Posted by: Shannon @ A Dash of Sparkle | November 25, 2013

September Trip – San Francisco: Part 1

Holy goodness, it has been TOO LONG since I’ve had time to sit down and write a blog post!

I have had some fun stuff happening too! Shame on me.

So instead of updating on everything in the last… two-ish months, I’m going to highlight probably the biggest and coolest trip I’ve taken in a long time – my trip to San Francisco.


This trip has been in the planning since late last year and I’ve been wanting to do a “Girls Trip” for way longer. So, my mom, godmother, and I organized our crazy schedules and we decided to visit my godmother, Jane in San Francisco (one of my favorite cities). We marked our calendars and even though it seemed far away when we started, our September trip came up pretty fast!


Since my mom was flying from MA (one of her last week’s there before she and my stepdad moved to FL – yay!) and I was flying from Florida, we met in San Francisco at the airport.

I was crazy tired when we got in, not from being jet-lagged, but rather I only got three hours of sleep before I left since I was up so late working. No matter, however, because I was in SAN FRANCISCO which I hadn’t been to in 7-8 years (gasp)!

I pretty much did a happy dance when we got there.

I immediately snapped a picture as we got into the city and headed down to the Marina area for a walk…


We made a quick pit stop for a drink and afternoon snack/lunch (our stomachs were not really on West Coast time, so what felt like an early dinner was afternoon snack time. Love that time difference.

If you’ve never been to San Francisco before, one of your first stops should be the Marina area so you can get a view of the Bay, Alcatraz (which is not really pretty…) and that beautiful Golden Gate bridge.

My mom and I even stopped to take a little snap together…


(which would have been great had it not been for the family that walked up behind us).

While we had a great first afternoon in the city, we were ssssoooooo happy to check-in to our hotel. By 10 p.m. we were wiped out. I almost fell asleep in my favorite pizza from Pizza Orgasmica (yes, you read that right).

I couldn’t tell you what our hotel looked like that first night, but the next morning we were up early and ready to explore, so I got a picture first thing in the early morning light…


Isn’t it pretty?


The hotel was just several blocks from Jane’s apartment in Nob Hill, but it was all uphill. It was pretty intense, but I was so excited to see hills after being so used to the Florida flat, that I was thrilled. We had to walk by Grace Cathedral too, which is beautiful.


Unfortunately, they were doing construction on the walking labyrinth (which I last did when I was about… 16 years old), so we couldn’t get up close.


We ended up going and walking the city early on that Saturday morning, and it was so peaceful and quiet, we covered a LOT of ground pretty quick. We went from Nob Hill, down to Pacific Heights (lots of food and shops), then turned around and walked back through Russian Hill to China Town and then up to Nob Hill again. (It doesn’t sound far, but please note all this, with the exception of Pacific Heights proper, was hills.)

Got some great pics though:


Lombard Street (aka the crookedest, literally, street in the world) is always packed with tourists and their cameras, so getting out early meant we were the only obnoxious tourists blocking the street.


It’s spiderman/men! Nope, it’s a few window washers.

We actually ended up going on a car ride later that day once we were done our walk, and stopped at a number of touristy areas, including to see the “Painted Ladies,” or for those of who loved TGIF TV comedies… the houses where Full House filmed their intro!


We also drove through Haight Ashbury, which every Grateful Dead fan will know, over to Golden Gate Park.




Though we originally planned on just going to the Conservatory of Flowers, which I’d never been to before,  we ended up walking miles into the park. It’s a gorgeous place to walk, so besides my sore feet, it was an amazing afternoon.





Still, I was really happy to get back in the car and take a ride down the coast to see the beaches. The weather was complete perfection while we were there – mostly sunny in the low to mid 70s – so it was really fantastic to be out all day.


The next day we were really not feeling lots of walking, so we drove around a bit, then wondered over to Hayes Valley, which reminds me of the Somerville area in MA, where I found one of the best things since sliced bread – a Juice Truck!



That night, Jane and her husband Rich, surprised us after dinner with a trip to Twin Peaks to the best view of the city at night…

You can even see the fog rolling in from West…


Since my mom and I were so intrigued by what we saw driving through Haight Ashbury (I actually saw a woman with a cat, not a monkey, on a leash standing on her shoulders – WHAT??), we decided we had to go back to get a closer look and buy some souvenirs. This area is a definite must on places to see, and they have really great and unique shops.

We spent a half hour trying to choose two t-shirts in this one store, which had printed t-shirts covering three walls of the place…


I was slightly overwhelmed by the variety.

Jane and Rich also introduced my mom and I to the best ice cream place EVER. No exaggeration here folks, The Ice Cream Bar in Cole Valley is some of the most flavorful ice cream in the best waffle cone, I’ve had. The cone is buttery and slightly salted so that it makes the ice cream taste even creamier and more more flavorful.


We made two trips here before we left because we loved it so much (and neither my mom or I are “ice cream people” normally).

On one of our last full days in San Francisco, we also stopped and had lunch in Noe Valley which is on the opposite side of the “fog line” so that the weather there is sunnier and warmer than in most of the city limits. The fog bumps into the hills around the Twin Peaks area I guess and just don’t typically get farther than that.

Who knew?

The final two places I insisted we go to were to drive down The Embarcadero past Fisherman’s Warf and all the extra areas they had set up for the America’s Cup races (that were happening while were in town)…

And the Palace of Fine Arts…



I even brought out my Google Glass for some snaps and updates. Definitely learned that I need the sunglasses-style lenses (which of course I didn’t bring with me) for outdoor activity, but I made it work!

Still one of my favorite spots to just relax and watch the fog roll in.


We ate at some fantastic restaurants and also did a bit of shopping here and there, but they were all so good, they just kind of blurred together during our five days.

San Francisco was actually just part of our trip though, because the second leg of our journey was… WINE COUNTRY.


For the second part of our vacation, the three of us took the one-hour car ride to Napa Valley for a two-day immersion into the land of wine… (Check back for my recap of Napa going up soon!)


  1. Seems like just yesterday! Soooooooo enjoyed our time together in our “City by the Bay”! Come back soon. Love you! Jane and Rich

    • I look forward to my next visit back too! 🙂

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