California Dreaming

California DreamingCalling all americanophiles, California dreamers and travel aficionados! Next month I’m travelling to San Francisco for the first time – eeep! – and I need your advice on what to see, where to shop and, most importantly, what to eat.

I’ve been to California a couple of times but I’ve never ventured as far north as San Francisco, and I’m so looking forward to it. Biggies like walking across the Golden Gate Bridge and visiting Alcatraz are on the list, but I’m keen to do some vintage/thrift shopping too, not to mention eat my body weight in ice cream and french toast…

Needless to say that I’ve watched the San Francisco Man VS Food episode on repeat, and I’m folding down the corners of interesting pages in my guidebook, but nothing beats a recommendation from you guys! If there are any American delicacies, beauty/fashion brands or activities you think I need to try, I’d love for you to leave a comment with your suggestions.

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  1. February 22, 2014 / 4:23 pm

    Go to Tommy’s Joynt it is a very classic San Francisco restaurant and the food is really good and the decor is very quirky. You line up and order and pay from a counter, cash only, and then find a seat and a waiter then comes and takes your drink order fyi as we were a bit confused the first time!

    • SJ
      March 14, 2014 / 6:35 pm

      Ooh, ok – thanks for the tip!

  2. February 23, 2014 / 5:44 pm

    Have fun! I bloody loved SF! If you like chocolate go to Ghiradellis and Haight is by far the best place for vintage shopping! There is enormous vintage depot half way down – go there everything is like 2/3 dollars and amazing. XX

    • SJ
      March 14, 2014 / 6:36 pm

      Thank you – we’re staying near Haight so hopefully I’ll be able to spend lots of time rummaging for vintage :)

  3. February 23, 2014 / 6:12 pm

    Ahh I would love to go to San Francisco, I can’t wait to hear about your trip!

    Maria xxx

  4. Tara O
    February 24, 2014 / 7:00 pm

    Eeep! I’ve never been but I can’t wait to read all about it, you must be sooo excited. :)

  5. February 25, 2014 / 8:15 am

    Hello, long time lurker, first time commenter – but I had to say how envious I am of you going to SanFran! Probably my favourite city (besides Bristol of course…)

    You mention Alcatraz, which is a definite must :) I’d recommend booking in advance so you can get the best time for you and saves you queuing time when you’re there!

    Food wise: Crab sandwiches by the bay (just watch out for seagulls), Ghiradellis, Dottie’s True Blue CafĂ© ( – we had to queue but worth it. We did veto on a Sunday though, when it was particularly long, and came back the next day when it was a bit shorter), Ferry Plaza Farmer’s Market (

    We had an early time for Alcatraz and ended up at the bay quite early – some of the piers further down, towards the Ferry Plaza market, are really lovely to wander around in the morning. Fishermen just going about their business and a busker or two.

    Musee Mechanique ( is pretty cool if you’re in the area.

    To be honest, just take some walking shoes and walk everywhere! One of the best things about San Francisco is how interesting and diverse all the neighbourhoods are and we found walking between them was the best way to discover them and really take it all in and discover the random little fun things they have to offer. It’s a really pedestrian-friendly city, too.

    Oh also, we found the Frommer’s guide particularly good if you’re after a travel guide.

    Enjoy! Ah writing this has made me want to go back so much!

    • SJ
      March 14, 2014 / 6:39 pm

      Hi Amy, thank you so much for all your recommendations!

      The Frommers guide is the one we have! There are lots of neighbourhood guides and suggested walks in there so I’ll definitely be packing sensible shoes.

      Alcatraz sounds wicked – we were thinking about going in the evening because it’s supposed to be the most atmospheric, but I like the idea of early morning walks around the pier.

  6. February 25, 2014 / 4:01 pm

    I went several years ago. My friend and I hired bikes for the afternoon and cycled across the bridge. Sausalito is really pretty and there was an amazing ice cream hut there serving enormous waffle cones. You can get a ferry back past Alcatraz from there or If you’re feeling energetic you can cycle further round the bay to Tiburon like we did. Sore bums the next day though!

    • SJ
      March 14, 2014 / 6:40 pm

      Hi Maria, thanks for your suggestions – cycling is definitely on the to do list, and I always like the sound of ice cream :)

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