San Francisco: Biking the city Part 1

The first day of our 10-day West Coast trip started in the lovely city of San Francisco. When planning the trip, I asked Joel if he would be into biking the city and he said yes, so for better or worse we decided to petal our way from the Union Square area to Sausalito.

We started off the morning by fueling up on crepes at the Honey Honey Cafe and Crepery. There was a line but it was worth it. The mimosas were delicious — the oranges were fresh-squeezed by a funky-looking machine, so they were incredibly fresh. It was a great way to start the day off.

West Coast Trip

We rented bikes from Blazing Saddles on Mason St., only a few blocks from the Nob Hill Inn, where we were staying. Luckily it was a few blocks downhill, as we became well acquainted with the hills when we got in the night before — we took the BART to Powell St. and walked with all of our luggage the .7 miles uphill. Anyway, we got our bikes, our map and set out towards the bike-friendly Market Street.

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Our first stop was Civic Center Plaza to get a look at the fabulous San Francisco City Hall and it’s enormous dome (fifth-largest in the world!). The building is stunning and was well worth a quick visit.

We continued on down Market Street and onto “the Wiggle,” which is apparently a relatively flat, bike-friendly path that wiggles northeast of Market towards the Golden Gate Park panhandle. Our second detour took us to Alamo Square Park, where we had a great view of the Painted Ladies and the San Francisco skyline. Of course these Painted Ladies are famously featured in city photos and were in the opening credits of Full House. One of the Painted Ladies was under renovation, so we just stood in front of it in our pictures.
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We left the park and continued on to the Golden Gate Park panhandle and into the giant park itself. Golden Gate Park is larger than Central Park in NYC and definitely felt it — we biked the entire width of it, with a few stops:

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The Conservatory of Flowers

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The Spreckels Temple of Music

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Japanese Tea Garden

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West coast trip
The Dutch Windmill

As we got to the Windmill, we could practically smell the ocean. I was dying to get a view of the Pacific and as we rounded off of John F. Kennedy Drive onto the Great Highway by Ocean Beach, we were treated to a cool breeze and pretty view. The beach itself was huge — much longer than we are used to on the East Coast — and the water was clearly chilly based on the wet suits donned by each and every surfer.

We pedaled like fiends up a steep hill to get a better view of the water and Seal Rock by the Cliff House restaurant and Camera Obscura. It was a cloudy morning (or potentially afternoon, I don’t remember what time it was) but the view was still magnificent. We walked over to the other side of the restaurant to check out the Sutro Baths, the ruins of a large, private swimming facility built in the late 1800s. I originally wanted to head down to the ruins, but it was a long way down, so we enjoyed the view from above.

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West coast trip

After taking in the view, we headed onto the next big site — the Golden Gate Bridge! We briefly got lost (the story of our lives) but eventually found our way. Along the way, we saw a man biking and asked if he was going to the bridge — he said yes, but wasn’t quite sure either how to get there. So we all tentatively headed forward in hopes we were going the right way. After winding through some gorgeous neighborhoods, we ended up in the Presidio (an old military base transformed into a park) and could SEE the iconic bridge, so we felt confident we were headed the right way.

West Coast Trip

Some of the hills were intense. I had to get out and walk the bike up — and could barely even do that! But the view was amazing, my legs felt strong and eventually we made our way to the bridge! Stay tuned for Part 2 as we crossed the Bridge, checked out Sausalito and finished the day with one of the best meals we have ever had!

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