One week in and around San Francisco

One week in and around San Francisco

My brother just moved out west earlier this year, which gave my parents and me a great excuse to visit San Francisco for Thanksgiving! We ended up spending just over a week enjoying the warmer weather. Here are a few highlights from our trip and things I would recommend to everyone visiting the bay area:

Napa Valley

It’s worth taking a few days to spend some time exploring Napa, especially if you love wine. You can certainly make it a day trip from the city, but I’d highly recommend spending at least a couple nights. Pretty much all we did in Napa was drink and eat, and I loved it. November ended up being the perfect month to go – no crowds, beautiful weather, and the fall colors in the vines were stunning.

Food highlights include: Boon Fly Cafe for brunch, Allegria for Italian, Model Bakery for breakfast sandwiches, Redd Wood for pizza, Napa Valley Roasting Co. for coffee, Zuzu for tapas, and Fish Story for seafood. I’m sure there are plenty more.

Winery highlights include: William Hill Estate, O’Brien Estate, Regusci, Chimney Rock, Ladera, Stag’s Leap Wine Cellars, and Domaine Carneros.

napa valley

The vines of William Hill Estate Winery

Golden Gate Bridge and Sausalito

Even though it’s a tourist spot, you’ve gotta see the Golden Gate Bridge. We drove over the bridge and enjoyed the view out to Alcatraz and the city beyond. It’s also worth taking in the view a bit more slowly by walking at least halfway across the bridge.

We then drove over to Sausalito, which was the perfect little town on the water. Unfortunately, we didn’t have quite enough time to stay and eat, but we enjoyed walking along the water and popping into a few of the shops.


Sausalito sea lion enjoying the sunset view of San Francisco

Muir Woods

I really wanted to see the California Redwoods, and Muir Woods seemed like the best place around San Francisco to do that. We ended up going on Black Friday, which was way more crowded than we (and the park) expected. The parking lot right at the front entrance isn’t too big, so we had to park down in an overflow lot and wait for a shuttle to take us up. The park wasn’t prepared for so many people choosing trees over shopping deals, so we had to wait a bit for the bus. We finally made it up though, and despite the crowds, I loved walking around the huge trees.

If you get the chance, I highly suggest checking out Muir Woods during the off-season or on a weekday. It’s a beautiful park and the trees are fascinating, but too many people up there kind of ruin the peace and quiet. Thinking about how cool this place would be empty has convinced me I need to go back.

muir woods

A crowded path through the trees in Muir Woods

Fisherman’s Wharf and Musée Mécanique

Yes, Fisherman’s Wharf is touristy and chaotic, but it’s worth going just to check out Musée Mécanique. There’s no admission fee to check out this old school arcade filled with mechanical games that each take only one or two quarters to play. I had a $10 roll of quarters and was thoroughly entertained for two hours in here. I would’ve stayed even longer, but I also wanted to see the sea lions before it got dark. I’ve never been anywhere else like this place and can’t recommend it enough. Take some friends and compete against each other – you’ll be surprised how much fun it is.

musee mecanique

A look inside Musée Mécanique at Pier 45