A week in the San Francisco Area

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A week in the San Francisco Area

Wow what a incredible few weeks! Jason and I have just gotten back from California and I am working my way thru can you guess it? A huge pile of laundry. After my week at Culinary Boot Camp Jason flew out to join me in San Francisco. 

After many hours of searching the inter webs for were we wanted stay during our time in San Francisco we landed on a VRBO property in the Marina District. It was completely the right decision. The neighborhood was lovely and we felt very safe walking around. And boy did we walk around too! We both averaged around 22,000 steps a day. We had decided to spend a few nights in San Francisco and then we headed up to Healdsburg for two nights and then down to Napa for one night. It was a great mix of San Francisco and wine country.

San Francisco

View of the Golden Gate from in front of our rental, The Golden Gate, Multi-plane Camera at the Walt Disney Family Museum

On our first full day in San Francisco we headed out for a walk down to the Presidio area to visit the Walt Disney Family Museum. The walk was beautiful we walked along the bay towards the Golden Gate Bridge and then up into the Presidio area. We had no idea this was happening but in the green in front of the museum was a gathering of food trucks and tents for a impromptu picnic. We were planning on just eating lunch at the museum but instead decided to part take in the gathering. I had a sandwich from the Grilled Cheese Guy which was super delicious and Jason got a pulled pork BBQ sandwich from another food tent. 

The Walt Disney Family Mueseum was fantansic. We spent most of the afternoon going thru it. It was really well curirated and started with Walt’s early years all the way up to his passing. Some of the most exciting things we saw were the original drawing of Mickey Mouse, a Multi-plane Camera and a model of Disneyland. They also had a feature exhibit - Magic Color Flair the World of Mary Blair. It included a lot of her work both with the Disney Company as well as work she did outside of Disney. I had no idea how many of my favorite movies she was involved in. It was a very inspiring afternoon. We would highly recommend this museum for anyone who is a fan of Disney and his work.

The next day was also a full day packed with the San Franciso sites. We started the day by walking down to the Fisherman’s Wharf area. Along the way we walked thru the Fort Mason park and of course we stopped at Ghirardeli Square. We stopped and had lunch at the Boudin Bakery and checked out their museum upstairs. It was a great exhibit and not only highlighted the history of the bakery but also the history of San Francisco as a whole. Both Jason and I learned a lot and we had a lot of fun watching the bakers make bread. As I write this I am wishing I had more of that sour dough so so so good. After that we walked around Fisherman’s Wharf which wasn’t much our style - mostly touristy shops and chain restaurants so we kept walking and ended up at the Ferry Building. Now this was much more of a Bird area. The Ferry Building is full of little artisan shops and food stands. Jason found a new Ginger Ale that he loves - Bruce Coast Ginger Ale. It’s unfiltered so it has chunks of ginger it in and is super flavorful. We also had ice cream from Humphry Slocombe ice cream. They had all sorts of fun flavors including one called secret breakfast that had cereal in it.

Alcatraz Night Tour

The Skylne from the Rock, The Cellhouse, The Lighthouse, Locked up for the night

That night we went on a Night Tour of Alcatraz. The tour starts with a boat cruise out to the island at sunset which was beautiful. Once we got off the boat we were led up to the main building by a park ranger who gave us a little history and what the schedule was for the night. They had a few different special activities we could do including a door closing (which we did and was creepy), a talk about the Birdman (a inmate that was at Alcatraz) and a talk about solitary confinement. Once inside we were given a handset and set free for a self guided tour. As the sun set the prision become more and more creepy. The view of the San Francisco skyline at night was incredible. I think I could have sat there and looked at that all night. As the night came to a close we were all herded back to the boat for the cruise back to shore. This is another activaty we would highly recommend. The one tip we have is take the earlier tour departure. There are two night tour departure times and you can return at anytime. When I booked our tour I thought you would be with a tour guide the whole time so I did the later tour thinking that would cooler being there later into the evening. Had I known it was more of a free for all I would have done the earlier departure. Although we got to see everything we did feel a little rushed and it would have been nice to have that extra hour on the Rock.

San Francisco Cable Car

The Ferry Building, The Beuena Vista Irish Coffee, Jason holding on, The Cable Winder

The next day we bought a cable car day pass and spent the day riding the rails. We had lunch at The Buena Vista Cafe. Which we learned was the first place to serve Irish coffee in the US at the Boudin Bakery Museum the day before. So of course Jason had a couple of those. We asked the waitress how many Irish Coffees they serve a day and she said probably 300 or so! I believe her too because as sat there eating lunch the bartender kept cranking them out - he would line up serval cups and make then all in a row. After lunch we took a cable car up to the Cable Car Museum. We’re starting to sound like a bunch of nerds aren’t we? All these museums! Well I guess we kind of are we did meet at the Math and Science Academy after all. The Cable Car museum was great it was really fancisiting watching all the cables winding and moving as this is the building where all the cables go to. After the museum we rode downtown and checked out the shops and buildings down there. It was a fun and exhausting day as we ended up going from one end of the city to the other and back.

The next morning we packed up all of our things, rented a car and headed to wine country. We drove across the Golden Gate bridge and headed west to drive down by the Point Bonita Lighthouse. It was very foggy and because the road was very hilly it would disappear into the fog making it appear we were driving off the face of the planet. I’m sure this would be a fabulous drive with breath taking views had there been less fog but it was fun none the less. Our plan had been to drive up the coast to Healdsburg but with the fog we decided to just drive straight up on the highway since it was faster and the coastline wasn’t really visible. 

Wine Country

Jason and I at La Crema, Jason enjoying a red, View from Sterling Vineyards

Healdsburg is in the northern part of Sonoma county. One of the fun things about this trip was we learned more about the different regions for California wine. We found that we loved the red wines from the northern area of Sonoma county but the reds from Napa county not so much. Healdsburg was a lot of fun we stayed at hotel a bit out of the town center but it was a lovely walk down to the downtown area. They have a lovely town square that was surrounded by dozens of wine tasting rooms and cute little shops. Some of our favorite wineries were La Crema, Portalupi Wine Co. and Thumbprint Cellars. On the morning of our second day there we did a V.I.P. tasting at La Crema. This costs a bit more but was totally worth it. Because we were there on a slower day we ended up having a private tasting and could not have had a better experience. 

For our last full day we drove down thru Napa County. Along the way we stopped at a few wineries our favorite being Freemark Abbey in St. Helena. Another winery we would recommend you check out is Sterling Vineyards in Calistoga. You have to take a gondola up to the winery which is on top of a hill in the middle of the valley but the views are gorgeous. We also thought this winery had one of the best layouts and walking tours about process of wine making. Throughout the tour there are wine tastings and little sitting areas to enjoy the wine and the views. We liked their whites best here. After winding our way down thru the valley we ended the night with a stay in Napa. We walked down into the downtown area for dinner on the river. We weren’t nearly as impressed with Napa as we were with Healdsburg not only did we like the wine better up there but we liked the atmosphere of the town better as well.

Not to shabby for 7 days huh? We covered a ton of ground and learned a lot. It was a exhausting yet fabulous trip and we can’t wait for our next adventure!

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