San Francisco: Best Travel Stops for Couples (Sections of this post are sponsored but all opinions are my own. You can read my Privacy + Disclosure statement here. )
This past spring my husband and I sat down to decide our summer trip. We try to go somewhere each summer for a couple days/week to reconnect especially now after becoming parents. Of course we love our kids and vacationing with them! But we also appreciate this designated time each summer we get to spend solely with one another. After tossing about a couple of places in the states and outside, we finally landed on a bucket list dream: a road trip down part of the California coast. Since I was about to end my second trimester pregnant though, we narrowed the trip down a bit: fly in to San Francisco, drive down to Big Sur and back.
Since coming back from our trip and already beginning to relive the memories from our trip last month, I know we picked the right spot. It was a blast and the adventure we both wanted! The only thing I am mildly sad about is that that area of America is seasonally cooler than where we are from in Pennsylvania and my wardrobe was slightly lacking. (note: we went the end of June into July and it was in the 60s the whole time and we were in long pants and SOMETIMES t shirts).
If you’re interested on how we take trips like this on a budget, see this post here.
(Part 2 of this trip will be coming soon with our favorites down in the Carmel + Monterey area just south of San Francisco!)
San Francisco: Best Travel Stops for Couples
Places to go in San Francisco
Alcatraz Island: Heading to Alcatraz Island has been on my bucket list since being an English teacher and teaching about it. When we decided on our destination for this babymoon and I remembered where Alcatraz Island was located, I did some type of giddy dance. I am not sure what my fascination with the island is, but it did not disappoint! We booked our tour through Alcatraz Cruises several weeks prior to our trip. Do this! When we arrived on June 27th for our tour, there was a sign saying they were booked solid till August 1. The island sees approximately 5,000 visitors a day. We were one of the first tours to arrive (we had a 9:10 departure to the island) and stayed for several hours. There is SO much to see on the island and multiple tours offered on the island. We did one free walking tour and then the free audio tour of the prison. I would recommend doing the audio tour of the prison cell first. It was my favorite tour and is very well done. It was roughly 30-45 minutes but we did it second after a walking tour. My back and feet were done at that point being 26 weeks pregnant. The island is very windy so dress appropriately. #AlcatrazSF #AlcatrazCruises #FindYourPark
Sausalito: Sausalito is this little gem on the other side of the Golden Gate Bridge. I honestly hadn’t researched it before our trip but it came up as a recommendation once there. Since my dream was to see the bridge anyway, we continued over it into this little town. While we didn’t spend the day or do tons of shopping, we enjoyed just walking around and seeing the cute shops. We spent some time down by the water watching some boats and little crabs crawl around. After finding some delicious food at Cibo’s, we drove out car around the hilly streets above the downtown area and swooned over the little rich houses and tiny curvy roads. It was a unique place to be and just beautiful.
Lombard Street: I know this is one of THE most touristy things you can do, but do it! Fun fact: If you arrive early in the morning you can drive the street. It is closed all day long though so if you come after 8/9am, you can only walk it or look at it until it opens again at night. Almost no one was driving it at 7:30 on a Wednesday morning so we drove around the block and did it 3 times.
Marin Highlands: This area gets a little tricky because there is SO much of it. We drove around a little before we figured out just how big this place was. It was not highly trafficked either. One of our favorite spots was the Point Bonita lighthouse. It was closed the day we went but the walk down to the entrance was truly beautiful and gave you a different view of the city. There were so many spots to take photos!
The Painted Ladies. These are the famous houses you see associated with the show Full House. However, if you want to see the house that was used for up close shots go here: 1709 Broderick Street (we stopped here as well and it is not heavily trafficked at all). Also, side note, the sign that says “no parking on this day between these times because of street cleaners” in front of the Painted Ladies is not joking. We parked there and tried to stay close to our car because we didn’t think we’d be long and the ticketers ZOOMED out of no where and we were literally racing down the hill to move our car. Otherwise super fun place to be because, well Full House, but also a really pretty park. Take time to actually walk around with your car parked in an actual spot! note: We did NOT receive a ticket 😉 I think the ticket lady was too surprise to see a pregnant woman racing down a hill at warp speed.
Drive Mount Tamalpais: If you rent a car (which I highly recommend!) head over the Golden Gate Bridge and take this beautiful drive along the coast ending at the top of the mountain which overlooks San Francisco. It was a FUN road to drive, so if that is your thing, I totally recommend it! It did take several hours to do.
San Francisco Food + Drink
Hog Island Oyster Company: This place came recommendation of a couple people and so we decided to check it out. I was instructed to get their clam chowder and Jake being the non-seafood person that he is, ordered the one item not seafood: grilled cheese. Now hang on a second. That clam chowder came out and did NOT disappoint! It was the freshest most delicious chowder I have ever had. Even Jake tried it and thought it was good. Oh, but that grilled cheese was also divine. I have no idea how they turned a kids meal into the most fantastic cheese smorgasbord for your mouth but they did. If we had been in San Fran a little longer, we may have gone back.
Wipeout Bar + Grill: This fun and family-oriented restaurant is situated right at the beginning of Pier 39. We had our first dinner here and were sat right by the windows that overlooked the bay. It was such a beautiful view. The menu has a lot to choose from whether you like seafood or not and some delicious drinks. They were kind enough to make me a mocktail. We had a wonderful waiter, Jo-Jo (ask for him if you go!) and we loved just having a fun and casual dinner together.
Craftsman + Wolves: Okay, friends. This was our favorite breakfast spot the entire time in San Francisco. It was also our favorite coffee spot the entire trip. We were introduced to the California treat “morning bun” and would have been back more if our wallets and schedule allowed. There is a main location we never made it to. But their small location was right around the corner from our AirBnB and we took advantage of that fact. I just can’t talk highly enough of everything they served. Recommendations: Iced Americano, morning bun, and blueberry muffin.
There were a couple other places we stopped at as well, but these were our favorites from our trip! We truly had an amazing time and were just able to BE and reconnect with one another. We really didn’t PLAN most of this and just woke up our first morning there and said, What do you want to do? I wrote down all the recommendations I had received and we just went. The only thing that we pre-planned (other than a flight, lodging and car!) were our tickets to Alcatraz Island.
Have you been to San Francisco? What was one of your favorite stops or places to see or eat? Would love to hear from you!