Tag Archives: San Francisco

San Francisco: Coffee

Inevitably, whether for business or pleasure, I end up visiting the city of San Francisco at least 2-3 times a year. While I’m not the biggest fan of Northern California, I love the city. The sites, the history, the restaurants, the hiking – it has it all.

Like most big cities, San Franciscans take their coffee seriously, which I appreciate and enjoy. I’m always adding a place or two to my rotation of favorite coffee shops when I’m in town.

This past visit was no exception. I found two more places that are sure to be regulars in my San Francisco coffee rotation.

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Urban Hiking in San Francisco: The Golden Gate Bridge

Golden Gate Bridge from the Post Card Viewpoint

The Golden Gate Bridge is San Francisco’s most iconic landmark. On a clear day, there are many places where you can catch a glimpse of it including Land’s End, Fisherman’s Wharf, The Presidio, and from areas across the Bay in Oakland. You can also experience the Bridge first hand by driving across it. But in my opinion, the best way to experience the Golden Gate Bridge is to walk on it.

There are many ways that you can get to the Golden Gate Bridge on foot. I’m going to document the way I went, which involves a little extra hiking because, well, it’s what I like to do. It also includes a detour to Fort Point, which is worth the extra effort.

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Urban Hiking in San Francisco: The Steps

Gregg Borodaty at the Hidden Garden Steps Sign in San FranciscoOne of the best ways to explore a city, in my opinion, is to hit the pavement and walk around it. Even better if you’re able to discover interesting landmarks and do some sightseeing along the way. Fortunately, when you travel to San Francisco, there is no shortage of great walks around the city and the surrounding communities.

For this hike, we’re going to head out to the Sunset District / Golden Gate Heights area on the west side of the San Francisco peninsula. This is a relatively short hike of just over a mile where you will encounter two landmarks that are off the beaten path – the 16th Avenue Tiled Steps and Hidden Garden Steps. The steps are amazing feats of artistry with intricate tile work creating a beautiful mosaic from the bottom to the top of the stairways. In between the two stops, we’re going to climb up to the lookout in Grandview Park. It’s a bit of a climb to get to the top, but it’s worth it on a clear day. You’ll get a nearly 360-degree view that spans the San Francisco city skyline, San Francisco Bay, Golden Gate, Lands End, and the Pacific Ocean. Let’s get started.

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Urban Hiking in San Francisco: Lands End

When someone mentions San Francisco, what comes to mind? I’m sure you think of The Golden Gate Bridge, cable cars, Fisherman’s Wharf, Coit Tower, Alcatraz Island, and Chinatown. One item missing from that list that might surprise you is hiking.

I visited the city twice this past summer and was amazed at the number and quality of the hikes that are so easily accessible from right inside the city. I’m going to put together a few posts documenting the hikes starting with Lands End.

Panoramic image of The Golden Gate taken from Lands End Lookout Continue reading

San Francisco restaurants

Golden Gate view from Land's EndWhen it comes to the restaurant scene, San Francisco is one of my favorite cities to visit and explore. There are so many excellent choices that it can be overwhelming.

I had the opportunity to visit the city twice during the summer of 2019. To avoid being overwhelmed, I did my research and selected my restaurant targets ahead of time. I stayed away from the popular tourist spots as much as possible and focused on the neighborhood scene. These are the hidden gems that won’t show up on a typical Yelp search for ‘Best restaurants in San Francisco.’ They also have more character and atmosphere, and they won’t break the bank provided you go easy on the drinks, wine, and dessert, which is easier said than done!

Here are the 10 best restaurants I ate at this summer in San Francisco. As an added bonus, I’ve also appended coffee and ice cream recommendations – two of my favorite food indulgences.

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Places to go – San Francisco

Since I’ve lived in California, I’ve never been a big fan of Northern California, especially the Silicon Valley-San Jose-Sunnyvale area. I’m not sure what bothers me, but I never enjoyed traveling there. San Francisco, however, is an exception. It is one of my favorite cities in the world to visit.

I was in San Francisco last week for a conference and had some time to explore the city. Here’s a few of my favorite places to go while I’m there, and a couple of new places I discovered:

1. Scala’s Bistro
One of my favorite places to eat in the city. It’s just off Union Square on Powell Street. I’ve had a couple of great meals there, although I wasn’t able to eat there last time around. I failed to make a reservation and didn’t feel like waiting 3 hours. Needless to say, it gets crowded, especially on the weekends.

2. Ghiardelli Square
Yes, this is a bit touristy, but I always enjoy stopping by Ghiardelli Square while I’m in the city. There’s nothing like swinging by the Ghiardelli chocolate shop for a few treats. My favorites are the dark chocolate sea salt and caramel squares and the chocolate covered strawberries.

San Francisco Cable Car3. Union Square
Union Square is the center of the city in my mind. It’s hard for me to recall a visit to San Francisco where I didn’t end up spending quite a bit of time around Union Square area, and my most recent trip was no exception.

4. The Cable Cars
Like Ghiardelli Square, it’s a bit touristy, but it never gets old for me, particularly on the Powell & Mason Street Line. The views are absolutely incredible on a clear day, especially when you crest the hill on Powell Street and get a clear view of Alcatraz Island. Plus, it sure beats the walk from Union to Ghiardelli Square.

5. Blue Bottle Coffee
Blue Bottle CoffeeI’m not the biggest coffee drinker, but Blue Bottle Coffee was highly recommended on my latest trip to the city. It’s a bit tough to find in Mint Plaza, which is a bit off the beaten path, but you’ll know you’ve found it when you see the line. I waited 20 minutes for a Cafe Mocha, and it was worth every minute of it. My only regret was eating breakfast before I went. I should’ve waited and had a bowl of the steel cut oats that was on their menu.

6. Tank 18
On Sunday evening, I was looking for a place where I could relax and have a glass of wine. Tank 18 showed up on a Google search, so I decided to check it out. I was pleasantly surprised. They bottle their own wine and had a very tasty Syrah. I was drawn there by a Meritage I saw on their website, but the waitress told me that it was extremely popular (and very good) and had sold out. I’m sure I’ll find my way back here on a subsequent trip.

7. Rue Lepic
When my daughter and her boyfriend, whom I met up with while on my last trip, couldn’t get into Scala’s Bistro on Saturday evening, we headed up the hill to Rue Lepic, a small French restaurant at he corner of Pine & Mason. It’s an intimate setting with only about 8-10 white-cloth tables. We had a great dinner, and I would recommend it. I’ve added it to my list of restaurants to head back to while in the city.

I’m looking forward to my next trip to San Francisco and adding a few more items to my list of places to check out.