Hi! Victoria from SF Girl By Bay here. I’m popping in to share some of my favorite spots in San Francisco. I hope these photos help you fall in love with the city the same way I did when I arrived 20 years ago.
First off, I highly recommend staying at Hotel Vitale along the beautiful Embarcadero. There are breathtaking views of the Bay from your room, so sleep in and spoil yourselves with breakfast in bed. The beauty of Joie de Vivre Hotels is that you can also bring your favorite companion along. Most of their hotels are pet-friendly, and Hotel Vitale welcomes your pooch with open arms. You can see my dog Lucy made herself quite at home! The hotel is designed to feel like a sanctuary in the middle of the big city, and I can’t think of a finer place.
Then, take a short walk to the Ferry Building just across the street. It’s full of wonderful shopping and dining. There are gourmet cooking shops and food choices galore, including a locally grown farmers’ market on Saturdays. If you want to treat yourselves to a great brunch with water views, make reservations at the Slanted Door, or walk in for lunch. It has really good Vietnamese food, plus lots of tapas plates. Hog Island Oysters is another must-try.
Need to work off those calories? You could walk, but I suggest a leisurely (and still thrilling!) cable car for further exploration. From California Street, ride up and through the towering old and new buildings of the Financial District, then hop off at Powell Street at the very top of Nob Hill. From there, change cable cars and whoosh past classic Victorians into Union Square, San Francisco’s renowned shopping district. Here, you’ll find a plethora of designer outlets and souvenir spots.
If you’re not in the mood to shop, stay on the cable car until you reach California and Larkin. Then, go south to Sutter Street and drop in to Hotel Carlton, another charming Joie de Vivre property. Guess what? They also love dogs! Have an Arabic fusion lunch at Saha, the exotic and colorful in-house restaurant. Hotel Carlton’s interiors are inspired by cultures from around the world, and display a collection of gorgeous travel photography. Rooms are furnished with hand-painted Moroccan side tables, and decorated with photographs of 15th-century Nepalese temples.
From there, head just a few blocks east to Hayes Valley. There’s more boutique shopping at Gimme Shoes, Lavish, Reliquary, and Dish. There are notable cafés and bars, too. Miette is an amazing sweets and pastry shop. Two Sisters Bar and Books is probably my favorite bar in the city. Stop in and say hi to Michael, the bartender, and have a chamomile-whiskey cocktail.
Nearby, my very favorite restaurant in the city is one that’s been around a long while: Zuni Café on Market Street. I’ve been going here for nearly two decades, and I don’t think I’ve ever changed my order. I go with a group of good friends, and we get this every time: a good bottle of white wine, a dozen or so oysters on the half shell, Caesar salad, pommes frites, and Zuni’s signature roasted chicken-and-bread salad. It sounds like a lot of food, but share it with your favorite people and it’s one of the best meals you’ll ever have. I promise. You can even skip dessert.
After this day of adventure, you’ll probably be exhausted! Get some rest back at Hotel Vitale, and don’t forget to indulge with some spa time in their serene, Japanese-inspired soaking tubs… the end to a perfect day in San Francisco!
Hotel photography by Cindy Loughridge
Neighborhood photography by Victoria Smith from her book, See San Francisco: Through the Lens of SF Girl by Bay