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travel diary + city guide: san francisco, usa

By January 15, 2014 city guides, travel, travel diary, usa

Back to the Bay {San Fran} | Cream. - 01

After Yosemite the tour headed back to the Bay for another 2 nights. I could think of worse places to return to.

We arrived by taking a drive across the bridge… I was so happy that the weather turned on for us, as I got some magic shots… beats the gloomy day I got last time I was here.

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After a quick costume change, we headed out for a boat cruise of the bay… this is my girl Melissa, she was my bestie on the trip. Follow her killer blog on the US of A.

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If this sounds like something you would enjoy, Blue and Gold Fleets and San Francisco Bay Cruise both do cruises leaving from Pier 39.

I’d suggest the sunset time slot as you get to see the bay lit up with gorgeous crimson colours. If you like that sort of thing.

Back to the Bay {San Fran} | Cream. - 13

Dinner was booked at Players at Pier 39… it’s a tiki themed sports bar with loads of seating with great views of the water + an arcade of sorts for the kid in you…

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Do you like ribs? They are my FAV. So when you go here, don’t go past the ribs for dinner… they were one of the best I had in the US. That’s saying a lot right? P.s Sorry for the terr-i-ble photo, it was an iPhone pic…

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The night ended with some drinks at O’Neills Irish Pub.  It’s a traditional irish pub, so don’t expect anything fancy…

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Of course karaoke had to happen…

Back to the Bay {San Fran} | Cream. - 20

If Irish pubs are your thing, here is a list of San Francisco’s best.

Now I only have this photo of the next day, but it was spent at Pier 39. If you haven’t been, it’s a must-go when in San Fran.

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It’s not only a shopping centre, but it’s bursting with restaurants, video arcades, street performers and home to the Marine Mammal Center and the Aquarium of the Bay.

Coming in second of my favourite things to do/see in San Fran are the California sea lions, which lazily dock in the pier’s marina…

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You might be wondering what my favourite part is? Well it’s Houdini’s Magic Shop of course. I easily lost 2 hours in that shop, and by the end of it, there were more spectators watching my reaction to the tricks than there were watching the magicians them selves.

I ended up leaving $100 lighter (I just had to know how the tricks worked) and with a solid commitment to become a magician by the end of my tour…

I still haven’t opened any of the tricks… redundant purchase or what?

Things to do:

1. Alcatraz Island

You can’t come to San Fran and not pop on over to see this historical site. Even if history bores you, I promise the audio tour will make it fun and engaging. I suggest you reserve tickets as in peak season it can be very busy. You can buy tickets from Alcatraz Cruises.

2. San Francisco Museum of Modern Art

Because you’re oh so cultural.

3. Get some vintage threads

San Fran is home to the best thrift shopping ever. For the more budget conscious, check out The Painted Bird for granny dresses, disco threads and unique jewellery. A bit higher on the price ladder, I’d suggest Ver Unica.

4. Ride across Golden Gate Bridge

Check my other post on San Fran for all the deets.

5. Go to a baseball game

Don’t know much about baseball? Don’t worry, just being at one of the baseball games is a quintessentially San Fran experience, everyone will be having so much fun no one will notice you don’t know the difference between a home run and a fly ball (I had to Google both of those).

There are 2 teams, the San Francisco Giants and the Oakland Athletics. You can often bag cheap tickets at the game on game days, or catch a few innings for free via the viewing window behind right field.

6. Skate through Golden Gate Park

You just have to. You can hire skates from Golden Gate Bike & Skate.

7. Outdoor Cinema

San Francisco is obsessed with all things film. Loads of film festivals are hosted there each year.

But nothing beats watching a movie alfresco style. That means you can grab a picnic basket, a blankie and a bottle of vino and you’re set for a romantic or family-friendly night.

The largest of the outdoor festivals is Film Night in the Park featuring classics like Casablanca.

Like something a bit more subversive, take your picnic to the Overcooked Cinema Film Festival, which shows shorts and videos every second Monday in June, July and August.

Or Foreign Cinema holds alfresco cinema every night. Although it’s actually a restaurant, it’s dominated by a film screen on one side of the outdoor courtyard dining room, on which classic foreign films are projected.


I found The Guardian’s list of Top 10 Restaurants in San Francisco to be right on the money.

I will be trying Mission Chinese Food, Bar Tartine and State Birds Provisions next time I am there.

And I love Eater’s list of 38 Essential San Francisco Restaurants.


San Fran is bubbling with late night entertainment options. Sadly, apart from the few clubs I frequented last time I was here, I didn’t get to try many bars.

So I will have to take The Guardian’s advice on Top 10 Bars in San Francisco or Thrillist’s Editor’s Guide to Drinking Around in San Fran.

Although I also want to add these 2 Speakeasy’s to your hit list.

Cafe du Nord: started it’s life as a speakeasy in 1907, and its basement bar and music venue have held on to their classic Victorian interiors.

Bourban and Branch: hidden in the corner of a dark building, this is a true speakeasy. Reservations are required and you will be given a password to gain entry.


I did quite a bit of shopping in San Fran, mostly near Union Square. Here some of the top spots for a spot of shopping.

Westfield San Francisco Centre

Home to some of the world’s largest American chains, including a five-story Nordstrom’s, a two-level Abercrombie & Fitch, numerous outlets found in malls across the country such as Victoria’s Secret and Bebe, and including high-end retailers like Kenneth Cole and Club Monaco.

Union Square

A lone Corinthian column surrounded by newly installed palm trees marks San Francisco’s Mecca for shopaholics. Ringed by Macy’s, Saks, Neiman Marcus and Levi’s stores along with colorful flower stands and street performers.

Chestnut Street

Chestnut is a street lined with a mix of sophisticated shops, beauty outlets and restaurants alongside brand name retailers.


Everywhere you look, candles burn and vivid silks grace the jam-packed window fronts, where import vendors sell nearly everything, including (but by no means limited to) carved Buddhas, paper parasols and regal mahogany furniture, perfect for exotic gifts or indulgent tourist fodder.

Fillmore Street

Here it’s easy to feel pampered with several well-known beauty retailers and ritzy interior design boutiques fresh out of New York. Every shopping wish list is checked off here with select perfumeries, furniture designers like Zinc Details and specialty beauty outlets like Aveda.


San Fran is so easy to get around. The trams, buses and street cars are everywhere and only cost a few bucks.

But if you stay anywhere near the city, you can pretty much walk it.

Read this for a comprehensive summary of getting around in San Fran.

The adventure continues:

More on the US adventure here.

Anisa – The Macadames xx


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