Fun Things to See, Do and Eat in San Francisco

pastel homes in San Francisco

Our butts are still sore from walking up and down all the hills in San Francisco! It has got to be the hilliest city we’ve ever been to but we still managed to get around a good bit on foot. And we absolutely loved our time in the city. It’s one of our favorite big cities in the entire country (see which other cities made our list of favorites!) Included are some of our favorite things to see, do and eat in San Francisco!

Where We Ate in San Francisco

Tartine Bakery and Cafe

Caroline Whatley looking into the window of the Tartine Bakery
Tartine Cafe & Bakery in San Francisco
the menu at the Tartine Bakery!
The Tartine Bakery Menu!

The energy in there felt Parisian in the way that it seemed like the neighborhood sort of flowed in and out of the door that was propped open. As if you needed a reason to enter. There is no sign, so you’ll need to know what you’re looking for. But if you’re a student of bread or someone even mildly obsessed with baking, you’ll know of this place and perhaps it will feel like a coming home of sorts to you since you have pored over Chad Roberston’s books. I watched with curiosity, as my person, my wife, peering into the window at the small world in front of her, just beyond the glass. Though we didn’t buy anything there, Caroline said it all looked amazing and we walked the 3/4 of a mile to the other shop.

Tartine Manufactory

Have you heard of the Tartine Manufactory? If you’re interested in baking, chances are you have. The manufactory is only a short walk away from the Bakery and Cafe. You’ll know you arrived by the sign atop of this building-it’s a white neon one.Tartine Bakery San Francisco

From the outside the building is sort of nondescript but upon entering, it completely wins you over, right from the get go.Bar area in Tartine Manufactory in San FranciscoTartine Manufactory in San FranciscoOven in Tartine Manufactory in San FranciscoCroissant at Tartine Manufactory in San Francisco

So much of the production was visible to the public and the oven itself was right in the middle of things. The space itself was super clean and aesthetically it was oh-so-pleasing. As for the menu, it read delicious and though we only ordered the croissant it was perfectly simple and beautifully complex in texture.

Hinodeya in Japantown

pork ramen with an egg in it from Hinodeya
Bowl of ramen from Hinodeya

This bowl of ramen reminded me of a summertime bowl of soup. The broth was light in the Dashi style and their own unique twist on it was that they used scallops and bonito to make it. The noodles had a fun texture to them and the pork belly was tender. Not a drop of broth was left in the bowl!

Montesacro Pinseria – Enoteca

two pizzas from Montesacro Pinseria in San Francisco
Montesacro Pinseria

We were grabbing a beer and doing a little research about where to eat dinner that night when we, or should I say Google, found this place. Though you might just walk by it in the daytime because the door is tucked into a recessed entryway in an alley, upon entering, you are immediately treated to an all senses experience: soft lighting, low music, not too jazzy, not exactly swing, comfortable seating (okay, I sat in an old church pew and Caroline in a metal chair,) and the smell of a perfectly done crust – char without the tinge of something too well done…a savory smell of herbs and cheese. Reservations are recommended.

Saint Frank Coffee

outside of Saint Frank Coffee in San Francisco
Saint Frank Coffee

A rotating cast of filter coffee is available each morning and it’s got the right amount of brewed strength to it without a lot of lingering heaviness. Their menu is simple (in a good way), the staff is friendly and the line moves fast. Though the space was small, it felt good in there and it was the kind of place we wanted to linger in.

What We Did in San Francisco

Golden Gate National Recreation Area

This is one of the most iconic places in San Francisco: the beautiful red bridge! There are 19 distinct ecosystems and over 2,000 plant and animal species here. And of course tons of people but the views are gorgeous and it’s a must-do.


Barbary Coast Trail

The Barbary Coast Trail is a walking tour that connects 20 historic sites and museums. There are about 180 of these markers for you to follow along the 3.8 mile trail.

the Barbary Coast Trail symbol in the sidewalk
Walking the Barbary Coast Trail!

Discover Street Art and Murals

Here’s your chance to practice some photography skills!

colorful and beautiful mural on the Women's Building
The MaestraPeace Mural on The Women’s Building
blue and tan bird mural
Bird Song mural by Joshua Coffey
mural of a purple woman in San Francisco
One of the murals we saw while walking around | by Locust

We had the chance to visit the newly remodeled San Francisco LGBT Community Center. It’s a great place for research, education, connection, community and more. They offer numerous programs and services and we fully endorse the work they are doing. If you’re in the area, stop on by!

purple building and rainbow flags at the LGBT Center in San Francisco
The SF LGBT Community Center

Ghiradelli Square in the Fisheman’s Wharf area

Caroline Whatley standing outside Ghiradelli Marketplace in San Francisco
Caroline at Ghiradelli Marketplace

Drive Lombard Street

It’s super steep, iconic and free to do!

These are the adventure mobiles we found in San Francisco!

It’s hard to not be obsessed with vans and van life everywhere we go.

Yellow Ford Econoline van in San FranciscoAntique red Fiat in San FranciscoYellow toyota van in San FranciscoVintage Dodge camper in San Francisco

Corona Heights Park

If you look closely at the photo below of Corona Heights you can see a rainbow flag! That’s The Castro, one of the first gay neighborhoods in the United States.

landscape photograph of San Francisco from Corona Heights
Check out the views from Corona Heights Park
Alcatraz island out in the ocean
Alcatraz Island in the distance.

Pastel architecture, leaning tree in San Francisco

Pro Tip for San Francisco

Put your safety first and do a little research before booking a hotel. In the spirit of saving some money we booked a really cheap place in the Tenderloin at the cross section of Taylor and Van Ness. Word to the wise: DO NOT DO THIS. I don’t care how much you want to save money by going for budget lodging, it’s straight up not safe there. To make a long story short, we went to the trouble of packing up all our belongings a little after 9pm and getting the heck out of there. Ask if you want more details. Mostly I just want to tell you that we found a safe, clean and friendly place to stay on the north side of the city at the corner of Lombard and Van Ness.

Recap for The Best Things to See, Do and Eat in San Francisco

Have you been to San Francisco? If so, what should we add to it? We’d love to know your thoughts on this topic since there is soooo much to experience in this city! Please leave your comments below and give us suggestions on the best things to see the next time we’re on the west coast.


Published by Erin McGrady

Erin McGrady is a filmmaker, photographer, and writer exploring Asheville and beyond. My work focuses on sharing about LGBTQ safe spaces, camper van life, and the outdoors.

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