[San Francisco Travel] – 1 day Exploration of the City

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Hi Everyone, TGIF 🙂 I hope you all had a good and productive week.

Let’s get straight back to day 2 of my San Francisco travel shall we?

Day 2 (Saturday) in SF started off with family breakfast at Scarlet Huntington’s restaurant that’s included in parent’s travel reservation. I had too much fun catching up with the fam-ban and totally forgot to take a photo of the restaurant. It’s a lovely place that sort of provides an old American glam in the 20s, but the same time also reminds me of old British pub where Sherlock Holmes might hang out after a day of investigation or whatever… The name of the restaurant is called Big 4 that’s the only restaurant Scarlet Huntington has. If you are around the corner or happened to be at Nob Hills, it would be an ideal place to check out if you are seeking some quietness at the big city of narrow streets and crazy drivers 😛 According to the hotel staff, Big 4 has live music everyday starting at 5pm. The restaurant is right next to the elevators so it was nice every time when we are on our way back to the hotel in the evenings we would be able to hear catchy tone from the golden days at Big 4. I wouldn’t say it’s a typical bar, but it’s certainly a hidden gem in downtown SF.

Anyways, after a good breakfast, we were ready to explore downtown SF a bit more. The plan my brother had for us was to show us around downtown SF. Since our last trip to SF was a pretty ‘meh’ experience, we thought it’s appropriate to still keep it very ‘touristy’ to check out some of the most popular spots for SF travel.

1st stop – Palace of Fine Arts

If you would like to avoid the tourists to enjoy the palace to yourself, remember to come here ideally before 10:30am. My brother drove us to the museum around 10am and it was perfect. Too early for the tour bus to arrive, and we actually had quality time to walked around the museum and take photos. The houses surrounded the palace were lovely and unique (but I bet they are sky high price :O). We took some photos of the houses, the landscape, and obviously, the beautiful palace that my mom said reminds her a lot of the ruins in Rome. We were lucky to run into some tourists from Italy to take our annual family portraits right in front of the palace. It was a wonderful shot that I sure will be developing soon to send and share with family members.

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2nd stop – Lombard Street

Lombard street is a street that sort of goes on and on in San Francisco (at least downtown San Francisco I think). However, when you say ‘I go to San Francisco to see the famous Lombard Street‘ pretty sure everyone know you are talking about this place with all the turns. Originally I only wanted to take a photo of the street, but somehow unplanned, my brother ended up driving down from the top! It was quite an experience I tell you. The view was wonderful to see a unique landscape of SF, the road was scary (my brother joked about how he’s taking an advanced driving test lol), but the result was super worth it. My family and I had great fun experiencing Lombard street, and it was hilarious to see the cars in front of us trying to go pro their experience, selfie while driving, and all 😛 The houses are the side were lovely. I especially like the house in light blue covered in deep pink bougainvillea 🙂
I really wanted to take an overview photo of Lombard street so luckily my brother managed to find free timed parking close to Lombard street for my mom and I to walk back to snap a few photos of the lovely view. The hydrangeas were pretty, but perhaps the best time to visit would be April as they started to look a bit dry due to summer heat.

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3rd stop – Ghiradelli Square

According to Apple map, Ghiradelli square is right around the corner super close to Lombard street so my brother enthusiastically decided that would be the next place to visit. He hasn’t been to Ghiradelli square before but thought might be a place worth visiting because he knew my love for chocolate 😛

Honestly, we had higher expectation of Ghiradelli square. We thought we might have the opportunity to see the chocolate factory, or perhaps get some unique or limited edition chocolate products, but… unfortunately, there’s nothing all that special about Ghiradelli square. The Ghiradelli shops are the same like the other ones I’ve seen in SF already. (But I do have to admit their chocolate eatery menu was super tempting… if I did not know we are going to have super awesome dim sum for lunch, I probably would be down for a Ghiradelli SF style milkshake!)

One of the reasons (perhaps the primary reason?) we did not like Ghiradelli square and thought it’s not worth visiting a second time is because… Parking is expensive in San Francisco. Based on our previous experience we thought perhaps if we purchase something from the shops we could get if not 1 hour, maybe 30min parking valet. We were confirmed by Ghiradelli shop staff that if we purchased above $25 we can get a 1 hour valet. Because of that, my parents decided to purchase some chocolate products as gifts for their friends and colleagues… However, when we tried to valet our ticket before leaving, we were told by the parking staff that the valet would only work after the 2nd hour, so under no circumstances everyone would have to pay for the first hour bye bye $5.

I would say that it’s probably best to Uber or cable car there for the experience. It’s a lovely place to take photos and enjoy the atmosphere at all times. Good restaurant options and close to the ocean. However, it’s really not worth the price… I did find a store I absolutely loved at the square though. Perhaps my favourite store this trip to SF! The store name is Lola of North Beach  🙂 Lots of unique gift items and fun SF original souvenirs you could find at the store for very reasonable price. I probably would get more stuff if my family weren’t waiting lol I did manage to purchase a artistically crafted SF cable car with Ghiradelli chocolate pieces. It’s a perfect souvenir for the trip, and the price I got at Lola was cheaper than the Ghiradelli store I walked in at Fisherman’s wharf the day before.

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We had dim sun lunch at Hong Kong Lounge II
I highly recommend this place. They offer some of the best dim sum I’ve had in my life. Better than the ones I’ve had in Asia! So good… so worth it! If I have a chance to go back to SF again in the near future I will make sure to visit this restaurant again for the good food. Perhaps I should save my stomach next time to also try their Peking Duck!

4th stop – Golden Gate Bridge Welcome Center

I really want a signature Golden Gate Bridge photo to prove I’ve been to SF, so I had my brother drove me to the Golden Gate Bridge Welcome Center. Unfortunately, we might’ve arrived a bad day when it’s cold and foggy. The only ‘nice’ photo I managed to capture was the one shown above… So foggy that you can barely see the bridge. Not going to lie I was a bit disappointed and wish to take the ‘signature’ picture where you can see the bridge in it’s famous red but the weather just did not cooperate… My parents mentioned we could always come back the next day to try again but this time we ended up running out of time. Perhaps it does not hurt to leave a little regret when traveling, because that gives me reason to re-visit next time for a better photo!

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5th stop – Union square

Before visiting SF, the only reason I wanted to visit Union Square is for the pretty heart-shaped art displays. I’ve seen them in my friends’ photos and thought they are neat. Little did I know there’s so much to see and shop around Union Square. It was fun I got to see the cable car turn, the beautifully designed shops, a cool Westfield shopping mall, and also the heart of Union Square where the famous Macy’s is located along with the hearts! I heard there are different design of the heart-shaped display… not sure if the information is accurate or not but I did manage to find 2 different designs 🙂 Thought it might be romantic to come visit in the winter during Christmas season when they turn Union square into a nice ice skating place… I’d LOVE to experience that. #moviestatus

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6th stop – end of Chinatown walk & talk

By this time my parents were both tired since they have jet lag, so we thought it’s a good time to drive back to the hotel so they can rest a bit. I thought there’s still a lot to see and would love to use the opportunity to walk around our hotel area because it just feels more complete of a tour when you get to walk around and explore a bit right? My brother joined me for the walk. It was a great experience. We were able to catch up a bit over sbux, walked into the beautiful Intercontinental hotel, snapped a few photos of Fairmont hotel, and also explored a bit of the end of China town. Great fun with brother especially we don’t get to see each other all that often nowadays… I highly suggest it’s a great way to get to know the city / destination more when you spend a little bit of time out of your schedule to walk around the surrounding neighbourhood (obviously, if it’s safe). Provides you all new perspective… and everlasting memory! I think that might be one of my favourite moments of the day to have some quality time with brother 😉

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Last stop – Ferry Building Marketplace

Since the parking situation around Ferry Building Marketplace was quite tricky, my brother made the correct decision to uber there from our hotel. We arrived a bit later because he’s taking us for oyster bar dinner. There are a ton of fun and local shops to shop around. Unfortunately we arrived when most of the stores were closing…I did make sure to rush to Blue Bottle to get a bag of souvenir coffee beans as gift for A. The coffee beans I purchased was called ‘Giant Step’ fun and suitable drink for A. in my opinion 😉 We also tried the seemed to be very popular ice cream across from Blue Bottle. I thought they were good, but nothing extra special compared to Ben & Jerry (oops?) 😛

Dinner was at Hog Island for oysters. I am not a big fan of oysters so I stayed away from the raw ones. I did try the grilled ones recommended by brother. Those were really delicious! You are required to wait in line in person to be seated, and the place seemed to be the NUMBER 1 restaurant to go at Ferry Building, but really worth the experience and food! I especially loved the seafood stew I got as my main entree for the evening. Fresh seafood, delicious and heartwarming tomato broth… Highly recommend 🙂

Second day in SF concluded with beautiful memories, laughters with family, delicious food, and lots of sightseeing. I loved the weather and the view. Looking forward to the 3rd day in SF seeing more!

Stay tune for my 3rd full day in SF…
cheers to a good Friday xoxo
k.

 

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