San Francisco and the Napa Valley is truly a world class city and has a lot to offer anyone. My husband and I visited for the first time in 2011.
We started out in Napa Valley by renting a convertible and driving around Highway 1. We took lunch at Russian River brewery which is known for their IPAs and pizza. We stayed at the Fairmont Mission Inn in Sonoma for 2 nights. I highly recommend taking in a treatment at their fabulous spa.
TIP: Did you know that before going on your winery jaunt, that you need to make reservations? Most of the wineries around Napa Valley and Sonoma require a reservation.
A couple memorable wineries that we checked out were V Sattui (which featured a deli and a beautiful area to picnic) and Sterling Vineyards where you can take a gondola up to the winery and enjoy incredible views of the vineyard below.
After our 2 nights in Napa Valley, we made our way back to San Francisco and dropped the car off at Fisherman’s Wharf. We stayed at the Fairmont on Nob Hill. It was a little further away from your typical tourist attractions like Fisherman’s Wharf but it was within walking distance of Chinatown. My favorite thing about this beautiful and historic property is the bar in the basement, the Tonga Room and Hurricane Bar. The basement was where the pool was located in the 1920’s. After a long day of touring, it was very nice to go down to the bar and enjoy a fruity alcoholic beverage from a giant pineapple. The atmosphere may seem cheesy to some but I loved every little detail. There is a live band that plays from a little boat in the middle of the pool.
For tourist attractions, we did quite a bit! We visited Alcatraz, the Exploratorium, the Aquarium of the Bay and the California Academy of Sciences. We were able to see all of these wonderful attractions by purchasing a San Francisco CityPass. The pass also included a 3 day cable car and Muni bus passport which helped us get around the city. The San Francisco CityPass especially is a fantastic value for your dollar and I highly recommend it.
We dined like kings of course in this incredible city. If you are a foodie or if you are not, there is such a vast array of places to dine in this city. The Stinking Rose is a garlic lover’s dream. We dined on bread in a bubbling hot garlic oil and 40 clove garlic chicken. One of my favorite desserts was salt and pepper ice cream at Humphry Slocombes. I paired my salt and pepper ice cream along with the “Breakfast of Champions” which is a bourbon flavored ice cream with corn flakes. I topped it off with a 20 year old balsamic vinegar. It is unusual but it is also sublime. One last recommendation I can make is to visit the historic ferry building. There is artisanal cheese, farmers markets, book stores, wine shops and of course incredible food stalls.
San Francisco is one of my absolute favorite cities in the US and I know you will fall in love, too!