishes, their classic clam chowder, and their truffle fries and fresh salads. The building has recently been renovated, making the restaurant an even better place for a good drink. To say that Scoma’s is one of our favourites of the area would be an understatement…
Brunch on a boat that takes you around San Francisco Bay? Of course I had to try it. One of the best touristic experiences I’ve had! This small cruise has something for everyone. Some people have their wedding ceremony there, an anniversary or a professional event. Others simply go for a great experience. The food offered is excellent, comes in a wide variety, and is nothing like those stale buffets. With a mimosa in one hand, you will try one of the best brunches in town –salads, crepes, scrambled eggs, meats, decadent desserts – all the while admiring a breathtaking view. Oh, and you can also have dinner on that boat…
Tony’s Pizza Napoletana
THE best pizza place in town. The restaurant is located in the heart of Little Italy, and has won the World Pizza Champion prize over ten times. The pizzas, baked in wood-fire ovens, are comparable to ones you would find in Italy. Fresh ingredients and simple garnishes will make your mouth water. We also love their amazing cocktails and the overall warm and welcoming ambiance of the place.
Where to go for aperitifs?
The View Lounge
Located in the Marriott Marquis hotel, the bar on the 39th floor offers an absolutely breathtaking view of the city. The place is very trendy and popular at night, so in order to get a window seat –or any seat actually-, you might want to go earlier. Their list of cocktails is very interesting, and the snacks are just as good. I recommend their three-way crudo tuna, the cheese platter, the smoked beef carpaccio and the braised pork breasts. Tasty, and what a view!
Which vineyards to visit?
Hope Family Wines
A few hours away from San Francisco, towards Los Angeles, is where the city of Paso Robles is located. Travellers who road trip get the chance to drive on one of the prettiest roads in the world, and have the opportunity to take a stop at this vineyard to relax a bit. I suggest that you also stop here, in order to visit the famous vineyard behind the Liberty School and the Treana wines, as well as many more. Visiting Hope Family Wines will give you the opportunity to learn more about the wines they make, to relax and cherish the calm of the countryside and, last but not least, try some of the best wines in the state of California. A more than recommended stop if you are in the area.
Francis Ford Coppola
If Sonoma is on your itinerary, you absolutely have to stop by Francis Coppola. I highly suggest that you spend a full day there –if your schedule allows you to do so. If you can’t, try to have lunch or dinner after visiting the place. More than a vineyard, the site is a perfect place to go on holidays. During the warmer months, its pool is perfect (kids are more than welcomed there) and we can take advantage of its beautiful terrace with a view on the vines. The restaurant’s menu is splendid, and the experience is worth the detour. The establishment is also very interesting to visit. For fans of films and cinematography or simply wine lovers, Coppola is a must if you are in the area.
The region of Napa is home to many interesting vineyards. The establishment of Robert Mondavie remains one of the most known ones, and is very popular among tourists. The immense site houses a superb restaurant, offering packages that will please all foodies. Other reasons to love this vineyard are the outdoor concerts during the summer. These nights are popular and an excellent way to end the day. Keep this place in mind if you are looking for a vineyard in the region.