We are very spontaneous in our travels. We love to arrive in a town without any agenda and discover more ‘off the beaten path’ locations. Yes, most of these locations have to do with food! I’m not always so spontaneous. Lists make me happy, and when I have a plan I feel calmer. (Going to Staples to buy organizing tools makes me giddy like the first day of school – don’t judge!) But my spouse keeps me grounded. He has taught me how to live in the moment and explore.
I surprised my family with a weekend trip to San Francisco. I have a friend who planned trips to the city and stayed at a Boutique Hotel Downtown San Jose, and ended up splitting their time between the two cities, and they found some real gems. I could tell you so much about it, but I wanted to write about our adventures while downtown here because there is so much to tell! The following locations were ‘discovered’ by us as our stomachs dictated. No, they cannot be found on any tourist sites or ‘most popular’ locations lists. But for those of you like us that prefer to explore semi-uncharted territories, then you must try these great spots!!
1. Bridge Brands Chocolates
I considered it a good omen, that the first place we stumbled upon was a chocolate store! It was early, and we were craving Thai food, but the restaurants weren’t open for another 30 minutes. Right next door to the third Thai restaurant we visited was an adorable chocolate store. Bridge Brands Chocolates has nothing but the highest quality of chocolate, and they were very generous with the samples! Brian is the owner, but I like to call him ‘Mr. Chocolate’, because he’s so awesome! So don’t miss out on visiting Bridge Brands! It’s located at 286 12th St., San Francisco, CA 94103. www.bridgebrandschocolate.com
So Saturday morning rolls around, and we are deciding where to eat breakfast. Well, it was really second breakfast, because we were provided with fruit and croissants in the treehouse – life is rough, I know. I found Cibo on Yelp, and I was a little disappointed that it was NOT in downtown San Francisco. I had no idea that there was anything cool across the Golden Gate Bridge. I was wrong – once again! First, Sauselito is a beautiful little waterfront town. You can tell it’s where the locals hang out. It was a little ‘high end’ for us, but we fell in love! Cibo is where the locals and tourists come to enjoy the day, either inside their beautiful establishment, or outside on the patio. I love that every cup of coffee was made french press style, and of course my boys enjoyed their hot chocolate! 1201 Bridgeway, Sausalito, CA 94965
Gridano is the only non-food establishment that I’ll feature! We found them when we left Cibo, and we were walking to pick up my nephew who lives nearby. All of the clothing is designed and created by Jill and Brian. These clothes were different… I would describe them as clean, classic, but with a touch of modern that made me feel like I was in a trendy loft in downtown New York. Those of you that know me, know that I’m most comfortable in jeans and a tank top, but I wanted so many of these items! I especially loved the jacket on the mannequin as I walked in the door!! Gridano Boutique & Design Studio 42 Caledonia St., Sausalito, CA 94965
My kids were doing great… they hadn’t been complaining about the walking, and they were really good about eating all the strange food we were forcing them to try! So when they asked for some candy, we said ‘Sure!”. However, San Francisco is NOT Disneyland. There are plenty of coffee shops and bakeries around, but candy for kids? Nope. So Yelp became my new best friend on this trip, and we found The Candy Store. According to Yelp, it was only a 7 minute drive, or a 15 minute walk. We decided to enjoy San Francisco a bit and hoof it. What we didn’t consider was that the 15 minute walking quote must have been ‘as the crow flies’, because it took us 45 minutes of steep up and downhill walking. Most of our conversations along the way went like this:
Kids: How much longer?
Me: About 4 blocks.
Kids: You said that 4 blocks ago!
I forget my kids can count…
Anyway, we arrived at the corner, and there was NO candy store! There was an empty store in it’s spot, and I could have melted like the wicked witch of the west from the glares I received from my boys. We were in luck… there was a Walgreens right across the street, and they were placated with some sugary items from there. We started walking away, and I thought “I’ll just check around the corner.” Yep, there was our Candy Store!! We were just on the wrong corner! So to wipe away the nasty looks on their faces, I of course bought them MORE candy. We were on vacation… don’t judge. The Candy Store: 1507 Vallejo St., San Francisco, CA 94109 www.thecandystoresf.com
We wanted to take a break from the craziness of downtown San Francisco and try someplace different on our way back. We found Kasa Indian Food in the Castro District! It was delicious! They had it set up like a Chipotle, where there were two or three options, and then you chose your meat and sides. It was authentic, the location was colorful, and it was affordable! My kids gobbled it up, and we went back for seconds. Kasa Indian Food: 4001 18th St. @ Noe.
A couple of tips that made our trip SO much better:
Download the app Pay By Phone. All of the parking meters in San Francisco are assigned a number, and all you have to do is type in the number where your car is parked, and you can add money through the app. No more need to carry around coins and change with you! It also would text us 5 minutes before it was about to expire, and you can add more money without having to return to your car!! Hallelujah… a genius created this.
You must visit Crissy Beach! It gave us a beautiful view of the Golden Gate Bridge right at sunset… breathtaking!