My brother has been living in San Francisco for nearly four years now, which gave me a reason and an opportunity to visit California frequently. Traveling from one major North American City to another might not initially appeal as a true vacation. But, there is something about the West Coast way of life that makes every trip there feel like an exciting and rejuvenating experience.
Here are my ten favourite moments over the ten days I spent in California this May: around LA, San Francisco, and the greater Bay area.
1. Staying on the historic canals in Venice.
This was my second time staying in this Airbnb right on the canals in Venice. Nothing beats an early morning walk towards the beach through this colourful and unique neighbourhood filled with blooming trees, flowers, succulent beds, and the buzz of hummingbirds.
2. Going to see a play in Los Angeles and spending an evening drinking wine among the dressed up crowd in the plaza outside of the LA Opera.
3. Exploring the desert garden at the Huntington in Pasadena.
4. Going for a solo climbing session at Planet Granite in San Francisco.
Planet Granite is the best climbing gym I have visited to date. There are many things to love about this gym: historic Presidio location, large windows overlooking the San Francisco Bay and the Golden Gate bridge, posters of the routes on El Cap, VERY tall roped walls, many floors of bouldering walls, a change room with showers and a sauna, an in-shop store the size of a small MEC, the list goes on… What I loved about this particular visit was that I had to go climbing on my own, which is not something I would have been comfortable with even six months ago. I also appreciated being able to go climbing first thing in the morning on a weekday and having almost the entire gym to myself.
5. Going to Readers Bookstore at Fort Mason.
I go to this bookstore every time I visit San Francisco. The store sells mostly used books as well as some vintage books and posters. Readers Books is located within the historic landmark Fort Mason, which on its own is worth a visit. The store is spacious, carries a wide selection of books, and houses an in-store coffee shop. I was able to get the latest best sellers as well as the classics for as little as 4 bucks. I honestly prefer Readers Books to the iconic City Lights.
6. Vintage shopping on Haight Street.
The neighbourhood of Haight-Ashbury is where the hippie culture was born. The area retained its whimsical character and now has a variety of vintage and specialty stores. I browsed through Decades of Fashion, which sold real vintage clothing organized by different eras. The store felt like a fashion museum and the items were quite expensive. Wasteland, on the other hand, was set up like a large Gap store and carried a variety of affordable second-hand and vintage items.
7. Sailing around San Francisco Bay.
This is my second time on the boat with my brother who’s been sailing for a couple of years now. I enjoyed being on a larger boat with a living space downstairs with 3 bedrooms, a common area, a kitchen, and a bathroom.
8. Views from the hills of San Francisco.
Just walk along the Pacific Avenue or get up the Golden Gate Heights park for breathtaking views of the city and the bay.
9. Walking across the Golden Gate Bridge to Sausalito.
This is still one of my favourite things to do in San Francisco. Most people do this route on a bike. But, I find it that traveling on foot makes it easier to navigate the tourist traffic and leaves your hands free for photo opportunities. Once in Sausalito, you can hop on a ferry back to San Francisco.
10. Exploring the stairways of San Francisco.
San Francisco is very hilly and some of the uphill streets feature stunning mosaic embellished staircases. On this trip, we visited the 16th Avenue Moraga Staircase as well as the Hidden Garden Steps, among others.