Trip Favorites | Bay Area
Tyler and I have visited the Bay Area over Memorial Day weekend for the past four years in a row, and I don't think it's a tradition that is going to change anytime soon. My sister's live out there, so it's a great chance to spend time with them and explore the land of "tech". The number of new products and brands that are developed in the Bay Area is astounding, and it's always a lot of fun to see what's new after just 12 months.
During our most recent trip, we stumbled upon several new restaurants and stores as well as a some of our old favorites, so I thought it would be nice to pass along a few recommendations to all of you. If you find yourself in the area, I'd highly recommend a stop at any one of these places!
Oaktown Spice Shop
- Temescal Alley / Alley 49 - Always a favorite stop of mine, Temescal Alley has a little bit of it all. It's a hidden alley off of 49th Street full of unique shops and eats. You can find everything from yummy coffee at The Cro Cafe, to the perfect handmade jewelry at Marissa Mason, a designed and produced in Oakland shirt by Ali Golden, a filled-to-order cream doughnut at Doughnut Dolly, or even get yourself a fresh haircut at the Temescal Alley Barber Shop.
- Beauty's Bagel Shop - This was our first stop at Beauty's, and it most definitely will not be our last. They soak their bagels in honey-sweetened water and then bake them in a wood-fired oven. DELICIOUS. I'd highly recommend the Salt & Pepper bagel if you're in the mood for an egg sandwich.
- Oaktown Spice Shop - I love to cook, so the opportunity to find unique spices and herbs gets me super excited! Little spice shops like these are great for those hard to find ingredients as well as offering small amounts of unique spices so you're not stuck with an entire bottle of, say, Hungarian Sweet Paprika.
- Pepples Doughnuts - VEGAN. ORGANIC. DOUGHNUTS. Oh man. So good! The Chocolate with Sprinkles was actually my favorite, but I can't imagine any of them would disappoint.
- Melissa Joy Manning - Tyler and I stumbled upon Melissa Joy Manning on our first trip to California, and it holds a very special spot in my heart because Tyler purchased my engagement ring from here. We actually ordered our wedding bands from MJM, too. The jewelry is handmade and local, green certified, recycled and up-cycled, and ethically sourced. Not to mention it's beautiful!
- Mission District
- Four Barrel Coffee - There are so many great coffee shops in the Bay Area, so it's tough to pick just one as a favorite, but Four Barrel has to be at the top of our list. The Mission location has a great vibe and the coffee is always on point.
- Taylor Stitch - Tyler found Taylor Stitch last year, and his wardrobe has slowly been taken over by the San Francisco-based brand. The quality is superb and best of all, they are now selling some women's clothes, too!
- Grand Mission Donuts & Bakery - The best $2.60 you'll spend. This little hole in the wall donut shop is a must-do on our list every year. Just remember, it's cash only!
- Heath Ceramics - If you can't make it out to their dinnerware factory in Sausalito, the San Francisco location is a great option. You'll find everything Heath: dinnerware, tableware, tile and good designs for the tabletop and home. Even if the pieces are a bit out of your price range, it's worth the trip just to see the factory in operation and grab a cup of joe from the Blue Bottle Cafe.
- Flora Grubb Gardens - Flora Grubb is actually quite a bit south of the Mission, but I included it in this category because it's definitely worth the drive south if you're already in the area. Flora Grubb was offering a nice 20% discount on all flowers over Memorial Day weekend, so we picked up several goodies to take home. The entire place is full of items you simply can't find in Indiana, so it's a great opportunity to find something unique. Plus, Ritual Coffee Roasters has a nice coffee bar inside, so you can always grab a cup while you're browsing.
Don't worry, staghorn ferns make great carry-on accessories...
- Hayes Valley
- Steven Alan - The Steven Alan store in Hayes Valley is one of my favorites. It's bright, well organized, and I always leave feeling inspired. Steven Alan is well known for scouting some of the best up and coming young designers, and this store is no exception.
- Marine Layer - Marine Layer has one of my favorite taglines ever - "We're a little fabric obsessed. Absurdly soft shirts. Made in California. (by adults)". You could find yourself caressing the fabric here all day. It truly is "absurdly soft".
- Welcome Stranger - This store is a favorite of Tyler's, and they always have a great selection of men's apparel and accessories. They have a storefront in San Francisco as well as Berkeley that are outposts for their in-house collections and trusted destinations for other like-minded menswear brands from around the globe.
- Blue Bottle - Blue Bottle has several locations in the Bay Area, but my favorite is the tiny alley location in Hayes Valley. There's always a long line, but the service is great and the coffee is always tasty.
- Nob Hill
- Batter Bakery - Best cookies ever. Nob Hill is a bit out of the way, but we always have to stop at Batter when we're in town. The polka dot, peanut butter chocolate chip, and chocolate mint are some of our favorites. You won't be disappointed. :)
- The Candy Store - Just around the corner from Batter Bakery, The Candy Store is always a fun stop. Glass jars full of yummy sweets are exactly what you need after hiking up and down the San Francisco hills all day. Our favorites? Sour skulls, dark chocolate covered cashews, and most recently, chocolate covered caramel corn. Yum!
- Sunset District
- Outerlands - This was our first visit to the Sunset District, and I'll definitely be putting Outerlands on our must-do list for years to come. I originally wanted to visit because I heard the cast-iron grilled cheese sandwich was amazing, but we went on a Sunday so we had the brunch menu instead. I was a little disappointed at first, but after the first bite into my quiche and Tyler's dutch pancake with strawberries, I realized this was exactly what the doctor ordered. I really don't think you could go wrong with a single thing on the menu. Heck, just the modern decor is enough to make me oogly-eyed.
- General Store - Just down the street from Outerlands is the General Store. The shop is full of a well-curated collection of simple and practical pieces that are sourced, both vintage and new, including natural wood furnishings, handmade ceramics, leather goods, jewelry, apparel, kitchenware + succulent and cacti plants that are easy to maintain.
Verve Coffee at Pleasure Point
- Verve Coffee Roasters - I got Tyler a monthly coffee subscription to Verve for Valentine's Day this year. We enjoyed the coffee so much that we decided to make a trip down to Santa Cruz just to check out the roasting facility. We visited the downtown location which was great for people watching and taking in the sights on Pacific Avenue, but I would really recommend a drive out to Seabright to see the roastery and coffee bar. Don't forget to pick up a cookie while you're at it. The caramel/pretzel one is awesome!
- Stripe - Stripe has a little bit of everything - and I wanted it all. The perfect home decor, wardrobe staples, one-of-a-kind jewelry, and a gift for anyone on your list. I only wish we had one closer to Indiana!
- East Cliff Drive/Pleasure Point walk - We didn't have the best weather during our trip, but we wanted to stretch our legs a bit and see the beautiful ocean views. The Pleasure Point walk is great for both. Start out on 41st Avenue and swing around the entire loop with ocean views, gorgeous homes, surfers, hidden beaches, and plenty of places to rest and enjoy the view.
There truly are an endless number of things to do in the Bay Area. The list above doesn't even scrap the surface, but hopefully it can help get your planning started. My best piece of advice? Grab a seat on the BART and ride from Oakland into San Francisco. Once you get into the city, walk. Walking is the best way to capture the heart of this bustling innovation epicenter. Just remember, COMFORTABLE shoes are your friend!