Once in a while, work sends me on wonderful adventures – some more exciting than others. This time I got the chance to re-visit San Francisco. When my SFO trip was confirmed, I knew exactly what I wanted to do. The two things I missed last time because I overspent my time at the Disney Museum (it was still worth it!).
Right away I booked tickets to get on to Alcatraz island. Because we went right after Christmas time last year, it was extremely busy and all the official island tour tickets were sold out. Even when we went on Friday this time – they were only selling tickets for the Monday so be aware and buy in advance.
Day 1 we traveled from the San Mateo area into the city and parked in a parking lot in Chinatown that had a fortune printed at each spot, though not the main reason why we chose this lot, it was pretty cool and offered such a beautiful view too! $30 for a full day parking but if you drive around, there are much cheaper lots. With a car full of valuables, we chose this lot cause it was monitored and across from a police station.
We made the walk to The Market Place, another place we missed last year because I couldn’t figure out where it was – it was at Pier 1 while I searched for it by Fisherman’s Wharf. There we found some food to eat before we headed off to Alcatraz. I brought a light latte from Blue Bottle, 1 scoop of cream cheese and chocolate chips and white miso apple ice-cream, snacked on 2 fresh oysters and 1 clam for $2 a piece and shared a small antipasto platter from Boccalone. We then made our way towards Fisherman’s Wharf to get a $7 sour dough clam chowder (enough for 2) from Nick’s Lighthouse for lunch and made our way to line up to get to the island.
The boat ride to the island was a short 15 minutes but offered a great harbour view of San Francisco. The ticket included a short movie about the island and an audio tour of the cell house. We saw the daily life of federal prisoners and heard lots of interesting stories of people from both sides. If you’re lucky, you can catch the cell house demonstration where a Park Ranger does a demo of the opening and shutting of the cells.
Getting back on the mainland and before dinner, we decided to do some shopping since it was on the way to the restaurant. We walked in and out of both Nordstroms and Nordstrom Rack and visited Marshalls and Ross all on the same street.
If you’ve read my previous posts, we have yet to learn our lesson and make reservations ahead of time. It’s also because we never know what we want to eat until the day of. So this day, we wanted to have seafood and found a place on Yelp called Sotto Mare. After a treacherous uphill climb, we made the cutoff time and waited 1 hour to get a seat. The wait was worth it though, the seafood risotto and crab ciopinno was better than what we had in Italy!
This night, we stayed at an Airbnb for the first time (if you’re interested, click here to get a $20 credit on your first stay). We drove across the Golden Gate Bridge into Mill Valley to be closer to our next destination for day 2, Muir Woods.
Spending for Day 1:
Parking – $30
Oysters – $6
Boccalone – $10
Nick’s Lighthouse Clam Chowder – $7
Alcatraz cruise – $62 (for 2)
Blue Bottle latte – $4.50
Ice cream – $5
Sotto Mare – $80
Airbnb – $136 CAD
Day 2 – Muir Woods, Muir Beach and Sausalito – coming soon.