The last few days of the trip were spent in San Francisco. My friend and I woke up on our own Monday morning, she went for a run and I did some intensive stretching and sun salutations, and then we spent a little time in the spring-fed hot tub of the hotel before indulging in the free hotel breakfast. We then drove up to Sebastopol from Calistoga and enjoyed the pretty, winding drive through Sonoma county. Also, downtown Calistoga is really cute! I was sad we didn’t get an extra day to spend in the valley to hit up the cute shops and restaurants of Calistoga - I will have to remember this for future visits to wine country!
Lynmar Estate is in Sonoma county and the region is officially the Russian River Valley (I believe). I visited in 2015, after the marathon, and really loved the wines, the service, and the grounds. It is such a pretty tasting room. I joined their wine club and I’m excited for the first shipment. My friend and I ordered one of each of the different tastings and shared. I bought a bottle of Pinot Noir to bring home and then ordered the same bottle for my dad for his birthday and shipped it to him.
After tasting at Lynmar, we started the drive to San Francisco, which was about another 90 minutes after our 45 minutes from Calistoga to Lynmar. Even though most of it was the freeway, it was a beautiful drive of rolling hills. The most exciting part for us was driving over the Golden Gate Bridge and just before that when we were driving past the Marin headlands. Driving in the city of San Francisco was fairly easy - I find that driving in Chicago is a lot more stressful.
We stayed in Cole Valley (ditched the car because it is unnecessary in the city) and walked or took Ubers everywhere. Our apartment was a studio but had two comfy beds - one was in a cute little nook. It was sunny, spacious, and inviting. I would stay there again.
Things we did in San Francisco:
Mikkeller Bar - recommended if you’re a craft beer or beer fan, fan of a good atmosphere and good food, communal seating, fun vibe, etc. I visited Mikkeller and Friends in Reykjavik (check my Iceland posts for more info) and now it is my mission to visit all the Mikkeller bars of the world. The beers are so good and there are some very unique brews. I will be back.
Zen Yai Thai Restaurant - Recommended by a friend who lives in San Francisco for authentic Thai (his girlfriend is from Thailand). We ordered takeout here after Mikkeller bar and indulged. They had a unique menu and I was even inspired to order something different from my usual Pad Thai. I was not disappointed. It was a small space and you can dine in but we were tired and wanted to get it and go.
Dirty Habit - We came here for the name and were not disappointed by the cocktails. We only had one because it was a quick stop before dinner at Nopa. It had kind of a try-hard vibe but it was busy 10 minutes after opening at 5 on a Tuesday so it was obviously popular. I would go back, I think it would be fun a little bit later too, it was a hotel bar and so it had a dark and sexy vibe going on.
Nopa - I can’t say enough about this delicious place, it is so good. The service, the cocktails, the FOOD, the space, everything is so good. We both ordered burgers and they were delicious. There’s also a cute shop across the street where I purchased some local artwork last year and I did the same thing this year, I just need to get it framed.
Zazie - We came here for brunch after our epic 2.5 hour hike and were not disappointed. My friend is the one who recommended this French spot (he’s from France) and it was very busy on a Tuesday morning at 9 am. I had the St. Tropez poached eggs and they were delicious. They also had really good coffee here.
Golden Bear Trading Company - (no website, so that’s the Yelp page) We stopped here for coffee on the way to Zazie after our hike on an early morning. They make drip coffee, like in a Chemex, for each customer and I purchased a pound of one of their blends to ship to my dad as part of his birthday present. It was soooo good. My friend said she liked chai tea and the owner (who was the one working) made her a special drink that she really liked. This place also had sandwiches to order and pastries. It was basically a delicious deli/coffee shop. I would be here all the time if I lived in San Francisco.
Alcatraz Tour - Oh hey, we did something besides eat and drink! Before this, we stopped by Pier 39 to see the sea lions and at the Musee Mecanique (if you’ve never been there, go), it is so fun. I highly recommend the Alcatraz Tour and if you go, you must do the audio tour. I usually hate audio tours, but honestly, you’re missing out if you do not do the audio tour. (Can I type audio tour one more time?) There is so much information on it that you will miss by only walking around and reading the placards. Trust me. Also, buy your ticket directly from the National Park Service website because there are no service charges. Sidenote, you can’t bring any food or drinks into the prison part of the island, only bottled water. However, on the boat you can purchase food and drink. On the way back you can purchase alcohol, so it turns into a booze cruise.
The epic hike: We left Cole Valley and hiked up to Tank Hill, then to Twin Peaks, then down to the 16 Avenue Tiled Steps, then to Golden Bear, Zazie, and back to our rental in Cole Valley. We are not slow walkers and we did not select a route that avoided hills or anything. It was a hilly, vigorous hike especially for two people who’d run personal best marathons two days prior. I do recommend doing it at dawn though so you can see the sunrise. Seeing the sun rise over the city at the top of Tank Hill is worth the hike and the early morning.
Yoga Tree - The last morning of our trip, we did a double header of yoga (almost 3 hours). It was worth it. I loved this studio, it was completely obvious that everyone there knew one another well and they were all friends, and I liked that. They had a nice space, some great classes and teachers, and a very chill, welcoming mood in the studio.
San Francisco is still one of my favorite cities, if not my favorite. There is so much charm, delicious food, it is so scenic, there is so much to do - I think it is a destination that anyone can enjoy. I also love the weather and being only 90 minutes from wine country, why do I live in Chicago again? Stay tuned.