Friday, February 27, 2015

Explore, Chill, Enjoy. San Francisco in one day!

My uncle is born and raised in California and had the patience and endurance to guide us through a series of fun and interesting excursions. One of those was a day in San Francisco where we managed to explore, chill and enjoy in just one day!

The trip took place a few years ago but all the places are classic and still exist apart from Yoshis San Francisco (Live jazz venue and Japanese restaurant) which is now closed and operates only in Oakland. 
Waterfront Hotel, Oakland, Jack London Square

We started our day by catching a ferry from Oakland Jack London Square terminal in the East Bay and San Francisco Ferry Building. The ticket costs one way around six dollars and its a great way to get to San Francisco as you see the town from the sea and pass the famous Alcatraz island.

View from the Ferry

San Francisco Port



One of the best places to start your wandering around the city is the Fisherman's Wharf, the northern waterfront area of San Francisco from Ghirardelli Square or Van Ness Avenue east to Pier 35 or Kearny Street. The area is very touristic filled with souvenir shops, entertainers and themed museums. This is the place to taste Dungeness crab and clam chowder served in a sourdough bread bowl.

Boudin Bakery
As we strolled the busy neighborhood my husband (not a fan of seafood) opted for a classic IN N OUT  burger from the famous fast food chain. Although not typical of the city, I have to say these burgers were among the best we tried in California (coming from Greece we desperately wanted to try the best American burger possible).

At a certain point of the day we decided to split, the boys went out to check out a sports bar and the girls went to visit SFMOMA - San Francisco Museum of Modern Art. If you love modern art this is your chance to see paintings of famous painters like Mark Rothko, Frida Kahlo, Paul Klee, René Magritte, Henri Matisse, Pablo Picasso, Jackson Pollock, Andy Warhol and get familiar with the art of California. SFMOMA features important examples of movements ranging from Fauvism and Cubism to Pop art and Minimalism, with exceptional strength in Abstract Expressionism, Conceptualism, German Expressionism, and the art of California.
At the moment the main building of SFMOMA is closed for expansion through early 2016 and exhibitions and events take place around the Bay Area.

Robert Arneson, California Artist, 1982, source (
Time for lunch and we all are excited to visit my uncle's favorite spot for seafood, Swan Oyster Depot. My husband impressed by an amazing praise from my uncle, expected a luxurious and comfortable seafood restaurant instead to his astonishment, he discovered a narrow oyster bar with  tiny stools and an hour long line up by both locals and tourist.  

We stood in line for quite some time which actually goes by really fast because people eat and go. In my opinion its worth it, because I had the freshest seafood ever! We had a mix of raw oysters, a combination of seafood cocktail, and half cracked crab (served with bread & butter, choice of cocktail sauce, louie sauce or mayonnaise). I was impressed by the fast service and how they constantly chopped and cleaned seafood everything in front of you. Seafood is best eaten fresh so it can't get any fresher than that! My uncle took care of the bill so I don't know what they charge but I suppose the place is pricey, something you would expect from a famous place with good quality seafood.

Swan Oyster Depot

Mix of raw oysters

After eating our seafood we decided to see it too, so we headed to the California Academy of Sciences which is in Golden Gate Park. An impressive Park of 1,017 acres where you’ll discover gardens, playgrounds, lakes, picnic groves, trails and some very interesting places like the Conservatory of Flowers, de Young Museum, the Japanese Tea Tree Garden, the San Francisco Botanical Garden, the Stow Lake and many more. You probably need days to explore the whole park but is a must, especially if you love nature or you have children, the lush vegetation is impressive it will rest your mind and spirit and your kids will be excited to run around and explore.

I am a sucker for aquariums and that was the main reason to visit California Academy of Sciences but I also enjoyed a lot the visit to the rainforest. The indoor rainforest is an impressive dome that maintains temperatures of 82-85° F and a special misting system ensures a 5% or above humidity.Steamy and hot inside, you get the chance to walk on a spiral ramp that leads to the top while you observe beautiful birds, butterflies, different samples of flora and fauna. You can pay a general admission ticket that includes access to all museum and aquarium exhibits including rainforest, planetarium and living proof.


After all the walking and eating and sightseeing, a real Greek has to do what he has to do. Chill down and enjoy a cup of coffee. During our visit in North Beach, a neighborhood in the northeast of San Francisco adjacent to Chinatown, Fisherman's Wharf and Russian Hill and while we were walking through the streets of Little Italy, we bump into this cute Italian cafe. We saw the name Greco and the outside seating and we immediately decided to enjoy a cappuccino. The place is ideal to watch the passers, inhale fresh air and relax. Note (That was the moment I realized that most Americans just grab a coffee and go, instead of having coffee al fresco for one hour and maybe more...:)).


What better way to end a beautiful day in San Francisco than to enjoy a live jazz band. We were lucky enough to have reservations to watch a live jazz band in Yoshi's, one of the most significant jazz venues on the West Coast. Unfortunately, I don't remember the name of the band (my honest apologies to the band) but I will never forget how passionate they played and how the audience applauded. We genuinely enjoyed it and we loved the whole atmosphere.

What an amazing city and in just one day you find so many exciting and different things to do. 

I will be back for sure...hopefully a nice sunny day!

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