The Vegas weather in the summertime is too hot to handle. We knew we needed a scenic retreat that was on the colder side. Luckily, San Francisco fits the bill! It had exactly what we needed to escape the Vegas heat. So we packed our bags and prepped for a jam-packed itinerary full of wine and walking! If you’re wondering what to do in San Francisco, this guide will surely give you some ideas! To make life easier, this San Francisco guide can all be done without the use of a rental car. : )
Where We Stayed
Hilton San Francisco Union Square
We seriously couldn’t have gotten a better location to stay than the Hilton Union Square; it’s in the middle of everything! In addition to plenty of shopping options, we were within walking distance from China Town, Little Italy, Fisherman’s Wharf, and Pier 39.
Hilton had everything we could’ve possibly needed. If we wanted, we could’ve survived the whole trip by just staying in the hotel. The breakfast buffet included options that would satisfy most (we sure were!).
Next door is Urban Tavern. An upscale gastropub perfect for a quick bite at the bar or a full meal if it suits you. Other amenities included a full-size gym, a business center, and an enormous convention hall.
Despite being a big business hotel, we found the experience cozy and relaxing. The scent of the lobby reminded us of a French cottage and was the perfect welcome home after a long day out on the town.
The Guest Room
The room we stayed in was a king suite, which had a balcony and breathtaking view of the San Francisco skyline. Whether you looked to the right or left, you’d be greeted by a view of the water, making it an excellent hotel for a sightseeing vacation.
Fun Fact: The Hilton Union Square San Francisco Hotel is the largest hotel of the entire west coast and takes up an entire block!
Tip: Stay in Tower 1, which is the tallest. Take the upgrade to the balcony room, especially if you’re here for a special occasion.
Where to Eat
Toppu Ramen and Dim Sum
On our first day, we decided to head over to China Town for some grub. We wanted to go somewhere with plenty of options, and Toppu Ramen seemed perfect for that.
Top Photo: Takoyaki (Fried Octopus)
Bottom Left: Assorted Dim Sum (Steamed Shrimp Dumpling, Steamed Pork Dumpling, and BBQ Pork Bun)
Bottom Right: Cutlet Pork Chop and Curry Rice
We decided to stop by while on a lunch break from our Napa wine tour for a bite to eat at this lovely Italian restaurant. The sauces were divine, and portions were on point to prep us for some more wine tasting!
Top Right: Wild Mushroom Ravioli
Bottom Right: Pappardelle Allo Zafferano
Each morning we had breakfast at Poached, located on the bottom floor of Hilton Union Square. Food here is served buffet style with servers who bring beverages such as juice and coffee. Also, you can request freshly made omelets, customized to your taste.
The location of Poached is super convenient, and the food delicious. I recommend getting your breakfast here if you are looking forward to a day packed with activities as you can eat to your heart’s content without having to travel too far from your room.
Boudin Bakery at the Wharf
After seeing this restaurant on Yelp, we knew we had to check it out. I am an absolute crazy woman when it comes to freshly baked bread and knew this was the place for me. We decided to take a breather and enjoy a nice bottle of bubbles along with the stunning view. The fish and chips are easily the best I’ve ever had!
Top Right: Fish & Chips
Bottom: Crab Cake Sandwich
Stella Pastry & Cafe
If you do decide to visit Fisherman’s Wharf and Pier 39, be sure to go through Little Italy on the way back to your hotel and check out this Italian bakery.
We had the pleasure of tasting these heavenly cannolis, and each had a shot of espresso. The atmosphere was laid back, and the staff is super friendly.
Urban Tavern can be found on the bottom floor of the Hilton Union Square. We initially stopped in here for a drink, but once I spotted these kimchi fries, I couldn’t stop myself. The textures and flavors were on point, and it was exactly what I needed before going upstairs to the room for the night.
Let me start by telling you that is was the best sushi I have had in my entire life. I had heard fantastic things about this place, but there was no way to prepare myself for how mind-blowing everything would taste.
Not only did the ingredients pair perfectly with one another, the texture of the sushi was different than what I am used to. This restaurant is definitely worth the splurge!
An important thing to note is that we got fortunate to get seated here. Usually, Akiko’s only takes reservations in advance. Walking in expecting to be seated is not recommended.
What to do in San Francisco
Figuring out what to do in San Francisco is pretty difficult with all the options. Fortunately, it’s super easy to get around the city, and without a rental car. I recommend taking some tours, especially the Big Bus Tours. They take you to all the great spots!
Napa Valley Wine Tasting With Green Dream Bus Tours
With San Francisco being so close to Napa Valley, we knew we had to take a wine tour. After checking out reviews on Yelp and Trip Advisor, it became clear that Green Dream Tours was the one for us. Their ratings are seriously great! Also, they make life a lot easier for you by picking you up at your hotel.
Green Dream Wine Tours offers five different tours at the moment:
- Napa Valley Full-Day Tour
- Sonoma Valley Full-Day Tour
- Napa Valley & Sonoma Combination Tour
- Half-Day Sonoma Valley Tour
- Alcatraz and Wine Country Tour
We decided on the Napa Valley tour and set aside our last day in San Francisco to enjoy it. Our tour guide was Ned, and we couldn’t have asked for a better tour guide. He was knowledgeable, funny, and kind.
1st Stop: Starmont Winery & Vineyards
Starmont was perfect for the first stop of the morning as we were given some time to explore the property on our own after some wine tastings. The vineyard was such a treat to wander around, and after we decided to take a look at the main store.
2nd Stop: Spelletich Family Winery
The second stop at Spelletich was a bit more structured and a nice balance as it allowed everyone to learn more about wine and the blending process. After the tastings, we were brought over to the back of the house, where all the magic happens.
In case you’re wondering, the adorable dog above belongs to the owner. You can expect to see him at the tasting, and he’ll try playing ball with you.
3rd Stop: Hagafen Cellars
The last stop at Hagafen Cellars allowed for the most personal experience, which we loved. You can take a menu and request wine straight from the bar. The staff here is very passionate and happy to answer any questions you may have.
After you are finished with tastings, be sure to wander around the property and take in the gorgeous scenery.
Sightseeing Tip: Big Bus Tours
Be sure to check out Big Bus Tours; they are the whole reason our sightseeing journey was made possible. They have a set route that goes to ALL of the popular sightseeing spots throughout the city, and you can expect to be picked up within 15 minutes at each of their stops.
The challenging walk to get to the top of this street was well worth it, as you can see in these photos.
Pier 39 and Fisherman’s Wharf are both perfect destinations to grab a bite to eat and enjoy the water view. There’s also plenty of shopping and sweet treats in this area.
Palace of Fine Arts Theatre
I couldn’t believe my eyes when I saw this place! The attention to detail in the architecture is something I could admire for hours if given the opportunity. I noticed lots of people on the bus tour skipped over this stop – big mistake! Trust me; you have to make time for this destination, even for only 20 minutes.
Painted Ladies at Alamo Square Park
This classic tourist spot at Alamo Square park offers incredible views of the city. There is a friendly laid back vibe to this area with lots of bikers and people flying their drones around.
We were lucky enough to get a spot at the top of the bus for the drive to the Golden Gate Bridge. The reveal of the bridge was pretty dramatic and is something I won’t be forgetting anytime soon.
As we pulled up to the area, the fog started clearing away from the bridge, giving it a mysterious vibe.
San Francisco Botanical Garden
I love gardens, and there’s no way of getting out of seeing a botanical garden while traveling with me if it looks like this. There are a ton of flowers and plants to see here, and they’re all organized by the area they originate from.
There is a lot to see here, so I recommend setting aside a few hours if you want to take in as much of this place as possible. If you are making a stop at Golden Gate Park, the gardens are a must-see. If you’re figuring out what to do in San Francisco on the weekend, definitely visit this side of town as it is jam-packed with activities.
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