Food & Wine, Travel & Leisure

Discover the day tripper in you

Did you know there are thousands of free views in the city of San Francisco, and driving a car isn’t the best way to take advantage of the region’s stunning natural beauty? Discover the day tripper in you, and follow us from Sonoma County to San Francisco.

Take advantage of the city’s hill venues and their vistas. Photo by Courtney Paige

With Sonoma County’s SMART train on the brink of passenger service, a day trip to the city without getting in your car will soon be a reality. Granted this day trip has multiple legs but isn’t life all about the journey? And who doesn’t like a good set of legs?

Curious to see if a roundtrip venture from Sonoma County to San Francisco could be accomplished in one day without getting in a car, I felt compelled to try. One snag though, the train’s passenger service has been delayed until summer. So, I enlisted an adventurous travel companion and simply drove to the ferry determined not to let logistics get in the way.

The Larkspur Ferry is a capsule in time. Float to the city I say. Photo by Courtney Paige

Weekend parking is free at the Larkspur Ferry, so we convinced ourselves that perk will make up for the lack of train service. Another benefit Larkspur Ferry offers is the Clipper card – big savings! After jetting across the bay in a quick 35-minute boat ride, we fawn over majestic Coit Tower as the ferry floats into port.

View of Coit Tower as we float towards the dock at Embarcadero’s Ferry Building. Photo by Courtney Paige

Moments later, we disembarked at San Francisco’s famous Embarcadero ferry building and hit the city of San Francisco on foot with a general idea of our plans but no major commitments. 

Check out the video to get a more intimate visual on our day trip.

The key to navigating the city is to equip yourself with good walking shoes, wear layers and plan the day in little spurts. For this day trip, we incorporated intervals of floating, walking, eating, drinking and viewing.

We settled on massages at Hotel Vitale Spa, a hop, skip and a jump away from the Embarcadero. It’s literally across the street from the ferry building. Even though this hotel caters to tourists, it’s a secret spot for locals who get chilled to the bone with the city’s moist cold weather.

Hotel Vitale Rooftop Voyeur Outdoor Bath – Exquisite! Photo by Courtney Paige

The concierge at Hotel Vitale mentioned a bottomless champagne brunch at La Fusion located on the quaint European alley, Belden Place. An option one can’t refuse. This alley is a treasure trove of quint awning covered restaurants with cozy outdoor heaters.

Brunch at La Fusion Cafe is the quickest way to satisfy your bistro fix. Amazing Eggs Benedict. Photo by Courtney Paige

Next, we hopped the trolley for a mere $2 and moseyed over to Museum of Modern Art on 3rd Street. 

San Francisco Muni Trolley – Public Transpo at its finest! Photo by Courtney Paige

MOMA is celebrating their one-year multi-million dollar renovation at the end of April with a fancy soiree.

San Francisco’s Museum of Modern Art live rooftop deck. Located in SOMA.

As much as we loved the rooftop massages and outdoor rose petal hot baths at the Vitale Spa, the piece de resistance was the Conservatory of Flowers.

Golden Gate Park’s Conservatory Flowers – Photo by Courtney Paige

Located just a few miles west of downtown, at the pinnacle of Golden Gate Park’s panhandle, the Conservatory of Flowers links Haight-Ashbury and the 2.5-mile long city park. With public transportation as our new best friend, we rolled with the flow and stepped off the Muni into a world where time stands still. An ample amount of time to stop and smell the flowers. The Conservatory of Flowers is the perfect place to warm up & snuggle up on a cold foggy day. Inside, the atmosphere is surprisingly tropical – a sheer contrast to the cool gray city’s urban mecca.

Inspiration is everywhere, so get moving! The world is waiting.

~ Courtney Paige