San Francisco California

Looking back at all these pictures and places I realize that there really is a lot to do in the San Francisco area. We stayed here for almost 2 months, I had a two week trip back to Virginia and we spent Christmas in Tahoe. But this was home for most of that time. The cost of living is very high here, but it may be worth it with all the activities and events to go to. We have been doing a post for every city we stayed in, but this is really stretching that concept to the max. I’ll try to remember all the places that we visited, it was a blast!

RV Parks

Candlestick RV Park

IMAG2209Located right across the street from the former home of the Giants and 49ers, this park was just about the most expensive park we stayed at in the entire country $96 per night. It is technically the only RV park in the city of San Francisco, but it’s not all that close to anything you would want to do. It’s basically a parking lot with a large building in the middle with showers and a general store. The best I can say for this place is that the showers are nice and it seems to be safe. But you’d be better off somewhere else, it’s a $30 uber ride to downtown.

Marin Park RV

IMAG2223We moved here after staying the first weekend at Candlestick. It also doesn’t seem like much at first, it’s just a stretch of asphalt with gravel spaces. But the showers are hot, the neighbors are nice, and the staff is really friendly and helpful. It’s located walking distance from the Larkspur ferry, A mall, and a movie theater. There’s lots to do in the surrounding area. Its a great place to explore the Marin county, Oakland and San Fran area. The staff was a real bright spot on our trip. They moved some maintenance work until after the holidays, so that Laurel wouldn’t have to move the RV alone while I was back in Virginia, even though it was totally our fault for not extending the reservation earlier.

Marin County

Marin county is a great area of the country. At every turn there is a little town that feels authentic, a great mountain view or a fantastic restaurant. They only down side is that it is SUPER expensive. From the rent at the RV park to the beers at the pub, everything is a little pricey. There are still spots that are reasonable, but there are three times as many yuppie shops that sell overpriced high fashion clothes. But I will say that the views are great here, there’s a reason that George Lucas put his Lucasfilm campus up in Marin County.

Muir Woods National Monument

IMAG2372Everybody raves about the redwoods here and don’t get me wrong, they’re great. But this place has nothing on the FREE parks in Humboldt county. If you just stay on the boardwalk path with the gaggle of other tourist then you will be missing about 90% of the park. We decided to test our map reading skills and walk up to a lookout point. That part went great, it was the walk back where we got lost and spent 2 hours in some of Marin County’s most beautiful countryside. Still worth the $7 entry fee.

Samuel P Taylor State Park

We drove about 30 minutes to this park from the RV it was a nice drive. At was a little rainy that day, like a lot of days in SF, but it was still worth going out there. We talked to the nice guy at the front gate about living on the road, he was living and working in the park for the last couple months. It seems like a good deal, we need to look into that later! We did a 2 mile hike through some pretty impressive redwoods with a great lookout over a river. It seems like a good place to spend the day no matter what the weather.

San Rafael

This is a town just north of our base at Larkspur. There are a lot of suburban things to do here, but we were really impressed with their little downtown area. It reminds me of Fredericksburg, VA near where I grew up.

Theresa and Johnny’s

If you could travel back in time and eat breakfast in your grade school friends grandparent’s house it would be just like eating here. There are old home movies playing on the tv, there’s random kistchy things on the wall. But not in a bullshit Applebees sort of way, in a weird uncle’s basement kind of vibe. The staff is really friendly and make you feel welcome in their home. Not to mention that the food is delicious and just weird enough.

Bay Thai

I’ve never been to Thailand, but I’ve seen enough travel shows to know that this place feels authentic. There’s only enough room for about 15 people and it’s not like they’re saving all the room for the kitchen. You can see the whole place from the front door. The place was so packed that we had to share a table with an Asian family and a random old guy. But that just added to the experience. The portions are HUGE and we ordered way too much food, as has become our way. I’m going to make a wild statement here and call this one of the best Thai places I’ve ever eaten at.

Terrapin Crossroads

Continuing our tradition of finding cool places by accident, Laurel found this place because she liked the sign from the highway. She went there with her mom and sisters while I was back in Virginia. We both went there on a Sunday just to have some lunch and watch a little TV. She thought it was just Grateful Dead inspired, but it turns out that it’s owned by Phil Lesh of the Grateful Dead! There was a band playing when we were there there that sounded great, turns out that it was his son Graham and some other local musicians, that was a really cool treat. Cool place!

Larkspur

We mostly just know Larkspur from the ‘Larkspur Landing’ shopping center but we did venture into or through the downtown area once or twice. It was a quiet little suburban town. The hills in the area keep the little towns more separated than they are in other places so everything feels smaller.

El Hurache Loco

IMAG2235This place just looked like a California Chipotle knockoff at first, so it took us a few times to get around to trying it. I came over here for lunch and got the mole chicken and was really surprised how authentic and delicious it was. We came back for breakfast and were REALLY impressed by the quality. The food is simple and delicious without being too overpriced (for Marin). I recommend any of their breakfasts and you must get the Mexican Coffee. Probably the best Mexican food we’ve had in California (and that is saying something)

Avatar Punjabi Burritos

This is one of those ideas that is just waiting to tear across the country. Indian food in a tortilla. Say these words with me… Curried Sweet Potato Burrito. Doesn’t that just sound awesome? Sweet, salty, SPICY… in a convenient burrito package. And they are a good value also, huge portions. You know a place is great when we go back twice on this trip.

Mill Valley

We fell in love with this place as soon as we drove through the main square. There’s just something about the tall trees and the little shops that line the square. Now don’t get me wrong, some of those shops are selling $150 designer flannel shirts and other overpriced things nobody needs. But the restaurants are great, there’s a great little park with a redwood grove and the library is beautiful. The grocery store was like a whole foods and a locally owned market at the same time, so many products in such a small space, with a great beer section. Mill Valley is one of those places you wish you could travel back in time to and live in it before all the money got there.

Sweetwater Music Hall

IMAG2349We found this place on Bandsintown because we were looking for live music to see in the area. We saw Assembly of Dust the first time and ended up coming back for their new years show with The Pimps of Joytime. Its an intimate venue without a bad place to watch the show. I think the farthest you can possibly be from the stage is about 50 feet and then you’re at the bar! They had a nice selection of local craft beers and the drinks (though a bit pricey) were strong and delicious. It’s a great place to see music, you feel like you’re inside a music video.

San Francisco

IMAG2153SF doesn’t have the feel of a city that has almost 4.5 million people in it (metro area). I think that’s because only 900,000 actually live in the city itself. It’s alot like Washington DC in that way, most of the population is in the suburbs. Besides the small downtown area the whole place just feels like a tightly packed suburb. The places feel established and authentic and you imagine that they all have interesting histories. But parking is impossible, I hope you like driving around forever and looking for a spot 10 blocks away from where you started. Uber is your friend. The ferry into the city is $10 each way, which seems like a lot, but it’s worth it!

The Stinking Rose

IMAG2126Laurel had been to this place before and the cookbook is legendary in her family, so we had to go here on the first night. We had some drinks before so that might influence our review… but it was a crazy experience. The appitizer was just garlic cloves soaking in a ‘hottub’ of oil, they were so soft you could spread them on bread. I got the garlic meatloaf and I was VERY satisfied by the incredible garlic content as well as the portion size. If you love garlic then you are required to go here if you’re in SF.

Golden Gate Park

IMAG2143To my surprise this park is not by the Golden Gate Bridge, you can’t even see it from here. But it is a really fantastic collection of things to do (free and pay) There is a science museum and an art gallery. We rented bikes and rode all around and played a little disc golf. It’s really big enough to make you forget that you’re in the middle of a huge city. I appreciate that.

California Academy of Sciences

IMAG2419We felt like kids here, probably because it’s a kids museum. But the rain forest alone is worth the price of admission and they have penguins! The aquariums downstairs are amazing! The octopus was crawling right across the glass and we got a super close look at him for a couple minutes. If your’re going to go it’s a good idea to find a member to get you at least one free ticket and remember like most museums it closes at 5pm? WHY? Because science!

Golden Gate Disc Golf Course

IMAG2149I only played a few holes because we got there in the middle of the day on Saturday and it was packed. But two things happened. I had a great underhand drive on the first hole and split right between two small trees for an easy birdie while being watched by about 10 other players. That never happens, I usually choke under the pressure. Then I got progressively worse on the next couple of holes until I almost hit a guy on the 4th hole because all I could think of was not throwing it onto the busy road that lined the right side of the fairway. Then we decided that it was taking too long and got back on our bikes and left. But it was a nice course that I want to play again sometime.

SantaCon

IMAG2361We were told about this event the day before by a friend of Laurel’s from high school in Bolivia. We were supposed to meet up with him anyway, so why not do it while everyone is dressed as Santa and going on bar crawls at noon on a Saturday? It was kind of crazy and I did have to break up a fight between a couple of Drunken Santas. But overall it was a very SF experience.

Palace of Fine Arts

IMAG2185This place doesn’t quite feel like it’s in the real world. It doesn’t feel like it should be just on the outskirts of downtown SF. It kind of feels like it should be in an amusement park, because when you see something like this it’s usually in ruins not perfectly clean and intact. But we parked our bikes and walked through it near sunset, it was magical. We saw one wedding and two other bride and grooms taking wedding photos there and they had the right idea. It’s another one of those places you have to see to truly appreciate and best yet, it’s free!

Pier 39

I’m only putting this on the list because It seems like we love everything we do on this trip. We do not love traditionally touristy spots. This whole place seems like it’s catering to foreign tourists, like its some sort of amusement park caricature of an everyday ‘Merican city. Do you like overpriced cheap souvenirs and bright neon lights? Can I interest you in some shrimp poppers or extreme fajitas? Just go almost anywhere else in the city.

Breweries and BrewPubs

Mill Valley Beerworks (Fort Point Brewing)

IMAG2286We happened upon Mill Valley Beer Works when we were looking for parking in Mill Valley. It’s located on a quiet street just off the square. It was Saturday afternoon so it wasn’t very busy, the inside upscale, kind of a modern gastropub vibe. Since they weren’t really busy I got to talk to the bartender a while while I was drinking my flight and ended up getting a couple extra tastes for free. All the beers were really good. And I discovered that they had recently changed their name to, Fort Point brewing company and moved the brewery over the bridge to San Francisco.

Untappd Fort Point Brewing Rankings
Favorite Beer: Pi5

21st Amendment Brewery & Restaurant

I’ve mostly liked 21st because of their awesome artwork that they use on the cans and packaging. as well was their risk taking flavors “hell or high watermelon”. There’s nothing really special about the brewery it kind of looks like every other beer bar in SF, but there was a cool upstairs section that was taken over by some hockey fans when we were there. I did enjoy the Drunken Monk while we were there.

Untapped 21st Amendment Rankings
Favorite Beer: Drunken Monk

Rogue Public House

This is an Oregon brewery, but they didn’t have a location near us when we were there. So I was pretty excited to get to visit this place. The building itself has a lot of character, it feels like a dive bar. Which is perfect for Rogue beers, they are one of the most established craft breweries in the country. They had a good selection of beers there and a full bar with weird infused liquors. I was really excited to try the barley wine on tap!

Untappd Rogue Brewery Rankings
Favorite Beer: XS Old Crustacean Barleywine

Marin Brewing Company

IMAG2404 This was the first place we went when we moved the RV to the area. The food is decent, the environment is really welcoming and the beers have a great variety. I guess that comes with being in business for a long time. The locals who were there were really nice and didn’t seem like the rich stuffed shirt types that we encountered at some of the other places in Marin.

Untappd Marin Brewing Company Rankings
Favorite Beer : Van Who? Flanders Red

Overall Favorite Beer

TIE!

XS Old Crustacean Barleywine

Van Who?

Honorable Beer Mention

Blood Orange Gose – I discovered that this is a great morning or afternoon beer. It’s like the beer equivalent of a mimosa. Also it’s still good even after it’s warm, good for keeping in a backpack and picnicking around the city.

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