Our first “The BlackList” editorial comes from Jasmine over at the stylish blog Afia and Jay. She put together an awesomely detailed San Fran to-do list. Check it out.
My work colleagues will tell you that I am a bit of a Google addict. We’ll stumble on to the most random of subjects mid-conversation, and the moment one of us is unsure of the answer to something, they all know that they can count on me to utter the three magical words: “Let’s Google it.” Anyway, I recall this anecdote just moments after I Googled the words “Why are we drawn to familiarity?” San Francisco was just that: familiar. Despite the fact that just two weeks ago the most I could say about visiting the USA was spending a night in New York on a layover and not much else, San Francisco was somehow so home-like that I have since spammed all of my social media accounts with odes to the Golden Gate Bridge andLombard Street. Ain’t no shame in my Instagram game.
Back to my penchant for Googling, a quick read-up on “the familiarity principle” and “mere exposure effect” tells me that a life lived in London is the primary cause for my minor heart palpitations each time I caught sight of the San Francisco skyline (as was also the case in San Diego, I might add) or watched the hustle and bustle on Market Street from my hotel window (pretty much a doppelgänger of West London’s Oxford Street). The fast pace and vibrance of the people in the city was the reason I couldn’t wait to hurry back to my room after a long day of exploring and tell all of my loved ones via Skype about the things I’d seen and places I’d been. It’s likely that a hike through a rural and rainy Yosemite just 24 hours before our arrival only heightened my city senses, but being in San Fran confirmed to me that I am and will most likely always be a city girl at heart.
Start your day in San Francisco by making pit stops at:
- the shops on Market Street – legitimately the younger sister of Oxford Street. Try not to salivate too much over the handbags in the Saint Laurent store, dodge the outbursts of steam which emerge randomly out of the ground, and try not to burn a massive hole in your wallet as you pass through.
- Union Square – get yourself into Christmas mode as you watch locals and tourists alike ice-skating in the Union Square central ice-skating rink. Head to Macy’s or the Cheesecake Factory (if either are your thing), otherwise buy a coffee and pick the perfect spot for a touch of people-watching.
- Lombard Street – Note: Wear appropriate footwear for any expedition down (or up – literally) Lombard Street. This includes Chelsea boots…unless you are a high-heeled hero who doesn’t believe in active wear and has no issue powering up a crazy incline. Lombard Street is one of the best ways to experience the real hilly nature of San Francisco’s terrain (and catch some awesome views while you’re at it.) Try not to get run over by cars as you activate full tourist mode at “Crooked Street” – the 8-bend peak of Lombard Street. Dodge through the masses of other sightseers (and their selfie sticks) and marvel at the quaintness of the Lombard Street gardens and adjacent houses.
Drive up to the Northern area of the city and check out:
- the Golden Gate bridge – awesome in photographs; even more awesome in real life. Make sure to stand on the right unless you want to get mowed down by a speeding bicycle. Also, don’t roam too close to the edge so as not to convince bystanders into thinking that you’re thinking less than pleasant thoughts.
- Pier 39 – observe the sea lions, and try not to pass out from the strong smell of fish. Venture along the pier, and pop into some of the shops for souvenirs (and fudge. Lots of fudge).
- Fisherman’s Wharf – dance along to the street performers’ music, try not to get attacked by seagulls and make sure to track down some great clam chowder and sourdough bread (see below).
- Boudin Bakery – it’s an unspoken rule that whenever you visit San Francisco, you must (must, must) track down a good bowl of clam chowder. Boudin Bakery on the San Francisco bay is arguably the best, and serves its chowder in the traditional sour dough bread bowls. Watch from the outside of the building as staff knead and mould the sourdough bread, then explore the inner areas of the bakery before succumbing to your now rumbling stomach. P.S.: It’s also one of the most Instagrammable restaurants I’ve come across, so this place was always going to be a winner in my eyes.
- The Painted Ladies – the name given to the many candy-coloured Victorian houses dotted across the city. The Painted Ladies are perhaps the most famous of the colourful Victorian buildings across the San Francisco area, not least because of their appearance in television shows and films alike
- Chai Bar on Market Street – also known as hot beverage heaven. I absolutely love chai tea, and so an entire coffee shop dedicated to that nectar of the gods was the best way to end my daytime exploring of this awesome city. Plus, the baristas are some pretty awesome individuals too.
- Jack Kerouac Avenue – Once faint cheesecake urge is indeed resisted, head to Jack Kerouac Avenue and peek through the windows of the City Lights Bookstore for both new writing and cult classics
- Coit Tower – Power up the super incline roads to Coit Tower, and mentally prepare yourself to be mind-blown by the stunning panoramic views of the city
- Vesuvio – Head back down the road, and enter Vesuvio, (arguably) the coolest bar in San Francisco. Embrace your inner nerd and order the only item on the menu that a literature grad should order: a Jack Kerouac cocktail. Obviously.
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