Reviewed by: Sarah
Overall Grade: A
Kid’s Rating: n/a
Fun Factor: A
Best For: Couples, girlfriend getaways, quick family getaway with older children
Date of Stay: April 2010
The Lowdown: UrbanMoms.ca and Ford Canada gave me the opportunity to escape my “real life” for a few days to visit San Francisco and test drive the new 2011 Ford Fiesta.
I spent two days and one night in the luxurious Hotel Vitale, located in the revitalized Embarcadero Waterfront and Financial District of San Francisco. Lounging in my stunning hotel room, test driving a fantastic car on winding San Francisco roads leading to a beautiful winery, and dining on some fantastic food filled my two glorious days.
Although San Francisco is a long, five hour flight from Toronto, it is worth the travel. The waterfront views, rolling hills, cable cars and delectable food choices make it a hotbed for foodies, eco-tourists, and sightseers alike (and gave me huge “Full House” flashbacks). A small city, measuring approximately 47 square miles, San Francisco offers culture and adventure at every turn. Although I strongly recommended spending about three days in the city in order to really enjoy all it has to offer, it is the perfect place for a quick, relaxing and rejuvenating getaway.
Top 4 Things You Should Do and See:
1. Take Advantage of Hotel Vitale’s Amenities: Accommodations with a “green” flair, Hotel Vitale offers its guests a banquet of fantastic amenities to pamper, relax and nurture mind, body and spirit. A fully equipped fitness room, jogging maps for the city’s waterfront, rainforest shower heads and complimentary robe and slippers and just a taste of what guests can enjoy. Even their wakeup call- greeting me by name, wishing me a great day and reminding me that there was fresh coffee in the lobby- is serene. The hotel’s Spa Vitale offers private gourmet bathing in its rooftop bamboo garden. A 25 minute soak in a luxurious tub, infused with seasonal bathing products, enhanced by a herbal beverage and cool cucumbers for your eyes is the most indulgent pampering I have done in a long time. Other offerings include the Stress Busting facial (highly recommended by one of my fellow writers), aromatic massage, the San Francisco treat (a foot and leg massage), and an instructional massage class for couples. Finally, early morning yoga classes are a decedent way to start off a day of taking in San Francisco’s sights.
2. Shop at The Ferry Building: Located across the street from Hotel Vitale, The Ferry Building is the go-to place for foodies, chefs or anyone who just loves good food. Showcasing local producers and the ethnic diversity that makes up San Francisco, it offers everything from artisan cheeses to fresh, local fish to handmade cookware. A highlight for me included the delicious samples of fresh cheeses and gelato that we indulged in while touring the building. When you’re done your shopping (and, believe me, you could spend hours), The Slanted Door, a modern Vietnamese restaurant, is a real eating experience. Located in the Ferry Building, boasting a fantastic lunch, dinner and afternoon tea menu, including some amazing, fresh-squeezed organic juices and a stunning variety of Chinese teas, The Slanted Door should be at the top of your eating “to do” list. Make a reservation to ensure you won’t be disappointed.
3. Take in the sights at the Byington Winery & Vineyard: Located in Los Gatos, just outside of San Francisco, Byington Winery is all about location (and the wine doesn’t hurt one bit!). Located in a striking stone estate, with a picture-esque view of the entire Silicon Valley, Byington Winery offers guests a cozy tasting room with a roaring fireplace (much appreciated on the chilly, rainy day that we went), knowledgeable staff and great wine. Although the drive to the winery is long and winding (sit in the front if you experience car sickness), it’s worth the hour it will take you to get up there. With an unpretentious attitude (they even offer BBQ’s and tables if requested) and stunning views, this is another must-visit destination. One of the most fun surprises we encountered on our drive to the winery was the many roadside organic farms, bursting with fresh, local fruit and vegetables. I picked up a few fresh lemons to take home and some gorgeous fruit to munch on during our way back.
4. Enjoy the Fisherman’s Wharf: I did not have nearly enough time to spend at the Fisherman’s Wharf. A San Francisco landmark, you could easily spend the entire day here- taking in the sights, enjoying the amazing seafood, watching street performers and visiting Alcatraz. If you don’t have an entire day, be sure to visit the Sea Lions. Hundreds of them were gathered on the docks, sunning themselves. It was amazing to see! Food is my next MUST! You can easily sit down and feast on fresh seafood at any of the many restaurants that line Fisherman’s Wharf however, I loved the Crab Stands where you can buy steaming hot crab to eat while you walk around or sit on a bench and watch the street performers. Finish your time off with a ride on the cable cars which stop at Fisherman’s Wharf. Finish your day off with an Alcatraz cruise that departs from the Wharf numerous times a day.
Your “can’t miss” comments make me KNOW even more that I need to go back for a longer trip next time! We were given cars to drive, so I never got to try out the transportation system, but the staff at the hotel just RAVED about it!
Sarah, I am so jealous of your San Fran getaway!! It is possibly my fav city in the world.
Other things not to miss:
-Fog City Diner, just off the Embarcadero. Fabulous food (know for their oyster bar) & drinks. Try to sit in the 2nd booth in on you left…where Mike Myers & Co. sat while filming the “What’s worse” scene in So I married an Axe Murderer.
-Dark chocolate hot fudge sundae at Ghirardelli Square.
-Public transportation is amazing (& so reasonable) & can get you anywhere in the Bay Area
-Chinatown, busy & crowded, but the food finds are amazing.
-Shopping in Union Square. Big chain stores (A five-story Williams Sonoma erased almost an hour from my life) & more unique boutiques abound.
-Sourdough bread. An institution in San Fran. I think the big one is Boudin in Fisherman’s Wharf
Writing all of that just makes me want to go back!! Glad you had such a wonderful time!
Wow Sarah! I have always wanted to go but know I know I must!
It was an amazing trip! I only wish I had been there longer to really get to explore the nooks and cranny’s of the city!
sounds like you had an incredible trip. San Francisco is truly a great city. I need to go back there. I need to go back to Vancouver too. The west coast is spectacular.