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Archive for the ‘Parks’ Category

On a beautiful day like today, one of the top San Franciscan things to do is pack a picnic and head over to Dolores Park to soak in some rays and enjoy great people watching.  Located between the Mission District and the Castro, there’s no shortage of good eats.  Some of my favorite places to pick up food are below:

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Ike’s Place is known for some pretty epic sandwiches.  They a huge selection of sandwiches with a variety of options for meats, bread, and toppings, but all of them are served with Ike’s dirty sauce, which is what makes the sandwiches so delicious.  The place is well known and is always packed though so be prepared for a wait.

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Bi-Rite Market is a local gourmet market that is a must for any serious foodie.  There’s a deli counter where you can order sandwiches which change seasonally.  The market is small but carries a well curated selection of artisanal products and is full of local Northern California treats like Acme bread and Cowgirl Creamery cheeses.  There’s a great selection of cured meats, fresh baked breads, cheeses, and many other ready-to-eat products, and of course wine, making for a great spot to pack a picnic basket!

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And let’s not forget Bi-Rite Creamery, the sister store to the market serving ice-cream and baked goods.  No matter the time of day or the weather, there’s always a line for the delicious ice-cream.  But with flavors like the famous salted caramel, honey lavender, and earl grey, who can resist? And it doesn’t help that they are constantly coming up with new flavors so you have to keep coming back!

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And finally my absolute favorite weekend treat are the pastries at Tartine Bakery.  I’ve tried nearly all the pastries and brunch items here and they are all delicious.  My favorites are definitely the morning bun (pic above), which is similar to a cinnamon roll but with an orange zest to it, the frangipane croissant, essentially an almond croissant, and the croque monsieur.  But they also have butter, chocolate, and ham & cheese croissants, quiches, scones, and bread pudding, all yummy.  A word of warning though, there’s always a line, even at 9am on a Sunday (who wakes up that early on a Sunday???), and if you get there past 10:30am, there’s a good chance they’ll be out of the popular items, namely the morning bun and many of the croissants.  But they also have mouthwatering desserts, sandwiches, and fresh baked bread, so you can still get something delicious if you happen to be there later in the day.

And here’s a picture of Dolores Park from today.  See the throngs of people down there?  So yeah, just know that when it’s an absolute gorgeous and warm day like today, the park will be crowded and there will be very interesting people watching going on but that’s all part of the local San Francisco experience 😀

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So as you all know, I recently went back to NYC/NJ to visit family and friends for the holidays.  While my main purpose was to catch up with everyone, I did manage to visit a few new places and restaurants, yay!  I’ll spend the next few posts talking about places I went to, in addition to some of my favorite city activities, by general area, to give you guys a flavor of the Big Apple.

The hubs and I spent our 4 year anniversary wandering around NYC and one of our stops was to the High Line park.  I visited the park last winter when it was only partially finished so I was excited to see it was nearly completed this time around.  Even in the winter, this park is awesome.  Located in the Meatpacking district, the park has a great urban feel to it.  It’s set amidst old warehouses and new architecturally stunning apartment buildings.  There’s loungers and benches scattered throughout the park and in the warmer months, there’s even movies projected onto the side of a building, making for a great respite from the hustle and bustle of the city.

If you find yourself visiting the High Line, start off at the cool looking Gansvoort Hotel.  There’s tons of restaurants, high end designer stores, and art galleries housed in old warehouses in the area.  For lunch, head to Pastis, the sister restaurant of Balthazar (one of my favorite restaurants), or Del Posto, a michelin starred restaurant with a $29 lunch prix fix!  Or if you just want to snack, go to Chelsea Market.  There’s tons of unique food shops (try the brownies at Fat Witch Bakery, baked goods at Amy’s Bread, or amazing hot chocolate at Jacques Torres) and boutiques, making for a fun afternoon!

If you walk the High Line to the end at 30th Street and 10th Avenue, make your way over to 8th Avenue, head south and you’ll find yourself  in the Chelsea neighborhood, which is a great residential neighborhood full of great restaurants, nightlife, and unique stores.  Make sure to cap off your day with a stop at Billy’s Bakery for dessert.

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Twin Peaks is one of the highest hills in San Francisco and offers sweeping views of most of the city.  On a clear day you can see all of the bay, the Bay Bridge, downtown, the Golden Gate Bridge, and even glimpses of the ocean.  Most people will visit the peak by driving or taking a tour bus up there, park, and walk two steps to the observation area.  However, if you can, I’d highly recommend walking up to the Twin Peaks summit.  From the Cole & Carl St. muni stop in Cole Valley, you can walk over to Clayton St., make a right onto Twin Peaks Boulevard and follow all the way to the top.  As you walk through the residential neighborhood, admiring the lovely homes, you’ll get glimpses of the city skyline.

The walk is rather steep and it’s approximately 1 mile to the top, but you will be rewarded with awesome views.  Afterwards, treat yourself to a delicious brunch at Zazie in Cole Valley or if the wait is too long, head across the street to La Boulange for coffee and pastries.  Then round out your day with some window shopping and people watching a few blocks away on Haight Street, best known for the being the center of the hippie movement in the ’60’s.  Nowadays, it’s a bohemian neighborhood filled with boutique, bookstores, and coffee shops.  It’s also a fun place to go if you want to recycle or trade some personal goods since the street is full of consignment shops and is home to Amoeba Records, which will buy, sell, and trade your used records, CDs, and DVDs.

 

What: Twin Peaks

Where: Start at Cole & Carl Street

Activity: Hiking, Walking (~2 miles roundtrip, Easy to Moderate with steep inclines)

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I have a love-hate relationship with the San Francisco hills.  Living on top of a hill, it’s always a little windier and chillier than the rest of the city.  Not only that, but if I want to take a walk, grab a cup of coffee, or grocery shop, I simply walk down the hill which is all well and good, until I have to drudge up that blasted hill later to get home.  I convince myself that my rear will thank me one day, but I have yet to see any changes.  However, living in a hilly city also means unbelievable views.  I’m constantly amazed that no matter how many hills I climb up, I will always get a different view of the city that takes my breath away.

The hubs and I are fortunate enough to live close to Buena Vista Park and Corona Heights, two parks that are literally a block apart but offers a slightly different perspective of the city.

There are several entrance points to the Buena Vista Park, from the bottom at Haight Street, all along Buena Vista Avenue, and also at the top at Upper Terrace.  Once you enter the park though, it’s like another world, you don’t feel like you are in the middle of a major city until you get glimpses of the skyline through the trees.

Since the park is elevated it makes for a good workout just by walking to the top.  There’s paved trails, unpaved trails, and stairs within the park, making for a nice, varied walk.

It’s a wonderful park to bring your pooch or if you want some peace and quiet since it’s mostly frequented by locals looking to work out or walk their dog off leash.  We have been to the park about every other week since we moved here and we’ve never seen more than a handful of people during our entire walk.  There’s also a children’s playground, tennis courts, dog run, and benches sprinkled throughout.  It’s probably a 1 hour leisurely stroll to the top and back down again, making for a wonderful way to get some fresh air.

If you have time, exit Buena Vista Park at the Upper Terrace entrance, walk a block to Masonic Avenue, take a left and head straight to Corona Heights Park.  This park is mostly barren, a stark contrast to the heavily wooded park you just came from, but if you climb to the peak, you will have an expansive unobstructed view of downtown San Francisco.

My sentiments exactly!

What: Buena Vista Park and Corona Heights Park

Where: Multiple entrances to Buena Vista, Roosevelt and Museum Way for Corona Heights

Activity: Hiking, Walking (~1 hour round-trip, Easy to Moderate)

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