California Coastal Road Trip (Part 04): Carmel & San Francisco
With our souls relaxed and refreshed from our time exploring what nature has to offer in Big Sur, it was time to get back on the road to our final destination, San Francisco. On the way out we drove over the famous (and amazing) Bixby Creek Bridge. We got out to admire its beauty in the foggy weather.
Before getting to San Francisco, we made a stop in Carmel to go through the 17 Mile Drive and explore the town. Carmel was very lush and beautiful. We enjoyed walking around the streets and popping into the shops. The town had a very earthy aura to it that gave it a refreshing feel. We were inspired by all the vines crawling over buildings and around doors taking their won organic shape.
Before leaving, we made sure to grab some lunch at Forge in the Forest to dine outside on its patio. We of course had to dive into some dessert as well. You need sugar to keep you sane on the road, right?
Then it was time to hit the road yet again. We were on our way to explore a city we have had on our lists for many many years. San Francisco is beautiful and inspiring as its different cultures fill and overlap the streets. By the time we got there, we were starting to feel the weight of the road trip. Feeling tired from the drive, we opted to stay in once we settled into our Airbnb apartment. At first we felt guilty. We weren't using our time wisely but we soon realized if we had pushed ourselves out, we wouldn't have enjoyed it and we probably would had been tired for the rest of our time there. Some times its smart to just rest up and enjoy where you are staying.
The next day we headed out to breakfast at La Boulange and took it easy. Later in the morning it was time to jump back into adventure mode. We decided to begin close to our home base of North Beach and then veered out from there. Our first stop was Pier 39, right near where we were staying. While it was nice to get to the water, it was quit touristy so we didn't stay for too long, through we did watch quite the act being put on in the center of the pier for a little bit.
Then it was a walk up the hilly streets, something we had to get used to, through Pioneer Park and to the top of Coit Tower. The tower is 210-feet tall and offers beautiful views of the city. We stayed for awhile to take it all in and enjoy the weather. After heading back down, awe continued our walk to our next stop: Lombard Street. This is definitely a top must-see in San Francisco and while busy, we don't regret doing it at all. The street is not only windy but is lined with beautifully colored houses and lush with plants.
After so much walking, we were ready for some lunch. We headed over to Giordano Brothers who are known for their sandwiches stuffed with slaw and french fries. They were so good. Our bellies were full and happy. We were ready to continue on enjoying our walk around the city. Before calling it quits to rest up for more, we grabbed a bite to eat for dinner at Park Tavern and some gelato at Gelateria Naia.
Saturday we were up early and ready to wait in line for breakfast at Mama's on Washington Square. Normally, we like to skip the lines and get to what's important during our trip: exploring, but we read too many great things about this place. An hour and a half later we were at our tables enjoying our food and not regretting one second of it. If you get there early enough, the line moves pretty quickly since majority of people get in when they first open the doors. They move the line along nicely and you even get to watch the cooks prepare while you shuffle along. We would recommend it to anyone!
Now it was time to get back out into the city. We jumped on the trolley and headed to the The Palace of Fine Arts. It has beautiful grounds to walk around and does look just a like a palace!
Next on the list was to hit a couple of parks: Presidio Park and Golden Gate Park. Presidio Park took you completely outside of the city and dropped you into nature. There was so much inspiration to be found in its winding paths and towering trees. At the top, we enjoyed the houses of the surrounding neighborhood and jumped on the bus to take us to the Golden Gate Park.
We started by the coast and then walked through Golden Gate Park. There is lots of green space as you would imagine but also windmills which we weren't expecting.
Half way through, we cut out to head over to the Moraga Steps. The Steps where covered in mosaic tile. Each step is unique but when you pull away, the whole set makes a beautiful picture. When we first got there, there was only one other group taking them in. We thought we found a hidden gem but as our time went on more and more people came and went.
After the steps, we headed back to our place to have a bite to eat and rest for a second. Once we were good, we headed back out on the bus to the the Golden Gate Bridge and Beach. We walked along the sandy shore starring up at the icon amazed that we were there. During our time in the city, we could see the bridge from the apartment and different locations we had been. Now we were finally up close. It was just as gorgeous as we imagined. We weren't planning on getting any closer to it than the beach but we knew we needed to and hiked up.
We headed back into the city and to Union Street to walk around. Most everything was closed but we managed to grab a crepe and admire some beautiful flowers while we waited for the bus to Alamo Square.
Alamo Square is famous for the Painted Ladies and of course from the scene in Full House with he family running. We got there around sunset and took it in. One of the ladies was being repainted but they were still beautiful to see. There was such detail put into them and you see it mirrored throughout the city. San Francisco definitely has its own unique charm.
We headed downtown to catch the cable cars back to our place. I am so glad we got the chance to go on them. They took you back in time and it was a fun way to end the day (as well as the trip). When we got back we ordered pizza and reflected back on the week up the coast. We had a fun time doing our first ever extensive road trip and were sad to see it come to and end.
The next morning we were up early and catching our flight back to Boston. Goodbye California!