The SF Marathon is this weekend! I am so excited. I am running the second half. Special thanks to Jaybird Sport for sponsoring me! Please do come say hi if you see me. It would truly make my day.
**After the Expo on Friday, July 21st at 7:30pm, you can go on a scenic 3-mile run, and have a chance to win a load of prizes from Jaybird, Stance, Asics, and Runkeeper. Just meet near Planet Granite in Chrissy Field.** See original event post here.
While I am not the best person to give advice on where to stay in the city for the race, I wanted to share some of my favorite eats and activities of the city I get to call home half the time! Besides, hopefully you’ve already got your hotel squared away. There is truly so much to do in the city and I couldn’t possibly list it all here. I am also keeping this list a little different from the usual: Walk the bridge, Lombard Street, Cable Cars, photos in front of the Painted Ladies, ect. You should do all those things, but you can find that list on TripAdvisor or Google, or whatever else. This is the JBird list.
Before we get started though, a few terms:
1 – “The City” – everyone just calls San Francisco “The City.” Yes, as though it were the only one to exist. People here will tell you not to call it San Fran, because it is not “cool.” If this happens I would advise to begin using the phrase “San Fran” exclusively and as often as possible in front of that person. People also get upset when visitors call it “Frisco.” Employ the same tactic with these people.
2 – The Bridge – “the” bridge is the Golden Gate. The Bay Bridge goes to the East Bay.
3 – “Karl” – Karl is the fog. Yes, the fog has a name. It is around that much. Karl also has various social media accounts.
There is a bridge under there somewhere…
4 – “Shared housing” – about 8 humans crammed into a 3 bedroom apartment. One of those bedrooms is a living room, but someone tacked up a sheet and everyone pretends its a real wall that they *can’t* hear behind. Rent is $1500. Per person.
5 – “Dive Bar” – drinks still cost $15 dollars. The bathrooms have never been cleaned. No food is served.
6 – The Marina – everyone here is 15 years old.
7 – “Up and coming neighborhood” – This is an area that is sketch AF, but the housing costs are still $3k a month for a studio.
8 – “Walkable” – you are never f**king parking here. Stop trying.
Expo: Hit up the Lululemon booth first. They usually do some kind of special printed gear for the SF Marathon and it sells out fast. There is going to be a line. Get on your phone and scroll through Instagram and be patient haha. Then go to the Jaybird Sport booth to come say hi to me!
If you forget anything that you can’t get at the expo – Sports Basement has your back. They have every kind of fuel imaginable, clothing, shoes, body glide, you name it. I especially like to support them because they have a location right in the Presidio. A lot of people do their long runs and rides by this location, and they let those people use their restroom and get water for free. They also have coffee for purchase on an honor system. It is just great to know there is a runner friendly place to stop if you need something.
Pre-race you need some good food that you can count on. Enter Trattoria Contadina. This is my absolute favorite spot to carb up for race day. Their food is just amazing. The owners live across the street and are so friendly. They have the classics for the runners, and some different and yummy things for the non runners as well. Make sure you snag a reservation on OpenTable.com.
For post race brunch, something a little special is in order! One of my favorites is The Mill. Hear me out though, because I know a $4 slice of toast seems insane. But trust me, the thick dense bread and glorious toppings are WORTH IT! People freak about Tartine, and its good, but not my personal favorite. Another awesome spot is Sweet Maple. There is always a line, but another worthwhile wait. Their big draw is the “Millionaire’s bacon.” Personally, I could care less about thick bacon marinated in maple syrup. I think their breakfast pizza is phenomenal. If you have a big group, Perry’s on Union has great food, and they take reservations! On Sunday mornings! That, my friends, is brunch gold.
Now, if you continue your eating tour to dessert, CREAM (which stands for Cookies Rule Everything Around Me) has some pretty unbelievable ice cream cookie sandwiches. You can choose the cookie, choose the ice cream, and even choose the toppings you want added. There are about a billion locations.
For a post race celebratory cocktail, you have to go to The Tonga Room – located in the Fairmont Hotel. It is tiki themed, with many of the drinks coming in coconuts or tiki statues, and the food is awesome. Mostly Asian-inspired dishes. There is a huge pool in the middle of the restaurant that has a floating band which goes up and down while they play throughout the night. There will also be “monsoons” into the pool periodically. It has great dancing if you are into that kind of thing, but just an overall great bar and really fun atmosphere.
If you are vegan or vegetarian, the city has a ton of amazing options. Some of my favorites are: The Plant Cafe Organic, No No Burger, Nourish Cafe, Seed + Salt & Wholesome Bakery. If you go to the Plant Cafe, my favorites are the miso bowl & full belly salad. Seed + Salt has an out of this world beet burger that would turn even the most dedicated beet hater around.
As I mentioned, there are the usual lists of things to do in San Francisco. And I am not discounting any of those lists. But I wanted to share some of my favorite activities. As many of my favorite activities involve eating and running, this isn’t a very long list because those activities are well covered in other parts of this post.
Lands End Trail is one of my favorite places to hike/walk in the city. If you are looking for a way to shake out the legs post race, or just want to get some Intagram worthy shots of the bridge (especially at sunset), this trail is well worth your time. It is about 3 and a half miles for the full loop. I’d recommend doing it early in the morning if you want less foot traffic. You can bring dogs, and it is super easy to walk. I see a lot of people in flip flops. I don’t think it is incredibly stroller friendly though – there are quite a few sets of stairs.
City Beer Store is a great place to check out as well. They always have interesting beers on tap to try, but the best part is their HUGE selection of bottled beers for purchase. Highly recommend for stocking up your hotel room, or getting your spectators all set with their race watching beverages 🙂
Off The Grid Presidio Picnic is one of my favorite things to do in San Francisco. It will be happening on Sunday 7/23 from 11-4pm. There is a beautiful grassy area surrounded by food trucks. The food is out of this world with every option imaginable (yes, even gluten free, vegan, paleo). Once you’ve finished eating, you can cruise over to the Walt Disney Museum. You can see it behind me in the photo below on the right hand side. I have gotten to go many times through work and it is well worth the admission fee.
One more museum to note is the de Young Museum. They have free admission on Friday nights. While I’m not always the biggest fan of seeing every museum in a city when I travel, the de Young is worth checking out.
Union Street shopping is another favorite of mine. It is a super cute street, and there are a lot of great restaurants with outdoor seating. I love the mix of my favorite stores like Nike, Sephora, Lululemon, ect – with cute local boutiques.
I cannot talk about visiting San Francisco without bringing up Beach Blanket Babylon. It is 21 and older only, but oh my gosh it is a great time. The show has been on for over 43 years and it follows Snow White as she tries to find her “Prince Charming.” A lot of hysterical pop-culture references are made. The best part is that the show is ever-changing to keep up with the times.
And lastly, if you have kiddos and your legs are thrashed – take them to The House of Air. It is a huge trampoline park that is all indoors. You can let them bounce themselves out while you sit down haha!