Emme Hope Twin Peaks San Francisco Skyline

Labor Day 2017: A 5-ish Day Itinerary.

[A somewhat intro to Visit San Francisco]

On this post, I’m going to talk about where I took my visiting parents last Labor Day 2017 which might help you in your next “short” visit to our beloved city. Read along to get some helpful detailed insights of places we visited. Too long; don’t want to read, jump to the summarized itinerary!

My folks flew in Friday and flew back to Chicago on Tuesday morning. It was a short (but sweet) visit so I wanted to make sure they’d see more of San Francisco without getting exhausted from all the sight-seeing and touring. I am all for slow traveling as I feel like I get more quality time for myself and whomever I’m traveling with.

😍First order of business! Merienda goodness from Tartine Bakery 🐽

Here’s what our itinerary looked like (I’m also sharing our go-to food faves, not necessarily all items we ordered on each visit):

Friday

See: Mission Dolores Park between Castro and the Mission District.
Eat: Tartine Bakery at Mission District for snacks and Laksa for Vietnamese Dinner.

I picked them up from SFO late afternoon and we drove straight to Tartine to get a box full of viennoiseries to enjoy at the park and to bring some home.

I chose to take them to the beautiful Dolores Park because they get to sight-see and unwind at the same time.

What’s in our box of yummies:

4 Morning Buns, 2 Pains au Chocolat, 2 Croissants and a Frangipane Croissant.

You can never go wrong with their Morning Buns, I promise you. We reheated it in our oven the next morning and it was still divine.

Parents taking in city views seen from Dolores Park.

My mother loves seafood but sadly, she got sick just a few days before coming here. Seafood was her nemesis that time so I had to make sure that the places we were going to served items that followed her doctor’s orders/diet plan. Happy to report that Californians are a little bit too spoiled in that area that you can easily find places that accommodate a variety of dietary restrictions.

My father likes good hearty meals—give him a juicy and scrumptious burger or a 10lb. steak and he’ll call it a day!

For dinner, we got Postmates instead of eating out, that’s because we went straight to sight-seeing after I picked them up from the airport and I wanted them to get settled in and get enough rest before next day’s activities.

What we delight in at Laksa: their Five Spice Chicken, Fresh Spring Rolls and Imperial Rolls.

BTW: I initially thought of getting Thai food and if I did, I would have gone with Blue Pea: Taro Samosa (this one is so good I think I would have gotten 3 orders for us. LOL), Blue Pea’s Duck and Tango Tango Curry. All highly recommended!

A couple of hours after our Vietnamese dinner at a relaxed home setting, we opened our box of yummies for midnight snacking (before midnight) with a glass of almond milk to cap our night. 😌

Saturday

See: Twin Peaks and Marin Headlands Vista Point.
Side trip: Marina Green for Philz Coffee Truck.
Eat: LaLe at Inner Sunset neighborhood for Mediterranean Brunch and Mochica at Potrero Hill neighborhood for Peruvian Dinner.

This city boasts brunch places in almost every corner where you often see long lines outside the door with people waiting 1-2 hrs to get seated. Not in LaLe. That is why this brunch place is our favorite that I am almost afraid to write about them… Not only that their food is good but you can actually walk in and get a table like it was pre-Yelp era! What long lines? *yay*

Side-note: this is the brunch place I would totally recommend if you’re visiting this side of town, it’s close to the Golden Gate Park.

What we delight in at LaLe: Egg dishes—Texas [homemade corned beef hash], Toronto [eggs benediction with ham and spinach], Jerusalem [corned beef brisket], and Ricotta Stuffed French Toast.

They also serve Sightglass coffee so that’s a double *yay*.

Twin Peaks. Raise your hand if you’re terrified of heights 🙋🏻

For today’s sight-seeing, we went for a short drive to Twin Peaks from LaLe. It’s their 3rd time visiting SF and this is the first time I brought them here. LOL don’t judge me! 😁

I also brought them to 2 different viewing sights of the ever so beautiful Golden Gate Bridge in their past visits. This time, we went to Marin Headlands across the bridge towards Marin.

Battery Spencer. We first discovered this spot in ‘09 yet the view still amazes me every time 😍

Coffee Love!

On the way back to my place, we stopped by Marina District’s scenic Marina Green Park for Philz Coffee Truck… Iced Mint Mojito Coffee, check!

Side note: Pick a bench by the water and enjoy views of the GG Bridge and the Marin (also: The Alcatraz). Along the park at Marina Blvd. are lovely Spanish Colonial homes overlooking the bay. Every time I get home from work in Sonoma, I take this exit right after the bridge just to get the relaxing feel of this area—music turned off and windows down to let the sounds of the neighborhood and the cool breeze in. Sometimes, I make a quick stop at the park just to take it all in. A simple yet lovely way to end the work day.

We spent the rest of the day at home before dinner at Mochica in Potrero Hill neighborhood. It’s a nice and quiet (always sunny) residential neighborhood.

What we delight in at Mochica: Their extraordinary POLLO A LA BRASA… It’s just rotisserie chicken but their version had us imagine how amazing it must be like to visit and eat in Peru.

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Sunday

See: Proxy in Hayes Valley and 16th Avenue Tiled Steps at Inner Sunset.
Eat: Uma Casa at Noe Valley for Portuguese Lunch and a relaxing dinner at home (hint: over-ordering at almost all the places we went to).

16th Avenue Tiled Steps

Sunday was kind of a fuller day. My mother asked that we attend a morning church service so that was the first thing on the list. We were going to take her to SFEFC in North Beach but with the time constraint we attended the 9:30am at Epic SF instead since that’s in our neighborhood before heading out to Uma Casa in Noe Valley for Lunch.

Uma Casa’s interior is gorgeous. I feel like it’s a peek into a small mediterranean town. The space is bright and airy, with beautiful arched details, blue and white Portuguese tiling on columns, and what seemed to be large sliding doors on the front and the side of the corner restaurant that opens up to the sidewalk.

Noe Valley is one lovely residential neighborhood and this area by Uma Casa has other local businesses around it so it’s a nice area to walk around on a sunny afternoon weekend. There are several train stops around here if you prefer to take public transpo.

What we delight in at Uma Casa: Pasteis de Bacalhau [salt cod fritters] —the cilantro mayo that comes with it is amazing, and Pasteis de Nata [egg tart]. (Can’t wait to try their short ribs for dinner!)

Lovely pastel colored homes around 16th Ave. ☺

For Desserts Part 2, we drove to Proxy for Smitten Ice Cream in Hayes Valley, one of my favorite neighborhoods in the city. It’s a vibrant neighborhood with lots of locals enjoying local goodies. One of the spots we enjoy here is the temporary two-block project, Proxy, which houses rotating art installations and local businesses in modified shipping containers-turned-modern shops and food spots. Proxy is not only surrounded by other local businesses that make Hayes Valley vibrant, it is also adjacent to an urban park, Patricia’s Green so double *yay*. I have more to share on this lively neighborhood on another post featuring Hayes Valley.

We HAD TO take them to Smitten Ice Cream. I wanted them to experience one of our favorite churned-to-order ice cream treats—you get to watch them churn the ice cream! We picked a bench spot at the park to indulge in our freshly churned treats as we people-watched and laughed at stories I don’t even remember what about. We highly recommend this churned-to-order ice cream experience. John and I instantly miss this treat whenever we get a pint at the grocery. We’re just too *smitten* for Smitten Ice Cream! (Sorry, I had to 😬✌)

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Monday

Labor Day (A much slower day before they leave the next morning.)
See: Painted Ladies at Alamo Square.
Eat: Breakfast at Sightglass Coffee, picnic lunch at Alamo Square Park with food to go from the nearby 4505 Burgers and BBQ, and Spanish tapas for Dinner at Beso in The Castro.

We took them to our neighborhood coffee spot, Sightglass coffee. We wanted them to experience what it’s like when I say hello to them on a Saturday/Sunday morning sharing our start of the day at this beloved coffee place.

What we delight in at Sightglass: Owl’s Howl latte or capp with almond milk. Kouign Amann by b.patisserie. Affogato bar: with Lavender ice cream by Salt & Straw of ♡PDX♡.

We drove around Alamo Square Park and found a parking spot on the north end… Walked up to the park all the way to the south end facing the Painted Ladies for a nice little picnic spot.

Alamo Square Park had recently gone under a renovation project. In addition to being a more eco-friendly park, they now have new benches and picnic tables. I wish I had more pictures to show but most likely on another post as this is definitely one of the SF Parks I love going to, especially for the quintessential scenes of the city you’ll find here.

The next time you’re in town, definitely go here for your Postcard Row photo-op then pick a spot at one of the benches or bring a picnic mat and unwind… The vibe here is really relaxing. You might even make some new *furry* friends.

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For dinner, we had to take them to our favorite Paella spot, Beso. John and I enjoy a really good Paella. We have been trying several Paellas in town and the ones in Beso are our #1 out of 5 spots we have tried so far.

What we delight in at Beso: Paella de Pescado (also:Paella de Carne)—everything about their Paellas are cooked to perfection, from the fresh ingredients to its scrumptious socarrat. Pulpo a la Gallega [seared octopus] and their house-made churros.

It was definitely a good choice to end the full day. A relaxing dinner with vino in hand for my father, and a couple orders of churros to share with my mother’s sweet tooth. I would totally *drink* their chocolate sauce but what’s good churros without it!

The entire long weekend almost felt like we traveled around the world with my parents, trying a variety of cuisines. The diversity in our food scene is one of the reasons why we ❤ SF.

By the way, it was intensely hot that entire weekend it felt like we were the ones who visited them in Chicago for the Summer! When people ask me when the best time to visit SF is, I always tell them if you’re aiming for a long holiday weekend, Labor Day is the best time. It’s not chilly unlike most SF days, unless you don’t care for sweater weather or the dramatic scenes of foggy days then I’d say any day in any season is always a good time to visit.

Thank you for reading through and I hope I was able to provide you with ideas for your next visit to our beloved city!

💛 Erica

TL;DR:

Labor Day 2017: 5 DAYS 4 nights in sf.

Day One
See: Mission Dolores Park between Castro and the Mission District.
Eat: Tartine Bakery at Mission District for snacks and Laksa for Vietnamese Dinner.

Day Two
See: Twin Peaks and Marin Headlands Vista Point.
Side trip: Marina Green for Philz Coffee Truck.
Eat: LaLe at Inner Sunset neighborhood for Mediterranean Brunch and Mochica at Potrero Hill neighborhood for Peruvian Dinner.

Day Three
See: Proxy in Hayes Valley and 16th Ave. Tiled Steps at Inner Sunset.
Eat: Uma Casa at Noe Valley for Portuguese Lunch, sweets for my sweets at Smitten Ice Cream, and a relaxing dinner at home (hint: over-ordering at almost all the places we went to).

Day Four
See: Painted Ladies at Alamo Square.
Eat: Breakfast at Sightglass Coffee, picnic lunch at Alamo Square Park with food to go from the nearby 4505 Burgers and BBQ, and Spanish tapas for Dinner at Beso in The Castro.

(Day Five: Parents flew back to Chicago around noon.)

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