Our 24 Hours in San Francisco City Guide comes to us from Victoria Smith of sfgirlbybay. Victoria has called San Francisco home for nearly 20 years and has definitely come to know the ins and outs of this city by the bay. She also just recently announced the exciting launch of her new book, dedicated to a photographic journey through San Francisco by neighborhood which features all her places to visit. Today she shares a few of those favorite spots with her ideal 24 hours in the city she calls home. Thanks for taking us on this guided tour, Victoria! –Stephanie
Illustration by Libby VanderPloeg
Read the full guide after the jump…
I’m always excited to share my version of San Francisco with friends and fellow world travelers. There’s nothing quite like an insider’s point of view when you’re traveling to a new city, especially when you might like visiting the city like a local, and not as a tourist. I tend to steer friends away from the typical San Francisco tourist destinations and instead share small neighborhood gems. That’s how I like to spend my life here, and I think it’s a much more intimate way to get to know a city. Here’s my idea of a perfect weekend.
8am – Truthfully, a few more zzzz’s would be nice, but my dog Lucy is the boss around here, so we get out of the house by 8, and first stop is coffee at Martha & Bros on Church and Duncan in my neighborhood, Noe Valley. They know me by name and my order is in before I have to speak, which I love.
8:30am – On weekends we head to our favorite place, Fort Funston. Perched on the Pacific Coast, it’s a former WWII military lookout point, but now it’s just beautiful trails through sand dunes and Cypress trees down to a long, lovely stretch of beach, where we like to run around and roam for a few leisurely hours.
10:30am – I like to hit up one of the local farmers markets, and there are several to choose from. There’s a small organic farmers market on 24th in Noe Valley, but I tend to drop by the larger Alemany farmer’s market. It’s a bit more ethnically diverse and more moderately priced, with lots of interesting and exotic produce I like to experiment cooking with. And the selection of flowers is the best, but without big prices.
12pm – I’m hungry. If I could choose anywhere for lunch or brunch, I’d meet up with friends at NOPA on Divisidero. I think the best way to enjoy eating here is to share a little bit of everything on the menu. Well, maybe not everything, but it’s all so good, four or five orders among friends will make you very happy. They have yummy Bloody Mary’s and a few of my favorite choices are the Smoked Trout on a Sea Salt Bagel, Goat Cheese Bread Pudding, and Butter Basted Eggs.
2pm – I need to walk this off, so let’s wander around Divisidero Street and stop into some of my favorite shops: Rare Device is right across the street, a sweet little boutique filled with beautifully handmade and unique gifts, jewelry, artwork and home wares. Say hi to owner Giselle – she’s awesome.
Let’s stop into Bi-Rite Market, too – because even though I’m completely stuffed, it’s one of the loveliest little gourmet markets around and I like to oooh and aaah at all the pretty produce and delicacies here. Maybe pick up some Hooker’s Salted Caramels for later. It can’t hurt.
A few more doors down, a visit to The Perish Trust is a must-see, too. A tiny shop filled to the brim with vintage oddities, collectibles and some really good reads. They carry an assortment of my favorite print journals, like Cereal, Kinfolk and Anthology and I get my magazine fix here.
If you need a quick pick-me-up, stop into the very pretty Mill for one of San Francisco’s finest brews, Four Barrel Coffee. I hear they make killer toast here, too, but I’ve yet to try it.
4pm – I need a short nap and a bit of sunshine, and there’s no better place to grab both than the Mission District’s Dolores Park. Sometimes there’s so much going on, it’s hard to doze, but you’ll be guaranteed some excellent people watching and a stunning view of the city no matter what. Lucy can run around a bit here, too, because part of the park is designated for dogs off-leash. If I was feeling a bit peckish I would wander across the street to Bi-Rite Creamery (their other location) — this one serves some of the best ice cream in the city – I’m a mint chip girl, myself, but I hear the honey lavender is pretty amazing, too. Or, you can wander a little further up the block to Tartine Bakery where you can’t go wrong eating anything on the daily menu.
5pm – Time to wander home and get ready for the evening, and my usual route is up and over palm tree-lined Dolores Street. It’s one of my favorite streets, lined with stunning old Victorians and epic views of the city and downtown looking north.
7pm – Oh, man, is it really time to eat again? You’ll probably ask yourself that question a lot while visiting San Francisco. Just keep walking up and down those hills and all will be well. My very favorite restaurant in the city is one that’s been around a while, Zuni Café on Market Street. I’ve been going here for almost 20 years and I don’t think I’ve ever changed my order. I go with a group of good friends and we stick together and share this menu every time: a good bottle of white wine; a dozen or so oysters on the half shell; Caesar salad; pom frites; and Zuni’s signature roasted chicken + bread salad. It sounds like a lot of food, but share it with a big group of your favorite people and it’s one of the best meals you’ll ever have. I promise. You can skip the dessert.
9:30pm – If I’ve got an ounce of energy left in me, I’ll walk down to one of my favorite bars in the city, Two Sisters Bar & Books in Hayes Valley and let Michael the bartender extraordinaire mix us up one of his specialty cocktails. He makes a mean Chamomile Whiskey concoction that will serve as the perfect nightcap on a picture perfect day.