24 hours in san francisco
posted: April 28, 2014
Don’t be fooled by all the talk of unrelenting fog and chilly temps. Not only is San Francisco one of the fittest cities in the country, it’s also one of the most picture-perfect (think ferries roaming the Bay en route to and from Sausalito and Tiburon, the Golden Gate Bridge, and Coit Tower). There’s a reason why Tony Bennett left his heart here, and why it’s always downright hard to leave. Read on for the best places to fuel up, work up a sweat, and even check-in for the night.
Adjacent to the Great Highway, Ocean Beach has few tourists, no highrises and plenty of ocean vibes (think: shorebirds, surfers and beach bonfires)
From endless trails that wind through Golden Gate Park to fairytale-like Stow Lake filled with rowboats and pedal boats for rent, and Ocean Beach lined with a 6.8-mile-long (about 11km) path along the Great Highway for runners and cyclists, there are plenty of ways to get a workout and take in the view.
The Lyon Street Steps connect the Pacific Heights and Cow Hollow neighbourhoods
A beloved local favourite is the Lyon Street Steps, a 288-step staircase flanked by manicured gardens and multi-million-dollar private residences that ascends from Cow Hollow to Pacific Heights. The top, also the entrance to the Presidio gate (a longtime Army post and National Park replete with extra hiking and exploring) don’t forget to look down for unobstructed views of the Palace of Fine Arts. For pilates, barre, boot camp or TRX, head to Pilates Pro Works. The clean-lined studio, outfitted with new high-tech Hybrid FitReformer machines, includes instructors ranging from former professional dancers and college athletes.
The point break beneath the Golden Gate Bridge should only be tackled by experienced surfers like Kelly Slater, who won his 11th world title here
For an up-close look at the Golden Gate Bridge and surfers at Fort Point (spot them early morning), take a 4.8-mile (7.5km) walk or run along the Marina Green through Crissy Field, an old Army airfield dotted with picnic tables and soft-gravel-paved pathways. Before leaving, warm up with a hot cocoa topped with whipped cream (you’ve earned it) at the cozy Warming Hut Café.
Craftsman and Wolves is not the place to deny yourself a tasty pastry; image by Bruce Damonte
Rise and shine with a hearty breakfast at Craftsman and Wolves, a patisserie in the Mission district (about 10-15 minutes from downtown by taxi, bike, or bus), complete with the essentials: good, strong coffee by local roastery Sightglass, housemade granola, toasted chocolate bread with vanilla ricotta and honey, and quiche with farro and pickled carrots.
For lunch, the Ferry Building Marketplace is stocked with eateries such as Slanted Door and Gott’s Roadside Diner, as well as artisan specialty shops including cheese heaven Cowgirl Creamery and Heath Ceramics (for minimalist-inspired serving bowls, bud vases, tiles, and cookbooks).
Tip: on weekends, take the ferry from here to Sausalito for a guided tour of Heath’s factory showroom and watch how wares are made.
Dinnerware, tableware, tile and designs for the tabletop and home can be scored at Heath Ceramics in the Ferry Building
On Tuesday, Thursday, and Saturday, don’t miss the Ferry Plaza Farmers Market for goods from fresh flowers to organic eggs. In Jackson Square, try small plates like artichokes with rhubarb and wood-oven-fired pizzas at Cotogna for dinner, and squeeze in time to head to retro-inspired ice cream parlour Bi-Rite Creamery for handcrafted confections and daily rotating flavours from Earl Grey to Salted Caramel.
The building that houses new luxury Hotel G was erected in 1909 after the Great Earthquake of 1906, and was then the Fielding Hotel
Slated to open late spring, the modern, 153-room Hotel G is located just off Union Square. Designed by Hun Aw Studio (of the Hollywood Roosevelt Hotel in Los Angeles), suites are layered with upholstered headboards, vintage schoolhouse chairs, industrial task lamps, and mid-century-inspired writing desks. But, don’t fret about missing a workout; there’s a gym on the second floor.
Urban, waterfront and luxurious, Hotel Vitale has great views of a less hospitable accommodation, the famous Alcatraz prison
For complimentary morning yoga classes, a penthouse-level spa overlooking the Bay, and mini-bars stocked with oxygen shots by Oxia upon request, consider Hotel Vitale. The 200-room property is situated along The Embarcadero, one of the most popular running routes in the city.
At Cavallo Point Lodge, a former military base built between 1901 and 1915, choose from tai chi workshops, a cooking school, and free guided walks and hikes in nearby Marin Headlands.
Trick Dog bar is the quintessential neighbourhood watering hole, where food, drink and service score big points with locals
San Francisco’s nightlife scene runs the gamut from tiki bars and longtime watering holes, to swanky lounges, speakeasys, beer bars, and bona fide institutions. Don’t-miss spots include Trick Dog for freshly-squeezed cocktails (some based on your astrological sign), and sleek, parlour-like Comstock Saloon in North Beach. Snag a seat at the bar, listen to live jazz, and try the Moonraker made with cognac, peach, and absinthe, or put fate into the hands of the mixologist with the Barkeep’s Whimsy. Across the street, duck into recently revamped Tosca Café for a nightcap like the house cappuccino with Buffalo Trace bourbon, armagac, and dandelion chocolate ganache.
Jennie Nunn is a professional writer and traveller who has lived in SF for 11 years. She is a former full-time editor at magazines including Sunset, 7×7, and California Home+Design.