A couple of weeks ago my husband and I went with four of our friends on a trip to San Francisco! It was my first time in California and I am head over heels in love with the West coast! Well, I’ll be honest – it was an incredible place to visit, but not somewhere I’d like to call home. Something about the South will always keep me here, but San Fran definitely had it’s perks! We spent a week exploring the city and surrounding areas! From record shops, to delicious food, to gorgeous scenery, the Bay Area had a lot to see and do (and eat)! I’m so excited to recap this wonderful adventure with you all!
We arrived around 9:30pm and our first stop was the place we were staying, dubbed Castro Castle. Located between the Castro and Mission district, we were smack in the middle of a vibrant neighborhood! While we waited for the rest of our party to arrive, we did a bit of exploring around the area…but after traveling all day, called it an early night.
We woke up to a beautiful day! I started with photos of our place in the daylight…quite the contrast from the black light paint that greeted us every night. A delicious brunch at Kitchen Story fueled us for the start of our first adventure! Opting to spend the beginning of the day exploring the area around us, we walked miles and miles between parks, shops, and other attractions. After picking up a car rental, we drove along Highway 1 to Palo Alto (GORGEOUS scenery!). We spent a bit of time exploring a friend’s house, nestled in a woodland setting – it was incredible! Two of our pals, Justin and Sujay, used to have a radio show, and were invited to have a reunion of sorts. We all had a fun time taking over the airwaves with our “Alabama Nights” silliness. You can actually listen to the recording here! The radio show lasted until midnight, and with an hour and a half drive back into “the city” we were all pretty much tuckered out.
Adjusting to the different time zone wasn’t too difficult for me so I felt rested and ready to go each day. On the second day we opted to do some of the touristy sight seeing down at the Fisherman’s Wharf. We all took a Bay Area cruise, which provided to be a wonderful way to view the Golden Gate Bridge and Alcatraz! We continued to roam around the city, and decided to grab a quick lunch in Chinatown (I had the best eggroll ever) before making our way to the Museum of Modern Art. After perusing three floors of inspiring pieces (I saw a lot of my favorites – Rauschenberg, Pollock, Basquait, Hirst, Picasso, Warhol, and others) we headed to the Hemlock to catch our friends’ band (Nightmare Boyzzz) that were on tour all the way from Sweet Home Alabama.
For the trip I rented the Fujifilm x100 camera to test out (I like to do this before investing in new gear). However, there is a weird glitch that happens with the memory card and I’d basically have to reformat the card…which wasn’t an option because I didn’t have a computer to upload the shots I had already taken. Therefore, I had to use my phone for most of our visit to Berkeley until I could buy a new card. Anyway, we spent the day exploring Berkeley (more shops, record stores, parks, and good eats)! We spent a quick hour in Oakland before having to catch the last BART back to “the city”.
We all got an early start to the day and took the bus to the Haight neighborhood! The first stop was a delicious Thai restaurant in a converted house – it was SUPER cute and the food was fabulous! Between the Golden Gate park, numerous record stores, and various vintage shops, there was a lot to see!
Traveling with six people means leaving a lot of wiggle room in the plans so everyone can stay happy…thankfully there were no problems and everyone got to see and do what they wanted. One of the biggest items on my check list was seeing one of the only camera obscuras left standing! It was a stunning, scenic hike to the Cliff House along Ocean Beach…and my first time standing in front of the Pacific.
Wanting to get an ariel view of the city, Andy, Dustin (the White Rabbit Studios videographer extraordinaire), and I hiked all the way to the Coit Tower! After climbing over 300 steps and taking an elevator to the top of the 210 foot monument, we were greeted with the breathtaking scenery of San Francisco. It was incredible – hills upon hills with little boxes. After that adventure we got caught in a downpour, so we hopped on a bus to take us to the deYoung Museum – a nice activity for the rest of the rainy day. The evening brought clear, cool skies and was a nice night to visit Southern Pacific, and old warehouse space turned into a brewery. It was rad!
Bittersweet: ready to get home, but sad to say goodbye to vacation. It was our last day so we had a bit of time crunch to get the last of our sightseeing done before our red-eye flight back to the sweet South. Thankfully, our friend Jessica came to the rescue and guided us through the Muir Woods to see the mighty Redwoods. In order to meet her on the “other side”, Andy, Dustin, and I walked across the Golden Gate Bridge in the morning. This was one of the most exhilarating and surreal experiences I’ve ever had. While this was actually never a thought in my mind, I’m so glad we did (we were going to take a cab across). Jessica also showed us the Marin Headlands, which provided remarkable views of the bridge and city! After soaking in the imagery we had the most amazing lunch at Sol Food. Andy and I split a plantain-fried prawn po-boy…holy moly it was the best! Just as we made our walk back across the bridge, the afternoon fog rolled in ever so perfectly. As if a fog machine sat on the neighboring mountains, it poured into the Bay as we watched a movie-like setting come to life. Hands down the best part of the trip as it was pure magic.