A few months ago I got an itch to travel. Something in my soul needed time away. I really wanted a change. I needed to see new things, smell new smells, and ultimately get a fresh perspective. I ask Niko to entertain the idea of taking a short birthday trip and to my delight, he wanted it, too. We booked 2 tickets to San Francisco the next day.
Niko and I don’t travel often. We are homebodies by nature and just love spending time in places that are comfortable and familiar. I travel for work but travelling just because is new for us. I’m so grateful for the opportunity to make memories in a new place. Our four days in the Bay area were filled with hiking, seafood, a little bit of rest, and gorgeous views of the Pacific Ocean everywhere we went.
Here’s a glimpse of some of the fun things we did.
This was my birthday. It only comes once every four years (I’m a Leap Day baby), so it felt like the perfect day to explore a new place. Niko and I took a 3 hour trolley tour around the city. It may be a touristy attraction, but there’s no better way to get a mini crash course than a guided tour. Afterward we ate at Hog Island Oyster Co. for an amazing seafood dinner. This was my first oyster dinner and I’ll just say… hot sauce makes everything better. We also couldn’t end the day without watching 30 Rock’s Leap Day episode.
Day Two was Niko’s favorite day. We woke up early and prepared for a full day of hiking. First, we went to Muir Beach. At the beach, we hiked up to the top of the mountains and had the best view of the ocean below us. It was seriously breathtaking (and it wasn’t even my favorite view of the trip). Then we headed to Sausalito for lunch. Sausalito is a cute little town built into the side of cliff. It has specialty shops and cafes and plenty of places to pick up sweets. We refueled with fish and chips and rested our tired legs from the morning.
After a quick rest, we went to Muir Woods National Monument to hike among the Redwoods. They were so impressive! I think I need to go back to fully take in all the beauty. Every trail at Muir Woods is gorgeous, but I was seriously unprepared for the difficulty of the hike. After spending all day climbing mountains, our legs were physically shaking. It was all worth it though!
On Day Three we went back to all the places we wanted to see up close in the city. We started off with a peaceful morning at the Palace of Fine Arts. Let me tell you, it’s magical. I’d love to photograph a portrait session here someday. The architecture, the lagoon, the history. It’s all incredible to see.
Then we headed to COIT observation tower to see the city from high up. I love that you get a full 360 degree view of the Bay area from COIT.
We stopped to rest at the Presidio for snacks and great views of the Golden Gate Bridge.
We also took a short trip to Baker Beach before finally heading to my favorite place in San Francisco. I’ve been wanting to see the Sutro Bath ruins for a while.
The Sutro baths were once a large public saltwater swimming pool complex built in the side of a cliff at Land’s End. While once very popular, after some time it began deteriorating and now it is the strangest picture of what was left behind. Land’s End is prettiest at sunset, so make sure you see it at its most magical!
We took Day 4 pretty easy because I wanted some down time to process the trip and prepare to head back home. On our last day in San Francisco we took a ferry to Alcatraz. A friend of mine (hey Paige!) recommended the audio tour. Listening to the prison’s stories was so interesting. Some were very sad but overall, it was fascinating. The rest of the day was spent enjoying the sunshine on the pier, eating carnival food, and letting the sea lions entertain us.
Our vacation felt so quick but it was the jolt of inspiration I needed. I’m so excited now to take this new energy into my 2020 wedding season!
What are your favorite things to do in San Francisco? Any places you’d add to the itinerary for next time?