Hygge in the City: San Francisco, CA

Welcome to San Francisco, friends. The city where each street has it’s own personality, where individuality reigns, and where you can never run out of restaurants to try, museums to peruse, festivals to attend, music to marvel at, art to appreciate, architecture to stand in awe of.

My husband, daughter, and I were thrilled to take a trip down to visit family a few weeks back, and although it was a quick trip (just 4 days) – the city did not disappoint.

This is the first post in a series of posts I like to call “Hygge in the City”, where I’ll talk about five hygge spots and activities in new cities I visit.

San Francisco is the perfect city to start, so vibrant and alive. So, here goes!

Golden Gate Park

You could spend a whole weekend just exploring San Francisco’s elaborate Golden Gate Park! The 1,017 acres (20% larger than Central Park!) of the park include playgrounds, a museum, lakes, memorials, sports areas, wildlife, a conservatory, statues, groves, gardens, and carousels.

Image may contain: 3 people, including Keith Mader and Lindsay Mader, people smiling, people sitting and closeup

We spent most of our time in the Koret Children’s Quarter where we rode the 100-year-old carousel and watched our little girl enjoy the play area – complete with soft rubber turf, unique concrete slide, and grassy knoll.

The features of Golden Gate Park are attractive no matter what mood you’re in – you can bask in the natural beauty of the park’s many gardens, groves, and lakes; you can stay active with a bike ride through the park; you can meet up with friends for a cultural experience at the Japanese Tea Garden or de Young Museum; the list is never-ending!

 

Saint Frank Coffee

As a native Portlander, I’ve had some pretty excellent coffee and let me tell you, Saint Frank Coffee can hold it’s own against the very best Portland has to offer.

We ordered a latte (smooth, creamy, and delicious), and an iced coffee tasting flight, which included four brews: Kenya Kaiguri, Honduras Las Nubes, Honduras Los Hermanos (my least favorite), and Burundi Ninga Hill (my favorite).

Image may contain: Lindsay Mader, sitting, outdoor and food

The word I would use to describe the staff is – chill. Not uppity or over the top at all, just nice folks who like good coffee. We arrived at Saint Frank Coffee right before closing time (whoops!) and while some places may begrudgingly take your order, hoping you don’t sit inside – the staff at Saint Frank were wonderful and didn’t mind at all that we had slipped in at the tail end of their shift.

The interior is gorgeous, clean and simple in design. It was also cool to see the roasters and bag of coffee in the back. We enjoyed our coffee in Saint Frank’s storefront seating area, though I think next time we’ll stick to sitting inside – the street is quite noisy.

 

Mission Cheese

Next time you’re in San Francisco, you MUST visit Mission Cheese.

The atmosphere was laid-back and friendly: smiles coated the faces of customers and staff, the food made you feel fancy but comfortable, and the location was perfect for an after-lunch stroll down Valencia Street.

I ordered the California Gold Sandwich (San Joaquin Gold cheese, chevre, prosciutto, fig preserves) and a locally-made ginger ale and let me tell you, both were ON POINT. The sandwich tasted like a bite of spring.

Everyone at my table was thrilled with their food and beverage choices – we didn’t want to leave!

 

Presidio Picnic

We stumbled upon the Presidio Picnic by accident and we’re so glad we did! Running every Sunday between March and October, the Presidio Picnic offers 25 rotating international cuisine food truck options.

Everyone in our group ordered from a different food truck (one ordered pizza, one teriyaki chicken, one lumpia, and one clam chowder) and we were all delighted with our choices.

The seven-acre lawn of the Presidio has plenty of room for relaxing on picnic blankets, playing fun yard games, or letting the kids run around. The views from the lawn are spectacular – you can see the skyscrapers of the city and San Francisco Bay.

Special events are scheduled on different weeks during the picnic, so be sure the check the schedule for events such as yoga classes, bike riding lessons for kids, and cultural dance performances.

 

Alexander Book Company

An immense collection of books shelved on three substantially-sized levels. Friendly (not hovering) staff. Comfortable chairs and nooks in which to examine the bookish treasures you find. Clean and well-organized aisles. An abundance of sale and value books. What more could one want from a bookstore?

This is Alexander Book Company, an independently owned bookstore in downtown San Francisco. The relaxed atmosphere and wide selection in this bookstore reminded me a little bit of my beloved Powell’s Books in my hometown, Portland, OR (though Alexander is not nearly as large).

As an added bonus, Alexander Book Co. has planted over 380,000 trees with Trees for the Future. It feels good to know your dollars are going to something bigger when a company supports charity 🙂

 

This is by no means an exhaustive list of all of the hygge places and things to do in San Francisco.

These places didn’t make the list for my top five hygge spots, but are definitely worth visiting:

  • Toast Eatery – a small, quaint brunch and sandwich cafe on West Portal. The food was pretty good and our waiter was very friendly.
  • Fort Point National Historic Site – explore the astounding architecture and rich history of Fort Point, which was built for the Civil War. The site offers gorgeous views of the Golden Gate Bridge and the bay.
  • BookShop West Portal – a sweet neighborhood bookstore with a charming children’s area and a spectacular cookbook section.
  • City Lights Booksellers & Publishers – this historic bookstore attracts a more alternative crowd. City Lights specializes in world literature, the arts, and progressive politics.
  • Dandelion Chocolate – a small batch bean-to-bar chocolate factory where you can sample delicious chocolate chunks made from beans originating all over the world. It was a bit spendy and very crowded, but worth checking out.
  • Ambassador Toys – a neighborhood toy store with a wide variety of toys, books, games, crafts and stuffed animals. This shop offers toys with much more character than big box stores.

If you want to read of others’ experiences visiting San Francisco, try reading Something Beautiful’s San Francisco Travel Guide, Ordinary Traveler’s Ultimate Guide to San Francisco in a Weekend, or Yeldah Yousfi’s 3 Days in San Francisco: Travel Guide & Itinerary.

You can also check out a guide created by a local – Whimsy Soul’s Ultimate San Francisco Travel Guide.

Let me know in the comments what you love best about living in or visiting San Francisco!

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