Other than a short layover at LAX last year, I had never been to California before last month. My husband, who also had never been there, and I decided to honeymoon there. He has always wanted to see the Redwoods and I am a sucker for anywhere with a beach! So off we went to California, flying into San Francisco and staying in Napa.
While we had every intention of spending at least 2-3 full days in San Francisco, after figuring out how beautiful the rest of the state is and what incredible natural beauty they have all around them, we ended up only spending one day in San Francisco proper.
While in San Francisco, we started the day walking around Fisherman's Wharf, where we toured the SS Pampanito, a submarine from World War II. Neither of us had ever been in a submarine or had the opportunity to be up close and personal with one, so we splurged on the $20 a person to take a self guided tour. We both really enjoyed it! Maybe a little pricey for the relatively short time commitment, but it was really interesting and now we can both say we have been in a submarine. I can also say I have a new appreciation for soldiers and others who spend their time and lives on a sub because it was not somewhere I'd want to spend any extra time.
After the submarine tour, we decided to walk down the street to Boudin Bakery, a restaurant I had read about. They bake sourdough and you can tour their factory. We opted to forego the tour and just grab some lunch before the Alcatraz Tour we had already scheduled. This might have been one of my favorite meals from the whole trip! I ordered the clam chowder in a sourdough bread bowl and he ordered the shrimp salad on sourdough baguette. We shared and they both were absolutely delicious!
With full and happy tummies, we took an after lunch walk to Pier 39 to see the sea lions. You know when you read or hear about something but then you go to see for yourself and it's not as great as everyone said? Or you can't find what everyone was talking about? Fortunately, that was not the case here and those funny and giant sea lions did not disappoint! There were dozens of them, sunbathing, splashing, and sharing their vocals. It was such a fun sight to see! Walking to and from the sea lions, on the inner part of the pier, we were surprised to find restaurants, shops, kiosks, and games. It was almost like a little carnival that we would have never known was there as I didn't see if from the street at all. It made for a really fun and enjoyable walk as we made our way down to the ferry for the Alcatraz tour.
The ferry ride to Alcatraz was definitely breezy and cool, but we caught some great views from the boat. Once on the island, it was a self-guided tour throughout the prison and grounds. I was really struck by how beautiful the grounds were. For 40 years after the prison closed, the landscaping and grounds were not maintained, yet the plant life survived. Now maintained by volunteers, the flowers, trees, and plants are absolutely gorgeous and very serene. The tour itself was informative, self paced, and quite interesting. Definitely worth the $70 (approximately) tickets, which included the ferry ride.
By that time, my FitBit was thrilled with my step count for the day and we were ready for some more fresh seafood, so we made our way back to the main part of Fisherman's Wharf to check out some of the restaurants. While walking by one of the restaurants, we were greeted by a friendly man, telling us about the happy hour at this restaurant so we decided to give it a shot. I wish I remembered the name but it has a giant blue and white awning out front. We enjoyed the best fried shrimp I have ever tasted, crisp, fresh calamari that was delicious and not too chewy or rubbery, and some Oysters Rockefeller, which I had never tried before but found I was actually kind of fond of them.
After a full day in the city, we headed back to Napa to plan our next day of exploring. More to come!