My California Road trip

One Summer, my husband Dirk and I went on a road trip from Los Angeles to San Francisco. I do think you need to do a California Road trip once in your life! And if you do, you have to do it the right way.

Pacific coastline road trip

For a road trip along the pacific coastline of California you have to use highway 1, official name California State Route 1. This route stretches from just below Los Angeles in Orange County, all way up to Mendocino County, just above San Francisco. A road trip from North to South along this highway 1, will give you the best view of the ocean, but at some parts you are very close on the ridge of the beautiful cliffs. If you are not afraid of that, it's nice to start your road trip here. From LA to SF is also very beautiful (but you see the cars in the lane between yourself and the beach), Highway 1 has no alternative routes around Big Sur unfortunately.  So when a big forest fire was threatening the nature around Big Sur when we were there, we had to drive a long detour around Big Sur through the vineyards. So we haven't seen Big Sur, the place everyone wants to visit on a road trip. Although we did not see it, we don't feel like we missed anything because the whole trip was really beautiful.

2016-08 Roadtrip California 1

You can do the whole trip within a day, with 6 hours drive covering about 380+ miles, but I don't recommend it. We did it in 3 days, but I wish I did it in 4 or 5 days, there was so much to do and see!

Car rental

Renting a car in California is not as expensive, even in high season, as in some other places like New York City. If you reserve in time, you get an even better rate. You can only rent from LA at the airport LAX, but you can drop it off in the middle of San Francisco city center. We rented a standard car, but got upgraded to a small SUV. Some people like to drive this route in a typical American Ford Mustang. A convertible is a nice option too!

During our trip, we stopped many times to take pictures of cliffs, mountains, beach and the sea. So make sure you have enough time in your travel plans to take it easy along the way, and enjoy the beautiful views!

We stayed a few nights in LA with our friends Maruja and Ross who were getting married. This was a nice way to connect again with my best friend of 20+ years, her family and our mutual friends. We enjoyed LA and we feel like we explored every neighborhood really well. We loved walking around West-Hollywood, towards Melrose and Beverly Hills believe it or not. Some neighborhoods are really cute to explore, and are easy to walk, even though LA is known as being a city to drive.

wedding Maruja & Ross

Our itinerary of our California road trip:

Day 1:

  • 11am LAX Avis car rental: We rented a car at LAX. This is the only place in LA where you can rent a car to drive up north and leave it at another location. First of, we drove all around LA, the nice neighborhoods, Mulholland drive with the amazing view from the mountains looking down to LA, Beverly Hills, Bell Air, Hollywood.
  •  2 pm: We parked our car, and stopped at Gracias Madre for a delicious vegan brunch.
  • 4pm: We drove up North towards Santa Monica, Malibu. We stopped at a few lookouts for pictures. Onwards on Highway 1 we enjoyed looking at people on the beach having fun, the beach waves rolling onto the beach, and the beautiful mountains on our right.2016-08 Roadtrip California 3
  • 6.30pm: Within 2.5 hours we arrived in Santa Barbara, a little town with many cute restaurants and shops, I loved it here so much! We went to eat dinner at The Savoy Cafe, a cute family owned restaurant with a lot of organic, healthy and gluten-free options.  It was so good!
  • 7.30pm: We stayed at the La Quinta inn, which was 1 minute drive from the restaurant. It was cheap clean and fine, and we could park the car at the hotel. ( I had noticed a comment on Trip Advisor saying that the sound of the fridge in the room turning on and off was keeping a woman awake. Well, I was kept awake by it too, despite the comfortable bed, and nice large room.) We checked in and dropped our luggage in our room.
  • 8.30 pm: we walked from the hotel straight onto the Main Street in Santa Barbara. This is a really fun and alive street in the middle of Santa Barbara, that ends up at the beach and the pier. We walked all the way to the pier I loved how the homeless were creative to get money from people. They built games in the sand, so people could try to throw their coin on a certain target, which would activate something like music playing. This gave the people passing by a challenge too, and many were eager to try it out. The street had many fun little bars and restaurants. The vibe was really good!
  • 10pm bedtime!

Day 2:

  • 8.30 am: breakfast. The hotel had very simple breakfast. People could make their own waffles which looked cute, but we wanted something healthier. We went back to The Savoy Cafe for breakfast, and I ordered the Gluten-free Lemon french Toast, yum!2016-08 Savoy Cafe Glutenfree Toast 1
  • 9.30 am: Shopping! I had seen this cute vintage shop on Main Street, called Renaissance, and I wanted to check it out. There was a couch for Dirk to sit while he waited (sorry Dirk!) But we ended up having a great conversation with the sales person, and another customer.  They had so many amazing pieces. I bought a few (fake) pearl necklaces. Overall a great success! 
  • 12 noon: We stayed a bit too long at the vintage place so we had to rush to check out. And again, we went to Savoy for lunch, before we went on with our trip. I wish this place was close to where I live in NYC!
  • 3pm: Drive to Monterey. We first drove all around Santa Barbara to really get a good idea what this town is all about. Cute Spanish inspired houses with many red roofs, I really liked it! Unfortunately there were many forest fires in the time we were in California, so the highway 1 was closed off for days around Big Sur. We couldn't go there, so we took the detour route through the vineyards.2016-08 Roadtrip California 2
  • Sunset: We arrive at the Intercontinental hotel, which was on the water. our room was nice. Out of our room we could see the small swimming pool. We called it a night and ordered roomservice. We wanted to get a good night sleep.

Day 3:

  • 6.30 am. We were on the 4th floor, but we were woken up by loud noise and shaking of the ground. I thought we were experiencing an earthquake. I did not know what was going on, and it kept going for at least 1.5 hours. We called downstairs what was going on, and they would check. Later on it turned out some guests used the fitness area, which turned out to be on the 2nd floor. They were throwing weights around. The people below us must have heard and felt it much harder than we did. Also, the walls were paper thin, and I could hear the neighbor cough like she was in our room. When at breakfast we saw a seal in the water next to the hotel. The staff heard about our rough night and offered a free fruit plate. The town of Monterey is very much a fishermen's town, and I wish we could explore it more, but we did not have much time. We drove around though. (which is my favorite thing to do anyway).
  • 12.30pm: We had lunch at organic Tillie Gort's cafe, which was o.k. (UPDATE: after 49 years this place has now closed) The menu is very American, with a few organic and healthier options included. I wish we went to the Studio Cafe at Wave Street Studio, which have an organic salad bar. Oh well, next time!
  • 1.30pm: Driving to San Francisco. We could drive part of the highway 1 again, and enjoyed the views. We stopped at a cute coffee place that looked not great from the outside, but had the best gluten-free home-baked brownies! It was a gem, and I can't find the name anywhere on internet, but it was a little place stating "coffee house" on a sign that I believe was yellow.
  • 5.30pm: We arrived in San Francisco! Getting fuel and dropping of the car at Avis, and via Uber brought to our hotel.2016-08 San Francisco Golden Gate Bridge Lonneke Engel 2

We loved this little 3 day trip! We stayed a week in San Francisco and explored it like locals. Please check out my article on my Los Angeles Hotspots, and my Best of San Francisco!

Love, Lonneke

 

 

 

 


Los Angeles Hotspots

Los Angeles (L.A.), the City of Angels, is a city on the West Coast of the United States of America.  I have visited LA many times for work, and this time I took 3 weeks to explore it in-depth on my California Road trip! Although it looks like LA is really spread out, it is in fact an area called Los Angeles County that consists of multiple cities (88!) like Beverly Hills, West-Hollywood and Los Angeles itself.

Day 1: We flew with Delta and arrived in the afternoon in LA. A nice breeze and the Sun hitting my face, I knew this trip was going to be great! We stayed at the famous Sunset Tower Hotel on the famed Sunset Boulevard in West Hollywood. I have stayed at The Sunset Tower hotel before for work (when it was named the Argyle hotel) and I remember loving it. A long time ago it used to be an apartment building where people like Marilyn Monroe, Frank Sinatra and Elizabeth Taylor used to live. There is so much history in this place, especially from the 40's and 50's, and you can still feel it when you are there. Besides that, it is the first building that was built with reinforced steel, which is nice to know when you are in an area that is known for earthquakes.

We got an upgrade! A corner room with great views of the hills and downtown LA. It had a little sitting area, and a separate bedroom. The bedroom overlooked a big dogrun, which was fun, but also a bit hard as we had just lost our beloved dog Vito. One great thing about this hotel is that they are pet-friendly. So next time we will bring our new dog with us! We stayed here for 2 weeks and felt very much at home. Breakfast is in a really nice setting, but it's not the best breakfast I have every had (I must say). Roomservice is decent though! There is a mini swimming pool, and enough beds to sunbathe. but due to the small area most people decline to go for a swim. It is nice to look at though! Overall, I would definitely come back for the service, the hospitality, the nice ambiance and the good feeling this hotel gives me.

Day 2: I took time to recover from the flight, and we explored the neighborhood a bit. Even though LA is made for driving, the area where the hotel was, was nice to walk around. We could go to Melrose, and walk to Beverly Hills. Along the way we found a Le Pain Quotidien, which is always a safe place to eat when you are on a trip. They have organic bread and salads with organic ingredients. We did our shopping at Trader Joe's in West Hollywood.

Day 3: The main reason for our visit to LA was that my best friend of 23 years - Maruja Retana - got married to her longtime love Ross Palmer! She arranged a multi-day wedding which was so much fun!

On our way to the rehearsal dinner from Sunset Tower Hotel:

Maruja and Ross got married on Santa Monica beach (oh yeah!). A super clean beach with white sand just like you remember from Baywatch. Definitely worth a visit. Afterwards they had rented a nice house in the Hollywood hills with a beautiful view, and the hottest pool I have ever been in. Maruja and Ross hired a pizza chef and he made amazing pizzas fresh for all the guests, and the best gluten- free pizza I have ever had! Of course the dessert was Krispy Creme donuts, as those 2 are obsessed with donuts! (of course my wedding gift included some donut inspired gifts as well)

Day 4: We had brunch at the pool house. All the guests enjoyed the Sun, the pool and we made good food. It was such a nice experience as many of our mutual friends flew over from the Netherlands. It was great to catch up with them!

 

Day 5: Dirk and I met up with Maruja, Ross and the guests who were still left and went on a hike in Griffith Park. We walked all the way up to the Griffith Park Observatory and we bought tickets to see a show in the building. It is part museum and part a Planetarium. First of all, the walk gave us gorgeous views of LA, you can even see the Hollywood Sign (that means it could be crossed of the to-do list), but the show itself was unexpected but very nice! We watched the show that told us more about the Universe.

Day 6: after Dirk and I went to stroll around the neighborhood, with of course a stop at Urth Caffé on Melrose. They have good organic food options, I especially like the tea selections. This time I ordered their huge (decaf) cappuccino!  My advice: All of LA goes here so go there early before it gets busy. Afterwards we visited Beverly Hills, the City Hall and the Hermes store.

Dirk has a membership with a gym with a location in LA, so he went to train there every day. I enjoyed writing and walking around the areas with Dirk. We tried to find places to eat, and asked everybody in LA their favorite restaurant, but everyone we asked had a difficult time answering that question. (If you ask someone in NYC, they come up with a list of restaurants that you can't even try all in 3 weeks time!) We found a few nice places, by googling on "organic and vegan".

Day 7: Of course we walked to the Hollywood Walk of Fame. Besides that I thought it was very unimpressive, I considered it a Place of Hell with all the tourist traps and homeless people that we passed along the way.  That is also Los Angeles: You can walk from one nice , clean super rich area, and one block further you see homelessness everywhere.

Day 8: we ordered an Uber and he brought us to Downtown LA. I told Dirk: "I want to go everywhere but not Skid Row!" (an area with many homeless people living on the streets) We were dropped off in a seemingly normal business area of LA, walked by the Walt Disney Concert Hall designed by the famous architect Frank Gehry.

Dirk is a photographer in his spare time, and loves to take pictures. He was on the hunt for cool looking buildings like that building. But this seemed more difficult in LA. (I guess we are a bit spoiled living in NYC.) We did see an awesome art instalation at the Museum of Contempory Art, made out of old airplanes:

Downtown LA looks a bit more poor and unclean, with a few hidden gems, like the Grand Central Market,  which is nice to visit when your are downtown LA. One of the food vendors in the Market is named Eggslut, they have all egglicious dishes for sale. (They just opened a location in NYC in the Chefs Club Counter.)

When we looked on a map we noticed that the Art District was not far. We are used to walking as we are from NYC, so we went to walk over there. When we walked one block, we noticed it started smelling like pee. The second block we saw many homeless people, looking at us like we are 2 tourists who are lost. We asked a Police Officer how to get from there to the Art District, and he urged us to wait there at the Police station and order an Uber. Supposedly we had landed on the beginning of Skid Row. The Uber driver took us around Skid Row. Definitely not an area where the 2 of us should walk around. It seems many people have lived like that for a long, long time. I wonder why no one is doing anything about it? It is so sad!

Tip: Even though LA is a place you need a car to get around, getting around in LA without owning a car is easy! On top of that we discovered that Uber/Lyft in LA were very cheap compared to NYC!

The moment we got out of Skid Row we immediately arrived in a super nice area called Downtown Art District. Here apartments are millions of dollars, and again there is an Urth Caffé in a super nice art deco building, and a valet parking for the Urth Cafe visitors. It doesn't seem many people walk over here. They all arrive by car. This area has many nice old industrial buildings that are converted into lofts, just like in NYC. You can also find a few young designer shops around here. This place is definitely upcoming.

We had decided we had seen enough of Downtown LA, and went back to the Sunset Tower Hotel.

Day 9: We decided to move from the Sunset Tower Hotel to the Ritz Carlton in Marina Del Rey. This is where all the boats are, and close to Venice Beach and Santa Monica. This way we can explore this area more.

The Ritz Carlton was nice because it had a lovely swimming pool I used every day. But the rooms were noisy, and it was definitely more of a fancy/luxury tourist hotel. I did like the restaurant a lot, for breakfast and dinner. The best part was that it was a nice walk from the hotel, along the Marina, to Venice Beach. Venice Beach is very much hippie and happening.

The vibe there is one of surf dudes and beach babes, most things are around Abbot Kinney Road and on the beach. Like the well-known outdoor Gym "Muscle Beach" . It's famous because of Arnold Schwarzenegger training there back in the day. There are enough vegan restaurants in this area, Like Cafe Gratitude. You can go to the toilet at any of the restrooms on the beach, but plan ahead as on busy days it is busy, and restaurants don't let you use the restroom if you are not eating there.

Day 10: I started the day with a swim, breakfast and off we went! Walking around the area. Maruja and Ross and some other guests who were still in LA joined us for lunch at Seed Kitchen in Venice Beach. it was a really cute vegan, macrobiotic restaurant but unfortunately they closed recently.

From Venice beach we walked to Santa Monica beach over the beach walk way. We walked on to the Santa Monica Pier with the fair, and watched the most beautiful Sunset. We walked into Santa Monica and had dinner at a small Sushi place which was pretty ok. It was such a nice end to our LA trip and say goodbye to the people we spent so much time with the past 2 weeks!

 

Day 11: I enjoyed a last day at the Ritz Carlton. Dirk worked a bit, and I packed our bags. We walked around Venice Beach at night, which was absolutely lovely. Especially the beach, and in alleys located between the cute houses, and the little canals.

The next day was going to be the start of our road trip!

Bye bye LA: It was good to finally really get to know you!

My tip for LA:

  • don't go for the tourist things (unless you go to Disneyland!)
  • It's nice to walk around West Hollywood towards Melrose and Beverly Hills.
  • Stay in Marina Del Rey as it is quiet, and you are close to Venice beach and Santa Monica.
  • Rent a car for a day to drive around, but mostly use Uber or Lyft.
  • There are a few good restaurants, but do some research yourself before you go.

You can read about the roadtrip and visit to San Francisco in my articles:

My California road trip, and My Best of San Francisco!

Love, Lonneke

 

 

 


The best of San Francisco

San Francisco is a lovely city on the West Coast in California. A lot of people around the World know it as the place where Full House was filmed. But San Francisco has more to offer than the typical tourist hotspots, especially for those eco-conscious people. Luckily we went to visit our friends Jen Ferland and Daniel Zmak just before they were getting married, and Jen is like me a health-freak. They gave us great tips, and we also discovered a few ourselves! In total we stayed 10 days in the SF area.

Common touristic things to do

Going to the island of Alcatraz and learn about this once high security prison. In high season tickets are hard to get, reserve months ahead of going is advised.

Ride a cable car. Pretty cute way to see the city!

Visit the Golden Gate Bridge. Well, you probably have seen that famous orange bridge on TV before! We drove over it, but we also went to get a gorgeous view from the Presidio National Park in SF. On the other side of the bridge is a cute town you should go visit, named Sausalito.

Walk around Fisherman's Warf, one of the most touristic and busy areas of SF, but you have to see it so you can cross it off your list.

Visit the Painted Ladies. A row of Victorian houses, overlooking a park (known from the last shot of Full House intro). By the way, we saw much better looking Victorian Houses on our many walks.

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=2EL65KLdEHE&t=5s

Climb the Twin Peaks, and overlook SF. We thought it was nice to see, but very windy, as I had fear of heights I was worried we were going to get blown off!

2016-08 San Francisco Twin Peaks

Lombard Street: The famous street with 8 hairpin turns in Russian Hill. It is fun to drive down to show your manoeuvre skills, or just take a picture in front of it. A cable cart stops right in front of it on the top, so that's easy.

Coit Tower observatory. A little climb up the stairs and you get a beautiful look of San Francisco. (pictures below: #1 you see me after the hike up to the Coit Tower, #2 Coit Tower on the right on the hill, and Alcatraz Island in the middle)

Go to a Game of the San Francisco Giants, in their AT & T Park stadium which is located literally right on the water. You can also canoe like some people do, and catch a ball.

Well that's all great, but I think there are better reasons to visit San Francisco than only for the famous tourist attractions!

My reasons to visit San Francisco

San Francisco( SF) has a lot of hills. It is actually said to be built on seven hills. It is easy to explore the many different neighborhoods by walking. Yes, you can take the typical cable cars, but climbing those hills are a great workout for your behind! SF is definitely a place to be active. And being active is good for your health. Great! You can really get a good view of the cute victorian houses, not to mention get great pictures of those crooked houses on the steep hills. I know I had a lot of fun with it as you can see:

Every neighborhood in SF has its charm, and there are many neighborhoods all together! Great to explore on foot. Our favorites are:

Family oriented: Noe Valley. A nice flat area with a Whole Foods (we love that) cute houses and cafes, and a nice view of all the hills surrounding it. Oh, and the rumor goes that Mark Zuckerberg, the Facebook guy, lives here when he is in SF. There is also a very fun store called Green 11 (UPDATE 2019: this store is permanently closed unfortunately), where they have all your household and personal items for you to refill your bottle or jars. Very eco-friendly I must say!

2016-08 Green 11 Noe Valley2016-08 Noe Valley inspiration

Gay: Castro. For the colorful amongst us, the gay-oriented Castro is a nice area to see and hang out.

Young and hip: Hayes Valley. Maybe my favorite area. A relative new neighborhood in SF, I love that they have sustainable fashion stores like Alternative Apparel, which is one of my favorites stores in NYC. Also seen are many juice bars and healthy coffee stores. The houses are cute, the stores are cute, no wonder many young and hip people gather around here.

2016-08 San Francisco Alternative Apparel Hayes Valley

People and Character: North Beach. This area is like little Italy with cute Italian cafés to get your morning coffee or a good pasta at night. It even has a Washington Square Park like NYC has. Great to walk around. You can walk to the Coit Tower from here.

Lights and fun: China Town. Of course no city is complete without a China Town. Many lights, and many restaurants: it's even considered the largest China Town outside of Asia, and the oldest in the USA!

Hippie Chic: Haight-Ashbury, The district in SF which is considered the birthplace of Hippie Culture. Great shopping! I especially loved the vintage stores, Wootbear/(like KidRobot, which sadly closed its store in SOHO, NYC) and the specialized socks shop, I found a nice pair of socks made of bamboo by Goodhew.

2016-08 Sockshop on Haight San Francisco

Beautiful homes: Walk around Russian Hill, Pacific Heights, Cow Hollow and Nob Hill. The latter one is also a great place to stay in a hotel. We also liked driving around Sea Cliff, where many rich people have their mansions overlooking the ocean.

Historic ambiance: Stay at the Fairmont Hotel in Nob Hill (like we did) or have a lovely breakfast or tea here.

2016-08 Fairmont hotel 12016-08 San Francisco Fairmont Hotel roomservice

The vibe is great in this beautiful historic building, and in the hall ways towards the tower rooms you find many historic photographs explaining its long history of Presidents and other important people visiting. We had a room with a fantastic view of the whole city, with Alcatraz lying right in front of us. And did you know this hotel has like the largest Penthouse Suite totalling 6000sq feet spread over the entire 8th floor? Famous NYC Vlogger Casey Neistat was lucky to spend a night here:

[youtube id="8sqY6QXtTsI" align="center"]

3. Parks: We loved Mission Dolores Park! We were lucky to visit it on a Sunday, and locals were enjoying themselves in this parc, even having little picnics, like I am used to in Central Park in NYC and Vondelpark in Amsterdam. Alamo Square Park (the park across from the Painted Ladies) was under construction at the time, but that seems to be a nice park too. But Golden Gate Park is a must-visit, which is close to Haight Ashbury on one side, and the residential Richmond district, with the nice Botanical Garden which we visited, and the Japanes Tea Garden, the oldest in the USA.

2016-08 San Francisco Botanical Garden Bamboo

4. Drinks: There are other nice places close to the Fairmont to visit. The Fairmont has a famous Tonga room & Hurricane Bar in its basement. A place that serves tropical cocktails and food, and has a thunderstorm show every 30 minutes. Also across the street you can find the Scarlet Huntington Hotel with it's restaurant The Big 4 (named after the Four men who were for a long time reigning supreme in San Francisco). This restaurant is very chic, and the inside give you a feeling of going back in time. Usually a Pianist is playing. The "Top of the Mark" bar in the Intercontinental Mark Hopkins (Mark Hopkins was one of the big 4) is also a place with a great view. I loved reading about the history of how San Francisco started, with Nob Hill and these residences in the center of it. I am sure our favorite areas I mentioned before have more nice bars, so check it out! (We just preferred drinking Kombucha and going to bed early to get a good rest)

5. Food: We were lucky enough that our friends cooked for us one night. Daniel and Jennifer made the best deviled eggs, sautéed scallops and 2 salads. We brought baked treats for dessert that we gathered on our walks through SF. I love their cute Miniature Bullterrier Tusker Bear who was best friends with my late Bullterrier Vito.

Even though San Francisco does not have a Le Pain Quotidien which is my favorite easy-going organic place to go to in NYC, there are other healthy food places to try out. Jane on Larkin or Jane on Fillmore for instance, is a hip place to get your avocado on toast, and glutenfree treats. The Plant Cafe is totally organic, and has many locations. Our favorite was in the Dogpatch Neighborhood (an upcoming artist oriented neighborhood), as the kitchen was extremely clean and organized, and we ate the best food here. I found that the other locations needed a bit of improvement on certain things after visiting it twice.

2016-08 The Plant Cafe Dogpatch lunch

We also found a French bakery with organic baked goods and delicious treats. So many, we couldn't choose which ones to take! The first time we came in, the owner was very rude. We hoped the owner (French?) had a bad day, and because her treats were so good, we decided to go back and give her another chance. Well... she was rude again! I guess she doesn't want customers coming in and buying her food. Anyway, if you don't care about how you are treated and just want nice organic and glutenfree food, BIO Cafe is the place to go. (picture is us trying out all the goodies at our friends house in SF!) UPDATE 2019: I heard this place went out of business,and the link is now a health page?

2016-08 SF baked goods Jen Ferland

We also went grocery shopping at Trader Joe's in Pacific Heights, and went to Gracias Madre restaurant in The Mission area, which we didn't think was as good as the one in LA, but still o.k. to go to. Their kitchen was very organized and clean as well. We also had a lovely dinner at neighborhood restaurant Olea in Nob Hill.

6. Shopping: Union Square has all the high-end shops, and is usually very crowded. There are many artists in the square showcasing their art. I prefer to shop along Fillmore Street in Pacific Heights in one of the many little boutiques, as well as Haight-Ashbury area for vintage and Hayes Valley for modern and sustainable options like Alternative Apparel and Amour Vert.

7. Nice unknown places to visit:

  • Sutro Baths. This historic landmark is nice to walk around, and learn about its history, built in the 1800's by Adolph Sutro, a selfmade millionaire. It used to be a magnificent glass public indoor saltwater pool, once the largest indoor swimming pool facility in the World. but a fire destroyed this beautiful glass and steel structure decades ago. Now you can see the remains, and enjoy a tranquil walk around, get a tea at the cafe, shop at the shop, or have lunch or dinner in the restaurant Cliff House. If you drive a little further, you find a beautiful beach as well, called Ocean Beach.
  • KitTea. San Francisco's first cat Adoption Café. If you want to hang out with the cats in the cat lounge it is recommended to make a reservation in advance, as space is limited for walk-ins.

8. Weather: SF is colder than for instance LA, and the weather even changes in what neighborhood you are. If you don't like the heat, or the cold, SF is the place to be. It is almost always pleasant. San Francisco does get foggy frequently, which sometimes clears up during the day. The valleys are usually more grey, foggy and dark, and the hills experience more wind and sunshine. it is always smart to bring a light sweater even if it seems hot out. You don't know if you end up somewhere more windy or cold. High season is not the best time to visit San Francisco. The best time to visit San Francisco is September to November. Tip: bring a bodywarmer like Dirk did. I borrowed it most of the time!

Best overall tip for San Francisco: Rent a car for a day. Drive all around San Francisco neighborhoods, and take a drive to Palo Alto, THE place where the tech World comes together. Facebook, HP, Tesla and other tech companies are based here. But don't dream of buying a house here; the prices for even a small house are ridiculous, everyone wants to live here it seems. But it is nice to see it all for sure! Also visit Stanford University with its beautiful buildings, which was founded by Leland Stanford, who started this little town.

 

2016-08 Palo Alto Stanford University

You can also drive by the little garage in which Hewlett Packard started many years ago. It is just in a suburban neighborhood, but it shows you that you can make it with a good idea, even if you start small. We did not have a lot of time here, but we had a great gluten free and health lunch at LYFE Kitchen before driving back to San Francisco. UPDATE 2019: too bad this place is also out of business, otherwise you could have tried the chia ginger cooler.

2016-08 LYFE kitchen chia ginger cooler

And when we were early for our car return, we did something fun: we went up and down the high hills of Nob Hill, which was scary and fun. All together we had the best day!

I hope you enjoy San Francisco just like we did, let me know what you think, or  love about San Francisco?

Also check out my articles about My Los Angeles Hotspots and My California Road Trip from Los Angeles to San Francisco!

Love, Lonneke

Photos Copyright Dirk Verest, Lonneke Engel & Organice Your Life ©

First published in 2017, updated in 2019