Friday, July 29, 2011

Hip Getaways - San Francisco, California

Hello from San Francisco! It's the first stop on our California road trip. The last time I was here, I was on my honeymoon in 2007 and we planned a two day stopover on our way to Hawaii. It's nice to be back, even if it's only for the same amount of time. Which means a 'greatest hits' edition on this visit! I've been waking up at 6:30 am everyday, trying to adjust to Pacific time and to keep up with the blogging as we travel along Highway One.
What To Do? Rent a Bike + See the Bridge - Bike rentals are aplenty in this town and you can rent one for about $35/day and ride along the bay and across the iconic Golden Gate Bridge. If you drive across, it's a $6 toll and there's a vista point lookout just on the other side. Make sure to stop inside the Warming Hut just before the bridge for some hot chocolate. It gets really windy and cold - I actually thought about buying a toque.
Shop Fisherman's Wharf - We're staying in the Embarcadero district and our first stop was the touristy and kitschy (see takeout counter above), Fisherman's Wharf. Between the magnet, t-shirt and key chain stores, it's still a must-do and you can visit the Sea Lions that sun themselves on a nearby pier. We didn't see too many this time around, they like to summer in SoCal. 
Spotted lots of smelly + colourful bath salts

Double-decker merry-go-round at Fisherman's Wharf
Pick up some souvenir saltwater taffy in every imaginable (and sometimes gross) flavour
Eat Seafood - Just passed Fisherman's Wharf is a street full of local mom & pop seafood stands (below left) filled with calamari salad, lobster, clam chowder and bay shrimp.
We opted for the combo: fried calamari and clam strips with marinara sauce ($10.50, above right). The calamari wasn't bad, the clam strips were overcooked and so crispy that they were hard to chew. Make sure you look over all the stands before ordering.
Where to Drink - We finished the night off with drinks at The Tonga Room inside The Fairmont San Francisco (yes, we're serious). It's the old hotel swimming pool built in 1929 that went tiki bar with a floating live band and 'rain showers' every 15 minutes in 1945. Water falls from pipes on the ceiling and strobe lights go off with thunder sound effects. All sorts of awesome going on here, including lava bowls with extra long straws and pina colodas that don't come from an oasis carton mix. Happy Hour means 1/2 price drinks from 5-7 pm, Monday to Friday. The best part? Push 'T' in the elevator for Tonga Room (duh), two levels below in the basement.
Tiki bar garnish is serious business here. We're talkin' pineapple, umbrella and a cherry.
Retro cocktail menu at The Tonga Room
I'll be posting more food + travel pics soon. More from our San Francisco adventure here!


  1. I remember you told me to check out Tonga Room but my cousin didn't want to take us. This is another place that will go back on my list. For some reason, I thought I heard it was going to close down. I must be imagining things.

  2. Aw, this brought back some good SF memories for me! I never did go to the Tiki Room, but you did reco it to me last year... I will HAVE to do that next time!!