I’m very excited to have some fabulous guest bloggers this week sharing summer essentials for their favorite travel destinations. Next up is Mae, one half of the blogging duo from Here In This House and she’s sharing her San Francisco essentials (I’ve always wanted to go, she’s convinced me a trip here is a must!); Welcome Mae!
It was three years ago this month that I moved from San Francisco to the suburbs of New York City. Despite growing up on the east coast, I have found that something about those ten years in the Bay Area has made me a California Girl. So as I get re-acclimated to life on the east coast (including easy access to bagels and having four seasons a year), I sometimes find myself dreaming of the old California days. On my imaginary journey on this (almost) summer day, these are some of my essentials…
WEARING LAYERS. First, you’ve probably already heard the quote “The coldest winter I ever spent was a summer in San Francisco.” This observation on the local weather is pretty much on the nose. With fickle fog and quickly changing weather, San Francisco living demands layers of clothing to easily adapt to any weather condition.
GETTING OUTDOORS. San Francisco is blessed to have a diversity of environments within an easy driving distance. So it’s no wonder that being outdoors is a huge part of the culture. (One thing you can be sure of in summer is that you won’t be getting much, if any, significant rain to spoil the fun!) Some of my favorite memories of being in nature are hiking amidst the historical redwoods of MuirWoods or enjoying July 4th fireworks (in the freezing cold!) at ChrissyField. But my absolute favorite has to be TildenPark in Berkeley. Tilden offers not only the usual buffet of hiking trails, but also a petting zoo, carousel and miniature steam train ride for the little ones. In the summer, it can be a great place for spotting (but not picking!) wildflowers and having a picnic lunch.
There were a few things that I wished I had done before leaving, including one of the popular bike/ferry circuits. One option is to rent bikes and take the ferry over to AngelIsland for the day. Another option was to bike over the Golden Gate Bridge and then head to one of the many waterfront restaurants for drinks and/or dinner, like the ever popular Sam’s.
EATING GOOD FOOD. Since I have a deep appreciation for all things food, it should come as no surprise that many of my fond memories revolve around great restaurants and meals in the area. With such incredible access to produce all year-round, eating local and eating fresh becomes second nature. To name all my favorite places would take pages, so here are three that are closest to my heart. Just before we moved, I was able to spend long, leisurely breakfasts (usually the hearty porridge) on the patio at Boulette’sLarder in the glorious morning sun watching the tourists pass. The staff in this small cafe was always so friendly and warm. Breakfast at Boulettes was almost always followed taking in the hard-core gourmet eye candy in the FerryBuilding.
[L to R: The exterior sign. The restaurant’s namesake. The breakfast porridge.]
I would make any excuse to head over to the Cafe at ChezPanisse for Alice Waters’ famed cuisine (more casual and easier to get into than the fixed-seating dining room downstairs). And any errand, big or small, that brought me to that neighborhood (known locally as the GourmetGhetto) would require a stop at the CheeseBoardCollective. And while I’d shop for their cheese – because you must if you’re there — the draw for me was really their baked goods. Chocolatethings, zampanos and one of the Tuesday specials, Berkeleybuns, were not to be missed!
But the food I miss most of all is far more humble than these outlets of national renown. In a little town called Kensington, there is a little place called Inn Kensington. This was our Sunday staple: a place we could walk to, that we knew inside and out and where the owners knew our faces. In addition to the requisite eggs and other breakfast staples, they had amazing housemade whole-wheat toast, biscuits and hash browns. I loved that it seemed to only ever be filled by our neighbors. I’m not surprised to see that this hyperlocal institution is still there, even as businesses around them on the tiny Main St. have turned over. I dream, most of all, of one day getting back there. (I sure hope the biscuits are as good as I remember!)
Many thanks to Kate for giving me the opportunity to share my version of the Bay Area with you! It was such a pleasure to be able to revisit my essential spots from the area. But, as with any list, there are sure to be places that I’ve missed. What are your favorite haunts? Do tell!