Planning a trip to San Francisco? We’ve partnered with men’s lifestyle and travel expert Joe Miragliotta from Joe’s Daily to help make your vacation in the Bay area one you’ll never forget.

5 Ways to Tailor Your Perfect Trip to San Francisco

Sarah taking in the sights. Credit: @JoesDaily

A few weeks ago, the wife and I were invited out to San Francisco to experience their celebration of the 50th anniversary of the Summer of Love. Per usual, we had a completely amazing time while we were there. Not that I’m surprised, as the city has so much to offer. You could be just about anyone/be into just about anything, and always have the perfect trip there! Here are some tips to make sure you cover all your bases.

1. Find Your Perfect Place to Stay

Upscale, modern, antique, boutique, niche, hipster—it really doesn’t matter what style speaks to you; they have a unique hotel that fits it in San Francisco. Personally, I like to switch things up. So much so that I don’t think I’ve even stayed in the same place twice. It all depends on what I’m there for. A while back, for a weekend getaway, Sarah found a place that looked like it had been built for a Wes Anderson film. It was definitely more her thing than mine. However, I have to say the curtained canopy bed, velvet furniture, and claw foot tub were undeniably ideal for the purpose of the trip.

Fairmont San Francisco

Fairmont San Francisco. Credit: @JoesDaily

On another occasion I had the pleasure of staying at the Fairmont while visiting for a rum launch. Again, super fitting considering the famous Tiki bar they have there. And, most recently, at the Westin St. Francis, where they were offering special deals on tickets for Summer of Love activations. If you’re after more of a boutique/high style situation, just about any of the Joie de Vivre hotels will do the trick (though I think The Marker might be my favorite). Queen Anne Hotel for antique, Hotel Zeppelin for modern/funky…the list is seemingly endless. So, there are tons of ways that finding a great place to call home base during your trip can absolutely enhance it.

2. Have a Delicious Meal

I know there’s a good chance you don’t need to be told this, but I would be wrong not to mention it: San Francisco isn’t sleeping when it comes to the great food and beverage department. From gastropubs to (randomly?) barbecue, I don’t know that I’ve ever had a bad meal in that city. Of course that’s not to say it’s not possible. But thinking about it right now, the closest I can get to an example would be places that weren’t AS mind-blowing as another we had eaten at.

As for picking the best place to eat, you really can’t go wrong with how you choose. Maybe go with whatever’s the closest to you with the highest rating. Or maybe point to a random place on the map and go with that. Honestly, you could even make eating a certain kind of cuisine the theme of your trip. You’re likely going to have a great experience no matter what you go with.

Here are a few delicious treats from our first stop at Bluestem Brasserie:

Bluestem Brasserie's famous cinnamon bun

Bluestem Brasserie’s famous cinnamon bun. Credit: @JoesDaily

Bluestem Brasserie's crispy chicken sandwich

Bluestem Brasserie’s crispy chicken sandwich. Credit: @JoesDaily

However, if you do happen to be looking for some suggestions, I’m happy to help out! If you’re in a wood fired pizza kind of mood, you HAVE to find yourself some Del Popolo. They started out as a (really cool looking) food truck in 2012, and have since opened a brick-and-mortar location. For Mexican food, we’ve had a delicious meal or two at Nopalito—as have many, many others. If it’s a fancy night out you need, but one that doesn’t feel stuffy, Aster will be the place you want to make your way to. Honestly, the Instagram photos you’ll bank might be worth the price tag alone. For barbecue, we randomly wandered into Tommy’s Joynt one night and ended up spending a few hours there, people watching and enjoying some ridiculously good food. And finally, it would be wrong of me not to mention the $1 oyster deals you can find around the city. There might be close to a thousand of them, so you have no excuse not to find one for cocktail hour. But, as it is suggestion time, The Dorian (Tuesday-Friday) will not disappoint.

3. Take In Some Culture

You’d probably not be surprised based on what I mentioned about her hotel choice above, but my wife is huge for art galleries and museums. If she had to choose, I’m sure she would say the de Young museum is her favorite. I might agree as well. Last time we were there we took a wrong turn on the way to the installation we were going to see and wound up in a room dedicated to the Pacific Islands. We accidentally burned through a little more of our dedicated exhibit time than we’d intended because we couldn’t pull ourselves away.

de Young Museum's 'Summer of Love' exhibition

de Young Museum’s ‘Summer of Love’ exhibition. Credit: @JoesDaily

There are, of course, plenty of other options to visit. There’s the Historical Society for other installations, California Academy of Sciences, Aquarium of the Bay, Exploratorium, and the Presidio to name a few. If this is your thing too, you may have to either make it a long trip or plan for multiple visits. Be sure to keep an eye out for special package admission deals to help you out!

4. Go on a Special Tour

The tours here, you guys. No joke. I just sat here and tried to think of a person that wouldn’t be able to find some kind of tour to suit them and I couldn’t. I even tried to think of random interests and that didn’t work. Only like pirates? There are about a million boat tours that go through the San Francisco Bay. Chocolate? Yes, there is a walking tour for that, too. Not a fan of the sun? Nighttime bus tour of the city. I don’t know, I’m at a loss here—should probably count that as a win.

Wild SF Walking Tour with Wes

Wes from Wild SF Walking Tours showing us around Haight-Ashbury. Credit: @JoesDaily

5. Experience Like a Local

I think the best examples of these experiences are the ones that happen by accident. The kind where you happen to turn a corner and find an amazing bar that only the locals know about. Or maybe it’s a hiking trail, or an event.

On our last trip in San Francisco, we happened to be visiting the Presidio on a Sunday afternoon. We thought we were just going to be touring their scenic, expansive grounds. As it happens, every Sunday from about mid-March through mid-October they hold a picnic there for all of the locals. Gourmet food trucks (Del Popolo!), signature cocktails, yoga—they had the works.

Presidio Lawn

Credit: @JoesDaily

Del Popolo Food Truck at Presidio

Del Popolo Food Truck at Presidio. Credit: @JoesDaily

I think what I love the most about finding these kinds of things is how much it rounds out your trip. We visit places away from home to see what they have to offer. This will typically mean being a tourist for at least a portion of the time, but without some kind of local experience, we’ll never truly know what a city is all about.

Joe Miragliotta is an official Travelocity Gnational Gnomad. Gnational Gnomads is an exclusive group of high-profile travel and lifestyle experts who offer tips and inspiration on behalf of Travelocity. For more information on the Travelocity Gnomads, visit travelocitygnomads.com.

Travelocity compensates authors for their writings appearing on this site; such compensation may include travel and other costs.

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