Since this is the inaugural travel post, I figure I might as well give some background to what I’d like to do with this series. It’s understood that I’m a pretty big advocate for the city of Tampa, but everyone loves to get away every now and then (and might I add that our top ranked airport makes it a whole lot easier to do that!). For now, I want to stick to anything within a non-stop flight from TPA. Why? Because I get terrified while flying… kidding but not kidding. The true reason is because nonstop flights are 1) the most convenient and 2) tend to be the most affordable 🙂 So let’s get started with my travels from Bay to Bay! We’re not talking Bay to Bay Boulevard, people. I mean cross country, Sunshine Skyway to Golden Gate, “Bay to Bay”.
First things first: the plane ticket. I feel like this is the most indicative part for me deciding where I want to take a vacation. If the flight ain’t right, I won’t bite. Ok I’m sorry, that was terrible. Back to the point– as of February 2017, United Airlines kicked off a new nonstop route from TPA to SFO. It’s one of the greatest feelings to leave TPA around 9:30 AM and get to the other side of the country before noon. Book at least six weeks in advance because these prices more than likely will not drop if you wait. Right now, flights in October are as low as $350 round trip! Some other airlines worth looking into are Frontier and American Airlines. Be careful with low fares on Frontier: you’ll have to pay extra for a reserved seat, checked bag, carry on bag, and there’s no wifi. My best experience flying into SFO was with American Airlines on the Airbus A320. No matter if you’re in first class or the last row, every seat is equipped with in-seat entertainment like Bejeweled, Tetris, TV shows, ALL SEVEN HARRY POTTER MOVIES, and even some movies still in theaters.
So you’ve got your flight, now you need a place to stay. Airbnb is becoming increasingly popular, and being that it’s headquartered in San Francisco, the options are pretty extensive. We stayed at Hotel Diva, located about two blocks away from Union Square. More importantly, its next door neighbor is Starbucks.
SF is home to some really fancy and historic hotels that, of course, come with a price tag… the best way to still get to experience them is to go out to eat or drink at them! Westin St. Francis has a famous tiki bar called The Tonga Room nestled away in the hotel. The Intercontinental Mark Hopkins Hotel has a former penthouse-turned-restaurant on one of its top floors with views that will impress you no matter how cloudy it may be. This restaurant/bar, Top of the Mark, should be at the top of your list.
Next up, the important question: what are you going to do while you’re here?? I’ll give you a few suggestions. Side note: I’ve been to San Francisco twice in the last six months and find myself needing to come back because there is so much left to experience there.
- Sutro Baths. Having never heard of it prior to my arrival in SF, I didn’t expect it to be anything too impressive but this place is absolutely magical.
- Palace of Fine Arts: another one I had never heard of… but such a cool place to walk through. If you find yourself anywhere near Lyon Street, take the Lyon Street Stairs all the way down, keep walking toward the bay, and you’ll end up at this beautiful piece of architecture.
- Some restaurant recommendations: The Mill SF and Ashley’s Cafe were some places we serendipitously stumbled upon while there. The Mill is well known for its toast, but it’s so much more than that. We had wraps at Ashley’s Cafe and I still think about them to this day. As for the evening, I highly recommend going to Bourbon and Branch (a really cool speakeasy), Comstock Saloon (another really cool bar), and then stop by Brandy Ho’s afterward for some drunk Chinese food.
Touristy but worth it: come on, there’s a reason everyone does it! For the tourist side of you, don’t miss top attractions like Alcatraz, China Town, California Academy of Sciences, cable cars, and Pier 39. If you’re considering any of these, then buy a CityPASS. It’s seriously an unbeatable deal and even the ticket book itself gives you so many helpful hints for how to enjoy each individual place to its full extent.
Hopefully you gained some travel inspiration while reading this; I’d love to hear feedback of what you all would like to see more of in these posts! I completely left out a list of road trips you can accomplish while vacationing in SF, so I have a feeling that’ll be another post 🙂 Until then…