Of the many culinary experiences to choose from in San Francisco, nothing is more celebrated than the city’s fresh sourdough bread. It’s said the mists from the Pacific Ocean give bread here such a unique flavour. And there’s nothing better than a bowl of hot clam chowder that’s packed inside a warm sourdough bread bowl. The Boudin Bakery is the oldest place that sells these San Francisco treats. And you can find its shops at several locations, including its Fisherman’s Wharf bakery. Here, you can watch how they make the bread. Once you’re done, you can explore the museum upstairs to learn all there is to know about sourdough.
At the Fisherman’s Wharf
To burn off those carbs, try walking around Fisherman’s Wharf to find Pier 39—just listen for hundreds of barking sea lions flapping their arms on many platforms called the K-Dock. You’ll see them sunbathe during the day or dance on the docks within viewing distance from the pier. Upstairs, you’ll find the free Aquarium of the Bay. Here you’ll learn why these animals are so vital to San Francisco Bay’s ecosystem.
For dinner and drinks after a long day exploring Fisherman’s Wharf, Dungeness crab will fill any appetite. The meat when dipped in salty butter, are a treat—especially if it’s paired with a hoppy, San Francisco-brewed IPA. Seafood lovers can dine on these large crustations that can get as big as 20 cm wide. Try the Crab House at Pier 39 or the Fog Harbor Fish House.
Exploring the sights and sounds of San Francisco isn’t complete without spending some time on The Rock. Alcatraz Island, home to what used to be one of the most notorious federal prisons in the world, offers stunning city views of the surrounding bay area. As soon as you land from an Alcatraz Cruise ferry, you’ll step back in time at this historic landmark. Here, you can learn how families of guards called the tiny island home and about the prisoners themselves, including Al Capone and Robert Stroud. You’ll also discover how, in 1969, Indigenous peoples in the area occupied the small island for a 19-month period to bring American First Nation civil liberties to light. You can still see the peaceful messages they painted in red on the island’s water tower to this very day.
Stay hydrated. You’ll likely spend over two hours there, so it’s important to pack a bottle of refillable water before you arrive. There are no cafeterias or vending machines on the island. Food is prohibited on The Rock as it’s home to hundreds of thousands of feathered wildlife. These include hungry seagulls who may nosedive you for a contraband sandwich. The park staff does offer refillable water stations at various points during your visit.
After Your Escape
Once you’re back on the mainland, hop on a shared e-bike, e-scooter, or one of San Francisco’s iconic trolleys to get to the oldest Chinatown in North America. At every corner here, there’s something to discover. You’ll find stunning streetside murals celebrating Bruce Lee, the late martial artist and Hollywood actor, as you wander streets and alleyways. You may spot another San Francisco culinary staple, the fortune cookie. The Golden Gate Fortune Cookie Factory ships this sweet confection all over the continent. See how they’re made, and you’ll find out it’s an art.
Since Chinatown, like much of San Francisco, is on steep rolling hills, all that walking will leave you peckish. Dim sum is a great way to fill that appetite with its steaming hot dumplings and sticky buns. And while dim sum is traditionally eaten as breakfast or brunch, many places here—including the Dim Sum Bistro and Begoni Bistro—remain open past 6 p.m. Pace yourself. Don’t dim sum-thin’ silly and order way too much food.
GET TO SAN FRANCISCO WITH AMA TRAVEL
Travelling to San Francisco from Alberta has never been easier with non-stop flights taking you there in less than 2.5 hours. Whether you want to travel in the summer, fall, or even winter, there is something to see and do in the northern California city. Visit AMATravel.ca to make an appointment with a travel specialist.
Take Me Out to the Ballgame
Take yourself out to the ball game and out with the crowd. But instead of buying peanuts and Cracker Jacks at Oracle Park for a matinee San Francisco Giants game, warm yourself up with another Golden City culinary invention—Irish coffee. This concoction of hot coffee, Irish whiskey, and sweet whipped cream is an excellent wake-up as you sit in a stunning ballpark that’s among the best in Major League Baseball. The San Francisco Bay surrounds the outfield of this park. So, if you’re lucky and witness a player blasting a ball over the wall for a home run, you’ll see kayakers paddling frantically to get that prized possession.
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All photos courtesy of Jeff Cummings